Kendall Tietz, DCNF
- Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney is facing criticism that extends beyond her handling of sexual assault allegations in Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS), Fox 5 DC reported.
- A county supervisor said the office, led by Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj, did not follow the law in a sexual assault case that took place in LCPS, Fox 5 DC reported. But, the office’s former attorneys said its problems extend beyond just the one occurrence.
- Attorney and Loudoun County Supervisor Caleb Kershner said Biberaj’s “failure to follow the law could not go unanswered,” blaming her and LCPS for the “harm” that the situation caused. If the office has been prepared, he said, the second offense would never have happened.
Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney is facing criticism that extends beyond her handling of sexual assault allegations in Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS), Fox 5 DC reported.
A county supervisor said the office, led by Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj, did not follow the law in a sexual assault case that took place in LCPS, Fox 5 DC reported. But, the office’s former attorneys said its problems extend beyond just the one occurrence.
A female student was raped by a student wearing a dress in a girls’ bathroom at an LCPS high school in May 2021. After the allegations came to light, the perpetrator was transferred to another school in the district, where they proceeded to sexually assault another girl.
The perpetrator has been found guilty of both assaults.
Attorney and Loudoun County Supervisor Caleb Kershner represented the perpetrator at the end of the case. On Jan. 28, he posted to Facebook that “there has been a great deal of media/Facebook buzz, and some honest misunderstandings, about my representation of the juvenile defendant involved in the recent LCPS sexual assault cases.”
“At least one of the incidents could have been avoided entirely if it hadn’t been for appalling failures in our system,” Kershner wrote. “I stepped into this matter personally after the initial sentencing, when my employee informed me that the Commonwealth Attorney’s office had violated this young defendant’s due process rights. Buta Biberaj’s office had asked for the defendant to be placed on a lifetime sex registry, and they did so without filing for a hearing.”
He said Biberaj’s “failure to follow the law could not go unanswered,” blaming her and LCPS for the “harm” that the situation caused. If the office has been prepared, he said, the second offense would never have happened.
“After the defendant’s first offense, he was released from custody at the Commonwealth Attorney’s request … because they weren’t ready to resolve the first sexual assault case within 21 days, as required by law for juveniles held in custody,” Kershner said. “The Commonwealth knew the offenses were serious, but they were simply unprepared to move forward with the case.”
Biberaj pointed to a slow turnaround in getting rape kit evidence to explain the delay, Fox 5 DC reported, saying her request to delay the trial was made in collaboration with the victim’s family, according to LoudounNow. But this contention is disputed by the victim’s parents, according to a Tuesday release from Virginians for Safe Communities. “My wife and I were shocked, but not surprised by the assertion that we somehow collaborated with Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj in her decision to delay the trial of the predator who attacked our daughter. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Scott and Jess Smith, the victim’s parents, said in the release. “We had neither any input nor collaboration in that decision-making process. Rather, those decisions were made exclusively by her, without our input.”
On Thursday, the juvenile was removed from the sex offender registry because the judge said she erred in her original decision to place him on the Virginia Adult Sex Offender list.
Multiple prior employees of the commonwealth’s attorneys office have also expressed concerns about the way the office operates and its treatment of personnel.
A former commonwealth prosecutor and three staffers made their concerns known to Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall in October 2020, Fox 5 DC reported.
“When I worked there for 16 years I went to work every day asking how I could keep the citizens of Loudoun safe,” former prosecutor Jason Faw said in an email to Randall, Fox 5 DC reported. “The six months I worked there under Ms. Biberaj, that was not the focus.”
“As I said when we were leaving yesterday’s meeting, I know a number of people there who have resorted to substance abuse (alcohol) to try to cope with getting through another day there,” Faw reportedly said. “I worry about them.”
“I admire the fact that you stayed so long with the treatment you (a seasoned attorney) received,” Randall wrote in response, Fox 5 DC reported. “By protecting staff I believe it will force this issue in the media thereby making people aware that she is not prosecuting people who are of danger to our community.”
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