Hurricane Dorian is a growing threat for the coastlines of North Carolina and Virginia on Thursday and Friday.
Its inland wind and rain effects across central Virginia — while relatively minor compared with what’s expected at the coast — are still subject to uncertainty.
On Tuesday, the National Weather Service posted a hurricane watch for much of North Carolina up to the Virginia border, while coastal Virginia was placed under a tropical storm watch. Those will probably be upgraded to warnings on Wednesday.
The wind field will keep expanding as the storm moves north. That will allow gusty conditions to be felt in central Virginia, though the risk of damaging wind is more of a concern for the Tidewater region and points south.
Dorian’s future path is mostly settled, but there’s a margin of error related to its speed and timing as it heads northeast and parallels the Carolina coast.
A slower Dorian could keep rain and wind in the region through Friday evening, while a faster storm will clear out on Friday morning.
There’s also the question of where the western edge of Dorian’s rain will be located within central Virginia.
For metro Richmond, rain chances will increase gradually on Thursday, peak on Thursday night, then taper off on Friday.
There’s a potential for a sharp gradient in totals across the region, with very little west of Richmond but several inches in Hampton Roads. Most scenarios bring Richmond less than 2 inches of rain, however.
A northerly breeze will become more noticeable in Richmond on Thursday night, with some gusts up to 25 or 30 mph.
A reasonable high-end scenario could bring some gusts to 40 or 45 mph as far west as Interstate 95 on Friday morning, though the forecast is subject to change in the coming days.
Tidewater can expect sustained tropical storm conditions, with a possibility of gusts up to 60 mph along the Atlantic.
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Richmond broke ground on a replacement for E.S.H. Greene elementary in South Richmond on Tuesday as the first day of school saw students return to an overcrowded main building and trailers housing about 400 to 500 children.
Mayor Levar Stoney, Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras and 9th District Councilman Michael Jones looked on as work — funded by a city meals tax hike in 2018 — unfolded on the building slated to open next school year.
“It’s inspiring to see the meals tax come alive and actually see the impact of policy and meet the kids who are going to go in there,” Kamras said.
Stoney agreed: “It shows you what some hard work and some collaboration can get for our children.”
Greene is one of three new schools rising in Richmond as many in the region grapple with outdated facilities and uneven population growth that has school systems looking to rezone, build new facilities and upgrade existing ones.
School leaders in Chesterfield County celebrated students’ first day at a new elementary school. In Hanover County, children returned to an elementary school that is slated to be rebuilt in 2022.
In Richmond, officials who smiled and shook hands with students streaming into the district’s 44 schools — less than half of which meet the state’s full accreditation standards — focused on one message: improving academics.
Kamras and other school officials said Tuesday that the continued implementation of the school system’s strategic plan will turn things around. The school system currently has the lowest graduation rate in the state.
“We are just getting started,” said Chief Academic Officer Tracy Epp.
Epp touted the strategic plan — dubbed “Dreams4RPS” — inside the library at Westover Hills Elementary School after students flooded into the school to the sound of dance music and the embrace of a community.
State data show Westover Hills made extensive gains in math and science academic performance last school year, which Dionne Bobo, the mother of two students there, credited to the school’s culture.
“This school is amazing,” said Bobo, who has a first- and a fourth-grader. “You can feel the love and excitement from teachers when they first walk in. It’s a family feel.”
Just before students arrived to the newly built Old Hundred Elementary in Chesterfield on Tuesday, Virginia first lady Pamela Northam met educators in the school library.
“We were just talking about how amazing it is that you’ve gotten everything up and running as quickly as you have,” Northam told the teachers. “I know that you have been burning the midnight oil.”
Old Hundred’s opening alleviates overcrowding at J.B. Watkins Elementary School in Midlothian, where some students had been learning in trailers.
Taylor Tijerina, a fourth-grade teacher at Old Hundred, said the new facility is “a huge upgrade” over the trailer where she once taught children at Watkins.
