Mother Charged With Felony for Using a Recorder to Catch Bullies

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Sarah Sims, a Virginia woman and full-time student, was worried that her fourth-grade daughter was being bullied. She contacted the school for help, and she told them her daughter said she was being picked on. But the school didn’t do anything. Finally, she decided the only thing she could do was to get evidence of the bullying, so she sent her daughter to school with a recorder. Now not only has the school not helped with the bullying, but the mother has been charged with a felony and faces jail time.

Sarah Sims says the school wouldn’t help with bullying.

According to Fox 5 Vegas, 47-year-old Sarah Sims had good reason to be worried about her 9-year-old daughter being bullied. In third grade, she was bullied severely. Sims said her daughter was kicked in the stomach, and hit with a jump rope on the playground, and the school didn’t even notify her. It was so bad Sims, who is a full-time student, had to take her daughter out of school.

“She became very anxious about attending,” Sims said. “I removed her from the school because she was refusing to go. She felt like she wasn’t protected.”

Sims was trying to be optimistic and encourage her daughter this year. Her daughter goes to Ocean View Elementary School in Norfolk, and she says she called and emailed the school multiple times to try to get help. But she says the school wouldn’t do anything. They didn’t notify her of incidents, and she says they didn’t return her calls.

Finally, Sims gave her daughter a recorder so she could capture what was going on in the school environment, and have evidence if her daughter really was being bullied.

But a teacher found the recorder in her daughter’s desk and confiscated it. Then the school did not call Sims. They called the police.

Sims faces prison time for sending the recorder to school to get evidence of bullying.

Now Sims has been charged with a intercepting wire, electronic, or oral communications, which is a felony. She faces up to five years in prison if convicted. She’s also been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, which is a misdemeanor that carries a 12 month maximum penalty.

“I was appalled when I heard these charges,” Sims’ attorney Kristin Paulding said to Fox 5 Vegas. “I was shocked to see that the school would decide to go to the police department and ultimately charge this mother as opposed to sitting her down and having just a simple conversation about what were her concerns and how could the school alleviate those concerns.”

Virginia is a one-party consent state, which means that recordings and wiretaps are legal as long as one participant in the conversation has given consent. Sims says she does not know what was on the recorder, because the school confiscated it and did not give it back. The trial is scheduled to start January 18.

Also read: Mom Arrested for Leaving Baby in Hot Car While She Ran an Errand

(Image: iStockPhoto / Jaroslav Frank)