Virginia mom charged after putting recording device in daughter’s backpack

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(WAVY) – The mother of a Norfolk student says she was charged by police for trying to protect her daughter.

“I tried to be fair, but it’s not fair,” said Sarah Sims.  “There is nothing fair about this.”

Sims’ 9-year-old daughter was getting bullied at Ocean View Elementary School. Repeated calls and emails to the school went un-returned and by late September, Sims said she had enough.

“The thing that bothers me the most is that I am yet to get a response from anyone in the administration,” Sims added.

Sims says she wanted to prove that nothing was being done to help her 4th grader, so she took actions into her own hands. She put a digital recorder in her daughter’s backpack in hopes of catching audio from inside the classroom.

“If I’m not getting an answer from you, what am I left to do?” she asked.

The recorder was found. The 9-year-old was moved to a new classroom and about a month later Sims was charged by police.

“I was mortified,” Sims said.  “The next thing I know I’m a felon. Felony charges and a misdemeanor when I’m trying to look out for my kid. What do you do?”

Fellow Nexstar Station 10 On Your Side contacted Norfolk Schools and were told no one could comment on the incident because of the pending investigation, but that electronic recording devices were not allowed in elementary schools.

“They aren’t making this about that classroom,” said Sims’ attorney Kristin Paulding. “There are charges that carry jail time.”

Sims was charged with felony use of a device to intercept oral communication and misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The felony charge could carry five years in prison.

“Instead of comforting her, she’s going to a magistrate and being handcuffed,” Paulding added.

Paulding calls the two charges a stretch. She believes neither should hold up in court.

“We are at the very early stages of this, but even at the early stages I think the community needs to know that this is happening because any parent out there that is sending their child to school now could be at risk for something that happened to Sarah,” Paulding said.

Sims is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing January 18.

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