LEESBURG, Va. — “It was complicated.”
Scott Smith told WUSA9 that was Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s response when asked why pardon him now during a phone call last week.
On Friday, Youngkin enacted the authority to pardon Smith, a father whose daughter was sexually assaulted in a Loudoun County Public Schools bathroom, more than two years after he was charged with disorderly conduct.
Days after the pardon, critics continue to question the validity and timing.
Smith was set to go to trial for the charge on Sept. 25 after he appealed his conviction. He was also arrested and convicted of obstruction of justice following an infamous school board meeting, but a judge later threw out the case.
During the confrontational meeting in June 2021, Smith spoke out about a student sexually assaulting his daughter and the lack of remediation by the school district. Deputies dragged him out after prosecutors accused of him acting aggressive toward a woman in attendance. In a court hearing this summer, his defense attorney argued she was antagonizing him and said, “a threat of a potential battery is not a crime.”
The incident and the investigation into how LCPS handled the case became a flashpoint in the conservative and parental rights movement, which helped catapult Youngkin into office.
Following his sixth ‘Parents Matter’ town hall in Leesburg to address education concerns from parents, Youngkin doubled down on his decision to pardon Smith.
“What his family has been through is horrific and I was very pleased to right a wrong that was a gross miscarriage of justice all along,” said Youngkin. “Mr. Smith should have never been prosecuted. Never. He was standing up for his daughter.”
However, Loudoun Co. Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj blasted Youngkin for interfering with the legal system and decisions made by a judge based on facts of the case. She questioned if the pardon is acceptable under Virginia law.
“That’s my objection,” said Biberaj. “There’s no conviction. You can’t grant a pardon without a conviction. That’s the constitution of Virginia.”
Biberaj added since early voting is just around the corner, the pardon is a political stunt.
“If the governor truly believed he could grant such a pardon and truly believed it was appropriate, why not grant it when he first became governor 22 months ago?” she asked.
Youngkin never mentioned why grant the pardon now, but says, “why should be further prosecuted?”
Smith himself was critical of Youngkin in June when a judge decided his case should go to trial. Smith told WUSA9 how he was disappointed he hadn’t heard from Youngkin ever since he was charged.