Norfolk Mother May Go to Jail for Putting Recorder in Bullied Child’s Backpack

Sarah Sims (L) and her attorney, Kristin Paulding

*A concerned mother found no support when she asked officials at her child’s elementary school to investigate bullying claims. So what was this mother to do? She wasn’t about to ignore her child, so she did what any mother may have done. 

 Put a tape recorder in her child’s backpack in an attempt to check out the environment.

Little did she know that she would be charged with a felony, which carries a possible five-year-sentence, for doing so.

The device, which was recording the day while in her daughter’s desk, was discovered and confiscated. 

Sims’ daughter, Georgelyn, is a fourth grader at Ocean View Elementary School in Norfolk, Va. who had endured being bullied since third grade. She speaks with CNN’s Don Lemon saying her daughter “had been kicked in her stomach and hit with a jump rope on the playground,” Sims said, adding that the school didn’t notify her then either.

“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 said her daughter tried to remain positive when she faced bullying again this school year.

Isn’t that something? A fourth grader ‘trying to be positive’ about being bullied. Doesn’t this just make your heart bleed?

Sims was charged earlier this month with intercepting wire, electronic or oral communications — and with a misdemeanor — contributing to the delinquency of a minor

“I’m a full-time student, so I don’t always get the opportunity to be on the premises, and I thought that this would be a good way for me to learn the environment,” Sims, 47, told CNN’s Don Lemon on Monday.

“I did not want to just side with my child. I wanted to be fair,” Sims said. 

Meanwhile, Sims’ attorney Kristin Paulding said she was “…appalled when I heard these charges. 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.”

Paulding reiterated that the recording device “was a way to make sure that that classroom was a safe place” for the child. Because it was confiscated, neither Sims nor Paulding knows what — if anything was caught on the device.

…and no one is talking, not the school nor the police.

Virginia is a one-party consent state, meaning it is legal for someone to record others when the person recording is involved in the conversation or when one of the parties in the conversation has given prior consent.

“I felt like I kind of let her down a little bit because I wasn’t believing her,” Sims said.

A January 18 court date has been set.



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