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Christendom College promises change in wake of sexual assault allegations

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The main entrance to Christendom College near Front Royal, Virginia – Photo/Roger Bianchini

WARREN COUNTY – Christendom College has responded with a promise of change, after initially sending mixed messages in reaction to a Catholic blogger’s post citing a campus environment of sexual segregation leading to off-campus sexual encounters that sometimes evolve into sexual assaults and rape of female dating partners by male students.

In Simcha Fisher’s blog titled “Are Women Safe in Christendom’s bubble? Part 1” the private, Catholic college teaching a strict conservative brand of the faith was initially cited by two former female students for, first creating an unrealistically sterile atmosphere of sexual segregation, then failing due diligence in investigating reports of the occasionally dire consequences of that atmosphere. The women, one named and one unnamed, said their allegations of sexual violence by student boyfriends off campus were essentially swept under the rug by the college administration with minimal consequences for the alleged male perpetrators; and little in the way of support for them as victims of sexual violence.

According to blog author Simcha Fisher and her husband Damien, an initial response from Christendom College President Timothy O’Donnell alleged “misleading information and serious inaccuracies” in their story, but then went on to apologize to past victims of such incidents within the Christendom student body. The Fishers stand by their posts and told Royal Examiner on January 29, “Any accusation of inaccuracy has yet to be detailed to us by anyone at the school, though we still await their call … We have still yet to hear from the college despite numerous honest attempts to speak to them, and any statements otherwise from the school are simply untrue.”

‘We will do better’

Christendom College President Timothy O’Donnell – Photo/Christendom website

About a week after the initial response from the college president, in a January 24 post on the school’s website under the all-caps headline “WE WILL DO BETTER,” CHRISTENDOM COLLEGE EXTENDS SUPPORT TO VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AND HARASSMENT,” Christendom Executive Vice-President Kenneth Ferguson expanded on O’Donnell’s initial apology, offering to meet with student victims, past and present, and thanking the Fishers for shedding light on the problem. O’Donnell even added to the apology portion of his initial response – “We have failed some of our students,” he stated.

College Vice-President Ferguson then suggested a path forward, saying, “We invite these victims to come forward and be heard. We value their insight on concrete ways we can make this campus as safe as possible for women. And we ask, if possible, for their forgiveness. I want to extend my gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Fisher for giving these women a platform to share their voices with us.” In the post under the “News” category on the school’s website, Ferguson also offered that meetings with victims include a  “certified trauma counselor” and any “support personnel” those victims wished to have accompany them.

“I am grateful to each woman who has come forward with her story,” Christendom President O’Donnell continued, “We need to hear you and your experience. Disclosing abuse and its aftermath is painful and difficult, and it takes a tremendous amount of courage. To those students who have been harmed, I am deeply sorry. We will do better.”

Contacted January 30 about follow-up questions regarding the Fisher report, the administrative reaction and any potential policy review in the wake of the sexual assault issue surfacing, Christendom Director of Public Relations Zachary Smith said the school administration had no additional comment at this time, but would expand on its response in the future.

A past culture of silence …
For some the administrative apologies come late, particularly from school President O’Donnell. Simcha Fisher reports that some alumni, though no numbers are offered, have called for O’Donnell’s resignation as college president in the wake of the attention garnered by her two blog posts on Christendom’s past failures to appropriately deal with sexual violence by and against members of the student body. Adele Chapline Smith, Christendom College Class of 2012, was the identified victim of an alleged October 2009 rape by a fellow Christendom student that raised the specter “Are Women Safe in Christendom’s bubble?” Smith is one of those voices seeking positive movement forward, though she believes that movement cannot occur under O’Donnell’s stewardship of the school.

