Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Douglas Fleming on Thursday postponed the sentencing of Scott Ziegler, the former superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools, saying he needed to consider setting aside the guilty verdict in the case.
Ziegler’s attorney argued that the jury’s guilty verdict was incorrect. In September, Ziegler was convicted of a misdemeanor count for violating the state’s conflict of interest laws for firing a teacher after she testified before a special grand jury that was investigating him.
The conflict of interest statute had never been prosecuted before, and Ziegler’s lawyer said the law required proof the former superintendent knowingly violated it and that prosecutors did not present evidence that Ziegler knew he was breaking the law.
Fleming called it an interesting issue and said his instincts indicated he needed to go back and revisit the issues that were raised, The Associated Press reported.
He will rule at a later date whether to set aside the verdict. The maximum sentence Ziegler could receive if the verdict is not set aside is one year in prison.
Prosecutors claimed Ziegler retaliated and made sure a teaching contract for special education teacher Erin Brooks was not renewed after she testified to the grand jury about her difficulties dealing with a student who touched her inappropriately.
The special grand jury had been looking into how Ziegler and the Northern Virginia school system handled two student sexual assaults at two schools in 2021. The special grand jury was convened by Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares at the request of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin.
A special grand jury report found a “stunning lack of openness” on the part of the the school system. While the report indicated no evidence of a cover-up, it said that administrators missed multiple chances to prevent the second assault. The school board ended up not releasing its own internal report on the assaults.
Feature image, stock.adobe.com
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