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Alexandria, Virginia, USA - June 12, 2021: Entrance sign at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a magnet school in the Fairfax County Public School system for select students.John M. Chase/Shutterstock

FAIRFAX, Virginia (LifeSiteNews) – A father has been served with four misdemeanor charges after accusing a teacher at his son’s Fairfax County, Virginia, high school of grooming. 

Harry Jackson, whose son attends Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ), received the four summonses after accusing Jorge Torrico, a teacher at TJ and applicant engagement manager of TJ Alumni Action Group, a leftist group dedicated to “representation” in Northern Virginia schools, of behavior that appeared to him to be grooming during a Zoom call in November 2020. 

During the call, Torrico directly asked a high school senior, the president of the student government, how he was organizing a middle school leadership event. While asking about the process, he said that “outreach is key for equity.” The student then asked Torrico for his email address. 

Jackson took to Twitter the following day, tweeting, “It was very disturbing seeing you exhibit ‘grooming’ behavior. I do work with children and I get background checks, I suggest you do the same because last night was creepy.” The tweet appeared in a thread that discussed whether or not TJ should get rid of entrance exams in the name of equity. 

Jackson was not the only parent who found Torrico’s behavior troubling. TJ Principal Ann Bonitatibus wrote in an email that “the original question that was posed by the parent about selection for the leadership summit would have been addressed to a middle school principal, not to our [student government association] students … An exchange such as what happened on the Zoom meeting, while all within the public eye, is proof positive why [Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS)] has clear guidelines for which platforms are used for adults to interact with students.” 

Torrico filed a complaint against Jackson in September last year, stating “Harry R. Jackson attempted character assassinate me to TJ Principal Dr. Bonitatibus [sic].” The complaint also stated that Jackson “posted a similar charge to ‘grooming’ on Twitter 11/20/2020 2:13 p.m. from his handle ‘Harry4Justice.’” The complaint alleged that Jackson propagated “the libel to Prandel Singh evident on 12/1 8:36 p.m. when the latter said ‘Hey Torrico – why do you target minor – by trying to take them bicycling [sic].” 

Jackson was served a summons with two initial misdemeanor charges last January. Jackson’s attorney attempted to get the case dismissed, but on February 23, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Paul Vitali sought a continuance and received a court date for April 22. 

Torrico filed another two complaints in March, alleging that Jackson appeared on a local cable show and said that Torrico “exhibited grooming behavior,” and referenced a tweet Jackson posted from the previous year that stated “Poor attempt at character assassination from a person who stalks kids online.” Jackson faces two more misdemeanor charges as a result. 

A motion to dismiss was filed last Friday by Marina Medvin for Jackson on behalf of Right Defense, a group of conservative defense lawyers that seek to defend conservative defendants. “The Summons’ issued for Mr. Jackson … read as criminalization of protected writings or statements, First Amendment speech – ignoring the face-to-face fighting words requirement of constitutionality – permissible criminalization,” the motion reads. 

 “Statements made on Twitter, YouTube, or to a third party – while they may be unpleasant to a complaint, they are permitted under the Constitution … This court has no power to criminally penalize the defendant for the complaint’s feelings of offense.” 

Torrico’s complaints come in the wake of a legal battle in which Jackson and a group of other parents sued FCPS after the school district decided to get rid of entrance exams for TJ, opting instead for a lottery system. A federal judge sided with the parents in February, citing their view that the lottery system discriminated against Asian students. A federal appellate court granted a stay on behalf of FCPS after the district appealed. 

Asra Nomani, a co-founder of the Coalition for TJ, a group of students, staff, alumni, and community members of TJ, believes that the charges were filed against Jackson to send a message to parents. “The targeted intimidation of Harry Jackson by Fairfax County’s Democratic prosecutor, Steve Descano, is designed to send a clear message to parents who are challenging the county’s 12-0 Democratic school board, signing recall petitions, speaking truth to power at school board meetings and suing them for their corruption in court,” she told the Daily Caller. 

The charges against Jackson come in the wake of a memo issued by Attorney General Merrick Garland that instructed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to treat parents that were critical of critical race theory and transgenderism like domestic terrorists, claiming that there had been a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers and staff.” 

Parents last year also complained at FCSP board meetings about pornographic material showing up in school libraries. Two books in question were removed from library shelves, only to show up again in November 

A court date for Jackson’s dismissal motion is set for April 8. 

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