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Morning Notes

Police Charge Local Imam for Reported Sexual Assault — “An imam at a Fairfax County mosque in Virginia has been charged with sexually assaulting a girl in 2015. Fairfax County police said Said Shirzadi, 36, the imam at the Mustafa Center, on Braddock Road in Annandale, was charged Tuesday with indecent liberties by a custodian.” [WTOP]

Meetings Scheduled on Fairfax Connector Service Changes — The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is seeking public input on a proposed plan for Fairfax Connector bus service in Tysons, Vienna, Chantilly, Centreville, and neighboring areas, such as McLean and West Falls Church. After a previous round of engagement, the county will share its preferred plan at virtual meetings on Sept. 30 and Oct. 7. [FCDOT]

Vienna Restaurant Wins 2021 RAMMY Award — “Clarity, a restaurant from Chef-owner Jon Krinn, won the Outstanding Covid-Safe Redesign (Indoors or Outdoors) RAMMY. The restaurant adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by offering Krinn’s rotating menu in an outdoor kitchen and outdoor dining area in the parking lot.” [Patch]

Former McLean Home of Capitals Owner Up for Sale — “The exclusive McLean compound built by Monumental Sports and Entertainment CEO Ted Leonsis is ready to trade hands again. The 3.5-acre property, which includes a Georgian-style mansion, Olympic-length pool, tennis court, and a guest house that has hosted the likes of Beyonce and Jay-Z, as well as Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, is currently on the market for $14.7 million.” [Washington Business Journal]

Metro Is Considering More Fare Changes — “Metro’s board will discuss a variety of possible changes to the transit system’s fares during its meeting on Thursday, including ideas as simple as reducing bus fares to $1 and as dramatic as getting rid of peak-hour pricing. The menu of options is part of a larger conversation around increasing ridership and ensuring the system’s fare structure is equitable, especially as the system struggles to look beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.” [DCist]

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Morning Notes

Early Voting Starts Today — Voters can now cast their ballots for the Nov. 2 general election by mail or by visiting the Fairfax County, North County, and Mount Vernon government centers. Virginia has three statewide offices and all 100 House of Delegates seats up for election, and Fairfax County voters also face a school bond question. [Fairfax County Government]

Parents of Sexual Abuse Victim Object to Plea Deal — The family of a girl who was sexually abused by a relative wants a Fairfax County Circuit Court judge to reject a plea deal today (Friday), arguing that the 17-year maximum prison sentence is insufficient. They feel Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano has prioritized defendants over victims, a criticism increasingly leveled against progressive prosecutors across the U.S. elected on promises of reducing mass incarceration and addressing historical inequities in the justice system. [The Washington Post]

Virginia Adds QR Codes to COVID-19 Vaccine Records — “As requests for proof of COVID-19 vaccination by businesses and employers increases, the Virginia Department of Health has announced that QR (quick response) codes are now available. Virginia is now the fifth U.S. state to adopt the SMART Health format for QR codes.” [Fairfax County Health Department]

Vienna Unveils Annual Holiday Ornament — “The town of Vienna later this year will begin selling a 2021 holiday ornament, which depicts the ‘Taking Flight’ bronze statue situated in front of the Vienna Community Center. Vienna Town Council members on Sept. 13 unanimously approved the sale of the ornaments, which will be available at the community center, Town Hall and at the upcoming Oktoberfest celebration.” [Sun Gazette]

Tysons 5K Run Raises Money to Feed Community — “Tysons Partnership is proud to have sponsored the @foodforothers Tysons 5K and Fun Run. Sunday’s Fun Run raised over $91,000 for community members facing food insecurity. Thank you to everyone for your support and participation in this year’s race!” [Tysons Partnership/Twitter]

Merrifield Church to Celebrate 151st Anniversary — “The First Baptist Church of Merrifield will kick off their 151st Homecoming Anniversary Weekend on Saturday, September 18 and Homecoming Sunday Service on Sunday, September 19. Immediately following the worship service we will have a soft opening Ribbon Cutting ceremony followed by Lunch on the Grounds.” [Greater Merrifield Business Association]

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Morning Notes

Police Arrest Suspect in Tysons Sexual Assault — “Fairfax County Police have arrested and charged a man in a July sexual assault at a Tysons hotel…Patrick Michael Chaloupka, 38, of Woodbridge, was arrested Thursday at his home. He was charged with rape and abduction with intent to defile and is being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond.” [Patch]

