Felony Charges Dropped Against Virginia Mom Who Put Recording Device in Daughter’s Backpack to Catch Bullies

Sarah Sims (WAVY-TV video screenshot)
Sarah Sims (WAVY-TV video screenshot)

A Virginia mom won’t be facing serious felony charges after all in the case where she put a recording device in her daughter’s backpack in an attempt to determine whether her child was being bullied.


According to CNN, local prosecutors announced Wednesday that they had dropped all charges against 47-year-old Sarah Sims of Norfolk, who was facing the charge of intercepting wire, electronic or oral communications—as well as another misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, after her daughter’s elementary school reported to police that they had retrieved the recording device from the girl’s desk in September.

Sims could have been facing up to five years in prison if she had been convicted on the felony.

The network notes that although there was enough evidence to support the charges, the commonwealth decided to stand down.

“However, after reviewing the facts and circumstances specific to this case, the office is exercising prosecutorial discretion to not pursue the prosecution of this case,” Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office spokesperson Amanda Howie said, according to CNN.

Sims told CNN her story on Monday, telling Don Lemon that she had sent her fourth-grade daughter to school with the recorder in the backpack hoping to capture audio, since the girl had said she was being bullied.

This was a course of action taken after Sims said she repeatedly reached out to the administrators of her daughter’s school—Ocean View Elementary—to discuss her daughter’s complaints.


Her daughter had reportedly been bullied since the third grade, with Sims saying that the girl “had been kicked in her stomach and hit with a jump rope on the playground.”

Sims said the school did not notify her then about that incident, and her daughter became “very anxious about attending.”


“I removed her from the school because she was refusing to go. She felt like she wasn’t protected,” she added.

The little girl tried to stay positive when she once again faced bullying this new school year. And when her daughter complained, Sims tried to encourage her at first.


“I did not want to just side with my child. I wanted to be fair,” Sims said. “I felt like I kind of let her down a little bit because I wasn’t believing her.”

Sims said when she got no response, she decided to move forward on her own.


School officials later found and confiscated the device at the end of September. By November, an arrest warrant had been issued for Sims, and she turned herself in and was arraigned before posting bond and having a court date set for January.

“I was appalled when I heard these charges,” Sims’ attorney Kristin Paulding told CNN on Monday. “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.”


As for the school, Norfolk Public Schools spokesperson Khalilah LeGrand said that the district “had a responsibility to fully investigate the alleged incident, and as such, a legal review was requested from” the Norfolk City Attorney’s Office.

Read more at CNN.

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I still don’t understand how they were charging her if the state is a 1-party consent state...does anyone have an explanation for that part?