AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott
In what has become a disturbing and alarming pattern in Fairfax County, Virginia, a defendant charged with sexually assaulting a minor walked free with only misdemeanor charges last week following a mishandling of the case by Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano, one of nearly 100 Democrat prosecutors funded by far-left billionaire George Soros. Now, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin and Attorney General Jason Miyares are ramping up pressure on Descano as well as the Old Dominion’s other radical prosecutors to enforce the law, just the latest example of widespread backlash against Soros-backed prosecutors’ radical criminal justice “reform” agenda.
In the case that concluded last week and drew considerable public outrage, 36-year-old Ronnie Reel, who was originally arrested in July of 2021 on charges of forcible sodomy and aggravated sexual battery against an 11-year-old boy, was released on time served. According to the victim’s mother, Reel “was confessing every little detail that he did, and it was making me sick to my stomach…It was horrible. He literally confessed to me why he did it.”
The case seemed like a slam dunk, and a successful conviction likely would have led to the offender receiving life in prison. But when the case came to trial, the Judge ruled that most of the evidence, including the criminal’s confession, was inadmissible in court due to Descano’s office missing a filing deadline. The case then fell on the shoulders of the 11-year-old victim, who was forced to testify to the assault. Without the corroborating evidence, it was clear that the sex offender would be found not guilty. Descano ultimately offered the sex offender a deal in which he needed only to plead guilty to Misdemeanor Assault and Battery. Notably, the charges Reel pled guilty to do not require him to register as a sex offender, and he is not on supervised probation.
Descano has denied any responsibility for the failure, and incredibly seemed to blame the adolescent victim, saying in a statement that “young victims often have difficulty recalling the details of such significant trauma – which is why prosecuting these crimes is uniquely challenging.”
The plea deal is the latest in a series of decisions from Descano’s office that have outraged residents in the wealthy suburban county outside of Washington, D.C. In June, a Fairfax County judge was forced to throw out another child sexual assault case following a botched prosecution by Descano’s office. In September of last year, a federal judge slammed Descano for offering a lenient plea deal to yet another child sex offender, telling the victim, “Your government has failed you.” That same month, a different judge rejected a plea deal offered by Descano’s office that would have landed a man charged with repeatedly sexually assaulting a minor girl in jail for just three years.
It’s not just sex offenders that Descano has treated leniently. Just a few weeks ago, a homeless man covered in blood broke into a home in a quiet neighborhood and demanded to the homeowner, “Where’s your wife?” Although the man was arrested, he was released from prison after only having to pay $100 toward his bail bond. The family is terrified and has hired private security to keep themselves safe if he returns.
Virginia’s other far-left Soros-backed prosecutor, Buta Biberaj, the controversial commonwealth’s attorney for Loudoun County, has also faced criticism for her soft-on-crime policies and clear political bias. Earlier this month, a judge booted Biberaj from a case involving a parent who was arrested at a school board meeting after Biberaj displayed a clear bias against the parent in her handling of the case. In June, Biberaj was kicked off another case for attempting to conceal the prior criminal records of the defendants in order to “sell” her plea deal to the public. Despite crime rates increasing, Biberaj’s office has seen a 40% decrease in criminal case filings.
As crime rates continue to rise, and with Virginia’s homicide rate increasing nearly 7% last year, making it one of the deadliest years on record, Governor Youngkin and Attorney General Miyares are demanding accountability. Last month, Youngkin said that Descano “better get it together” when it comes to addressing violent crime, further calling on county leaders to prioritize hiring more police officers. Miyares, meanwhile, has been even more blunt, accusing Biberaj of not listening to victims and saying that Descano has a “criminal first, victim last” mindset. Last Thursday, in response to Descano’s failure to secure a conviction in Ronnie Reels’s case, Miyares also called on legislators in Richmond to revive a bill that would allow his office to prosecute child sex crimes instead of local prosecutors like Descano. Despite these efforts to expose their failures and hand responsibility for enforcing the law to someone who will actually do it, it is local prosecutors who still have the final say in most prosecutions.
Ultimately, it will be up to voters to demand change – something that could come sooner rather than later, with recall efforts already underway against both Biberaj and Descano. While George Soros’s billions may have helped install his army of radical prosecutors, money alone may not protect them from the inevitable backlash to their policies at the ballot box.
Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.
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