Ex-LCPS teacher that was fired by the LCPS SB awarded $5 million in malicious prosecution lawsuit BUT a Guilty Teacher From Stone Bridge is on Paid Leave?
This former LCPS teachers life was absolutely ruined. I think if you read this entire article, you’ll see plenty of blame to go around: the “victim”, his mother, LCSO, etc. However, that’s not what this post is meant to highlight. The former teacher had the charges dismissed in February 2019, however, Jeff Morse and the LCPS SB fired her regardless (9) months later. Perhaps I’m the only one that didn’t realize that the LCPS SB had the ability to fire teachers.
Fast forward to March 2022 when serious complaints of sexualt assault against (4) girls by a teacher at LCPS’s Stone Bridge HS. Almost (1) year later, the Title IX complaint has been kicked around by ignorant LCPS administrators and to this day the teacher has been on PAID leave. What in the hell is this SB waiting for? They fire teachers that have had charges dismissed and found not guilty, ruining her life and yet they support a grooming & sexually assaulting teacher from Stone Bridge to stay on the payroll?
A case accusing a Park View High School teacher of having sex with a student was dropped, but Kimberly L. Winters said it destroyed her life.
“I lost all my friends. I lost my career. No one would hire me,” Winters told jurors in Loudoun Circuit Court on Feb. 9 in her malicious prosecution civil lawsuit against Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office Detective Peter Roque and Sheriff Michael L. Chapman. “My life has been ruined. Flat-out ruined. Roque labeled me as a pedophile.”
Winters testified that she spent thousands of dollars on legal fees, taking two polygraph examinations, cell phone analysis, and having a company promote stories on Google about the charges against her being dropped. Winters, who said she was forced to sell her house and move to Virginia Beach due to public humiliation, said she’s also spent thousands of dollars on therapy. Winters, 36, said she finally found a full-time job, but it pays far less than the approximately $75,000 she earned as a teacher.
Winters described being haunted by having to see her mugshot, which can still be found online, and having to try to explain to people that she isn’t a pedophile.
“I’m asking for my life back. Specifically, I’m asking for my life back if I wasn’t maliciously charged,” she said. “If I’m lucky enough to have children, what do I tell my child about why mommy is in an orange jumpsuit?”
A five-man, two-woman jury deliberated about 2.5 hours on Feb. 10 before awarding $5 million in damages to Winters. The award will be paid out through a county insurance policy, according to Winters’ attorney Thomas Kenneth Plofchan Jr. Chapman, who didn’t testify, was named in the suit because he Roque’s superior.
Winters was arrested on Nov. 9, 2018, and charged with indecent liberties with a minor by a person in a custodial or supervisory relationship, a felony, for allegedly having sex with a then-Park View senior. The charge was dismissed before a preliminary hearing on Feb. 28, 2019. The Loudoun Times-Mirror is not identifying the former student due to the nature of his claims.
On Nov. 19, 2019, Loudoun County Public School board members voted to fire Winters. A letter to Winters from LCPS board member Jeffrey Morse, Dulles, (who was then board chairman) said Winters had an “inappropriate social relationship” with the former student.
Morse cited phone records provided to the board by the former student and his mother. The records showed 270 phone calls between the former student and Winters from January to June 2018. They included one call that began at 10:53 p.m. and lasted about 5.5 hours.
Morse said a board hearing officer’s comment that the calls were “rife with the opportunity” for spoofing — when a call is manipulated to appear to have come from a number it wasn’t made from — were based upon evidence the officer had struck from the record. The jury wasn’t allowed to hear that LCPS fired Winters.
Nonetheless, Plofchan told jurors there was no proof of sex between the former student and Winters. And he said the former student and his mother changed their timeline about the alleged sex so that it appeared to have happened before he turned 18 in November 2017. Plofchan said the former student’s father died in 2017 without leaving them any money and the former student and his mother may have lied in hopes of suing the school district and getting a generous settlement or jury award.
Plofchan noted that in two taped interviews with between the former student and Roque in October 2018, the former student said the sex happened in February 2018, then said in the second interview that it happened in September 2017, then said it was the weekend after Oct. 9, 2017.
“I don’t want her to go to jail,” the former student told Roque in the second interview on Oct. 31, 2018, that was played before the jury. “But there is a predator out there who has done this to me.”
When Roque asked the former student why he had lied in the first interview, the former student said it was because he was scared.
“You almost cost me the case,” Roque replied. “This process might help you get over it. It might be part of the healing process. Someone did something wrong to you and you know, we’re trying to rectify it. I think you told me the truth. You just mixed up some dates.”
Roque told Plofchan that, despite those remarks in the interview, he hadn’t made up his mind to charge Winters. He said he was just following LCSO procedure to be empathetic and sensitive to alleged sex crime victims who may be traumatized. Roque, an officer for approximately 12 years and a detective since 2017, said it’s normal for victims to get dates wrong and that he never investigated whether the student might be delusional. “People mixing up their dates, that’s not a lie,” Roque told Plofchan.
Roque said he didn’t go to Park View to interview Winters because it would’ve created rumors and said she slammed the door on him when he tried to interview her at her home before she was arrested. Roque also said he never interviewed Winters’ colleagues, friends or neighbors to verify the former student’s assertions that he’d frequently walked her to her car. Roque admitted he never found any incriminating texts or voicemails on the former student’s phone, but said that was because the former student said he’d wiped the phone of all evidence.
Asked by Plofchan how Roque distinguishes between a mentally ill person and the victim of a crime, Roque said, “I don’t. I don’t know the difference.”
In closing arguments, Roque’s attorney, Andrew Francuzenko — who Judge Margaret P. Spencer repeatedly overruled during the trial when he tried to introduce evidence of the former student and Winters having sex — said the trauma Winters suffered was due to her sexual relationship with the former student. He said while the former student was “confused and conflicted,” he was truthful.
Francuzenko said Winters had made a “tacit admission” of having sex with the former student in a call to the mother and that any mistakes Roque made in the case were honest ones. Francuzenko noted that then-Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Joshua Steward and then-county Commonwealth’s Attorney James E. Plowman approved charging Winters based on the evidence Roque presented them.
“There are hard decisions to make and sometimes you get them wrong and you don’t want to, but that doesn’t mean you’re malicious,” Francuzenko said. “What she’s going through is because of her relationship with [the former student]. Not because of Peter Roque.”
But Plofchan said Roque’s investigation went beyond being sloppy. He noted Roque failed to subpoena phone records until after Winters was charged and failed to get the laptop computer that the student’s mother said had incriminating evidence on it. Roque later admitted the mother was “bluffing” and didn’t have the evidence.
“He formed a belief and he operated on that belief to the detriment of this woman here,” Plofchan said. “She paid the price because he heard some crazy story, some cockamamie story, and he didn’t corroborate any of it.”