“From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank Christendom College and Mr. Ken Ferguson for an excellent first step in repairing the damage done to the women of Christendom and their families under the O’Donnell administration …I am disheartened that this was not their initial response, but I am open to further dialogue with the college and am eager to hear how the administration plans to implement these changes,” Smith stated in Fisher’s second blog on the matter. “I forgive Dr. Timothy O’Donnell for 25 years of negligence toward those women in the Christendom community who suffered sexual assaults … It is my firm belief that Dr. O’Donnell should step down from his position as President of the college, and that Christendom College should implement Title IX regulations to ensure a safe and transparent environment for all current and prospective students.”

As a private school not receiving federal funds, Christendom College is not subject to Title IX regulations. According to its official website, Title IX is a federal civil rights law dating to 1972 that prohibits sexual discrimination at educational institutions that receive federal money. While most famous for improving campus athletic opportunities for women, there are 10 areas addressed by the law, the other nine are: “Access to Higher Education, Career Education, Education for Pregnant and Parenting Students, Employment, Learning Environment, Math and Science, Sexual Harassment, Standardized Testing and Technology.” Due to Title IX, schools receiving federal funding must legally respond to and record reports of “a hostile educational environment based on sexual designation” the website states.

… absent Title IX
In Simcha Fisher’s “Are Women Safe in Christendom’s bubble? Part 1” blog post, Adele Smith traces the history of her experience with the Christendom College administration in the wake of what she described as an off-campus rape that scarred her emotionally, spiritually and academically.

Only over a year-and-a-half later in 2011 did she begin to turn a corner in the realization of the full extent of her situation. She traced that turning point to her and her brother staying on after attending a party hosted by a Theology teacher identified as Eric Jenislawski following a debate society meeting. Talking about her troubles at school she confided in the teacher about what had happened to her.

“I’m so sorry you were raped,” she reported Jenislawski telling her. Fisher then writes of Smith’s reaction, “At first she didn’t want to allow that word, and grew defensive, blaming herself for the assault … But Jenislawski was the first one who made her feel like the rape wasn’t her fault. He encouraged her to get counseling and to tell the school administration what had happened.”

Soon after, Smith reported the rape, as well as some subsequent physical and psychological harassment by her ex-boyfriend on campus. She was promised the school would conduct a “complete and careful investigation.”

Some time later, based on her report of the alleged rape and her ex’s ongoing harassment on campus, the college acted on her allegations – but it wasn’t the action she and her family had hoped for. The school explained that her former boyfriend would be charged with harassing Smith “after a prior incident.” That prior incident is not specified as an alleged rape.

Harassment …
Fisher’s blog quotes the report to the alleged perpetrator: “We have reports that indicate that you have violated the Code of Student Conduct by harassing another student and causing emotional harm. The reports indicate that Adele Smith indicated, after a prior incident with you, that she no longer wanted a relationship with you. Then on November 24, 2009, you sat next to her on a bench and made unwanted contact with her by placing your hand on her knee. Furthermore, it is alleged that you continued to harass her by trying to provoke her to slap you, hit you or kiss you … Therefore, you are being charged with violating the Code of Student Conduct”.

Following a July 2011 disciplinary conference that violation was deemed “Harassment”. The perpetrator’s punishment was cited as not living on campus for a semester and refraining from further contact with Adele Smith. Fisher reports that barred from living on campus, Smith’s accused rapist “was taken under the wing of one of (the school’s) founders and professors, William Marshner,” whose house he lived in that semester.

… and ‘teaching tool’
Smith told Fisher that during her senior year she was alerted that Marshner was talking about her situation regarding the alleged date rape in his moral theology class, “using thinly veiled language.” Simcha Fisher wrote of Marshner’s use of Smith’s situation as a “teaching tool”: “The teacher gave the class a hypothetical example of a young man and woman who were dating and decided to go off campus to Skyline Drive. In the example, they decide to fornicate, but then the young woman regrets her choice, and decides to claim the young man attacked her.

“In what world is this okay?” Smith asks. “It was my story. Everyone knew.” Smith complained to the school, and she says they gave Marshner “a slap on the wrist.”

