LEESBURG, Va. (DC News Now) — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin doubled down on his pardon of the Loudoun County father who he felt was wrongly arrested.
Youngkin, who was attending his “Parents Matter” event at a church in Leesburg, pardoned Scott Smith last weekend for what he thought were faulty charges and prosecution. Smith was arrested in 2021 for defending his daughter, who was physically assaulted by a boy wearing a skirt in a school bathroom.
“Mr. Smith, first of all, should have never been prosecuted. Never,” Youngkin told reporters after his event on Tuesday. “This is a dad standing up for his daughter who was sexually assaulted in the bathroom of a school and the school was covering it up.”
But Democratic commonwealth attorney for Loudoun County, Buta Biberaj, who brought the original case but was later recused in favor of another county prosecutor, said Youngkin made the pardon decision to drive his base to the polls for the November legislative elections.
“It troubles me because this is for political purposes, not for justice,” Biberaj said. “The governor’s been governor since January of 2022, 21 months ago. If this wasn’t for the political purpose to pack the election, why didn’t he do this 21 months ago, 20 months ago, 19 months ago?”
County officials said there was a confrontation that caught Smith on video at the school board meeting threatening a woman and had to be restrained by deputies. Smith and other parents at the time accused the school system of trying to cover up the incidents involving the student, who was transferred to another school where he assaulted another girl.
The case became a rallying cry for Youngkin, who was running for governor, when he began to use his “Parents Matter” slogan to address what supporters believed were inappropriateness in education, transgender rights and books in libraries. Experts say it helped propel the governor to victory.
When asked if critics were right in saying the pardon was politically motivated, Youngkin said he believes “Virginians think that’s ridiculous.”
Smith told reporters that he didn’t think the governor pardoned him for political purposes either, but admitted that “I’m sure it is making the base excited” for November’s legislative election.
“We’ve got a full absolute pardon. Now it’s time for people to start taking some responsibility,” Smith said. “What I’m here to tell is you is, me as a Christian man and him as a Christian man, we as two fathers had a conversation that had nothing to do with politics. Nothing when this pardon came up.”
But Biberaj said that Youngkin is playing politics and that he may face constitutional issues given that Smith was not yet convicted on the disorderly conduct charge.
“Today he’s in a church in Loudoun County talking about parent’s rights,” Biberaj said. “This case has nothing to do with parent’s rights.”