Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Student Reports Bullying, Provides Evidence, is Charged with Wiretapping

County drops wiretapping charge against Pennsylvania  
High School student who recorded bullying

Student, 15, charged after he recorded audio of incident in class

This from WTAE Pittsburg PA:
A wiretapping charge against a South Fayette High School student who recorded two classmates bullying him has been dropped by the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office.

Mike Manko, a spokesman for District Attorney Stephen Zappala, said Judge Robert Gallo signed an order Thursday to withdraw the citation against 15-year-old Christian Stanfield.

"No one in our office who is authorized to give advice on wiretap issues or school conduct issues was ever contacted in this matter. We have made multiple attempts to contact the officer who wrote the citation and (the) results have been unsuccessful," Manko said in a written statement. "We do not believe this behavior rises to the level of a citation."

VIDEO: Watch the report
Attorney Jonathan Steele said it never makes sense to charge the victim of a crime with a crime.

"The lesson is zero tolerance doesn’t necessarily mean zero common sense," said Steele.

With his mother at his side, Stanfield explained Tuesday in his attorney's office why he used his iPad to record the audio of two bullies in his math class last week. It is bullying that had gone on for months with no intervention from school officials, he said.

"I feel like they wouldn't have understood it unless they have some kind of evidence, some way to understand what I was going through," Stanfield said.

At times during the news conference, the teen's mother, Shea Love, became emotional as she spoke about what the bullies were allegedly heard doing.

"They were talking about pulling his pants down, and some things I can't repeat, and laughing and cutting up like it was a big joke, it was not a joke, not at all funny," Love said.

The family reported the incident to the principal. What happened the next day made national news. Christian was told by the school to erase the audio and was charged with disorderly conduct and wiretapping.

Steele said the state's privacy laws that require a person to know he or she is being recorded do not pertain to such classroom conversation as in the South Fayette case. Steele said he would ask the government office of civil rights to investigate the school on behalf of the family.

"The family wants to use this opportunity to change the culture at South Fayette, to be an anti-bullying culture," he said.

Stanfield said he has heard from supporters across the country, giving him strength to fight the case.
"It's just amazing seeing all those people who went through the same things or even worse than I have. I'm glad they feel I've given them a voice and that's what I want to do," he said.

South Fayette Township School District Superintendent Bille Rondinelli declined to comment.

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