VA Attorney General Say AmCo. Attorney Lacks Standing in Sweet Briar Case
Richmond, VA - Virginia's Attorney General says the Amherst County Attorney is overstepping her boundaries by taking Sweet Briar to court. In a brief filed by his office, just days before Tuesday's hearing, Mark Herring says although it is unfortunate the school has to close, it is not the place of the Commonwealth to do anything about it.
Herring says the County attorney has some limited authority in this matter but only second to his. He says by law the court should find the County Attorney "lacks standing to bring an action in the name of the Commonwealth" against Sweet Briar for violating the Virginia Uniform Trust Code.
Meanwhile, Amherst County Attorney Ellen Bowyer is using the experiences of displeased donors to support her case against Sweet Briar. Bowyer submitted multiple affidavits written by alumnae, some who donated large sums of money just days before officials announced the school's closure.
Among the alumnae is Columbus, GA Mayor Teresa Tomlinson. Tomlinson says she received a letter late February from the school thanking her for donating 1-Million or a percentage of her estate to Sweet Briar.
Similarly another alumna wrote about how she created a scholarship fund in honor of her dead son. In her affidavit, she writes that she asked the school to transfer the money to St. Jude -- which as of one month ago she says they have yet to do.
Below is AG Herring's full statement.
"Sweet Briar College has provided young women with an outstanding liberal arts education for generations, and it's unfortunate that the Board of Directors could not find a sustainable path forward. Sweet Briar is a private institution, and unless the Board has acted improperly or violated its duties, it would not be appropriate for the Commonwealth of Virginia to intervene. Consistent with our duty under Virginia law, we will ensure that Sweet Briar's assets are used in a way that is in the public interest and as close as possible to the donation's original purpose."