Virginia Gov. Youngkin Grants ‘Absolute Pardon’ to Loudoun County Father Arrested at School Board Meeting

Terri Wu
By Terri Wu
September 10, 2023US News
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Virginia Gov. Youngkin Grants ‘Absolute Pardon’ to Loudoun County Father Arrested at School Board Meeting
Scott Smith at his residence in Leesburg, Va., on Sept. 25, 2022. (Terri Wu/The Epoch Times)

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has granted an absolute pardon to a Loudoun County father arrested at a school board meeting in June 2021. The pardon came weeks before the father’s jury trial for disorderly misconduct.

“Upon careful deliberation and review of the circumstances of the matter, I have decided it is just and appropriate to grant this ABSOLUTE PARDON that reflects Scott Thomas Smith’s factual innocence of Disorderly Conduct,” the Republican governor wrote in his Friday decision, which was released today.

Mr. Youngkin added in his statement, “I am pleased to grant Scott Smith this pardon and help him and his family put this injustice behind them once and for all.”

Ever since his arrest two years ago, Scott Smith and his family have been in a legal battle for Mr. Smith and for bringing justice to the teenage boy—who identifies as “gender-fluid”—who raped his daughter in a girl’s bathroom in their high school in May 2021. Mr. Smith previously described to The Epoch Times the burden of the drawn-out legal process as “a full-time job” and the burden as “immeasurable.”

His obstruction-of-justice charge was dismissed in May 2022 by the Loudoun County Circuit Court; a jury trial was set on Sept. 25 for his disorderly conduct case before Mr. Youngkin’s pardon.

The rape happened at a time when the Loudoun County School Board sought to pass a new policy that would allow students to use bathrooms and locker rooms according to their chosen gender identity. Parents pushed back strongly against the policy, citing the risk of sexual assault. At the school board meeting on June 22, 2021, school district superintendent Scott Ziegler brushed off their concerns.

“To my knowledge, we don’t have any record of assaults occurring in our restrooms,” Mr. Ziegler said, adding later that “the predator transgender student or person simply does not exist.”

Later at the meeting, Mr. Smith was arrested for disorderly conduct and obstructing or resisting a police officer without force after getting into a verbal confrontation with a woman who accused him of lying about his daughter’s rape.

Months later, a public inquiry revealed emails that Mr. Zeiger was aware of the rape days after the incident, which was a month before the June 2021 school board meeting. A year and a half later, Mr. Ziegler was fired by the school board after a special grand jury report stated that the school system “bears the brunt of the blame” for mishandling the sexual assault. Despite this, the legal saga Mr. Smith’s family was dragged into continued unabated.

“I want to thank Governor Youngkin for his declaration that I am innocent, and for his absolute and unconditional pardon,” Mr. smith said in a statement to The Epoch Times. “While I was extremely confident in my lawyers’ abilities to defend me in court, I am grateful that the Governor recognizes that our justice system has been both weaponized and politicized to the point where my ability to receive a fair trial was in jeopardy.”

In his previous interview with The Epoch Times, Mr. Smith detailed the injustice he was subjected to and how he found inner peace through reconnecting with God amid his arduous journey.

Mr. Youngkin’s pardon also highlighted that Mr. Smith “has been publicly and falsely accused of ‘domestic terrorism’ and ‘hate crimes’ for attempting to advocate for his daughter, a victim of violent sexual assault.”

“Let me be clear,” Mr. Smith said in his statement today. “I am not a ‘domestic terrorist,’ I am just a father who will go to the ends of the earth to protect his daughter.” He vowed to pursue legal action in the federal courts to hold the Loudoun County Public School system accountable for its mishandling of the sexual assault and Loudoun County elected officials who pursued “malicious prosecution” of him.

Mr. Smith’s attorneys told The Epoch Times in a statement that they didn’t seek a pardon from the governor but were “grateful” that “the Governor also recognized the wrong done to Scott Smith by the judicial system, and that he has now taken this bold action to right that wrong by this pardon.”

Loudoun County Public Schools rally
Hundreds rally to protest against Loudoun County Public Schools adopting the Virginia Department of Education’s 2021 transgender student model policies outside the Loudoun County Public Schools administration building in Ashburn, Va., on Sept. 28, 2021. (Terri Wu/The Epoch Times)

The pardon was welcomed by Loudoun County parents, who shared their loss of confidence in the county school system and the circuit court they frequently conveyed at rallies and public comments during school board meetings.

“Governor Youngkin exercised his pardon power, not on a former politician or well-connected corporate titan, but on a father who was being wrongfully prosecuted for standing up for his family,” Ian Prior, executive director of Fight for Schools, a parents’ advocacy group based in Loudoun County, told The Epoch Times.

“There is a word for that—JUSTICE.”

Army of Parents, another Loudoun County parental rights group, whose co-founder Elicia Brand helped the Smith family jumpstart their initial legal and communications responses, told The Epoch Times, “Governor Youngkin’s decision to grant an absolute pardon to Mr. Smith is a resounding affirmation of the fundamental role that parents play in their children’s education and well-being.”

“It serves as a beacon of hope for parents across the nation who are similarly advocating for their children’s rights and safety within the educational system,” Ms. Brand added.

From The Epoch Times