Two top officials of a Northern Virginia public school district were indicted Monday for their roles in the handling of a bathroom rape by a skirt-wearing boy after The Daily Wire revealed the apparent coverup last year, court documents unsealed Monday showed.
Former Loudoun County Superintendent Scott Ziegler , who was fired last week, was indicted on three misdemeanor counts of false publication, conflict of interest-prohibited conduct, and penalizing an employee for court appearance. Spokesman Wayde Byard was indicted on a felony charge of perjury, court records show.
A week ago, a special grand jury released a 91-page report that confirmed the findings of The Daily Wire’s October 2021 expose, determining that Ziegler told a “bald-faced lie” when he dismissed concerns about a proposed transgender policy by denying that there had ever been any bathroom sex assaults–despite knowing of the attack on a ninth-grade girl just a month earlier.
The grand jury said Ziegler’s administration also concealed from the public and even the school board that the same boy went on to sexually assault another girl in a classroom, with school board members learning about it from a report in The Daily Wire. The grand jury findings painted a devastating picture and showed that “throughout this ordeal LCPS administrators were looking out for their own interests instead of the best interests of LCPS.”
When The Daily Wire asked Byard last week about the grand jury’s fact-finding report, he sent a statement attributed to school board chair Jeff Morse and vice chair Ian Serotkin that said they were “pleased” that the grand jury had not indicted anyone. The Daily Wire noted in a response to Byard that Attorney General Jason Miyares had pointedly said “the grand jury is still running,” but Byard did not clarify.
On Monday, Byard did not return a request for comment on his own indictment.
The school board fired Ziegler on Tuesday, a day after the grand jury report–but fired him “without cause,” apparently giving him a $350,000 golden parachute.
An indictment for the misdemeanor of “false publication” said that “On or about June 22, 2021, [Ziegler] did unlawfully, knowingly, and willfully state, deliver or transmit by any means whatever to any publisher… any false and untrue statement, knowing the same to be false or untrue, concerning any person or corporation, with intent that the same shall be published.” June 22 was the date of the school board meeting, at which Ziegler also cited Time magazine to lecture parents that “we’ve heard it several times tonight from our public speakers but the predator transgender student or person simply does not exist.”
The two other counts related to Ziegler pertain to a different incident. They allege that Ziegler retaliated against Erin Brooks, a teacher who sued the school system alleging that the school district did not protect her from sexual assault by an elementary school student.
The indictment against Byard says he committed felony perjury by lying under oath on August 2, 2022. The indictment does not provide any further information, though the timeline suggests that it was in the course of testifying to the special grand jury, which was convened to look into LCPS’ handling of the rape by the skirt-wearing boy, who has since been convicted.
Perjury is a Class 5 felony; according to Virginia code “For Class 5 felonies, a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than 10 years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.” The law also says that “Upon the conviction of any person for perjury, such person thereby shall be adjudged forever incapable of holding any office of honor, profit or trust under the Constitution of Virginia, or of serving as a juror.”
The grand jury’s report suggested that LCPS placed a heavy emphasis on spinning the public, putting Byard in an outsized role. An email sent hours after the May 2021 rape, attributed to the school’s principal, claimed that student safety wasn’t jeopardized and that police were only present to deal with an unruly parent–a reference to the rape victim’s father. The grand jury found that in fact, that email was written by Byard and edited by Ziegler, and that the rapist was “missing and at-large” for hours during that period.
The school system has generally ignored requests for information from The Daily Wire. A grand jury report revealed that when The Daily Wire informed Byard that it was about to break the story of the rape coverup, Byard’s boss ordered him and others to “TAKE NO ACTION.”
Miyares said in a statement that “The Office of the Attorney General will be prosecuting these cases and has no further comment on this matter.”
Ian Prior, chairman of the parents activist group Fight for Schools, said the indictments were a welcome development.
“We are beyond pleased that the families who were harmed by the egregious failures of the leadership of Loudoun County Public Schools, exacerbated by its repeated acts of deceit and dishonesty, will receive some measure of justice… parents repeatedly took slings and arrows from the media, local elected officials, and others in their own community, for speaking truth to power – despite that, they never backed down. Loudoun County should serve as a beacon of hope for the rest of the country.”
Brian Davison, a parent who exposed other problems in LCPS years ago, said that LCPS has long operated with secrecy and dishonesty, and with Byard playing a key role. He said in 2015, Byard perjured himself while testifying about why he was not turning over information under the Freedom of Information Act.
Davison submitted a complaint to the police, who wrote in emails obtained by The Daily Wire that “Davison has extensive, detailed records and transcripts that support his claim” and that “It looks like Davison has a legitimate complaint.”
Davison told The Daily Wire “For over 7 years, the Loudoun school board has employed Wayde Byard as its primary spokesman despite knowing he perjured himself in a lawsuit against LCPS in 2015… Yet, Loudoun officials refused to prosecute and the school board kept Byard as a member of their mafia. With today’s news of Byard being prosecuted for yet another act of perjury, Loudoun residents can celebrate finally having a Governor and Attorney General willing to hold our corrupt officials accountable. With the threat of future prosecution, maybe reform can finally happen in LCPS.”