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Tuscarora High School in Leesburg 

Parents, students, alumni and current and former staff of Tuscarora High School were rocked this week after allegations of a sexual assault in the football team’s locker room came to light, and members of the community have been critical of the school administration's lack of communication and transparency.

Leesburg Police Department officials have confirmed they are investigating an incident at Tuscarora, but they aren't disclosing any details of the inquiry. The Times-Mirror first reported the sexual assault allegation on Tuesday. Sources with knowledge of the incident say a football player was held down by other players while another inserted something into the victim on Oct. 1.

According to an LCPS statement, the school became aware of the incident Oct. 5. Five days later, after the Times-Mirror report and ensuing outrage on social media, the school system issued a statement to the public.

Tuscarora parent Laura Jane Dimbylow said she first heard about the incident through a Facebook post in an unrelated community group Oct. 5. She thought Wednesday’s LCPS statement was vague and that some kind of communication would have been more appropriate the day the incident was reported.

Dimbylow, whose daughter attends Tuscarora, said the delayed response was especially upsetting because three weeks ago she also found out about a potential security threat at Lucketts Elementary, where her son goes to school. In the Lucketts situation, parents were notified of the potential threat almost a month after it was reported to the school.

“As far as communication, it was just kind of like a one-two punch,” Dimbylow said.

Dimbylow said she understands the challenges facing the school system because social media moves so quickly, but she said any statement would have been helpful, especially once the police became involved.

Another Tuscarora parent, Vicki Radan, said on social media she found it unacceptable, as a football parent, to hear about the incident on Facebook after a weekend of rumors rather than directly from the school system.

A former Tuscarora teacher who spoke with the Times-Mirror on the condition of anonymity to speak openly about her experience as the school said friends of hers who still teach at THS were first briefed about the incident as a staff on Oct. 10. The direction from Tuscarora Principal Pamela Croft to teachers has been “squash any conversation” about the incident in the classroom, the former teacher said.

The teacher said allegations of sexual assault are atypical at Tuscarora, but how the incident has been handled was expected. In her years at Tuscarora, the former teacher said lack of communication from Croft was common.

“I understand it’s a very touchy subject, especially with the climate in our culture with sexual assault now, but there’s still a courtesy to a body of your faculty and staff who would like your direction and leadership on how exactly to handle the conversations obviously happening in the classrooms and hallways with the students,” she said.

That said, the former teacher also noted the school has a duty to protect the privacy of all students under federal law, so it can be difficult to know how transparent to be. But, she said, faculty needed direction on how to help students who are also still processing what happened.

Croft followed her Oct. 10 address to the school community with a call Thursday clarifying the incident was isolated to a few players, and “is not indicative of the Husky football program, its players or Coach Wheelbarger and his staff.”

The principal also told the community it takes time to investigate the incident in a way that is fair and ensures proper consequences are carried out for those involved.

Tuscarora will play Freedom High School as scheduled Friday at Freedom. Croft said it was “highly inappropriate and unfair to penalize all students of the program for the alleged actions of a few.”

Superintendent Eric Williams sent out a statement Friday afternoon — one week after the incident was reported — saying if the allegations are true, the actions will not be tolerated and those involved will face disciplinary consequences, including possible expulsion.

He also said there is no indication more than three players were involved, and there is no threat to students.

"Based on the information available to LCPS, including information received from the Leesburg Police Department, we are confident that students are safe and that normal school activities can continue. Should circumstances change, this decision will be reviewed," he said.

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Victims of sexual assault can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or the Loudoun Abused Women's Shelter at 1-703-777-6552 for support.

Reporter

(37) comments

Mcullen23

I would like to say that my heart goes out to the victim of this very serious “incident” that occurred at Tuscarora High School. I have not ever had any dealings with Tuscarora HS. I will say that my husband and I dealt with a serious bullying incident that occurred with our child at Trailside Middle School. The response from the Trailside MS administration during this was very positive and they dealt with the issue immediately. They provided support and resources to the students and the parents, as well. We were very pleased with the outcome of how it was dealt with. It is very upsetting to hear that the response at Tuscarora HS has been minimal to say the least. The safety and security of all students should be the first priority. It is my hope that the victim and his family get the support and justice they are entitled.

