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Police Logs Contradict Some Of The Daily Wire's Reporting On The Loudoun County Rape Scandal
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Jesse here. In our last free episode, I told Katie about The Daily Wire’s explosive investigative article (paywalled) by Luke Rosiak about a controversy unfolding in Loudoun County, Virginia, involving a local man named Scott Smith and his daughter.
As Rosiak explains, last May Smith’s daughter said she was raped in a bathroom in her high school by a male student who allegedly identifies as gender-fluid and who was allegedly wearing a dress at the time. The alleged perpetrator was then moved to another school while the authorities investigated and subsequently prosecuted him, and in the meantime, he allegedly assaulted another student there (I wonder how many times I will use the word ‘allegedly’ in this post). Most of the basic facts in this case have, by now, been confirmed by other media outlets.
As all this was unfolding, the Loudoun County Public Schools system was working to institute a new policy that would enshrine transgender and gender nonconforming students’ ability to use the school facilities matching their gender identities. The climactic moment of The Daily Wire story comes during a June school board meeting Smith attended devoted both to debating racial-equity initiatives in the school system and the trans issue. During it, board members and the Loudoun County Superintendent, Scott Ziegler, publicly expressed skepticism that there were any reasonable safety concerns associated with the proposed bathroom and locker-room policy. Ziegler went so far as to say “To my knowledge, we don’t have any record of assaults occurring in our restrooms.”
Smith, already incensed at what he was hearing during the raucous meeting, eventually got into an altercation with a local activist who he says denied, to his face, that his daughter was raped, and who he says threatened to ruin his plumbing business. He was eventually arrested, and videos of the incident went viral, leading Smith to become something of a nationwide generic symbol of out-of-control conservative parents protesting critical race theory. Until The Daily Wire’s article was published, none of this backstory about the specific reasons he was so upset had come out publicly, despite the fact that in at least one of the videos his wife can be heard yelling in the background that their daughter was raped. (Ziegler has since apologized for not providing a safe enough environment for students in his school system, and, for what it’s worth, the policy concerning TGNC students passed in August.)
But there’s another jaw-dropping moment in The Daily Wire’s story, and it comes in the moments immediately after Smith’s daughter reported to her school that she was assaulted:
On May 28, Stone Bridge High School called Smith to come to the school, where they told him that his 15-year-old daughter had just been physically assaulted in a bathroom by a male, Smith says. When he arrived, he determined that what had happened was not a case of his daughter being beaten up: It was far more serious.
The school said it was handling the incident in-house, he says. Smith was dumbfounded.
Deputies from the sheriff’s office ultimately responded to the school – not to investigate the alleged rape of a child, Smith said, but because school administrators called them on him for making a scene about it.
Smith acknowledges he did make a scene and says any father would have done the same in the situation. “I went nuts. I called the principal a p—-,” he said. “Six cop cars showed up like a f—ing SWAT team” to respond to the school’s complaint about an assertive parent, he said.
“Thank God that I drew enough attention to it, without getting arrested, that we got an escort to the hospital and they administered a rape kit that night,” Smith said. A SANE exam and buccal swab, his lawyer said, later came back favorable to the prosecution’s case.
All juvenile court records are sealed. The sheriff’s office declined to release records relating to Smith to The Daily Wire but, in response to a public records request, confirmed that a report with “Offense: Forcible Sodomy [and] Sexual Battery” matching that date and location exists.
Any reader will interpret this passage to mean that, according to Smith, Stone Bridge High School at best dallied in escalating this alleged rape to the police, and at worst had no plans to do so — what else could the reference to dealing with the incident ‘in-house’ mean? In this narrative, it’s only Smith’s passionate intervention on his daughter’s behalf — so passionate it earns him a call to the police — that gets his daughter justice.
During our show, I passed this storyline along fairly credulously. But I also mentioned that it was perhaps the easiest part of this whole controversy to independently verify, and that I was going to try to do so by getting hold of the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office dispatch logs associated with the incident, which would either show police there were alerted about a sexual assault (in which case The Daily Wire’s account would be inaccurate) or they were alerted about an irate parent (in which case it would be accurate).
Yesterday I got those logs, and they very strongly dispute Smith’s — and The Daily Wire’s — account.
In response to my query, a spokesman for the Loudon County Sheriff's Office said in an email, “[O]n May 28, 2021, an LCSO School Resource Officer (SRO) was notified by Stone Brige [sic] High School staff of an alleged sexual assault. As the SRO was beginning his investigation, a parent of the victim responded to the school and deputies from the LCSO were also called to respond.”
Under Virginia law, School Resource Officers are “law enforcement officers who are employed by a local law enforcement agency. They are assigned by the law enforcement agency to work in one or more schools but remain under the administrative control of the law enforcement agency.” They are cops, in other words: So according to the Sheriff’s Office, the school reported the alleged sexual assault to a cop. (If my reading of the law is correct, a Virginia SRO is a mandated reporter and would have to report the alleged rape of a juvenile — meaning the moment the SRO was notified the incident had been effectively escalated to the entire Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office — but I haven’t looked deeply into this and am happy to correct this parenthetical if I’m in error.) (Update: A commenter said that all school employees are mandated reporters, and yes, this is reflected in Virginia law as well, and I assume is the case everywhere.)