Dating in the Christendom ‘bubble’
Smith cited a culture of “strict segregation of males and females” on the Christendom campus and a ban on any open displays of affection, including holding hands. Life in this socio-religious environment denying ANY expression of adolescent or post-adolescent emotional connection of a potentially sexual nature – the Christendom “bubble” referenced in the blog’s title – inevitably leads couples who have formed emotional bonds to go off campus, Smith said.

“It’s just a natural human need to connect with someone you’re in a relationship with. Just to hold hands, they’d go off campus for a date; and by ‘off campus,’ it could in be in the woods, or in a field down the road. There are not a lot of options if you don’t have a car,” Smith told Fisher.

“So you end up having couples potentially isolate themselves. They should be able to express themselves romantically in a public setting, which is a safer setting to learn how to navigate as a couple. Instead, you’re put into remote, isolated areas where things can get out of hand.”

And that is precisely what Adele Smith says happened to her, and apparently an unknown number of female Christendom College students over the years. Smith pinpoints what she describes as rape at the hands of her then boyfriend and fellow Christendom student to Friday, October 2, 2009, on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, about thirty minutes away from the college campus.

Fisher’s report on Smith’s experience points to a written exchange between her father Scott Smith and Christendom President O’Donnell after the investigation was concluded. O’Donnell appears to justify the “harassment” finding based on the fact the alleged rape took place off campus.

“The alleged assault of Adele did not take place on campus. Rather, the incident apparently occurred in a national park several miles away from Christendom’s campus,” Fisher quotes from O’Donnell’s letter to Scott Smith. “Moreover, both Adele and Mr. [redacted] are adults — meaning that Christendom faculty and staff have inherently limited options for enforcing standards of appropriate (or even prudent) conduct, especially when students leave the confines of campus.”

Adele Smith also believes the fact that there was no stated prohibition against rape in the student handbook at the time was a factor (a reference was added in 2013). She noted that students are punished if they are found on campus intoxicated, even if their drinking took place off campus.
“We care if you drink off campus, but not if you rape off campus,” Smith said of her perception of the administrative attitude she encountered in 2011.

Exclusion from the ‘bubble’
In Part 2 of her blog report, Simcha Fisher cited the denial of Adele Smith from membership on Christendom College’s official alumni page on Facebook, observing that Smith’s former campus boyfriend and alleged rapist is, however, a member. While some alumni had been added to the group during the timeframe Smith was denied membership, Simcha Fisher reported that, “Several alumni say they have been removed from the group without explanation after they shared Smith’s story.”

Simcha Fisher then traced several posts on the alumni site illustrating an agenda of presenting the allowed membership’s alma mater in the best possible light, under the ongoing stewardship of current college officials. Assistant Director of Alumni and Donor Relations Vince Christe is cited as moderator of the alumni Facebook page.

In her second post on the issue, Simcha Fisher shared a post on the alumni site from a female member citing “the recent controversy that has broken out regarding campus policies and procedures regarding sexual assault.” The woman then suggested a counter-initiative:
“It is my belief, and has been my experience, that the culture of Christendom College promotes the dignity, inherent worth, freedom, and safety of all women on campus, in the community, and the world at large. This page is for the collecting the personal testimonies of female alumni and students who know first hand the ways in which Christendom culture, faculty, staff, and community members do this.”

Simcha Fisher reported that the subsequent “positive testimonies” titled “A Letter about Christendom College Culture” were e-mailed to her, citing the school as a “pocket of fresh air offering an oasis away from the sewage of the culture at large.”

Some female alumni and their supporters might counter that some of that cultural “sewage” has leaked onto campus. – And if so, perhaps it flowed a shorter distance than the secular world at large. Court filings in a civil suit surrounding the case of then Human Life International President Father Thomas Euteneuer indicate the “rock star” of the “pro-life” movement began sexually-abusive exorcisms on a woman he had installed as his secretary on the Shenandoah Shores Road HLI campus in 2008, culminating with Euteneuer’s removal from HLI’s own institutional “bubble” in 2011 and return to his home diocese in Florida by his bishop; and an apology for “lapses in judgment” issued by the priest.