Countyrez

Leadership is non-existent in this matter. The Principal decided to make an extremely rare appearance at the PTSO meeting this week, took no questions, read a prepared extremely brief LCPS statement and left promptly. It was pathetic in light of the heightened sensitivity of what is going on. Unfortunately this is business as usual at Tuscarora and unless people speak up to ask for a change, nothing will. This sad event is just the latest in failings at Tuscarora. Contact the Superintendent and make your voice heard.

Virginia SGP

2 final thoughts:

1. Individuals are much less likely to break rules if they know they will definitely be caught and punished. This is why kids smoke/vape in the bathrooms not the classrooms and why occupied houses are not often burglarized. It's also why drivers don't speed past cops. But just as many of these kids have alcohol parties at the homes of parents who tacitly condone such behavior, one has to wonder why 3-4 kids would hold down another if hazing was not tolerated at this school. Much more likely there is a pervasive culture of hazing and bullying at this school. Students that do report it are not believed or the perpetrators only mildly punished, if at all. That is consistent with the principal demanding everyone else not have any consequences (game must go on) and people asking for the public to keep the Tuscarora community (the ones who overlooked this bullying for so long) in their thoughts and prayers. There is a problem at this school, and likely within the disttict at large, that is not being addressed.

2. And then we have apologists like LCPSsafe (is this a planted account of an administrator) who merely excuse the school, staff and district of any influence or accountability. When an organization decides to tackle an issue, leadership must all be onboard. If a company/military addresses sexual assault in a comprehensive manner, members who continually make light of or avoid responsibility are seen as part of the problem and removed if they continue to speak out. Such wavering individuals cause doubt in the rank and file about whether the organization is serious and nobody can trust that person to take action if confided in. The mere fact that so many LCPS staff feel free to speak out and absolve LCPS of any responsibility in this or any future incident clearly shows the district and its staff are not serious about addressing these issues. Rather than providing safe environments, they are simply concerned about deflecting, suppressing and "moving on". If it were up to them, you would never hear another word about this (the "wait until the investigation is over" is a smokescreen) and no policy would be installed to prevent future incidents. We would be left to guess where it would happen again (and it will if no systemic action is taken). The school board and administration don't care about the students, only their public image.

DavisB

2 more final thoughts -


1 - thankfully that was SGP's last thoughts
2 - it truly looks like apologists like SGP are making excuses for the students and their parents, perhaps even setting an argument that they have no liability in this attack because they were no supervised correctly by LCPS. Perhaps SGP is a plant trying to sew seeds of reasonable doubt across the community

LCPSsafe

2 thumbs up DavisB

LCPSsafe

SGP I'm not a planted account or administrator, as stated in my post I am a proud parent of a 9th grader, that plays football for a different LCPS. And I will agree with you the faculty and the principal deserves 2 F's (1 for failure on how all of this was handled and other for fired)

TomPaine

People need to calm down and put down the pitchforks. There is such a thing as due process and I trust the police and school system will get to the bottom of the issue. The perpetrators will be held accountable. But we are talking about minors here and there are strict laws about releasing details of crimes when minors are involved. The school administration has to follow the laws or there is a danger that those responsible could go free if the procedures and laws are not followed. While many want all the details and immediate punishment, that isn't the way things work. The general public is not entitled to know all the details at this investigatory stage as it could taint the investigation or the jury pool if it goes into the court system.

jke

This is the same school who has a teacher that spit in the face of a campaign worker during the Trump vote.

LCPSsafe

Not the fault of the faculty it is the it is ultimately the fault of the parents. When speaking with my high school son about this he was adimite that this was "bullying taken to the max level and the boys found guilty should be expelled!" Proud dad here!

