Loudoun High School Sexual Assault Assailant Won’t Register as Sex Offender

The assailant in two sexual assaults in Ashburn high schools will not be required to register as a sex offender for life, Judge Pamela Brooks decided Thursday, reversing her previous decision.

Without prior notice that the Commonwealth’s Attorney Office would seek to have the boy placed on the sex offender registry, his attorneys argued, the boy’s due process rights had been violated. And Caleb E. Kershner, a partner at the law firm Simms Showers LLP which represented the defendant, said doing so with a person as young as 14 is rare. The assailant turned 15 years old before the adjudication.

In this case, there was a lot in the 15-year-old offender’s history to consider, he said—such as failings during his upbringing—which were sealed from the public but which the judge could see. The boy is also autistic.

“In juvenile court you just don’t put people on the sex registry as a rule,” Kershner said. “…I’ve been practicing for 15 years in this court, I’ve never seen it done.”

Kershner also pointed to testimony in Thursday’s hearing that juveniles placed on the sex offender registry have a higher rate of recidivism, especially compared with those who instead undergo treatment, as the 14-year-old offender in this case will now do.

“There are victims across the board. Nobody wins in this situation, nobody whatsoever,” Kershner said. “The young ladies who were victimized cannot possibly win, the young man—the idea is the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court is essentially built to bring restoration or a rehabilitation to young juvenile offenders, especially a young boy, essentially, of age 14.”

Kershner said the case was marked by systemic failures, and in the end, “nobody wins.”

When the time came for the 14-year-old defendant’s trial for the first charge, he said, the commonwealth’s attorney asked to delay the trial—and under state law, a juvenile cannot be detained for more than 21 days before a trial. The boy was released on bond. Subsequently, the school system placed him at a different high school, where the second assault occurred.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj said that the request to delay the trial after the first offense was made in collaboration with the victim’s family. Biberaj said her office advised the family that waiting for DNA evidence to confirm the sodomy allegations would bolster the case. Otherwise, she said, it would have been a he-said-she-said situation.

“Rarely do those results come back within a few weeks,” Biberaj said, adding that it can take months for DNA testing to be returned. “The delay wasn’t due to a lack of preparation, but because we don’t control the evidence.”

But, the victim’s family said that they were never consulted on the decision to wait for DNA evidence before going to trial.

The first victim’s family, Biberaj said, requested that the assailant not return to their daughter’s high school.

The victim’s family said Thursday that they are heartbroken by the decision not to place the 14-year-old on the sex offender registry.

“The person who committed these horrible crimes against these three young women will not have to bear the shame at being known as a lifetime registered sex offender, as he was originally sentenced,” reads a statement from the Smith family. “Rather, we are now concerned more than ever that this change in his legal status may put other parents’ daughters at risk of harm in the future.”

After an unreleased report from a review of the school division’s handling of the assaults, former Title IX coordinator and Chief of Staff Mark Smith left his position with the school division.

Smith had only been in the Title IX coordinator position since November 2021. Superintendent Scott Ziegler was listed as the Title IX coordinator at the time of both assaults.

Ziegler had previously said that Title IX protocols were followed after the assaults, and that a shortcoming in those protocols led to the transfer of the suspect to a new school where the second assault occurred.

This article was updated Jan. 28 at 4:50 p.m. to correct the name of Judge Pamela Brooks.

This article was updated Jan. 29 at 6:15 p.m. to reflect that the victim’s family said they were not consulted on the decision to wait for DNA test results before going to trial.

10 thoughts on “Loudoun High School Sexual Assault Assailant Won’t Register as Sex Offender

  • 2022-01-28 at 3:10 pm
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    So the key takeaways here is that Buta made more than one major mistake in this trial and someone who has sexually assaulted THREE young females will benefit from prosecutorial mistakes. Color me surprised. I’m sure the next several victims won’t mind these prosecutorial failures.

    Maybe Buta can charge Mr. Smith with something again to balance out the universe.

  • 2022-01-28 at 3:30 pm
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    I feel like we’ve forgotten why sex offender registries were created.
    So much progress was made after the tragic rape and murder of Megan Kanka, why are we going backwards?

    When society treats violent criminals like victims, it’s time for a change.
    I call on everyone involved with this case to resign.

  • 2022-01-28 at 5:02 pm
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    I hope the victims will be able to embark of their long journey of healing in relative peace. I also hope opponents of LCPS will stop politicizing the case. Thursday’s hearing made clear once again that the offender identifies as a male. This case has nothing to do with the Trans community. It has nothing to do with Trans-inclusive restrooms at LCPS, which were mandated by the 4th Circuit back in August 2020. Happy Valentine’s Day Loudoun!

    • 2022-01-28 at 8:45 pm
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      Timmy – what in this article tell you that it was not a Trans issue? Were you at the Hearing that you heard something not in the article?

      Finally, what school would you suggest LCPS should send him to next?

    • 2022-01-28 at 10:09 pm
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      This case should be Politicized as Politicians made poor decisions that later proved detrimental.

    • 2022-01-28 at 10:22 pm
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      You keep repeating the same comment as if there are people out their with pitchforks taking after the trans community- they’re not. There was confusion about the chosen gender of the assailant because, for some reason, he was wearing a skirt during his first attack. Neither you or I, or anyone but the assailant knows why he was wearing the skirt, but it has been confirmed that he was.

  • 2022-01-29 at 2:37 pm
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    I don’t think it matters it was a juvenile that commited the sexual assaults. I would like to see his name and face in the news and again in the sexual predator registry. How can we protect our children or the children protect themselves if we don’t know what the criminal looks like. That’s what the registry is for.

  • 2022-01-29 at 9:37 pm
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    In a recent statement, Caleb Kershner tries to blame Buta Biberaj & LCPS for his client’s offenses. That’s rich! I wouldn’t vote for that clown for dog catcher. Please place responsibility where it belongs, Mr. Kershner. The only one to blame for the offender’s actions is the offender himself. Also, you’re the one arguing for no time on the registry. Again, please place responsibility where it belongs. Thank you!

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