The civil suit was filed by Euteneuer’s victim in 2012, the year Adele Smith graduated from Christendom College.

A chapel and statue near the south entrance to the Shenandoah Shores Road school – Photo/Roger Bianchini

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Candidate For Sheriff responds to Virginia Police Benevolent Association

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Jorge Amselle, Democratic candidate for Warren County Sheriff. Photo by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

Front Royal, VA—Jorge Amselle, Democratic candidate for Warren County Sheriff, recently released his responses to a questionnaire from the Virginia Police Benevolent Association, which the association will use in any endorsement decision. “In the interest of transparency and accountability I am releasing the questions posed to me and my responses so that every citizen of Warren Country can see them. I call on the other candidates for Sheriff to publicly release their responses to these important questions. We need to know what kind of policies our next Sheriff will pursue,” said Amselle.

The Questions and Amselle’s responses are posted below.

Issue: Allowing PBA Recruitment of Deputies

Background:
PBA membership affords members numerous benefits and the opportunity to belong to a professional law enforcement association. These benefits include attorney representation for line of duty shootings and in-custody death situations. Membership also includes coverage if a member is civilly sued for actions arising out of performance of their duties. In those tragic cases where a member is killed in the line of duty the accidental death benefit pays up to $70,000 to the member’s beneficiary.

Question #1:
If elected, would you allow the PBA and/or its recruiters to speak to deputies about the value and benefit of having a PBA membership?

Amselle Answer:
Yes. I would welcome PBA to speak with and recruit any employees of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. I favor organized labor and benevolent associations as an essential part of easing the power disparities between employers and employees and protecting the rights of workers.

Issue: Uniforms
Background:
Over the past several years law enforcement has changed to make law enforcement uniforms more comfortable. In general, the tactical uniform is perceived as more practical for the physical aspects of today’s policing. Police officers now have more everyday gear to carry, and that means officers need to be able to accommodate that on their uniform.

Question#2:
If elected would you authorize deputies to wear a tactical uniform while on duty? Why or why not?
Amselle Answer:
Yes. When appropriate, deputies will be permitted to wear the tactical uniform. I plan to set policy about tactical uniforms after reviewing current policy and discussing it with staff to ascertain their views. Deputies have a right to be comfortable while performing their duties whenever possible. Deputies also have an obligation to present a clean and professional appearance while on duty. In some circumstance and in some job categories the tactical uniform may not be appropriate. I will set policy that makes it clear when and where a tactical uniform may be worn.

Issue: Take Home Vehicles
Background:
In the past, deputies that lived outside the county were allowed to take their vehicles home. Several years ago, the take home privilege was stripped from the deputies with no apparent warning. The take home privilege was a great recruitment tool and would help the deputies save money.

Question #3:
If elected would you be willing to change the current policy to allow deputies who live outside the county to take their cars home within a certain radius of Warren County? Why or why not?
Amselle Answer:
No. County vehicles should be for official use only, never for personal use inside or outside the county by any official or county employee at any level. I support increased compensation as a more appropriate recruitment tool. However, no staff member should lose a current benefit without due warning and proper compensation.

Issue: Unfair Application of Discipline
Background:
In the past, it has been proven that a lack of accountability and wrongdoing have taken place within the sheriff’s department. Members of the Department have been fired only to be rehired a short time later. It appears major issues have occurred with some of the employees, including administrators, and the matters have been “swept under the rug” or overlooked. This lack of accountability can be viewed as corruption and causes the agency to appear unprofessional.

Question #4:
If elected will you make it policy that complaints are investigated by a trained internal affairs department and discipline is administered fairly across the department?
Amselle Answer:
Yes. Any complaint against any member of the Sheriff’s office will be fairly and fully investigated by both trained internal affairs professionals AND an outside, independent body. No incident will be hidden from the public or “swept under the rug.” No one who has been fired with cause will be re-hired.

