No charges filed in West Virginia in Strasburg school bus case
West Virginia authorities have decided not to file charges against Strasburg High School students who have been accused of sexual misconduct on a school bus carrying members of the boys’ varsity and junior varsity basketball teams on a mid-December road trip.
Seven boys are facing charges in Shenandoah County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court from one incident alleged to have occurred on the Virginia side of the state line as the team was traveling back to Strasburg from a game in Moorefield, West Virginia.
Local school and law enforcement officials have said two or three separate incidents happened while the school bus was in West Virginia. Local officials said several weeks ago that they have left those incidents to be investigated by West Virginia law enforcement agencies.
A West Virginia state police official confirmed that his agency investigated the case and concluded its work with no charges filed against any of the 31 students or four adults on the bus.
“The end result of it is that it has been cleared on our end, and there is no further investigation,” said Sgt. Meeks of the West Virginia State Police.
Meeks, who refused to give his first name, would not discuss the reasons for the outcome of the investigation, citing the involvement of juveniles as the reason.
The seven defendants in Shenandoah County are all 16- or 17-year-old boys charged with assault or battery by mob.
Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy C. Carter and Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda McDonald Wiseley, both of Shenandoah County, have counted two incidents in West Virginia, but a separate investigation conducted by an attorney hired by the school system said there were three incidents in West Virginia and one in Virginia.
In a related matter, Cynthia Page, the budget director for Shenandoah County Public Schools, said the attorney who conducted the investigation has sent a bill for $23,888.60 for her work, which included 51 interviews with students and adults who were on the bus or were deemed to have knowledge of the incidents.
The attorney, E. Kate Fitzgerald of Leesburg, was hired as a requirement of Title IX, a federal civil rights law under which schools receiving federal money must investigate reports of sexual harassment.
Page said she was uncertain whether the school system would be receiving any additional bills from Fitzgerald.
“I don’t know if there’s going to be any further work,” Page said.
Fitzgerald did not return a phone message and email seeking comment.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org