(Edited by staff.)

DavisB

Brian (VA SGP)- enough with the false analogies and trying to connect in school incidents to the "evil" administration and school board you constantly blame for all things.

Schools are not like the army or Starbucks. You wrote about the number of young adults in the army - well there are very few young adults going to school - they are juveniles, not adults. There is no central command among the schools - they are more independent from each other than connected. And to compare schools to Starbucks is a frothy idea at best. Even to try to connect this attack to the Starbucks incident is inconceivable.

Put the responsibility on THS students and staff where it belongs.

BTW - one does not have to be a educator or a spouse of an educator to recognize the extreme bias in your posts. Simply being a parent is enough.

CindyLou

Something stinks here. Real bad, and nothing is being done? Typical.

GoodOlLoudoun

Principal needs to be fired. This is a rape not a prank. The school allowed a major crime go unreported to parents for almost a week; and only did so after rime was reported in the press. Tom Marshal is a worthless school board representative who has not acted on this issue.

Countyrez

A robo call from the Principal was sent out Friday essentially notifying everyone that yes, the football game against Freedom will be played and the alleged actions a few should not be viewed as actions of the football program, its coach(es), or football team. And that is your Tuscarora leadership. First an email about an "ongoing investigation" and a second critical notice that the game is on. The Friday message from the Freedom principal showed empathy, understanding, and leadership, too bad the school that had these alleged crimes committed on their grounds could only muster an email and a robo call, sad. Perhaps it is time for a change in leadership.

BobOhneiserEsq

John M. The facts reported thus far are skimpy at best so I would suggest not concluding rape as an accusation (check Black's law dictionary). What has been shared certainly is assault and battery and "could" include other crimes. "Offensive touching" should not be seen as OK in schools as just something kids do to each. We (taxpayers) pay literally hundreds of dollars per hour to the professional staff in high schools to make sure the schools are safe at the level civil society considers safe. Coaches, gym teachers, athletic directors and others who are quite well remunerated need to MAKE SURE children are monitored at all times when on school grounds just like they are supposed to be cared for on buses to and from schools. Let's wait for the facts before using labels that may or may not be accurate.

John M

Bob, I get what you are saying. I am very friendly with the parents of a Tuscarora football player and they and their son have shared some details with me. The act itself is disgusting and alarming, but what most parents are worried about is the Principal seems to be doing everything possible to make this go away. I guess we will see how it all plays out.
Having attended several Tuscarora football games over the past two years, it is clear that the head coach does not have control of his team, he seems to want to be buddies with the players instead of an authority figure.

GoodOlLoudoun

Bob
Rape is the insertion of object or body part into another unwilling person. So you are saying that the alleged victim was either willing or there was no insertion?

More Cowbell

One has to wonder what kind of investigation is going on? A week, nothing new except school covering their ****. Game should have been cancelled at a minimum. I hope the 3 players involved didn't play? Police have had over a week. Interviewing a half dozen students shouldn't take that long.

Chris McHale

Cowbell - It takes that long if there isn't any evidence. I'm not saying it didn't happen. The allegation was that there were 3 attackers and the victim in the room, no one else. It does not sound as if the victim sought immediate medical treatment. So at this point LCSO have to try and put the pieces together, assuming there are any pieces to put together.

More Cowbell

Heard there were as many as 14 witnesses and video.

doverboy

Ladies and Gentlemen, There are reports that as many as 14 people witnessed this assault, some even video taping the assault. If we change the sex of the person violated would more ears open to an assault of a young woman? This is a result of the culture at this school and the principal needs to go, the coaches need to go, the football team should shut down for the season (senior athletes should have stepped in to stop this)

More Cowbell

Of course law enforcement and Tusc/LCPS still silent. If it was taped and video passed around, like they usually are, everyone sending it and anyone receiving it without coming forward is guilty too.