Sharpened pencils were lined up neatly atop new desks in her classroom, where a new touchscreen television that she’ll use during her lessons hung on the wall. Tijerina said she was excited for the first day of school with a class that has 17 boys and 6 girls.
“We have been waiting for this for a very long time, and the teachers put in a lot of hard work — days in, days out — just to make sure that everything is perfect,” Tijerina said. “We know that there is going to be some challenges that come along the way, but we’re definitely really, really ready. We’re prepared.”
Tuesday was the first day of school for half of the district’s kindergarten class — those with last names starting with the letters A through L — who will also attend on Wednesday. The rest of the kindergartners will have their first days of school on Thursday and Friday.
In Chesterfield’s public middle schools on Tuesday, sixth-graders were the only students who attended class. In Chesterfields high schools, ninth-graders went to school.
On Wednesday, all middle school and high school students from all grades will attend.
Chesterfield schools Superintendent Merv Daugherty said that staggering the start days for the kindergarten classes helps take some of the stress out of the first chaotic days of school.
“This allows the teacher to split the class in half and get to know the child’s name, get to know the child, get to know their strengths or weaknesses,” Daugherty said during a tour of Old Hundred with Northam.
School officials on Tuesday said they were monitoring the system’s efforts to improve bus pickups and drop-offs after struggling with transportation issues.
Shawn Smith, a Chesterfield schools spokesman, said there had been some bus delays on the first day of school.
“We have seen some delays and sincerely appreciate the patience of our families during the first few weeks of school,” Smith wrote in an email Tuesday afternoon.
Tim Bullis, the school system’s communications director, said earlier in the day that there had been some hiccups in the morning after a couple of families at an elementary school went to an old bus stop, rather than the new one that had been created this year.
The school system continues to face a bus driver shortage, an issue Daugherty said is affecting districts across the country.
School officials have been holding recruitment events to bring on new bus drivers in a district that last year experienced long delays in bus pickups and drop-offs amid driver vacancies and a shift in school start times.
Daugherty said the system has been working to hire and train new drivers. The system needs about 500 drivers to run its routes and has about 460, he said.
When one of those buses arrived at Old Hundred on Tuesday and Ellie Routh walked off, her parents were there to greet her.
“[The fourth-grader] was just kind of walking into this [new] building without any idea of what to expect,” said her mother, Kira Routh. “So we just wanted to [say], ‘You’re cool. You’ve got this.’”
Chuck Brinker tried to temper his son’s excitement as they approached Holladay Elementary School for the first day of kindergarten.
“He’s been hyper,” Brinker said as Jude, 5, who barely slept the night before, ran circles around him, eager to meet new classmates.
“It’s bittersweet,” Brinker said of the milestone. “He’s growing up, but I’m not ready for it.”
As the 7:40 a.m. bell signaled the start of the school day minutes later, school Principal Kim Olsen comforted the adults from the school entrance.
“Parents, have a good day, we’ve got them now,” Olsen shouted. “You guys go rest.”
Just like Jude, Olsen struggled to fall asleep the night before welcoming students back to the building, which is slated to undergo an expansion beginning in November that will double the school’s capacity.
“It’s so great to see the kids again,” she said. “Even though I’ve been in this business for 19 years, I still get excited like a little kid when it’s going to be the first day. I couldn’t sleep. I’m so bubbly. It’s just like being a kid again.”
Students, faculty and families at Tuckahoe Middle School returned Tuesday to a newly refurbished campus.
The open-campus school features new walkways between buildings, an updated bus ramp, technological improvements in classrooms and HVAC upgrades that mean window-mounted air conditioners and radiators will no longer be deployed to keep students and teachers comfortable.
“There were times during the renovation we’d have bulldozers and jackhammers going on, so this is just so nice to be quiet now — just the sound of kids and teachers. It’s so exciting,” said Tuckahoe Middle School Principal Ann Greene. “I think there’s a whole renewed sense of excitement for Tuckahoe. It’s got a much fresher, cleaner look.”