Issue: Department and Community Relations Background
Background:
Currently, judging by media reports, there appears to be a large amount of mistrust between members of the community and elected officials in Warren County. The sheriff’s office and the elected sheriff are at the forefront of public safety and community trust. Professionalism within the sheriff’s department is recognized by the citizens and enhances public safety.

Question #5:
If elected what measures will you take to ensure that the sheriff’s department is viewed as a professional law enforcement organization from both inside and outside the department?
Amselle Answer:
A lack of trust in our public and elected officials has severely damaged our community. This lack of trust is due to a repeated and longtime trend of insider dealing, corruption, and lack of accountability and transparency. I will have a clear policy that no employee of the Sheriff’s Office may engage in any private business transactions or dealings with anyone in a position of authority within the county or town government. Exceptions may be made for routine transactions unrelated to employment duties but they must be publicly disclosed if they fall above a specified dollar threshold. In addition, any appearance or evidence of unlawful behavior by any town or county official will be immediately referred to the State Police to investigate.

To learn more and keep up to date on Jorge Amselle’s campaign visit www.amselle4sheriff.com and follow on Twitter and FaceBook.

Meet Jorge Amselle – Democratic candidate for Warren County Sheriff

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Crime/Court

Chief District Judge Albertson poised to hear Henry bond arguments

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Michelle ‘Missy’ Henry continues to wear jailhouse garb pending a third date for her bond hearing this Tuesday, July 23. However, she will remain housed at RSW Jail until that hearing, rather than be returned to the Manassas jail she was transferred to on June 25. Photo RSW website

Former Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Director Michelle “Missy” Henry had a second bond hearing continued Friday, July 19. Henry appeared with co-counsel Ryan Nuzzo and David Hensley near the end of the 9 a.m. morning docket at 12:07 p.m. The hearing was over at 12:10 p.m.

Judge William W. Sharp reaffirmed his recusal from all EDA matters, then continued Henry’s bond hearing to Tuesday, July 23, on the morning docket. Sharp indicated that 26th Judicial District Chief Judge Bruce D. Albertson would be present to hear arguments at that time. As chief presiding district judge Albertson is responsible for naming a substitute judge to hear EDA civil and criminal cases in the wake of Judge Sharp’s recusal and Judge Clifford L. Athey’s move away from circuit court duties as he prepares to take a seat on the Virginia State Appeals Court on September 1.

Sharp submitted a written recusal on July 12, citing what might be called “small-town syndrome” – a personal or professional familiarity with many involved parties either named as defendants or potential witnesses in EDA matters. Albertson is based out of Harrisonburg.

Discussing their client’s situation outside the courtroom Friday afternoon, Henry’s attorneys said it was their understanding that not only would Albertson be present to hear and make a ruling on bond arguments Tuesday, but was poised to name a substitute judge on the criminal and civil matters arising from the EDA fraud investigation. They said it was also their understanding that appointment could be a self-appointment.

“Missy” Henry became the second person indicted criminally by the Special Grand Jury empanelled to investigate potential criminality tied to the EDA financial fraud investigation begun in mid-September 2018. The first criminal indictments handed down were against Henry’s former boss, former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald. McDonald was arrested by Virginia State Police on special grand jury sealed indictments May 24, Henry on June 24.

It appeared that at least five Henry family members were present to see Tuesday’s developments unfold. In arguing for bond at Henry’s first hearing on June 25, the day after her arrest, Nuzzo pointed to Henry’s long and deep community ties. He also noted that the events named in her two embezzlement indictments surrounding the EDA’s B&G Goods small business loan and asset dispersal on the old Stokes Mart property dated to 2014 to 2016.

For Michelle Henry’s family the wheels of justice must seem to be spinning in neutral. Royal Examiner File Photos/Roger Bianchini

“These are very old actions …If she was a flight risk she would have fled by now,” Nuzzo told substitute Judge Thomas D. Horne. Horne deferred a ruling on bond arguments due to his unfamiliarity with the case, continuing the matter to July 19.

Jail transfer sought
In a related matter, Henrys’ counsel filed a motion Thursday, July 18, to have their client moved out of the Prince William Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center some 44 miles out of this community and away from her family’s home base.