Patrick Henry Park and Ride Up for Transit Funding — A park-and-ride lot for Patrick Henry Library in Vienna is one of four projects under consideration for the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission’s I-66 Commuter Choice program, which uses toll fees to fund transit improvements. NVTC staff haven’t recommended the Patrick Henry proposal for funding, citing the $5 million cost, but the public can comment on the proposals until Sept. 17. [Reston Now]

495 NEXT Public Meeting Set for This Month — “VDOT will hold a virtual Public Information Meeting on Wednesday, September 29, 2021, beginning at 6:30 p.m. to present the latest updates and information related to the 495 NEXT Project. The project is advancing to the design and construction phase, following…the receipt of a ‘Finding of No Significant Impact‘ from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and National Park Service on its environmental assessment, and an approval from FHWA on its interchange justification report.” [Virginia Department of Transportation]

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A man who allegedly raped a woman at a home in West Falls Church and threatened her with a machete is now facing felony charges, including rape and abduction.

An Annandale woman testified in a preliminary hearing in Fairfax County General District Court on Monday (Aug. 30) that she thought she was going to die the night that she says Juan Pablo Guzman-Gonzalez, 51, sexually assaulted her.

During the encounter, which took place on Dec. 1 and 2, 2020, she closed her eyes and told the man to think about her daughter, the woman said in court in Spanish, speaking through an interpreter.

The alleged rape occurred after Guzman-Gonzalez was arrested and arraigned for a separate Aug. 30, 2020 incident involving the same woman.

A judge found probable cause on the felony charges for rape, strangulation, and two abduction counts, one each for the August and December incidents. The case will now go before a grand jury, which will determine whether to formally indict Guzman-Gonzalez.

An attorney for the Commonwealth said the state isn’t looking to prosecute misdemeanor charges.

In August at his West Falls Church home, Guzman-Gonzalez and the woman got into an argument and he bit her hand, which was holding her keys. He also took away her phone and punched her in the stomach, she testified.

Gonzalez told police it was only a verbal argument with no physical contact between them, according to a police report.

The woman said in court that she then barricaded herself and her daughter, who was in the home at the time, in a vacant room and used a chair to block the door. She said Guzman-Gonzalez tried using an electric saw to get into the room. According to police, he was cutting a hole in the door to open it.

“My daughter was terrorized,” she said, adding that she told her daughter to call 911.

Court records listed addresses in West Falls Church and Centreville for Guzman-Gonzalez, which also said he lives with his wife, but the Annandale woman described having an on-again, off-again relationship with him that included vacationing together and text message exchanges before she filed a police report on Dec. 8.

“He asked her to come over and she trusted him that he was sorry,” the police report said of the December meeting. “He convinced her things would be better. She asked him if he would hit her again and he said no.”

However, when they met at his West Falls Church residence, Guzman-Gonzalez instead started choking the woman, squeezing her neck to the point she had difficulty speaking, and calling her offensive words, she said at Monday’s hearing.

She tried to leave and even attempted to run toward a kitchen door when he was in the bathroom, according to the police report.

Stephen Sheehy, the defendant’s attorney, said yesterday (Tuesday) that he did not want to comment on the charges.

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A woman was sexually assaulted in her hotel room in the Spring Hill area of Tysons, the Fairfax County Police Department said this afternoon (Thursday).

According to police, the incident occurred yesterday morning in the 8600 block of Westwood Center Drive. Officers responded to a report shortly after 5 a.m. from a woman who said “that an unknown man entered her hotel room, displayed a knife and sexually assaulted her.”

“The woman was treated for injuries that were not life threatening,” the FCPD said.

The department’s Major Crimes Bureau detectives are now seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the suspect, who is described as a “heavy set” black man in his 40s and about 5-foot-10 in height. He had a full beard and was last seen wearing glasses, a gray shirt, sweatpants, and a small black backpack.

The bureau can be contacted at 703-246-7800, option 3. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), by text, and online.

“Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars if their information leads to an arrest,” the FCPD said. “If you would like to be contacted by a detective, please provide your contact information.”

Police sketch of the suspect in a sexual assault reported in the Spring Hill area (via Fairfax County Police Department)

A former Oakton High School student will get another day in court after a three-judge panel ordered a new trial in her lawsuit against the Fairfax County School Board over school officials’ handling of a sexual assault report in 2017.