Though Green said she is eager to start the school year, a few students did not share the sentiment.
“I want to sleep!” said Evelyn Ramos, a seventh-grader who said her mother, a former middle school science and biology teacher in her native Brazil, has high expectations for her this year.
Zianca Tuppince, whose son is entering sixth grade at Tuckahoe, gave him her cellphone number as they said their goodbyes Tuesday morning. Tuppince said Ziante, her son, had been excited to start school but seemed to have changed his mind earlier in the morning.
Waiting in a line to update her address after seeing her oldest son off to class, she tried to keep his 2-year-old brother, who’d demanded a book bag that morning so he could join in, from wandering away. Ziante wasn’t so enthusiastic.
“When Ziante woke up this morning, he asked, ‘Do I have to go?’”
Major construction projects will also commence at two Henrico high schools this year, as the county begins replacing the existing J.R. Tucker and Highland Springs facilities.
Division spokesman Andy Jenks said the work is expected to begin within a month or two.
At J.R. Tucker on Tuesday, Jayden Fulford, a junior enrolled in JROTC classes, helped direct new students to their home rooms or to school officials.
As an older student, he said he is not personally worried about construction of the new high school causing disruptions to his routine.
“I’ve been here long enough to know my way around, whether things change or not, but if someone is coming from a regular middle school to a campus like this, that’s a big change,” he said.
“It’s going to bring challenges, but student morale is still high,” said Camille Williams, a technology education teacher at the school. “The Tiger spirit will always be present. I think our students do well with meeting challenges and goals very well and exceeding them.”
Though Henrico schools will open after Labor Day again next year, despite a change in state law earlier this year that allows public schools to open sooner, the division announced Tuesday that the start date could be changed for the 2021-22 school year, which is when the new Holladay, Highland Springs and Tucker are expected to open.
“We wanted to announce this now so families can start planning confidently for next summer,” said Deputy Superintendent Beth Teigen.
As the line of cars looped around the parking lot at John M. Gandy Elementary School in Hanover, each inched closer to the smiling face of music teacher Megan Ellenberger.
“We’re greeting them and hoping they have a great day,” said Ellenberger, who was wearing a white shirt showcasing the new Gandy crest on the front and green sleeves — an intentional color scheme aimed at showcasing a new school initiative.
Students at Gandy this year will be divided among five houses — like the way Hogwarts is divided in Harry Potter — with each house having a positive attribute associated with it. Ellenberger, for example, is part of the “grateful” house, hence the green.
Other houses are trustworthy, innovative, empathetic and respectful — all spelling out “T-I-G-E-R,” the school mascot.
“You can already feel a lot of energy among teachers, community members and students,” she said. “We’re excited to share all we’ve been working on with students.”
The school is scheduled to be rebuilt in 2022.
Muriel Mines, the grandmother of a fifth-grader at Gandy, said the positivity on display during the first day back is a defining characteristic of the school and helps students feel accepted.
“Everyone is always so welcoming,” Mines said. “It’s amazing to me — it’s every day.”
Melani Cavazza, whose family moved to Hanover from New Jersey this year, walked her daughter, a third-grader, into the school and also raved about the hospitality.
“Everybody is so nice down here,” she said. “It’s going to be a great year.”
State Sen. Glen Sturtevant, R-Chesterfield, said Tuesday that he’ll push to “save” two high-performing, majority-white Richmond elementary schools that might be merged with majority-black schools.
Facing a tough re-election fight this fall, Sturtevant, a former Richmond School Board member, used the first day of school to wade into an intense neighborhood debate over the future of the two schools and the city’s racial divides.
Mary Munford Elementary in the West End and the Fan District’s William Fox Elementary are both under consideration to be combined with schools a few miles away, an idea pitched by school leaders as a way to create more racially balanced student bodies in the city’s whitest schools.
