"Misled, angry, scared": Another campus sexual assault cover-up in Virginia

"Misled, angry, scared": Another campus sexual assault cover-up in Virginia
AP Photo/Steve Helber

First Loudoun, now Alexandria, and parents in Virginia have to wonder where else. National Review’s Inez Stepman used FOIA requests and personal testimony to dig into yet another cover-up of a sexual assault on a high-school campus. Parents are only now discovering this gang-rape of a 14-year-old girl at Minnie Howard High School last October, and now feel “misled, angry, [and] scared” over the silence of school administrators:

We have learned that the Alexandria school district and school board withheld information from parents about a violent sexual assault by multiple people in a city high school, one that sent the victim to the hospital and led to a police investigation. Alexandria police have now directly confirmed to Independent Women’s Forum via email that the police arrested a 14-year-old suspect in early December for “aggravated sexua[l] battery, rape, and forcible sodomy” in connection with the October incident at Minnie Howard campus. The police declined to share additional detail about the incident due to the fact that both the victim and suspect are juveniles. And Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) chief of school and public relations Julia Burgos said that “we are unable to provide information regarding specifics about students.”

A recent Freedom of Information Act request also unearthed a concerning series of emails about the reported sexual assault at Minnie Howard High School last October. Among the recipients and participants in the emails are school-board members, the superintendent, the mayor, and Alexandria police. Parents, however, were largely left in the dark. …

The emails were exchanged just days before a joint board-council hearing focused on reinstating school resource officers to the city’s school campuses, after a previous school-board decision removing the police generated controversy.

Around the halfway point in that six-hour-long meeting, in response to a question from a council member who wanted an “overview” of the incidents that had occurred in the schools, several were listed without much detail — including “a potential sexual assault that is being investigated.” This aside amounted to the only public notification of the rape requiring hospitalization to parents, who continued sending their kids to Minnie Howard and other Alexandria schools without critical information about student safety.

Much of this is behind a paywall, so I don’t want to excerpt any more than is absolutely necessary.  This has some parallels to the Loudoun County incident that catalyzed the parental rights movement in 2021, although this time the parents of the victim didn’t address the school board. One does have to wonder, though, what might have happened had one or both of them had chosen to do so. Would they have been arrested for demanding answers from school officials as the father of the victim was in that incident?

And here’s another question: why did it take five months for this to come out? This sexual assault occurred in the same time as the Loudoun County controversy went national. After watching that situation unfold, the ACPS’ decision to withhold critical safety information from parents looks even more deliberately malicious. At the very least, it contradicts any claims that the school board might have of working in “good faith” with parents. How can anyone in Alexandria trust that school officials — and for that matter, the elected officials in on the secret — tell the truth about safety issues when they’re covering up a gang rape at one of their facilities?

We’ll see if the ACPS feels compelled to account for its decisions in the days ahead. Will the Washington DC/northern Virginia media follow up on Stepman’s report to demand answers and accountability? You can bet that Glenn Youngkin will be demanding it from the governor’s office and remind everyone why voters gave the Academia-endorsed Democrats the boot last year. Looks like parents need to start wearing boots on a regular basis in Virginia, and almost certainly everywhere else.

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