In an opinion released yesterday (Wednesday), Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Judges James Wynn Jr. and Stephanie Thacker reversed a judgment rendered by a jury in 2019 and sent the case back to the U.S. District Court for a new trial, stating that the lower court incorrectly defined the legal standard to determine whether officials knew about the reported assault.

“We hold that a school’s receipt of a report that can objectively be taken to allege sexual harassment is sufficient to establish actual notice or knowledge under Title IX — regardless of whether school officials subjectively understood the report to allege sexual harassment or whether they believed the alleged harassment actually occurred,” Wynn wrote in the majority opinion.

A third judge on the panel, Judge Paul Niemeyer, wrote a dissenting opinion that Fairfax County Public Schools is not liable under Title IX — the federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in education — because its conduct was not so indifferent that it caused or amounted to discrimination.

Identified in court documents as Jane Doe, the plaintiff argued in a complaint filed against the school board in 2018 that FCPS administrators and employees did not meaningfully and appropriately respond to her report that a fellow student sexually assaulted her during a school band trip.

A junior at the time, Doe said she “struggled academically, emotionally, and physically” as a result of the experience, alleging that school officials suggested she might be disciplined for the incident and did not inform her parents about her report or the result of the subsequent investigation, according to Public Justice, the nonprofit representing her.

A jury in Alexandria determined in August 2019 that Doe had been assaulted and that the experience affected her education, but they found that the school board could not be held liable because it didn’t have “actual knowledge” of the assault, a term some jury members later said they found confusing.

That confusion became the basis for Doe’s appeal of the ruling, which came before the appeals court for oral arguments in January.

“I’m so grateful that the Fourth Circuit is sending my case back for a new trial, and recognized that Fairfax’s legal arguments would lead to ‘absurd results’ for student survivors like me,” Doe said in a statement provided by Public Justice. “It means a lot to me that the appeals court’s strong opinion will protect other survivors. Every student deserves to feel safe in school.”

An FCPS spokesperson said yesterday that the school system “respects the court’s decision” and was in the process of reviewing the opinions.

Public Justice attorney Alexandra Brodsky, who delivered the plaintiff’s arguments before the Fourth Circuit, said in a statement that the appeals court’s ruling makes clear “ignorance is no defense to violating students’ rights.”

“FCPS’s behavior — dismissing a student’s report of sexual assault out of hand — is too common among school districts across the country,” Brodsky said. “The Fourth Circuit’s ruling in Jane Doe’s case should serve as a warning that all schools must train staff to recognize and address sexual harassment.”

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Morning Notes

Fairfax County Clears COVID-19 Vaccine Waitlist — The Fairfax County Health Department’s vaccine waitlist is now at zero, according to its data dashboard. That means everyone who registered before the county entered Phase 2 on April 18 has been invited to schedule an appointment. The department registered a total of 435,981 people. [FCHD]

Springfield Doctor Charged in Two Sexual Assaults — Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced yesterday (Tuesday) that Drew John Steiner, 58, a physician who practiced family medicine at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, has been indicted on charges of rape, abduction, and unlawful filming for allegedly sexually assaulting two women last summer. [WTOP]

Vienna Town Council Debates Future of Mulch Facility — “The town of Vienna’s leaf-mulching facility on Beulah Road, N.E., for decades has produced free mulch for residents, but also has aggravated adjacent neighbors with noise and a pervasive stench from the stored leaves. The Vienna Town Council on April 19 mulled options for the site’s future, but could not arrive at a clear consensus.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

ActiveFairfax Survey Deadline Extended — Fairfax County residents now have until May 15 to weigh in on the ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan, which will shape the county’s future efforts to plan for bicycles, pedestrians, and other forms of non-motorized transportation. The county held a community conversation on the plan for the Dranesville District last night, and a Providence District meeting is scheduled for April 28. [Fairfax County Government]

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A 27-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman at the Tysons West shopping mall earlier this month, the Fairfax County Police Department announced today (Tuesday).

According to the police report, the assault occurred around 4 p.m. on March 3 and was reported to the police on March 4 when officers were called to the 1500 block of Cornerside Boulevard in Tysons.

The FCPD says that the woman was sitting on a bench near the shopping center when “an unknown man approached her, engaged her in conversation then sexually assaulted her.”

“The woman screamed and was able to leave,” the police report says. “As she walked away, the man continued to follow her. A bystander saw the man following her and escorted her inside a business.”

The man was spotted in the area again on March 12, and responding officers took him into custody. Police have identified the individual as Mohamed Souidi and says he has no fixed address.

Souidi has been charged with object sexual penetration and abduction. He is being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond.