Loudoun4Trump

School system keeps sweeping stuff under the rug..Damren, special needs, grade fixing, drunk teachers, on and on, ....nothing new here, Please VA SP continue to speak out, I appreciate your knowledgeable input into these discussions/ This is not a vendetta, but rater holding our public education system accountable for their shortcomings....they cant admit it, someone needs to be the whistleblower....

Duncan Idaho

Remember Tuscarora: Sometimes the cover-up is worse than the crime.

GrantPalmer

As the parent of a new Tuscarora student, I'm shocked at the overall lack of communication (which started when the principal did not attend the parent orientation because she was at a sports competition). Since the beginning of the year, I have never seen her despite spending lots of time at the school. She does not email, she does not robo call, she does not tweet anything of substance. The response to the rape allegations is honestly shocking, basically "move along, there's nothing to see here!" Believe me, I have a good understanding of privacy restrictions which protect the identity of the parties involved, as well as the delineation between the roles of police and schools. But to send out defensive and dismissive emails in an attempt to squash legitimate questions about school safety and culture--when this happened on school grounds, during a school-sponsored activity, under the supervision of school personnel--the message should be strong and repetitive: WE TAKE THIS ISSUE VERY SERIOUSLY. THE SAFETY OF OUR STUDENTS IS PARAMOUNT. WHATEVER THIS INVESTIGATION YIELDS, WE WILL CONTINUE TO STAND WITH VIGILANCE AGAINST THIS TYPE OF VIOLENCE IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS. Please...come on!

BobOhneiserEsq

Bullying (including assault & battery) between students is one of the most under reported occurrences in schools. (my conclusion after 8 years on the school board, observing incidents while all three of my children attended LCPS and having clients whose children had to change schools to avoid the bullying instead of having the bullying stop). All incidents should be reported to the school board including an explanation of why the gym teachers or coaches were not in the locker rooms when the students were changing etc. Its not enough just to punish the bully for what is a criminal act but adults need to be accountable for the environment around them. Safe schools are a societal mandate not a choice supported by administrative rhetoric! Why doesn't this article report where the coaching staff was while the students were in the locker area? Can anyone really imagine what it must feel like to be a bullied student in a building with 1100 other students knowing the paid adults are not responsible nor accountable for their safety?

John M

Bob, To clarify- this isn't a case of bullying, this is rape. The student athlete wasn't pushed around or made fun of, an object was inserted in him- that is a rape and that poor kid is probably emotionally damaged from it, and I'm sure his parents are in a rage. I agree with everything you said otherwise. My son played baseball at school for four years and he said the locker room could be a crazy place, coaches were never in there and there were small incidents of hazing. Before he started driving, I used to ask my son if he was not bonding with the team as he was always the first one out of the locker room, I actually told him he ought to consider hanging out there a little longer. Only a few months later did he tell me what was going on, with Seniors making the younger players do things that would get them in trouble, so he just left as quickly as possible. This was just kids wrestling and throwing each other in the shower in their uniforms, definitely not close to raping someone. That's when it should no longer be up to the school to handle, LCSO needs to be involved.

Jack Daniels

"Superintendent Eric Williams sent out a statement Friday afternoon — one week after the incident was reported — saying if the allegations are true, the actions will not be tolerated and those involved will face disciplinary consequences, including possible expulsion."

Possible expulsion? If the allegations are proven true there should be no question about expulsion as well as ensuring LCSO brings charges. Williams is spineless when it comes to stuff like this. He's only worried about his reputation.

More Cowbell

I agree, Expulsion is a must for all involved. LCPS has the worst leadership, yet they get paid well to cover it all up. Way too many chiefs.

chrisnich

Croft said it was “highly inappropriate and unfair to penalize all students of the program for the alleged actions of a few.”

Could the good lady be any more tone deaf? So much for expressing an iota of sympathy for the [alleged] rape victim. (And yes, if he were penetrated that would be rape, not the more palatable "assault.")

