A 26-year-old man who plead guilty to several charges related to the sexual abuse of two minor girls as part of a plea agreement with the Commonwealth was sentenced to seven years in prison Friday, September 30, in Warren County Circuit Court. Somewhat convoluted sentencing guidelines indicated a range of from 2-years-1-month on the low end (with special circumstances possibly lowering that to zero time of incarceration and only probation served) to 9-years-11 months on the high end. Should Garrett Dean break the rules of 10 years of probation he faces upon his release, the first five years supervised, the second five unsupervised, he could face imposition of three 5-year suspended sentences imposed on two Indecent Liberties with a Minor charges and one Child Pornography charge he was convicted of in the plea agreement. The seven years he was sentenced to serve was on an Aggravated Sexual Battery of a Minor guilty plea.
It was noted by a representative of Blue Ridge Legal Services present for the hearing that a “Lifetime Protective Order” against Dean had been filed on behalf of the two victims and their families.
Judge Dennis L. Hupp heard testimony from six Commonwealth witnesses concerning victim impacts from four relatives of the two victims and two counselors/mentors who have treated the children for trauma through a Warren Coalition program cited as Project Courage. Defense counsel Tyler Simmers presented four witnesses, two sisters of the defendant and his stepfather, as well as the defendant himself. The gist of his relatives’ testimony was that the Garrett Dean they knew had been a good, caring, and helpful person who had gone bad under the influence of hard drugs.
Dean testified to addiction issues, particularly with crystal methamphetamine during the time frame of the abuse. In fact, the 26-year-old testified he had done crystal meth since he was 17 “almost every day” – “I lost my life, I lost my job of three years … I lost who I was and made poor judgments,” Dean said in response to his attorney’s questions about his addiction issues, which Dean indicated during his testimony at least one family member of a victim was proactively aware of during that time-frame.
Questioned about treatments he was undergoing in the wake of his arrests in March-April 2021 on these charges, Dean also noted he has been treated for mental health issues, citing schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and depression. He also expressed remorse for his actions, apologizing to the victims and their families for what he had done. “I wish I could take back what I’ve done,” he said on the witness stand.
The defendant also told the court he had adhered to the terms of home-release status as he awaited his sentencing hearing. However, the prosecution presented one rebuttal witness who testified they had seen Dean with his mother at a Salvation Army thrift store in Winchester during his home incarceration. And while Commonwealth Attorney John Bell admitted being at a Salvation Army store with one’s mother wouldn’t normally be “a bad thing” – in this case it was a technical violation of his pre-sentencing release terms, the prosecution noted.
Commonwealth’s Attorney John Bell countered the good-boy-gone-bad-under-the-influence defense scenario on two fronts. One was Dean’s 2016 arrest on a Schedule 1 or 2 drug distribution charge at age 20. Rather than rehabilitate following that experience, Bell pointed out that once out of the control of the judicial system, he had returned to the addictive behavior he now blames for his sexual predatory behavior five years later.
“He was given a chance to remove drugs from his life but went back and ruined these two families lives. He has taken an opportunity and rejected it as soon as he was out from under the thumb of the court,” Bell told the court of the defense contention Dean was committed to kicking his drug habit and bad behavioral choices this time around.
The second and perhaps most nefarious aspect of the cases Bell told the court, was the way the defendant ingratiated himself into the lives of the two victims’ families over time so that he became a trusted caretaker of the young girls he ended up abusing. The personal consequences and impacts reverberated beyond the victims throughout their families, Bell reminded the court during closing arguments, referencing the victim impact statements previously submitted to the court in writing, four examples of which were heard on the witness stand that day.
Commonwealth witnesses described the traumatic emotional impacts on the victims, essentially changing how they perceive the world around them and how they now lead their lives. Asked how the victim she treated was doing, a Warren Coalition counselor replied, “Not very good … I feel I will be a part of her life as long as I can, as long as she’s (age) eligible for treatment. It breaks my heart – you shouldn’t have to lose your childhood like that, especially with someone the family trusted,” the counselor told the court. Asked by Judge Hupp if she had treated the victim before the sexually abusive incidents occurred, the counselor replied, “No,” adding that she began treating the girl two weeks before her 10th birthday in the wake of discovery of the abuse.