The FCPD says detectives with its major crimes bureau are continuing to investigate the case and are looking for potential witnesses.

“Considering the time and location of the assault, detectives believe there may have been people in the area who unknowingly witnessed this crime,” the department said.

Information can be shared with the investigating detectives by calling 703-246-7800, option 3, or submitting an anonymous tip through the FCPD’s Crime Solvers phone line (1-866-411-TIPS), app, and website.

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A former Oakton High School student is seeking a new trial in her lawsuit against the Fairfax County School Board involving a sexual assault that occurred on a school band trip in 2017.

Attorneys representing the plaintiff, known as Jane Doe, and the school board delivered oral arguments to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit remotely on Monday (Jan. 25).

According to Public Justice, the nonprofit representing the plaintiff and her family, Jane Doe — then a junior — and another bandmate — then a senior — were sitting next to each other on a bus when he touched her without her consent.

Filed in 2018, the nonprofit’s original complaint alleged that administrators and employees failed to take meaningful and appropriate action. According to the complaint, administrators threatened to discipline her and discouraged her from reporting the assault to police or taking legal action.

In August 2019, a jury with the U.S. District Court in Alexandria found that Jane Doe was sexually harassed and that the experience negatively impacted her education. But the jury did not find the Fairfax County School Board could be held liable for the deprivation of her education as a result of her assault.

The jury determined that the school board did not have “actual knowledge” about the assault, though one juror later said there was confusion over the term’s definition. As a result, the jury did not discuss the final question in the case, which asked whether the school board acted with deliberate indifference toward Doe’s complaint.

FCPS’s liability, which appears to hinge on the extent to which school officials knew an assault had taken place and whether they took sufficient action to address the plaintiff’s concerns, is now being relitigated.

“There may be hard actual knowledge cases, but this isn’t one of them. This family did all they could to put the school on notice,” Public Justice attorney Alexandra Brodsky said in her argument on Monday. “This court should remand a new trial so a jury can reach, for the first time, the question of whether the school did enough.”

Stuart Raphael, the attorney for the school board, argued that the board did not have “actual knowledge” because Doe — in a conversation with Fairfax County Public Schools Director of Student Services Jennifer Hogan — did not describe her experience as sexual assault or nonconsensual. He added that Doe was “incredulous” when another administrator asked if she would press charges.

He argued that these facts, as well as inconsistencies between the stories that reached administrators, support the jury’s initial finding that the school board had no “actual knowledge” of the sexual assault.

“It cannot be that a school administrator’s failure to understand what constitutes sexual harassment is an absolute bar to liability,” Brodsky said.  “That’s why this court and others have treated a failure to categorize reports of sexual harassment as evidence of a deficient response.”

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Friday Morning Notes

Fairfax County Public Schools Teacher Arrested for Sexual Assaults — A teacher who has worked for FCPS for 29 years was arrested on Wednesday (Jan. 20) for allegedly sexually assaulting a student in 1994 and 1995. He taught at Barden Elementary School in Fort Belvoir at the time of the assaults. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Vienna Firefighters Assist with Inauguration Emergency Response — “Yesterday, our volunteers were honored to help DC Fire and EMS support the Presidential Inauguration. 9 other volunteer ambulances from Fairfax County also provided assistance.” [Vienna Volunteer Fire Department/Twitter]

Dranesville Elementary Student Raises Money to Feed National Guard — Third-grader Mache raised $1,700 to help chef Spike Mendelsohn’s restaurant We, the Pizza feed National Guard troops who provided security in D.C. on Inauguration Day. The restaurant matched Mache’s donation and invited her to help distribute the pizzas. [FCPS]

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Says More COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Needed — In a letter to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Jeff McKay said that the state would need to increase the number of vaccine doses provided to Fairfax County if it plans to expand eligibility requirements again. The county has been averaging 10,000 doses a week, but the waitlist for appointments has grown to 115,000 people. [@JeffreyCMcKay/Twitter]

Deadline for Fairfax County Police Chief Survey Extended — A community survey seeking public input on the search for Fairfax County’s next police chief will now be open through Saturday, Jan. 30. [Fairfax County Government]

Falls Church Petco to Close — “The Petco located at 7395 Lee Highway in Falls Church is closing Saturday, Jan. 23, after almost 10 years at that location. Pet food, toys, and supplies in the store are available at up to 70 percent off retail prices.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Photo via Vienna Volunteer Fire Department/Twitter

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