And for the record, entire programs are regularly punished for the actions of "a few," for recruiting or eligibility infractions and other issues. Giving this program a "cooling off period" for a rape that may have involved multiple players should not be off the table, especially if leadership knew and were complicit in a cover-up.

Virginia SGP

If it is true that a similar incident happened at Briar Woods a few years back, what training program did LCPS establish to prevent this type of incident from occurring? It appears to be none.

The school principal was quoted saying it was "not indicative of the Husky football program, its players or Coach Wheelbarger and his staff" and that it "takes time to investigate the incident in a way that is fair ". If the investigation hasn't been completed, how can Croft possibly know if the coaches and many players knew about/condoned such behavior? How can she claim with any degree of confidence that hazing is not a fact of life of Tuscarora football?

We've heard this refrain before, from the cardinals protecting child-molesting priests to Supt Williams/Principal Brewer protecting a predatory band director at Dominion High, they all claim as Croft does that it is "highly inappropriate and unfair to penalize" them despite them turning a blind eye time and time again. When will voters and parents have enough and clean house?

DavisB

Brian - you are way off again. Stop trying to make this all about your own vendetta with the schools. This attack at THS has nothing to do with anything else as the other schools

John M

Brian has a point- the incident at Briar Woods a few years ago was very similar, and it was hardly dealt with, so there are similarities.

DavisB

that reply got mangled - the point is that when you shift the blame away from the student, you diminish their actions. This is their responsibility.

Virginia SGP

DavisB, nobody is shifting blame away from the student. They are liable and should be held accountable.

But according to your philosohy, there were many, many sexual assaults and incidents of harassment in the military. I guess those were just due to some bad apples. Punish the offenders but don't expect the military to address the problem. Boys will be boys and they get punished but it's not up to leadership to stop an epidemic.

The military doesn't work that way. You receive sexual harassment training every year. If a senior official doesn't take sufficient action, they can be punished or removed. Even the CNO is being reviewed because one of his staff sent a few too many text unwanted messages and patted some women on the behind and the CNO didn't remove the officer right away.

The goal of LCPS leadership (and I use that word very lightly) from the Supt to the school board to the principal is to suppress all information under the guise of "student privacy" and then never address the policies that could prevent such actions. At the current rate, it's not if but when such an incident happens again. Seems like some are here are happy to play Russian roulette with their kids. Many on here are likely just LCPS apologists who could care less what happens to the kids as long as LCPS never gets bad press. Given this thing seems to have died down already (with some even suggesting the community feel sorry for the players who accepted a culture that let this happen), it appears most parents don't care. Pretty sad. I hope I am wrong and they address this at the ballot box in Nov 2019.

Matthew

The point is that sgp is correct. LCPS literally has a bunch of feckless (insert word) running it. Not hard to manage with a $1b + budget. Pretend business people that are trying hard in the real world, lol. Laughable ...

DavisB

Brian is not correct and his attempt to change my words is a dishonest approach to dialogue. You do not get to project your own personal issue on my writing.

Schools and the military are not the same thing and this false analogy is another attempt to connect unconnected items. Students are not soldier. Students are not given orders. Students are taught to think freely. Teachers are not soldiers. Teachers are not given orders. Teachers are encouraged to think freely.

The students are responsible here and any attempt to spread the blame diminishes that responsibility.

Virginia SGP

DavisB, the military is but one example. (a very appropriate one given they both have a large population of very young adults) When Starbucks had an incident, they provided training to all their employees. Whether it is Silicon Valley firms, financial firms or media companies who have incidents of sexual harassment, they all implement training programs.

You are obviously affiliated with LCPS in some way (work for, have spouse who works for, etc.). Nobody gives a pass to an institution who has never shown any leadership or attempt to prevent such incidents in a systemic manner.

When this happens again at another school, we can all hear your excuses then: "Who knew this could happen" and "it's never the fault of LCPS to implement preventative measures, just blame the 17-yr-old kids for assaulting the 15-yr-old kids who are supposed to be under adult LCPS supervision".

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