LOUDOUN COUNTY, VIRGINIA — A Loudoun County principal offered damning testimony Tuesday in the felony trial of former Loudoun County Public Schools spokesman Wayde Byard, who faces a perjury charge for allegedly lying about his knowledge of a 2021 rape.
Prosecutors said that in August 2022, Byard told a grand jury under oath that he didn’t learn until months later that on May 28, 2021, a boy wearing a skirt allegedly raped a freshman girl in a bathroom.
That day, Byard composed a letter that went out to the school community that explained police presence at the school by saying an angry parent was causing a disruption. Byard’s statement said there was “no threat to the student body” even though in reality, the rapist was at large at the time, and the disruptive parent was Scott Smith, the victim’s father, who was angry to hear of his daughter’s rape.
Byard told the grand jury that Stone Bridge Principal Tim Flynn only told him of a disruptive parent. But Flynn told a jury of Loudoun residents on Tuesday that he was positive he called Byard and “told him everything” and that “this is bad.”
“We had a female student who alleged she was raped in the bathroom. … Wayde needs to know all the info so he can do his job,” he testified.
The Daily Wire broke the story of the rape coverup in October 2021, triggering a grand jury investigation ordered by Governor Glenn Youngkin, who won election the next month. The story recounted how at a school board meeting shortly after the rape, where then-Superintendent Scott Ziegler was pushing a new policy to allow transgender students to use the bathroom, he falsely said there had never been a sexual assault in a bathroom. The victim’s father was arrested for disorderly conduct after getting angry again, while the rapist was quietly transferred to a new school.
Byard was placed on leave from his job after being indicted, but prosecutors said Tuesday that the school system will likely reinstate him if he is acquitted. His boss, Director of Communications Joan Salgren, testified Tuesday, acknowledging she refused to meet with prosecutors and saying that she was “instructed” to try to push back against the executive order calling for an investigation into the school system.
Despite Loudoun County Public Schools’ efforts to shut down the grand jury, Ziegler was later charged with misdemeanors and is set to face trial in September. The prosecutions are helmed by special prosecutor Theo Stamos, a former Democratic prosecutor from Arlington who lost her position in 2019 when, like in Loudoun County, a far-left prosecutor replaced her with the help more than half a million dollars from George Soros.
Stamos said in opening arguments that Byard and Salgren worked together to craft the statement, alongside Ziegler and Deputy Superintendent Ashley Ellis. “Ellis will say the only reason she was involved was because of the allegation of sexual assault. Disruptive parents happen all the time,” Stamos said.
She said the statement was designed to say “Nothing to see here, move along,” even as top officials worried about the impact of the rape of a child on a preferred policy initiative. She said Zeigler, Ellis, and Salgren had a call that day where “the purpose was because as info emerged, another fact emerged which was the subject was wearing a skirt, and that fact impacted a policy then in the formative stages… In that call, Flynn used the phrases anal penetration and rape.”
“The evidence will show that the defendant resolved to lie. … The lies get to the heart of what the grand jury was investigating,” Stamos said.
Byard’s attorney, Jennifer Leffler, called Byard the “fall guy,” and attempted to raise questions about the credibility of both Flynn and the rape victim.
“Ashley Ellis took notes and he did say anal penetration but he didn’t say nonconsensual,” she said.
“They have a phone call” she said, but no emails where Flynn told Byard in writing about the rape, though he did so to other Loudoun officials. “I’ll tell you who has a motivation to lie: Tim Flynn,” Leffler said. “He has met with prosecutors at least two times. He’s refused to meet with me.”
Stamos said as the trial continues, “I’ll explain to you why that is” that Byard is missing from “emails with the phrase anal rape.”
Byard previously unsuccessfully sought to change the venue of the trial to Fairfax County, a more liberal jurisdiction, to which prosecutors responded that “without a scintilla of the required evidence,” he was claiming “that none of Loudoun County’s 55,000+ jurors are unbiased enough.”
The rape coverup has shaped Virginia politics for two years, and in more than one way: the judge adjourned promptly at 5 p.m. on Tuesday so jurors had the opportunity to vote in the primary election for prosecutor, where Elizabeth Lancaster, a feminist attorney who represented the rape victim, is seeking to unseat Buta Biberaj, who tried to put the victim’s father in jail.