Of that move over an hour’s drive away following her first bond hearing on June 25, Henry’s “Motion To Compel Jail To Cancel Courtesy Hold” observes, “Without agreement of the parties or Order of this Court, the RSW Regional Jail, which is the holding facility for inmates and Defendants held without bond for Warren County, arranged for the transportation of Your Defendant … to the Prince William Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center, located at 9320 Lee Ave., Manassas, VA 20110 … This holding facility has an incredibly limited visitation schedule, including for legal visits, and has no direct phone line from which Counsel may contact their client.”

The defense motion included an attachment with the Manassas jail’s visitation schedule and rules. It showed two, 2-1/2-hour visitation blocks (8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.) and one 3-hour block (noon to 3 p.m.) per day; and a notation that “general population inmates” are allowed one 20 to 30-minute visit per week.

At the time of the transfer RSW Jail Superintendent Russ Gilkison indicated Henry was moved due to the high-profile nature of the EDA investigation locally and personal safety concerns. McDonald was transferred to the Fairfax Adult Detention Center for similar reasons on June 11.

“While RSW may have had good motives in being concerned for Your Defendant due to Your Defendant’s son being an employee of the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, the location they have chosen is unduly unfair to her access to Counsel and her family,” the defense motion for a jail transfer observes.

Contacted Friday afternoon, Gilkison said Henry was being transported directly back to the Manassas jail from the Warren County Courthouse when a notice from the court to keep her housed at RSW pending Tuesday’s bond hearing was received. So that transport will be redirected to RSW, Gilkison indicated.

Henry attorney Nuzzo said that were bond to be denied Tuesday, it is likely the court would hear arguments on the change of jail location motion submitted last Thursday. As an alternative to either the Prince William-Manassas Jail or RSW, the defense motion suggests the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center in Frederick County, a 27 mile, approximate half-hour drive.

6601 Winchester Rd – ‘Missy’ Henry will remain closer to home pending her Tuesday bond hearing. Her family hopes she will return home following that hearing which will come one month after her June 24 arrest.

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EDA in Focus

Meet EDA Board members Jeff Browne and Greg Harold – into the firestorm

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Greg Harold, Jeff Browne and Roger Bianchini in the Royal Examiner's studio. Photo and Video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

In this July 18 video interview, Royal Examiner introduces two of the three newest Economic Development Authority Board of Directors members. Jeff Browne and Greg Harold were appointed by a unanimous vote of the Warren County Board of Supervisors on June 18. They were selected from an interview pool of 19, according to County staff.

They replaced two of the board’s longest-serving members, Greg Drescher and Ron Llewellyn, who jointly announced their resignations at the March 22 EDA board meeting, effective the following day.

Browne and Harold will join the EDA board’s newest member, Marjorie Martin, in their second, Martin’s first, EDA board meeting the morning of July 26.

Martin, whom Royal Examiner hopes to soon interview, was appointed Tuesday, July 16, following the unexpected resignation of EDA Board Vice-Chairman Bruce Drummond last week.

Drummond’s resignation continues turnover within the EDA board and staff as the investigation into financial fraud in EDA operations and consequent civil litigation and related criminal charges have proceeded.

Related or coincidental, that turnover includes the retirement or resignation of the entire three-person EDA staff: Marketing Director Marla Jones (retired) late 2017; Executive Director Jennifer McDonald and Administrative Assistant Michelle “Missy” Henry, resigned in December and March respectively; as well as three-decade Board Treasurer William “Billy” Biggs and long-time EDA bookkeeper Josie Rickard who both retired last October; as well as the above-mentioned Drescher, Llewellyn and now Drummond board resignations.

McDonald and Henry are the only two people thus far charged in criminal indictments related to the EDA fraud investigation. Both are currently jailed out of county, McDonald without bond on 12 felony embezzlement or fraud charges, Henry on two embezzlement counts. Henry is scheduled for a once-delayed (June 25) bond hearing tomorrow, Friday, July 19.

