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The Stryker Center resonated with tones of unwavering support Tuesday night as Williamsburg and James City County residents voiced their opposition to the requested resignation of Williamsburg-James City County School Board member Sandra Young.
Sandra Young, whose husband has been accused of receiving child pornography, has elected to remain in her position on the board, despite previous requests for her resignation from Chairman Jim Kelly and other board members.
During a tearful statement at the end of Tuesday night’s monthly School Board work session, Sandra Young explained her reasons for not resigning in the wake of her husband’s arrest.
“I share the outrage, I don’t think anybody could be more outraged than my family is right now,” Sandra Young said at the close of Tuesday’s meeting.
Sandra Young continued on to explain that she and her husband Chuck Young, the former James City County Republican Committee chairman, were separated with minimal contact from 1992 to 2012. The couple lived on separate continents — Sandra Young had moved to Korea and then Germany after they separated — and communicated only briefly about their children, she said.
Until December 2015, Sandra Young said she had no knowledge of her husband’s addiction to child pornography, although her children had come across the material on their father’s computer in the past.
“We led very separate lives,” she said.
While hearing evidence at her husband’s detention hearing, Young said “realizing the extent of it was like being punched repeatedly in the face.”
During the meeting’s public comment period, nine residents spoke in support of Sandra Young remaining on the School Board. There were no public comments in support of Sandra Young’s resignation, although over 60 people attended the meeting.
“I learned about the confiscation of her husband’s computer months ago, well before the rest of you knew about it,” resident Paula Sumrall said to the board.
“Despite being terribly upset and fearful of the outcome, Sandy managed to show grace and professionalism in the execution of her duties on the School Board,” Sumrall added.
Chris Henderson, current chairman of the James City County Republican Committee who took the position upon Chuck Young’s resignation, described the School Board’s request for Sandra Young’s resignation as “an unprecedented action of this body” and “disgraceful.”
“She hasn’t been tried and found guilty of this crime,” Henderson said, adding that Sandra and Chuck Young were separated for 20 years. “Have you considered Ms. Young could be a victim of this crime as well?”
Although several board members acknowledged the School Board has no authority to demand Sandra Young’s resignation, Vice Chair Kyra Cook said she took issue with the fact that Sandra Young had requested and received a subsidy from the School Board to help pay for internet access at her home.
“She requested this knowing her husband had a problem,” Cook said.
The case against Chuck Young
Sandra Young’s husband, Chuck Young, is charged with ten counts of receiving child pornography after Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrested him at his Williamsburg home Nov. 16.
According to a criminal indictment filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Chuck Young knowingly received material depicting children engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
The material, in the form of digital videos and images, featured minor male children engaging in actual and simulated intercourse.
The records state that Chuck Young was mailed or emailed the pornographic material over several months in 2014.
Chuck Young is scheduled to appear in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Newport News on Feb. 22 for a jury trial, according to court records.
After Chuck Young was charged, Kelly requested that Sandra Young resign from her School Board position Nov. 30, Kelly confirmed with WYDaily on Dec. 5.
Kelly told WYDaily Tuesday morning that there are “no next steps” for the School Board if Sandra Young chooses to remain in her position. Kelly confirmed the School Board would continue business as usual with Sandra Young in place on the board.
“There is the recall process, but that is something that will have to be from the citizens,” Kelly said.
According to the Code of Virginia, elected officials can be removed from their position by petition “for neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties when that neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office.”
The officials may also be removed from office by petition if they are convicted of certain drug offenses, sex offenses, or hate crimes.
If Sandra Young chooses not to resign, voters can petition to have her removed from her elected position. To effectively remove her, the petition would need to have 230 validated signatures from voters in the WJCC Berkeley district – the district Sandra Young represents on the School Board – and then be submitted to a Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court judge, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Virginia code requires the petition to be signed by a number of voters in the official’s jurisdiction, a number which must represent at least ten percent of the total number of votes cast when the official was elected.
Sandra Young was elected to the School Board in November 2015 with 2,301 votes, according to official election results from the Virginia Department of Elections.
By 6 p.m. Tuesday night, 69 people had signed an online petition demanding Sandra Young’s resignation.
“It is the School Board’s responsibility to ensure the safety of all students,” the petition page read. The petition was created by an unidentified Change.org user named “WJCC Community.”
Conflicts moving forward
Tuesday morning, Kelly said there could be potential conflicts if Sandra Young remains on the board and her husband is convicted on the child pornography charges.
If Chuck Young is convicted and required to register as a sex offender, he would not be allowed to come onto school grounds or go to school events, Kelly said.
“She could come to events, but he could not,” he said.
Restricted internet access at the Young’s house would also be a concern for Sandra Young in terms of fulfilling her School Board duties, he said.
“Another area of concern would be her ability to represent the Berkeley district and have the people in that district be willing to discuss things with her,” he added.
One of Chuck and Sandra Young’s children, Jared Young, sent WYDaily a written statement Tuesday afternoon, defending his mother and her position on the School Board.
“This has been an extremely trying time for my family,” Jared Young wrote in the statement. “My family initiated this investigation, and has fully cooperated with Law Enforcement to hold my Father to Account. The public safety and trust has always been our number one priority, even at the painful cost of my Father’s freedom. What he did was wrong, but his wrong is NOT my Mother’s wrong.”
In the statement, Jared Young identified himself as the son who reported Chuck Young to police in August. After a Nov. 21 detention hearing in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the Daily Press reported that one of the couple’s children reported Chuck Young to police.
“This has been difficult for my family, and an incredibly difficult for me as I had to make the tough call to turn my Father into the police,” Jared Young wrote. “There have been times when I have reached extreme lows knowing where I have placed my Father…Doing the right thing is something my Mother always taught me, she didn’t teach me how challenging and painful doing the right thing is.”
Jared Young, who is almost 36 years old, signed the statement with his name and “Sergeant First Class, United States Army.” The statement was sent from a military email account.
“I have no doubt that my Mother is more than capable of pouring her life’s joy and love into the continued service of our future, our children, and that she will continue to make their education her number one priority,” Jared Young said at the end of the statement. “I am very proud of her.”
Fearing can be reached at 207-975-5459.