Declaring his opposition to rezoning plans that could affect the two schools, Sturtevant circulated a petition titled “Save our neighborhood schools” that calls the proposals “wrong for our community.” He promised to draft legislation that would require school boards across Virginia to hold a new election or a voter referendum before redrawing school attendance zones to allow the public to render a verdict before changes are made.
Some city officials, including Mayor Levar Stoney, characterized Sturtevant’s stance as an election-year attention grab and an intrusion into local decision-making authority.
In an interview, Sturtevant, a top target for Democrats looking to flip the state Senate this year, said Fox and Munford are two of the best in the region and a “jewel in the crown of Richmond Public Schools.”
“The concern — from what I heard — is that this is breaking up two very strong schools in a school system with a lot of challenges,” Sturtevant said. “And it’s something that was never put to the folks who want to send their kids to these schools, who want to invest in Richmond and Richmond Public Schools.”
Though the city school system has accepted public feedback on the plans, Sturtevant said no School Board members campaigned on a platform of rezoning Munford and Fox.
Stoney, who has not taken a public position on the rezoning plans, called Sturtevant’s announcement an “election-time gimmick.”
“I think we need more community engagement and more working together and collaboration on such an endeavor, not political stunts,” Stoney said.
Sturtevant is being challenged this year by Democrat Ghazala Hashmi, a community college administrator.
In response to Tuesday’s announcement, Hashmi’s campaign noted that Sturtevant was sued in 2013 by a Richmond parent who accused him and other School Board members of holding secret talks to protect white enrollment at certain schools during the rezoning process.
“Now he’s back to playing politics with our schools again in an effort to distract people from his record voting in lockstep with Republicans in the Senate to undermine public education funding,” said Hashmi campaign manager Philip Stein. “Richmonders don’t need a lecture on public schools; they need a state senator who will fight for every student’s access to a quality education.”
The lawsuit was dismissed in early 2016 when the parent who filed it moved into a different school district.
The idea of combining the elementary schools with others first emerged this summer when one of the initial options created by Ohio-based consultant Cropper GIS “paired” Fox with John B. Cary Elementary, two schools that both meet the state’s full accreditation standards. Under that plan, Fox would have gone from 66% white to 47% and Cary from 86% black to 52%.
Students in the one large school zone would attend Fox for kindergarten through second grade and Cary for third through fifth grades.
Initial feedback to the idea was negative, but became more balanced as the rezoning process has played out. Both of the initial proposals left Mary Munford untouched.
The latest options — released in early August — bring Munford into the fold, however. One option would combine Munford with Cary, and combine Fox with George W. Carver Elementary School.
Under that option, Munford would go from 77% white to 55%. Fox — this time combined with Carver — would go from roughly 2 in 3 students being white to 41%.
Fox would still be paired with Cary in another proposal.
Changing the school zones, Sturtevant said, could split siblings between buildings, making drop-off and pickup harder for working parents. For many young families, he said, Munford and Fox were the “driving force” that led them to buy a house in Richmond.
“This is obviously a major change for them,” he said.
Parents both in support of and against the idea have turned out at community meetings across the city since the new plan’s release. They’ve also taken to an online feedback form the district is using to curate opinions.
“The school system should support its neighborhood schools and should focus on building a pipeline of high-achieving schools that keep families in Richmond,” one Munford community member wrote.
Others threatened to move out of the city or send their children to private schools. Some, though, supported the idea.
“Munford is a great school, but we did not like what it represented: the old Richmond under segregation. We are both millennials with a child on the way,” a prospective Munford parent wrote. “We want our child to have the opportunity to attend a diverse school, just as we did. We are strong proponents of Option B pairing Munford and Cary.”
The School Board is scheduled to vote on a plan by the end of the calendar year.
Members of the city School Board suggested Tuesday that Sturtevant should focus on other things, such as improving education funding, before getting involved in School Board business.