Why jump into the EDA firestorm now, we asked Browne and Harold to open our interview:

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Virginia State Police investigating Fauquier County crash involving train

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Virginia State Police Trooper T.D. Greene is investigating two separate crashes that occurred at a railroad crossing in the Delaplane community of Fauquier County. The crashes occurred shortly before 6 p.m. Thursday (July 18).

A Hyundai Tiburon was traveling south on Winchester Road and approaching the railroad crossing near the intersection of Rokeby Road. The crossing’s safety arm began lowering and warning lights were activated to indicate a train was coming. Witnesses say that as the Hyundai began stopping prior to the tracks, it was rear-ended by a Toyota pickup truck. The impact of the crash pushed the Hyundai across the railroad tracks to the other side, but the pickup ended up on the tracks and became disabled.

With the train approaching, the Toyota’s 58-year-old female driver and her three juvenile passengers – a 14-year-old male, 12-year-old male and 8-year-old female – safely escaped the pickup truck on the tracks. But the train was not able to avoid striking the pickup truck. When it hit the pickup, the pickup truck was shoved off the tracks and struck the 58-year-old female.

The woman was transported to Winchester Medical Center for treatment of life-threatening injuries. The children were transported to Fauquier Health Hospital to be checked out. The 8-year-old was treated for a minor injury.

The 24-year-old male driver of the Hyundai was not injured.

The train conductor was not injured. The Norfolk-Southern train remained on the tracks.

Charges are pending as the investigation remains ongoing.

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Crime/Court

Former RSW Corrections Officer arrested; held without bond

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Chasity R. Sherfey. Photo courtesy RSW Jail.

On July 9, 2019, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office was requested to respond and investigate an incident at RSW Regional Jail.

RSW Regional Jail staff reported that they received information that a former Corrections Officer at their facility, identified as Chasity R. Sherfey, may have been involved in delivering items to an inmate and having a sexual relationship with an inmate.

During the course of the investigation, interviews were conducted along with reviewing video footage and collecting other evidence.

On July 18, 2019, Chasity R. Sherfey, 39 of Stanley, was arrested and taken before a magistrate on the following charges.

  • § 18.2-474. Delivery of articles to prisoners or committed person (5 counts)
  • § 18.2-64.2. Carnal knowledge of an inmate, parolee, probationer, detainee, or pretrial or post trial offender (2 counts)

Sherfey was held without bond at RSW Regional Jail.

The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Investigator Baker at (540) 635-7100 or invbaker@warrencountysheriff.org.

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Shenandoah community leaders receive Unsung Hero Award

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Seated left to right – Mercedes Abbet Martinez, Quality Assurance Manager, Shenandoah Community Health Clinic (SCHC); Clare Matthews, Behavioral Health Team Leader, SCHC; Pam Murphy, Executive Director, SCHC. Standing left to right – Dr. Mark Johnston, Superintendent, Shenandoah County Public Schools (SCPS); Erika Richman, former Assistant Principal at Ashby Lee Elementary. SCPS; Debbie Litten, Student Services Supervisor, SCPS; Richard Koontz, Jr., School Board member, SCPS; Karen Whetzel, Chairperson of the School Board, SCPS.

Woodstock, VA – The Shenandoah Community Health Clinic (Shenandoah County Free Clinic and Shenandoah Dental Clinic) and Shenandoah County Public Schools (SCPS) have received a 2019 Unsung Heroes Award from the Virginia Health Care Foundation. They were recognized for their teamwork in increasing the availability of medical, dental, and counseling services to the students and families of Shenandoah County. Implementing a satellite clinic on the Quicksburg school campus in 2017, Shenandoah South Wellness Center, the effort expanded the following year to supporting professional counselors from Shenandoah Community Health Clinic to provide services at all of the area schools.