The prosecution’s victim impact testimony continued in that vein for both victims, with relatives often sobbing through their description of the emotional impacts on the victims and how the abuse had come about through the defendant’s connections to the families.
Following closing arguments in the hearing that began shortly after 10 a.m., at 11:50 a.m. Judge Hupp retired to his chambers to ponder his sentencing decision. It might be noted here that present throughout the proceedings in support of the victims and their families was a contingent from the Virginia Chapter of “Bikers Against Child Abuse.” Those bikers sat among family members throughout the sentencing hearing and stood with them in and around the courthouse second-floor lobby and witness rooms during recesses.
At 12:22 p.m., just over a half hour after adjourning to chambers, Judge Hupp returned with his sentencing decision. First, he asked the defendant if he had anything else to say. “I’m really sorry … I’m trying to move on one day at a time,” Dean said in a final expression of remorse for the devastation he had brought to those in two families who had once believed him to be a trusted friend and companion.
Judge Hupp pointed to the potential impact of surrounding mental health issues on the defendant’s behavior, adding, “That doesn’t diminish this case. You have stolen the innocence of two young girls … who are still dealing with the pain and trauma and consequences.” The judge then referenced the long-term nature of the abuse citing the defendant’s first gaining the trust of the victims’ families and the victims themselves. However, the judge acknowledged the defendant accepting responsibility for his actions and expressions of remorse as tempering his decision somewhat. But he then noted that Dean’s past history suggested: “a continued risk on the other side” of returning to drug abuse with whatever impact that might have on his future behavioral decision-making.
Judge Hupp then gave his sentencing as cited above: suspended 5-year sentences on the two Indecent Liberties with a Minor convictions, another five years suspended on the solicitation of child pornography conviction, and the seven years to serve on the Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Minor conviction; followed upon his release by the five years of supervised probation, then five years of unsupervised probation. Dean was also ordered to continue treatments for his sex offender behavior and mental health issues.
The judge denied a defense request to delay imposition of the sentencing, ordering him to be taken into custody for processing into incarceration immediately. Dean will also be required to register as a sex offender after his release and abide by the Lifetime Protective Order prohibiting any contact with the victims and their family members. Noting the increasing dependence on electronic communications in today’s world, Judge Hupp did not prohibit Dean from owning electronic communications devices after his release. However, related to the solicitation of child pornography conviction, Judge Hupp prohibited Dean from having any social media accounts in the future.
Skyline High School announces band teacher Daniel Holland 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year
Skyline High School is proud to announce that our fabulous band teacher, Mr. Daniel Holland is our 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year!
Danny has taught at Skyline High School for the last 5 1/2 years. He earned his undergraduate degree in Instrumental Music PreK-12 from James Madison University and his master’s degree from Bowling Green State University.
At SHS, Danny teaches guitar I and II, concert band, dual enrolled music artistry, and marching band. Marching and concert band require extensive time commitments both in school and after hours. Additionally, Danny teaches a jazz band group that rehearses before the official school day begins.
Through his expert instruction, he provides students with opportunities to connect through music, enhance positive school culture, and engage our greater community in school spirit and camaraderie.
The Skyline Marching Hawks perform shows each year at our football games, parades, and various competitions, where they have earned many accolades! Danny not only produces marching shows with excellent sound and great visual appeal, but they also convey important messages to the students and the spectators.
The 2022 competition show was entitled: “Try, Try Again,” and according to Danny, focused on the “idea and philosophy that success in anything, whether it be band, sports, academics, and so many other skills, can only truly manifest from learning to cope and grow from the mistakes and missteps we inevitably make.” This show was a gift to our school and our greater community.