“Our state senators truly have the ability to transform schools by ensuring we have the funds to cover the basics,” said Kenya Gibson, who represents the city’s 3rd District on the School Board and lives in Sturtevant’s district. “There are plenty of schools in his district and throughout the state that need new roofs, working AC and chairs.”
Said 2nd District School Board member Scott Barlow: “I’d prefer that Senator Sturtevant use his influence and experience in public schools to advocate for sufficient resources for all of Richmond’s public school students, not to turn our rezoning process into a Senate campaign issue.”
State funding per student has dropped 9% since the Great Recession, according to a report last year by the Richmond-based Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis.
Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, a Virginia Commonwealth University professor and national expert on school desegregation, called Sturtevant’s proposal “deeply ironic.”
“This is a state representative interfering with a local decision-making process and in the past we’ve seen local control invoked as a means to preserve segregation,” she said. “This turns that on its head.”
Siegel-Hawley added: “It’s reminiscent of the era of Massive Resistance when people who oppose integration use whatever means necessary to do so.”
Sturtevant served on the Richmond School Board from 2013 through 2015, the year he was elected to a suburban Senate seat that stretches from Richmond’s West End to Chesterfield and Powhatan counties. He now lives in Chesterfield.
Sturtevant, a former Munford parent whose family is multiracial, said that if city officials believe rezoning is the right way to desegregate schools, they should make that case publicly and let residents respond through the ballot box.
“There is value in having it put to voters,” Sturtevant said. “Perhaps they agree. Maybe they don’t.”
Sidney Buford Scott, a titan in the business world who helped build the financial brokerage Scott & Stringfellow into a regional powerhouse and was a leader in the Richmond area’s philanthropic community, died Monday in Richmond.
Known for wearing colorful bow ties, the 86-year-old began working at his family’s Scott & Stringfellow brokerage in 1958 and served as chairman of what is now Richmond-based BB&T Scott & Stringfellow from 1974 until last year when he became chairman emeritus.
Mr. Scott continued to work at the firm’s downtown Richmond office five days a week — and sometimes on Saturdays — until recently, working at the same roll-top desk that belonged to his grandfather, Frederic W. Scott, who co-founded the firm with Charles S. Stringfellow in 1893. The firm was sold to BB&T Corp. in 1999.
Nearly three years ago when Mr. Scott was inducted into the RTD’s Person of the Year Hall of Fame in recognition of his lifetime of achievements, he said he had no plans to retire. “I don’t know the meaning of the word,” he said at the time.
Mr. Scott died after a brief illness in the past month. He and his family — his wife of nearly 60 years, their three children, some of their nine grandchildren and others — spent the weekend at the family retreat in Nelson County. He wasn’t feeling well early on Monday morning, so they returned to Richmond, where he died.
“The business community has lost a great leader. He certainly was a giant during the last 50 years in the history of Richmond businesses,” said J. Alfred Broaddus Jr., former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond who served with Mr. Scott for several years on the board of the Virginia Council on Economic Education.
“He made such great contributions over the last several decades that he will sorely be missed,” Broaddus said.
Mr. Scott touched many lives and has never looked for accolades, said John Sherman Jr., who worked with Mr. Scott for 30 years and was president and CEO of Scott & Stringfellow from 1996 to 2002.
“He just felt strongly in making the world a better place to live,” Sherman said. “Buford just believed so much that it was a joy to give back to his fellow man and to be part of the Richmond community he loved so much.”
Once, while playing racquetball — Mr. Scott was very competitive, his friends and business associates said — Sherman asked him if he ever got depressed. “He put his hand on his heart and said, ‘I have too many blessings to ever get depressed,’” Sherman said.
Sherman and others described Mr. Scott as a true servant leader in playing critical roles in countless charitable causes over the decades — many of them focused on youth and education.
At the top of his list was Elk Hill Farm, a Goochland County-based organization that provides education and residential programs for children who need to be removed from their families and/or schools.
