Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) on Sunday issued a pardon for Scott Smith, a Loudoun County father who was convicted of disorderly conduct following a heated confrontation at a public school board meeting, which he attended “as a concerned parent” after his daughter was sexually assaulted in the school bathroom.
“Upon careful deliberation and review of the circumstances of the matter, I have decided it is just and appropriate to grant this absolute pardon that reflects Scott Thomas Smith’s factual innocence of disorderly conduct, for which he was convicted on Aug. 17, 2021,” the pardon read.
Smith was convicted of obstruction of justice and disorderly conduct in June 2021 after police intervened at a heated school board meeting. He had pleaded not guilty. The obstruction of justice conviction was dismissed on appeal, and the disorderly conduct conviction was reportedly set to go to trial later this month.
“I want to thank Governor Youngkin for his declaration that I am innocent, and for his absolute and unconditional pardon,” Smith said in a statement Sunday. “While I was extremely confident in my lawyers’ abilities to defend me in court, I am grateful that the Governor recognizes that our justice system has been both weaponized and politicized to the point where my ability to receive a fair trial was in jeopardy.”
The case attracted national attention in the height of the pandemic, as a push for “parents’ rights” gained momentum and public school board meetings became a breeding ground for heated controversy. Evolving school policies on gender identity and bathrooms also played a significant role in stirring up consternation among parents.
Smith has maintained that he attended the school board meeting with no intention of speaking and did not in fact speak but was confronted by a community member who “threatened to spread false and malicious information about Mr. Smith’s business with the intent to damage his reputation,” the pardon read.
The pardon also claimed Smith “has been publicly and falsely accused of ‘domestic terrorism’ and ‘hate crimes’ for attempting to advocate for his daughter, a victim of violent sexual assault.”
The student who assaulted Smith’s daughter was convicted in 2021. The Loudoun County school board faced significant backlash for its handling of the assault claim, after an email surfaced in 2021 revealing that Superintendent Scott Ziegler was aware of the assault claim a month before he denied having any knowledge of the claim.
Youngkin mentioned this Loudoun County case many times as he was campaigning for governor, repeatedly calling for an investigation into the school board’s handling of the assault allegations.
Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj, who prosecuted the case, said in a statement sent to The Hill that “This political stunt by Governor Youngkin is an unprecedented and inappropriate intervention into an active legal case. He chose to interfere in the legal process but not for justice but for political gain.”
Biberaj added, “The justice system does not work when a Governor becomes the judge and jury.”
Updated at 9:30 pm.