Sarah Sims was concerned that her 9-year-old child was being bullied at school. She reported the issue to school authorities, but did not feel that they were taking enough action to correct the issue. So she sent a cellphone to school to record the alleged bullying and show administrators how bad it was.
Little did she know that she would soon be facing potential criminal charges.
According to Reason, Sims’ child attended Ocean View Elementary in Norfolk, Virginia. After Sims sent the phone to school, school officials found the phone on her child and confiscated it.
Weeks later, unexpectedly, Sims found herself facing criminal charges for wiretapping and contributing to the delinquency of a minor due to the event.
What is the basis for the charges?
Federal wiretapping laws, along with the laws of most of the states, provide that it is not a crime to record a conversation as long as one of the parties to the conversation consents to the recording. A small minority of states do require that all parties to a conversation consent to the recording, but Virginia is not one of them.
As Reason notes, it’s not immediately clear why Sims is facing wiretapping charges in light of this. It’s possible that Sims’ child left her phone lying around and that the phone recorded conversations that did not involve her child, which would mean that no parties to the conversation consented to the recording.
As Reason notes, however, it is impossible to determine at this point because the phone has not yet been returned to the mother and she has not been allowed to listen to its contents.
Multiple media outlets, including CNN, have contacted the school for comment, but the school has refused, citing pending legal matters. The Norfolk police have also refused comment on the case, and have not released a criminal complaint that specifies the basis for the charges against Sims.
Sims is next due in court for a hearing on Jan. 18.