Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Friday pardoned a Loudoun County father who was arrested at a school board meeting in 2021 while seeking answers about his daughter’s sexual assault on school property.
Scott Smith was charged with obstruction of justice and disorderly conduct for his behavior at the meeting, which took place shortly after his 15-year-old daughter was assaulted in her school’s bathroom in Ashburn, Virginia, according to the New York Times. Smith was convicted of both charges in 2021. Smith’s conviction for resisting arrest was later dismissed, and he eventually received a suspended sentence of 10 days in jail, according to CNN affiliate WJLA.
“Scott Smith is a dedicated parent who’s faced unwarranted charges in his pursuit to protect his daughter. Scott’s commitment to his child despite the immense obstacles is emblematic of the parental empowerment movement that started in Virginia,” Youngkin said in a statement announcing the pardon.
“In Virginia, parents matter and my resolve to empower parents is unwavering. A parent’s fundamental right to be involved in their child’s education, upbringing, and care should never be undermined by bureaucracy, school divisions or the state. I am pleased to grant Scott Smith this pardon and help him and his family put this injustice behind them once and for all,” he added.
Deputies ultimately arrested a male student in connection with the sexual assault against Smith’s daughter, according to the Times. He was found guilty in that case and later pleaded no contest to a separate sexual assault case at a different school, the newspaper reported.
Smith’s arrest at the school board meeting helped fuel a national political conversation around school choice and parental rights. Conservative media in particular highlighted the sexual assault case in an effort to promote anti-transgender talking points.
Youngkin leaned heavily on these issues during his 2021 gubernatorial campaign, vowing on election night, “We’re going to embrace our parents, not ignore them.”
Smith, in an interview with WJLA following his pardon, said: “I think it’s pretty clear and convincing to the public that what happened to me that day should have never happened. I’m glad that this is finally over.”
He added that the experience has led him to believe that “in today’s America, getting a fair and free trial is next to impossible.”