Outside of school, Danny is an active member of the Virginia Music Educators Association, most recently presenting at their 2022 annual VMEA conference in November 2022. Additionally, Danny performs as a professional musician as the acting principal oboist of the Waynesboro Symphony.
Danny was nominated for this honor by his peers, colleagues, and students. Here are some of their beautiful words:
- “The immense amount of time and effort Danny puts into making the SHS band program the best it can go above and beyond. The support and safe space he provides to students are invaluable.”
- “I’m amazed by Danny’s dedication. He was not only present for interviews for my position but was present before the start of school working with the band. The marching band is present for so many events/games, and it seems like he rarely does not stay past normal hours. He is also helping with the cross-county musical. He has been very kind and helpful with my many questions. His students seem to find his room safe, and he has created a great work ethic with his students.”
- “Mr. Holland is an amazing teacher who wants the best for his students. He makes playing music fun and very enjoyable. I wouldn’t have been able to become the musician I am today without Mr. Holland.”
- “He is the best teacher I have ever had. He’s very supportive of his students and other faculty. He is the reason our marching band is great.”
- “Mr. Holland is so supportive and loves what he does. He will do anything to make sure you succeed in anything you do, and when he sets his mind to something, he will do everything he can to make it happen.
- “Mr. Holland is an amazing teacher in general, and he is very helpful and kind. I have struggled to pick up new skills, and he broke it down for me, so I got it quickly.”
The accolades of his colleagues and students are absolutely true!
Danny’s impact on his students, fellow WCPS fine arts teachers, and SHS colleagues is felt in so many ways! Danny models grit and perseverance through difficult situations daily, creating genuine and supportive relationships with his students through his love of music.
For these and many other reasons, Danny Holland is the Skyline High School 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year!
School Board approves virtual instruction contract, other housekeeping items
The Warren County School Board, at its Wednesday, Dec. 7 meeting, approved the expenditure of $72,600 for the spring semester of online instruction provided by Virtual Virginia.
Virtual Virginia is the online instructional service provider for Warren County students enrolled in the virtual education option.
Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Heather Bragg told school board members that a total of 65 students—10 at the elementary level—have enrolled for the spring semester, and the provider must be paid in advance of the January 2023 spring semester’s start.
Ms. Bragg told the board that the elementary school fee was a set price for each pupil for the core curriculum, while secondary school pupil fees are calculated at $300 per credit, which allows the students to get their core classes as well as electives.
Board member Ralph Rinaldi asked Bragg to elaborate on why students might enroll in the virtual learning program rather than attend school in person. The Covid pandemic introduced students to virtual learning, and some continue out of anxiety about returning to the traditional classroom setting, she said. Bragg added that some students just do better in the virtual learning environment.
Students enrolled in the virtual learning option are provided computer access, as well as a school counselor and a local mentor who supervises the students.
Antoinette D. Funk motioned to pay for the spring semester, which was seconded by Melanie C. Salins, followed by a unanimous vote.
Other action items from the meeting include:
- A vote to increase the hourly rate for selective positions, beginning Jan. 1, 2023. Employees currently making less than $12 per hour will begin earning the federal minimum wage of $12 next month.
- Purchase approval for network battery backup equipment for Skyline Middle School at $51,270.
- Second reading of the proposed 2023-2024 school year calendar. The board will approve a final calendar at the first January 2023 school board meeting. The calendar would have students return to school on Aug. 9, 2023, and end the school year on May 23, 2024. It includes banked hours that would cover inclement weather cancellations and 13 professional days for teachers.
- Voted to approve the policy on sexually explicit material, which brings Warren County Public Schools into compliance with a Virginia law passed this year that requires districts to notify parents. (This will be covered in a separate Royal Examiner story.)
- Voted to accept the 2023 General Assembly legislative priorities.
- Voted to award a contract in the amount of $47,880 to Document Solution, Inc. For the lease of copiers at Hilda J. Barbour Elementary School.
- Set the 2023 organizational meeting of the Warren County School Board for Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, at 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room of the Warren County Government Center.
