Virginia teacher awarded $5 million for debunked sex abuse charges: reports


February 26, 2023 | 8:59 p.m

Teacher Kimberly Winters was awarded $5 million by a Virginia jury. Westlake Legal Group

A Virginia teacher won a $5 million civil lawsuit against a police officer who arrested her in an early morning raid after a former student accused her of sexual abuse.

Kimberly Winters, 36, who previously taught English at a Loudoun County high school, was awarded millions of dollars by a jury earlier this month after she sued a sheriff’s detective she said ruined her life.

The case dates back to the fall of 2018, when she said authorities rammed her bedroom, pulled her out of bed, and then arrested her and left her handcuffed outside of her home for neighbors to see, according to the Washington Post.

She has been charged with indecent liberties with a minor by a person in a custody or supervisory relationship for allegedly engaging in sexual activity with one of her students.

The case was reportedly dropped months later after prosecutors continued to investigate the allegations.

The student and his mother brought up the allegations of sexual abuse after he graduated from high school — but authorities initially declined to go ahead because they believed he was 18 at the time of the alleged contact, the Washington Post reported.

The accuser then changed the date of the alleged abuse to when he was 17, and his mother claimed to have text messages between her son and the teacher to prove her guilt, the newspaper reported.

Winters reportedly had an alibi for both dates that was provided to police, but Det. Peter Roque did not interview Winters or verify her whereabouts, the lawsuit states.

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Search warrants turned up nothing, and phone records turned up no evidence of sexual contact when he was a minor, Winters’ lawsuit alleges.

Det. Peter Roque is accused of poor police work in the sexual abuse case. Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department

“After the arrest, they did everything they should have done before the arrest,” Winters’ attorney Thomas Plofchan told the Washington Post. He said Roque admitted to charging his client “without investigation.”

Even after the charges were dropped, the Loudoun County School Board approved Winters’ release. Her attorney said the county wrongly appealed to the school board after an administrative judge found Winters did nothing wrong, the Washington Post reported.

Plofchan claimed the school board relied on possibly fake phone records to prove Winters had an improper relationship with the student, according to the newspaper.

Roque’s attorney, Andrew Francuzenko, insisted during the civil trial that Winters made a “tacit admission” in a conversation with the student’s mother that she had sex with him, the Loudoun Times reported.

The attorney also argued that any missteps in the investigation were not malicious.

“These are difficult decisions to make and sometimes you make them wrong even though you don’t want to, but that doesn’t mean you’re malicious,” Francozenko allegedly said. “What she’s going through is because of her relationship with [the former student]. Not because of Peter Roque.”

The former student’s mother told the Washington Post she still believes her son was sexually abused by the former teacher.

Winters denied any sexual contact with the accuser.

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“The moment I was arrested, I was blacklisted by everyone at school, by all of my friends, by all of my group chats with teachers,” Winters told the Washington Post. “I didn’t feel safe in my community. I couldn’t go outside or go to church. They all thought I was guilty. Nobody gave me the benefit of the doubt. It was terrible.”

Plofchan argued that Roque was investigating “to the detriment of this woman here” based on erroneous beliefs.

“She paid the price because he heard a crazy story, a crazy story, and he didn’t confirm any of it,” he said, according to the Loudoun Times.

The sheriff’s department is reportedly planning to appeal the lawsuit verdict.

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