Gov. Youngkin Pardons Scott Smith

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has pardoned Scott Smith, a Loudoun County father arrested during a protest at a Loudoun County School Board meeting in 2021. The pardon comes after a highly publicized incident, in which Smith protested the school district’s handling of two sexually motivated assaults on his daughter and another female student by a 14-year-old student at Stone Bridge High School in May 2021.

The teenager was later convicted in juvenile court and transferred to Broad Run High School, but within months of transferring, the teen sexually assaulted Smith’s daughter. Smith was angered by what he believed to be a lack of significant action or resources to protect young female students in the district, and he held a protest at a Loudoun County School Board meeting. Following the protest, Smith was arrested and charged with creating a public disturbance.

In a statement released on Sunday, Youngkin said that Smith had acted as a devoted parent and the decision to issue him the pardon was "a commitment to empowering parents in what is an unwavering manner."

Following the legal proceedings against him, Smith had been critical of both Youngkin and Attorney General Jason Miyares. Youngkin responded by speaking to Smith on Friday ahead of his “Parents Matter Conversation” event in Leesburg, an event designed to streamline conversations between parents, guardians, and Virginia school administrators in order to create a safe and secure environment for Virginia students.

Smith addressed the pardon in a statement of his own.

“My family has been living a nightmare that no family in America should have to endure," Smith said. "But rather than sit quietly and take it, I decided to stand up against the government – and for that I was branded a ‘domestic terrorist’ and charged with crimes that I did not commit. I want to thank Governor Youngkin for his declaration that I am innocent, and for his absolute and unconditional pardon.”

Despite Governor Youngkin’s pardon, a grand jury issued a scathing report in December of last year about the school system’s handling of the assaults that resulted in indictments against former Superintendent Scott Ziegler and spokesman Wayde Byard. While Byard was acquitted of the charges against him, Ziegler’s legal proceedings come to trial later this month.

The pardon of Smith, then, is significant in this case and marks an important milestone in the fight to protect young female students in Loudoun County and beyond. It shows that Governor Youngkin believes in the power of parental guidance and stands firmly against the bureaucracy that often misrepresents and mistreats vulnerable student populations.

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