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day – Flags to be flown half-staff
This December 7, we remember the world-changing event known as Pearl Harbor Day, or as President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his December 8, 1941 speech declaring war on Japan, “a date which will live in infamy.”
Early on Wednesday morning, December 7, 2022, many will gather at Pearl Harbor National Memorial for the 81st Commemoration. The early start marks the moment to the minute 81 years ago when Japanese warplanes descended on Oahu, killing 2,403 service members and civilians, injuring thousands more, and dealing a near-fatal blow to the Navy’s fleet at Pearl Harbor.
Most young Americans who died that day, along with those who served in uniform during World War II or on the home front war effort, are collectively known as the Greatest Generation. Their sacrifices reflect the theme of this year’s Commemoration: Everlasting Legacy.
The focus is the importance of remembering Pearl Harbor and how the Greatest Generation saved us from tyranny and brought us peace through reconciliation.
Governor’s Order for the Commonwealth of Virginia
In accordance with the authority vested in me as Governor, I hereby order that the flags of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia to be flown at half-staff at all local, state, and federal buildings and grounds in the Commonwealth in solemn respect and memory for the nearly 4,000 American service men and women killed or wounded in the early morning of December 7, 1941, at the United States Navy Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
I hereby order that the flag shall be lowered at sunrise on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, and remain at half-staff until sunset.
Ordered on this, the 6th day of December 2022.
Local grandma steps out of shower, holds intruder at gunpoint until police arrive
A Warren County family had an exciting Monday morning after the family’s matriarch thwarted an intruder who may have intended to steal a family vehicle.
Tricia Montoney told Royal Examiner Monday evening that an eagle-eyed neighbor noticed a man in the family’s driveway, around 7 a.m. standing beside a Ford F-150 pickup truck belonging to Tricia’s daughter, Rachel Montoney.
Rachel said in a phone interview that “once our neighbor told me about the man attempting to enter my vehicle, I ran to get my mom.”
Tricia was in the shower but quickly put on a robe and grabbed the Smith and Wesson 9 mm handgun she keeps for personal protection. She then went outside to confront the intruder. By then, she said, the man was sitting inside the pickup with the door closed.
Rachel says her mom yelled to the intruder, “What are you doing? Get out of the truck and on your knees!” The man, later identified by arresting officers as Larry Huyser, exited the truck and complied with Tricia’s instructions while a neighbor called 9-1-1.
Huyser, who was dressed in a fluorescent green sweatshirt, jeans, and a black hat, said that he had gotten into the unlocked truck “because I was cold.”
Warren County deputies who arrived on the scene found Tricia holding Huyser at gunpoint. He was taken into custody without incident.
Huyser was booked into the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail (RSW) and charged with vandalism, damaging property, tampering and entering a vehicle, and breaking and entering an auto.
He is being held without bond. Online court records show that Huyser has been arrested before for similar offenses.
Both Tricia and Rachel expressed their gratitude for their neighbor and his assistance in contacting the police and for staying with Tricia as she held the intruder at gunpoint.
The Montoneys also appreciated the deputies, who arrived quickly and transported the intruder to RSW.
Asked if she would now lock her truck at night, Rachel said, “Absolutely!”
Both ladies expressed their gratitude that no one was injured and said they were especially grateful for their close friendship with their neighbors. “We take care of each other out here,” Tricia said.
Congressman Ben Cline holds Town Hall meeting in Warren County
Residents of Warren County were invited to a town hall event with Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) on December 5, 2022. This town hall event was an opportunity for residents of Warren County to engage in a dialogue with Rep. Cline about important issues in Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District.
Watch the Town Hall meeting on this exclusive Royal Examiner video.
WATCH: Christmas Parade 2022
If you missed the Christmas Parade or want to see it again, sit back and enjoy!
This year the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade was hosted by Mike McCool, Publisher of the Royal Examiner, and Niki Foster, Executive Director of the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce. Special thanks to Mark Williams, videographer, and the parade sponsor Lindsay Chevrolet.