Loudoun teen whose assaults caused political firestorm will be put on sex offender list – The Washington Post

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A 15-year-old will remain on Virginia’s sex offender registry for the rest of his life for sexually assaulting a girl in a Loudoun County high school bathroom in May and inappropriately touching a second teen in October at another school where he was transferred after the first incident.
In a sentencing hearing Wednesday, Loudoun County Juvenile Court Chief Judge Pamela L. Brooks told the teen, whose sexual assaults caused a national political firestorm, that she had never placed a youth on the state’s sex offender registry but she was so disturbed by his presentence psychological evaluations that she was taking the unusual step in his case.
Brooks said in the courtroom that she was not going to disclose what was in the evaluations, but said that something in his background had “contributed to where you are.”
“What I read in those reports scared me,” Brooks said. “It scared me for your family. It scared me for society.”
The teen will be sent to a residential treatment facility and stay on probation until he is 18. He will not face any time at a juvenile detention center.
The sentencing brings to a close a case that generated a furious backlash against a Loudoun schools policy, put in place after the first assault, that allows transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
The parents of the first victim described the defendant as “gender fluid.” Authorities have never commented on that characterization but said the defendant was wearing a skirt at the time of the first offense.
The assaults became a political football in the Virginia governor’s race and stirred protests by parents who questioned why the teen was allowed to attend a second high school while facing charges in the first case. Loudoun school officials apologized for the handling of the incidents and promised major changes to disciplinary procedures.
Before the teen was sentenced Wednesday, one of the victims and family members of both victims testified in court about the impact of the assaults and the widespread attention the case received in local and national media. All advocated for the defendant to be sent to a residential treatment facility in lieu of time at a detention center.
“I could say you belong in a cell, but I know someone hurt you,” the victim in the first case testified. She added later, “Even after what you did to me, I’m still here and I’m a better person than I was eight months ago.”
The victim, who is 15 now but was 14 at the time of the assault, twice had consensual sexual encounters with the defendant in a girls restroom at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, before agreeing to meet him again on May 28. The Washington Post generally does not name victims of sexual assault or defendants charged as juveniles.
The girl previously testified in court that the defendant threw her to the ground in the bathroom and forced her to perform two sexual acts on him after she had told him that she was not interested in sex on that occasion. The defendant was arrested last summer and Brooks found him liable in that encounter in October.
Judge finds teen liable in bathroom assault case at center of political firestorm
While he was awaiting trial, the defendant was enrolled at Ashburn’s Broad Run High School. It was there, authorities said, that he pushed a 15-year-old girl into an empty classroom and touched her breast. The defendant pleaded no contest in that case in November.
Teen pleads no contest to sexual assault at high school
The mother of the second victim said her daughter was traumatized by the assault and read a statement from the teen in court that ended: “I will forever ask: Why me?”
The father of the first victim said the case had taken a toll on his business and family and said officials should have done more to prevent the second assault. “Your family and the system have failed you,” he said.
The father stared directly at the defendant, who was crying by the end of the man’s testimony.
During the sentencing hearing, the judge said there was a third victim in the case but no charges have been filed in that assault. William Mann, an attorney for the defendant, said after the hearing that those allegations were based on hearsay.
During the hearing, Mann objected to his client being put on Virginia’s sex offender registry. He said the move was incompatible with the goals of the juvenile justice system, which are aimed at rehabilitation instead of punishment.
The teen then rose and apologized for the assaults. He said he had spent more time thinking about what he had done than anything else in his life.
“I know I hurt people — some of the people in this courtroom,” he said, fighting back tears. “The people will be forever scarred.”
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