- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Virginia woman is facing felony charges after she put a digital audio recorder into her 9-year-old’s backpack in an effort to catch what she said were her daughter’s bullies.

Sarah Sims could spend up to five years in prison. She was charged this month with using an electronic device to intercept oral communication, a felony, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor.

Ms. Sims, whose daughter attends Ocean View Elementary School in Norfolk, told a local NBC affiliate that she placed a recording device in her fourth-grade daughter’s backpack after school officials failed to stop other students from bullying her.

School officials eventually found out about the recorder and called police, the station reported. Ms. Sims said she didn’t find out until she was charged a month later.

“I was mortified,” she 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?”

Ms. Sims said she still has not heard from the school. 

Norfolk Public Schools told NBC that it couldn’t comment on a pending investigation but that electronic devices are not allowed in elementary schools.

Ms. Sims’ attorney, Kristin Paulding, said she doesn’t believe the charges will hold up in court.

“I was appalled when I heard these charges,” Ms. Paulding told CNN. “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.”

Norfolk police on Monday declined to comment on the case to CNN. Police have not released a criminal complaint.

Ms. Sims is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing Jan. 18.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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