A special grand jury has been convened amid the Attorney General Jason Miyares’ investigation into the Loudoun County school division’s handling of a sexual assault scandal.
The school division released a statement through Public Information Officer Wayde Byard this morning regarding the special grand jury, sharing that LCPS intends to cooperate “with the lawful requests of the special grand jury, while protecting the privacy rights of our students to the extent permitted by law and in accordance with all applicable legal privileges.”
The impanelment of the nine-member grand jury was conducted April 7 by Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge James E. Plowman, sources said. Theo Stamos, a former Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney who is serving as special counsel to the AG’s office, was present.
The action came a day after Gov. Glenn Youngkin offered an amendment to a bill seeking to move Loudoun’s School Board elections to November, shortening the terms of seven local elected officials by one year.
Miyares announced the investigation into the Loudoun County School Board on Jan. 15, coinciding with Youngkin’s executive order, asking the Attorney General’s office investigate the assaults. Youngkin campaigned largely on education issues, and frequently pointed to the School Board’s handling of the assaults.
In Virginia, special grand juries may be impaneled by a circuit court at any time upon its own motion, upon recommendation of a minority of the members of a regular grand jury, or upon request of the attorney for the commonwealth to investigate and report on any condition that involves or tends to promote criminal activity and determine whether to issue criminal indictments.
The panels may subpoena witness and documents. Witnesses are permitted to be represented by counsel during their appearances. Following the investigative phase, which is expected to take several months, if a majority of at least five jurors vote to issue an indictment, the case would then be presented to a regular grand jury with the authority to move a case to move forward to adjudication in Circuit Court. The state code provides a six-month deadline for a special grand jury to complete its work, although it may be extended if the judge finds it is continuing to make progress.
Attorney General spokeswoman Victoria LaCivita declined to comment.
In its statement, the school division pointed to steps taken to enhance the Title IX office, including hiring a new Title IX coordinator and expanding the Office of Division Counsel.
A Similar special grand jury process was used in 2013 after a citizen group brought allegations that then-Sterling District Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio had illegally used the resources of his county-funded constituent office for campaign purposes. Following a four-month investigation, the panel issued a 19-page report recommending no charges, but suggesting changes to state law to extend prohibitions for the conduct to part-time government employees, including county supervisors. Stamos was the special prosecutor appointed to lead the investigation of that case.