Individual nominees from SCPS include Dr. Mark Johnston, Superintendent; Debbie Litten, Student Services Supervisor; Erika Richman, former Assistant Principal at Ashby Lee Elementary; Karen Whetzel, Chairperson of the School Board; and Richard Koontz, Jr., School Board member. Nominees from the Shenandoah Community Health Clinic include Mercedes Abbet Martinez, Quality Assurance Manager; and Clare Matthews, Behavioral Health Team Leader.

“As I hear story after story of the children being helped, I’m so grateful for this partnership that is making such a difference for these kids – and for the adults they will become.” said Pam Murphy executive director, Shenandoah Community Health Clinic.

Shenandoah County has been declared “underserved” by the federal government for dental, medical, and mental health services, meaning that there aren’t enough health providers for the population here. Programs like these are working to fill in those gaps in healthcare services for neighbors in need.

Shenandoah Community Health Clinic provides medical, dental and counseling services to families with Medicaid and other insurances. Sliding scale fees based on family income are available to residents of Shenandoah County. Please call (540) 459-1700 for questions about medical or counseling services, (540) 459-9333 for dental questions.

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Jul 26 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Pour Me Another Fluid Art @ Strokes of Creativity
Two classes in July – the 18th and 26th at 6:30pm. Pre-Registration is a must! Pour Me Another is an actual class. You will learn the ins and outs of paint pouring and go home[...]
Jul
27
Sat
10:00 am Build a Whimsical Clay House @ Explore Art & Clay
Build a Whimsical Clay House @ Explore Art & Clay
Jul 27 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Build a Whimsical Clay House @ Explore Art & Clay
In this clay workshop you will make a whimsical house, using several decorating techniques to achieve textures, that you can later highlight with color. Perfect for beginners and potters alike. Choose to make it a[...]
3:00 pm Teacher Classroom Door Hanger @ Strokes of Creativity
Teacher Classroom Door Hanger @ Strokes of Creativity
Jul 27 @ 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Teacher Classroom Door Hanger @ Strokes of Creativity
Welcome in the new school year with a Personalized Classroom Door Hanger! Make your choice of a pencil, bus, apple or cloud sign. Must preregister with deposit of $10 and the choice of shape by[...]
Jul
28
Sun
12:00 pm Crop With Us @ Strokes of Creativity
Crop With Us @ Strokes of Creativity
Jul 28 @ 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Crop With Us @ Strokes of Creativity
Come Crop With Us Sunday, July 28, 12 noon to 5:00 pm. Receive a gift for pre-registering and attending. $15 No refunds. Feel free to bring your own snacks or drinks!
Jul
29
Mon
10:00 am Design a chair for the SPCA CHAI... @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Design a chair for the SPCA CHAI... @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Jul 29 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Design a chair for the SPCA CHAIR-ity Brunch @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Calling all artists!! Design a chair for the SPCA CHAIR-ity Brunch and save homeless animals. Pick up a chair from the SPCA Thrift Shop, build a chair, up-cycle a chair, paint a chair, or upholster[...]
10:00 am Let’s Explore Art @ Strokes of Creativity
Let’s Explore Art @ Strokes of Creativity
Jul 29 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Let's Explore Art @ Strokes of Creativity
Monday July 29th – Wednesday July 31st – Friday August 2nd 10:00 AM -12:30 PM Ages: 6-9 $100 per student: Includes an art supply kit and snack & drink Day One: Lines, lines, they go[...]
Jul
30
Tue
1:30 pm Botanical Drawing 1 @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing 1 @ Art in the Valley
Jul 30 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanical Drawing 1 @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. Tuesdays: 1:30pm – 4:00pm, July 9th – 30th. Classes will be held in our upstairs studio at 205[...]
Jul
31
Wed
10:00 am Let’s Explore Art @ Strokes of Creativity
Let’s Explore Art @ Strokes of Creativity
Jul 31 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Let's Explore Art @ Strokes of Creativity
Monday July 29th – Wednesday July 31st – Friday August 2nd 10:00 AM -12:30 PM Ages: 6-9 $100 per student: Includes an art supply kit and snack & drink Day One: Lines, lines, they go[...]