The spokesman also attached to his email, as per my request, a document listing “all calls for [police] service to Stone Bridge High School for May 28, 2021.” Here’s a PDF of that document, and it basically confirms what the spokesman told me in the email. The key bit is this tick-tock of the calls, which you should read from bottom to top:
The first call comes in at about 1:30 p.m.: “WAS BRIEFED BY ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL OF A STUDENT THAT HAS MADE ALLEGATIONS OF BEING POSSIBLY RAPED OR TOUCHED UNWANTED BY ANOTHER STUDENT A COUPLE OF HOURS AGO. INVESTIGATING AT THIS TIME AND PARENTS ARE AND HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED AT THIS TIME BY ADMIN.”
Obviously this document consists solely of brief snippets that leave certain details out, but it offers every indication that early on during this episode, the police were, in fact, notified of an alleged sexual assault, as were the victim’s parents. It’s about 50 minutes later that we get “REQ[UIRE] SUPERVISOR” and “REQ[UIRE] ANOTHER UNIT,” both of which seem connected to “UPSET PARENT,” which occurs about an hour after the assault. This chain of events mostly conflicts with The Daily Wire’s version of what happened that day, in which it’s unclear whether the police are going to be investigating at all and Smith isn’t even told outright his daughter says she was raped.
I don’t know what accounts for this discrepancy. I think the most likely explanation is some kind of miscommunication: maybe an administrator who wasn’t him- or herself accurately filled in gave Smith accidentally false or incomplete information that he interpreted as an attempt at a coverup, or maybe he didn’t understand the SRO was a full-blown cop, or maybe something else happened. Without talking to Smith, there’s no way to know for sure. I reached out to him yesterday via his attorney and haven’t heard back. But the idea that the school was seeking to handle this ‘in-house’ in the sense implied by the article is not credible given that by the time staffers there allegedly told Smith this, they had already escalated the matter to the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office.
As for The Daily Wire’s response, hoo boy. I first DMed Rosiak this morning at about 10:00 a.m. He didn’t get those DMs (I could tell because the second of the two sent-received checkmarks didn’t show up), so I called him at 12:33 p.m. to explain what I was working on and give him a chance to respond. He eventually referred me to a spokesman for The Daily Wire.
It was only as I was putting my finishing touches on this post that I noticed that The Daily Wire and Rosiak raced up an article claiming the logs support his initial reporting. That article doesn’t mention how he got the logs (from me), which is slightly annoying given that Rosiak doesn’t like it when reporters don’t credit other reporters for their work:
Anyway, here’s what The Daily Wire said via its own spokesman:
The sheriff’s statements and dispatch logs bolster The Daily Wire’s investigation. By “in house,” Mr. Smith meant that the case was being handled by personnel who work in the school full-time and not a team of police specialists capable of collecting evidence necessary to support a criminal prosecution. These official records confirm that this was, in fact, the case, and they raise new troubling questions about why a team of outside police officers was apparently called to handle an “upset parent,” but not an alleged rape of a student. We stand by Luke Rosiak’s reporting.
I find this disingenuous on two fronts. First, The Daily Wire is attempting to retroactively shift the meaning of “in house,” as though the average reader wouldn’t interpret it as an accusation that the school didn’t seek to involve the police in a timely manner. Scroll back up to that excerpt and read it again and find me any mention of the police being notified — there isn’t one. If Rosiak meant to communicate to readers something like The police were called, but Smith was concerned that they weren’t going to bring on board rape investigators, he would have written just that. That still would have been bad, of course, but it would have been an order of magnitude less explosive than the storyline The Daily Wire initially communicated.
Second, The Daily Wire’s question about “why a team of outside police officers was apparently called to handle an ‘upset parent,’ but not an alleged rape of a student” ignores the fact that a grand total of 50 minutes or so appears to have elapsed between the alleged rape being called in to the LCSO and Smith’s arrival on scene. It appears the SRO had just started his or her investigation, and no one else had arrived yet, but there’s no evidence that the plan was for the SRO to handle the whole thing him- or herself. All we have from the logs is “INVESTIGATING AT THIS TIME,” which implies the process had only just started. Think about how long it would take just to, for example, separate both kids and get both sides of the story and establish exactly what further police services were needed?
In his followup article Rosiak writes that the logs suggest that SRO “‘investigates’ for nearly an hour without calling for police specialists,” as though that’s unusual or damning. Is it? We have no details here whatsoever. The Daily Wire is usually pretty pro-cop, yet now they’re accusing the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office of having somehow mismanaged this case despite a lack of any solid evidence that genuine mismanagement occurred. This whole story is bad enough as-is without journalists making unwarranted allegations!
Anyway, the overall claim now seems to be that after Scott Smith got to his daughter’s school, he was told (or somehow found out) that no one outside the school itself would investigate his daughter’s sexual assault — that this had already been determined less than an hour after the first report of the incident was made to the Sheriff’s Office. In the absence of more evidence, this is logic-defying.
I’m partly responsible for disseminating the first version of The Daily Wire’s reporting, of course, though I’m torn on my own role. While I was too credulous, even in the moment I did express that I was going to do a bit of reporting and get more information about what had happened, which I subsequently did. But I’m wincing at how I presented this on the show. I could have just as easily said something like “Here’s what Smith said happened, and I’ve got an email in to the Sheriff’s Office to see how much of this I can confirm.” After all, this was one of the only parts of the storyline that hadn’t, by that point, been confirmed by other outlets, so I should have been more careful.
Anyway, we’ll talk more about this during our next free episode, and if anyone involved provides me with more information to clarify what’s going on here, I’ll update this post.
The lead image, of Stone Bridge High School, is from the school’s PTSO website.