Mr. Scott helped start the program in 1970 by donating the family farm to the organization. It now serves about 700 children annually with six sites in Virginia and a $12 million annual budget.
“When they arrive, they think they are born losers. When they leave, they think they are born winners,” Scott said for an article in 2016 when he was named one of the 30 people who had shaped the Richmond region in the past 30 years. The recognition was part of the celebration for the 30th anniversary of the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Metro Business section.
Elk Hill Farm was Mr. Scott’s vision and he had been very involved in the organization since the beginning, said Michael Farley, who joined Elk Hill 39 years ago and became its executive director in 1999 and CEO in 2012.
“He was such a unique human being,” Farley said. “When I think of empathy, humility and courage, he resonated in all three of those qualities. We all lost a great man. He was an extraordinary person. His faith became the values of the organization and what we try to instill in the children we work with.”
Mr. Scott, who served on the board and was chairman emeritus, was so committed to Elk Hill Farm that last week his assistant sent a note saying he would continue on the board for another three-year term, Farley said.
A courtly man and always the consummate gentleman, Mr. Scott was known for his personable nature, positive outlook and humble behavior, said Walter S. Robertson III, managing director at Henrico County-based Lowe, Brockenbrough & Co. who was CEO of Scott & Stringfellow from 2002 to 2009.
“He was a gentleman and a gentle man,” Robertson said. “He was both. He had a lot of goodness in him. But he was very modest. He had a perch in the community where he could make things happen for the positive and he really did.”
Mr. Scott, who was active in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, initially wanted to become an Episcopal priest, but he was advised by his spiritual mentor that the church needed good laypeople as much as it needed priests.
His stature in the community allowed him to help many organizations, from the Micah Project, an affiliation of faith communities in the Richmond area that sends volunteer tutors into the public school system, to the Virginia Mentoring Partnership, American Civil War Museum and Sheltering Arms.
Combining his interest in youth education and personal finance, Mr. Scott was a founding board member of the Virginia Council on Economic Education. The council advises K-12 teachers on how to teach financial literacy.
Scott came up with the idea years ago for the council’s Stock Market Game, in which students are given a hypothetical $100,000 to invest over a set period of time. A total of 15,000 students statewide in grades 4 through 12 competed during the 2018-19 academic year.
“You can give money to an organization. In a year or two, you might not know the results, but when you do something to help a child, that lasts a lifetime. Now that is a really good investment,” Scott said in the 2016 newspaper article.
“He was all about educating young folks,” Robertson said.
Mr. Scott also served as a member of the board of visitors at Virginia Commonwealth University for 11 years and at his alma mater, the University of Virginia, for seven years. He also was trustee for 10 years, until the mid-1990s, of Virginia’s multibillion-dollar retirement system.
For 50 years until 2009, he served on the board of what is now NewMarket Corp., the Richmond-based petroleum additives firm that is the parent company of Afton Chemical Corp. and Ethyl Corp.
“Buford was the consummate gentleman and professional who brought a wealth of financial knowledge and business savvy to our company,” said Thomas E. “Teddy” Gottwald, NewMarket’s chairman, president and CEO.
“He was a steady source of guidance through the tough times, and a great cheerleader during the good times,” Gottwald said. “He was a man of strong faith, and we always looked forward to his eloquent and inspiring blessings over meals at company functions.”
After graduating from UVA in 1955, Mr. Scott spent two years serving in the Counter Intelligence Corps, a World War II and early Cold War intelligence agency within the U.S. Army.
Mr. Scott began his career in May 1958 at Scott & Stringfellow as a board boy, an entry-level position that involved scribbling stock prices on a board so the brokers could see the updates. He made $150 a month.
After about a year, he was promoted to the cage, a place where securities were received and delivered as people bought and sold stock. Scott’s father soon made him a partner to see if he was up to the task.
In 1974, a year after his father’s death, the firm incorporated. Scott & Stringfellow Financial Inc. became a publicly traded company in 1986.
