NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
Loudoun County, Virginia, Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj said she does not plan to recuse herself from the legal battle to remove School Board Chair Brenda Sheridan, despite the fact that a judge disqualified Biberaj from a similar case against a former school board member and despite Biberaj’s alleged involvement in some of the claims against Sheridan.
The parent organization Fight for Schools, which filed the petition to remove Sheridan, has also filed a petition to disqualify Biberaj from the case. Ian Prior, the group’s executive director, told Fox News that Biberaj has clear conflicts of interest in the case.
In order to remove an elected official in Virginia, petitioners must acquire signatures and bring the case before a judge. If a judge approves the petition, the commonwealth’s attorney prosecutes the case. Biberaj, the attorney in question, received an $861,039 assist from the George Soros-funded Justice and Public Safety PAC in her 2019 election.
“It is necessary to have faith that the prosecutor in this removal proceeding has no actual or perceived conflicts, that she will go where the evidence takes her, and litigate this case with appropriate prosecutorial zeal,” Prior told Fox News in a statement.
PARENT GROUP FILES PETITION TO REMOVE LOUDOUN COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD CHAIR
“In this case, Commonwealth Attorney Biberaj was very involved in two of the very serious incidents that gave rise to the recall,” he claimed. “There is simply no way that the people of Loudoun County can be confident in a fair process for the removal of Brenda Sheridan unless Ms. Biberaj either recuses herself, or is disqualified based on her conflicts of interest, and an independent prosecutor is appointed by the Court.”
The petition to remove Sheridan brings 11 claims against the school board chair, five of which involve a private Facebook group of which Biberaj was also a member and one of which involves a decision regarding a sexual assault case.
Claims 1-4 and claim 9 cite the Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County private Facebook group. The petition claims that, in response to then-school board member Beth Barts’ post expressing that she was “very concerned” about a movement opposing “critical race theory” “gaining support,” “several members of the Facebook group began a campaign to target and harass Loudoun County parents and others opposed to the critical race theory philosophy.” According to the petition, members of the group began to “gather information,” “infiltrate” anti-CRT groups, and “spread information” to “expose people publicly.”
The petition claims that “in response to the campaign of targeted harassment sparked by Beth Barts’ March 12 Facebook post, Brenda Sheridan took no action” to report the campaign to police, inform the targeted constituents, or denounce the campaign.
VIRGINIA AG-ELECT VOWS TO INVESTIGATE LOUDOUN AFTER SHERIFF’S LETTER SAYS SCHOOL DISTRICT ENABLED ASSAULT
Claim 6 refers to a male student who was found “not innocent” of charges of forcible sodomy and forcible fellatio in an incident at Stone Ridge High School on May 28. The same student pleaded “no contest” earlier this month in a separate case to two charges of abduction and sexual battery involving the Oct. 6 incident. The petition claims that “despite Sheridan’s at least general knowledge of the alleged assault [on May 28], the alleged assailant was transferred to a different school within Loudoun County while awaiting trial and allegedly committed a sexual assault on another girl.”
Fox News reached out to Sheridan for a response to these claims, but she did not respond by press time. Loudoun County Public Schools also did not respond to a request for comment.
On Nov. 12, Fight for Schools filed a motion to disqualify Biberaj from the Sheridan case and a memorandum laying out the reasons for disqualifying her. The court has not yet set a hearing date for the motion and Biberaj has not yet filed a written response to the allegations in the motion and the supporting memorandum.
“Biberaj has a clear conflict of interest that precludes her from participating in this case as Commonwealth’s Attorney,” the memorandum reads. The document claims that “Biberaj participated in the private Facebook group that sought to target and harass parents,” the group mentioned in claims 1-4 and 9. “Participation in this private Facebook group makes Biberaj a potential witness for both parties.”
The document cites Loudoun County Sheriff Michael Chapman, who told journalist Sharyl Attkisson, “I couldn’t really go to my Commonwealth Attorney because she was part of this group.”
PARENT GROUP FILES PETITION TO REMOVE LOUDOUN COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD VICE CHAIR
While Biberaj was reportedly a member of the Facebook group, she has not been accused of participating in the alleged targeting and harassment of parents.
The memorandum also notes that Biberaj prosecuted the father of the 14-year-old sexual assault victim in the May 28 incident and that Biberaj played a role in “allowing the alleged assailant to remain free to commit another assault.” A recent letter from Chapman to Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Ziegler noted that “LCPS, in conjunction with the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, had determined to place the defendant in another school.”
Biberaj does not face charges of misconduct in connection to the decision to place the defendant in another school.
The document also notes that “Biberaj argued for dismissal of the action” against Sheridan “even though that position was adverse to the petitioners, whose interests she was tasked with representing.”
Fox News reached out to Biberaj for a response to these claims, but she did not respond by press time.
The memorandum also notes that Judge Jeanette Irby granted a motion to disqualify Biberaj from the case against then-school board member Beth Barts on Oct. 6.
LOUDOUN COUNTY SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIM’S MOTHER PLANS TITLE IX ASSAULT AGAINST SCHOOL BOARD
“The Barts Removal Action involved materially similar operative facts regarding a Loudoun County School Board member’s neglect of duty, misuse of office, and incompetence in the performance of duties that had a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office of a school board member,” the memorandum reads. “Biberaj’s actions in the Barts Removal Action demonstrate her hostility to the petition effort, petition signers, and organizing group, Fight for Schools, in this matter.”
The memorandum cites Biberaj’s Twitter post sharing a letter to the editor of Loudoun Now that defended the school district’s controversial equity work – which parents say involves critical race theory – and that criticized Fight for Schools.
Despite her disqualification from the Barts case, Biberaj told WTOP that she does not expect to recuse herself from the Sheridan case.
“Right now, the only parties that are part of the proceedings are the commonwealth and Ms. Sheridan,” Biberaj said. “There is no motion before the court calling for that.”
Yet Prior noted the legal motion calling for her disqualification, which he filed Nov. 12.
Biberaj did not comment on the motion to disqualify, but her office did release a statement dated Nov. 23, the date of the most recent hearing on the Sheridan case.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
“It is our duty, as the Commonwealth’s Attorney, to protect the participants and the process,” Biberaj said in the statement. She said her office will direct the Loudoun County Office of Elections to certify that the signatures on the petitions meet the required threshold. “When and if so certified, then the matter of the petitions can proceed to an evaluation of the allegations and the facts that establish the same.”
Fox News reached out to Sheridan and other members of the school board, none of whom commented on Biberaj’s involvement in the case. Ziegler’s office also did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment. Judge Irby and the court declined to comment on the case.