Mom charged with felony after putting recording device in daughter's backpack to catch bullies

Published: Nov. 28, 2017 at 3:39 PM EST
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The mother of a 9-year-old in Virginia is facing charges after she put a digital audio recorder in her daughter’s backpack to try and prove the girl was being bullied.

Mother Sarah Sims now has a rap sheet, complete with a mug shot, after she was charged in early November with felony use of a device to intercept oral communication and misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Sims could spend up to five years in prison.

But the mother says the charges aren’t fair, and she was trying to look out for her 9-year-old daughter, who she says was being bullied.

Sims says for months, she called and emailed the administrators at Ocean View Elementary School in Norfolk, VA, about her daughter’s alleged bullies.

No one answered, but she kept trying until September when she says she had enough.

Determined to get proof that the bullying was happening and nothing was being done, Sims took matters into her own hands. She sent her daughter to school with a digital audio recorder in her backpack.

In the classroom, the device was constantly running at her daughter’s desk, recording the school day.

School officials found out about the recorder and called the police, who questioned the 9-year-old.

Sims says the school never called her. Her daughter was moved to a new classroom.

One month later, the mother learned she was in trouble with the law.

"The next thing I know, I’m a felon. I've got felony charges and a misdemeanor when I'm trying to look out for my kid. What do you do?” Sims said.

Norfolk Schools says they can’t comment on a pending investigation, but no electronic devices are allowed in elementary schools.

"If I’m not getting an answer from you, then what am I left to do?” Sims said.

Sims’ attorney says the two charges are a stretch, and she believes neither should hold up in court.

“Why are you working so hard to vilify me instead of addressing the issue of why this even exists? The most important part is what's going on in the classroom,” Sims said.

Sims says she still has not heard from the school. She is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing Jan. 18.