In 1999, BB&T Corp. of Winston-Salem, N.C., bought Scott & Stringfellow and eventually renamed it as BB&T Scott & Stringfellow.
Under Mr. Scott’s leadership, Scott & Stringfellow remained a Richmond presence when so many regional brokerages and institutions disappeared amid mergers and consolidations. The firm has 60 offices in 12 states and employs more than 1,000 people.
Despite the growth, “what always held fast was his commitment to our clients, our associates, our communities and our industry,” said Kelly King, BB&T’s chairman and CEO.
“Without question, culture was his most significant and lasting contribution to our firm,” King said. “He leaves behind a lasting legacy of vision, service, dedication and optimism. He was a true gentleman.”
Preceding him in death was a sister, Margery Johnson of Raleigh, N.C.
Survivors include his wife, Susan Bailey Scott; two sons, Sidney Buford Scott Jr. of Chesterfield County and George R.B. Scott of Acton, Mass.; a daughter, Elizabeth Scott Cech of Charlottesville; two sisters, Mary Denny Wray of Richmond and Elisabeth Scott Porter of Washington, D.C.; a brother, George Ross Scott of Henrico County; nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete Tuesday night.
Cornelius Francis Florman was sentenced to seven years in prison Tuesday by a judge in Lee County, Fla., after pleading guilty to a 1998 sexual assault on a woman in Fort Myers Beach.
Florman, 53, is the great-grandson of the founder of Reynolds Metals and once lived with his prominent family on River Road in Henrico County. In highly publicized trials, he was sentenced to five years in prison for the 1986 rape of a Chesterfield County woman and tried twice, but not convicted, of the 1986 rape of a Henrico woman.
The Florida victim told investigators two decades ago that she left a bar early on the morning of June 22, 1998, and met a man she knew as “Cody” in the parking lot. She gave him a lift, but after she began driving, he beat her unconscious and she was sexually assaulted outside her car.
A spokeswoman for the state attorney’s office said that at Florman’s sentencing hearing Tuesday, a victim impact statement was read to the court, which stated in part:
“It’s been a long time coming to finally be able to put the events ... behind me. I’ve been looking over my shoulder ever since the attack, wondering who it was and why this was done to me. Recurrent nightmares and insomnia have plagued me. I really thought I was going to die right then and there. Fast forward to the past couple of years where I find myself having to relive it all again. The stress of bringing this man to justice has been immense, but it is now well worth it. A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders knowing he is going to prison and unable to hurt another woman. I want to thank everyone in the Justice system that has had any part in this case. I’ve been in a prison of sorts for over 20 years. Closing the jail door on you, Mr. Florman, is finally setting me free.”
His prison term will be followed by eight years of sex offender probation and he was designated a sex offender. Florida offenders must serve at least 85% of their prison terms.
As part of an effort to subject backlogged physical evidence recovery kits in old cases to DNA testing, in 2016 the Lee County Sheriff’s Office in Florida sent evidence recovered from the 1998 sexual assault victim to a DNA lab to test physical evidence kits from old sexual assaults.
The suspect’s DNA profile matched Florman’s, according to a report from the Virginia Department of Forensic Science.
In 2017, Florida requested the Virginia State Police to collect a confirming DNA sample from Florman. He was arrested at his home in Low Moor in Virginia’s Alleghany County and sent to Florida in October 2017, where he remained locked up until last Dec. 2, when he posted a $1 million bond.
Florman was initially charged with kidnapping and sexual battery but reached an agreement with authorities to plead guilty to the reduced charge of sexual assault.
While Florman was not convicted in the 1986 Henrico rape case, the victim successfully sued him in civil court in 1990 and a jury awarded her $8.5 million. It was believed to be the first time in Virginia that a person acquitted in criminal court of rape was found liable in a civil trial.
He was also charged with a 1986 attempted rape in Kentucky in which he pleaded guilty to lesser charges and was given a suspended sentence.