Special-Ed Student Who Recorded Bullies Accused of Felony Wiretapping


In Pennsylvania, a high school sophomore with developmental disabilities was convicted of a crime after recording classmates threatening to “pull down his pants”.

After being regularly shoved and tripped, and nearly burned with a cigarette lighter, a tormented special-needs student in Pennsylvania decided to take matters into his own hands. He secretly recorded the abuse on his school-issued iPad, and his mother eventually submitted the evidence to the school’s principal. But instead of punishing the teenage tyrants caught on tape, administrators decided to call the police, who threatened the 15-year-old boy with felony wiretapping, but later reduced the charge to disorderly conduct. He was found guilty on March 19.  

This isn’t the first time that developmentally disabled kids have covertly recorded bullying on school grounds, but it’s the first case where the victim has been criminally convicted for doing so. At least nine such incidents occurred across the country between 2003 and 2013, often resulting in the firing of school employees, the expulsion of students and legal settlements worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. And while it shouldn’t make much of a difference, previous incidents have mostly involved parents slipping discreet spyware into their children’s pockets, rather than the child taking action.

In 2011, an Ohio couple received $300,000 after they secretly taped teachers verbally abusing their 14-year-old disabled daughter with remarks like “It’s no wonder you don’t have friends,” and in 2012, a New Jersey father posted an audio clip on YouTube of his 10-year-old autistic son getting called “a bastard” by a classroom aide. 

The Pennsylvania student, a sophomore who remained unnamed in a report on BenSwann.com, was previously diagnosed with comprehension-delay disorder, anxiety disorder and ADHD. In his testimony, he claimed that he decided to record the incident in order to show his mother that he “wasn’t lying” about the ongoing abuse. “I was really having things like books slammed upside my head,” he said. “I wanted it to stop. I just felt like nothing was being done.”

The original recording was suspiciously deleted by school authorities, though as described on BenSwann.com, the boy’s mother, Shea Love, recounted it during the hearing.

According to Love, as the teacher is heard attempting to help her son with a math problem, a student says, “You should pull his pants down!” Another student replies, “No, man. Imagine how bad that (c**t) smells! No one wants to smell that (t**t).” As the recording continues, the teacher instructs the classroom that they may only talk if it pertains to math. Shortly thereafter, a loud noise is heard on the recording, which her son explained was a book being slammed down next to him after a student pretended to hit him in the head with it. When the teacher yells, the student exclaims, “What? I was just trying to scare him!” A group of boys are heard laughing.

After listening to her son’s evidence, Love eventually reported it to the South Fayette High School principal who, instead of disciplining the bullies involved, called the police to interrogate her “visibly distraught” son. When Love arrived, the principal said the student was facing felony wiretapping charges because he had made a recording in a place where there is an expectation of privacy. The officer agreed but eventually reduced the charge to disorderly conduct on the basis that the student engaged in offensive actions “which served no legitimate purpose.”

Recording laws vary from state to state, but Pennsylvania is one of just 12 states that require the consent of all parties involved. In the remaining states, consent is not mandatory as long as the person recording is present during the conversation.

Despite his emotional testimony and his mother’s pleas, the Pennsylvania student was eventually found guilty, though he plans to appeal the ruling during his next court appearance on April 29. The bullies were never punished.


11 thoughts on “Special-Ed Student Who Recorded Bullies Accused of Felony Wiretapping

  1. Im sorry to have to say this
    but if you still have your kids in a public school system, than your part of the problem

      1. Unfortunately they are paying it comes out of the taxes. Now if they could get the money they pay into the system back,then they could go private or home schooled. I would never ever send my kids to state schools. I know the horror and the abuse. Lives with you for life. Bulling thugs should be eliminated period,they come from trash and are the trash and usually end up in politics!

  2. My son was usually the one expelled for being the victim, not the bullies. (the worst bullies were the children of teachers, principles or from families with socially higher standing). He spent grade 7 in a hospital, where he gained many tools to deal with the worst of it, but he snapped again in grade 12.
    We pulled him out in Sept last year due to the constant harassment.
    No different than PTSD. He was probably going to attack one or more antagonists, or more likely because Asperger’s kids are usually non violent, do some more damage to himself at home.
    So out of school for his and his antagonists (multiple) safety.
    Eventually, the victim snaps, and mentally collapses. They go into a slow or fast suicide, or they plan things out and go for revenge.
    One of my sons bullies from the last 11 years, was killed in a car accident this week. It is sad, but not surprising, that my sons initial reaction was “that a55h@1e got what he deserved” as he jumped in the air and laughed.
    A kid he has been in school with since kindergarten, and he cheered his death. We had to tell him his reaction was inappropriate, but understand this, he was set free, if only for a minute, as he heard those words.

    This young man in the story, what this young lad has gone through, embarrassed before the courts, will be ammunition for the bullies.

    The bully cannot exist if the victim frees himself, and the bullies just got the support of the courts. I feel very sad for him and his family, it seems you just cannot win.
    The irony is, there is a government who is taping and recording all WE do.
    That is the essence of a dichotomy, crazy making. This kid incorrectly assumed, if I tape this, then they will have to listen and realize I am not lying. Now he has to deal with the latest twist the bullies have succeeded in getting him with. Damn, I feel sorry for the kid and his family.

  3. It seems that Principal Scott Milburn has no sense or was trying to protect one of the bullies. He should be ashamed of himself either way. The Judge on the case should be equally ashamed. Too bad the young man didn’t make gay porn, because I just read somewhere on HuffPost that an 18 year old high school student did just that, and it was discovered by the school. He was summarily expelled until the community and the world-at-large protested. He claimed he was just trying to help out his poor mom. The school succumbed to the pressure, and he was re-instated. Not trying to knock the 18 year old, but where was the outrage for the poor child in this story? Just because he wasn’t photogenic and didn’t have a 6-pack and didn’t commit some degrading sex acts? Gimme a F-ing break! I weep and pray for the innocents.

    “Men’s hearts will fail them as they bare witness to what comes on the earth.”

    The race to the bottom will know no bounds.

  4. As a Psych RN who deals with mental health crises involving school-age minors daily, I have to commend what the kid did. Bullying is a big problem for the mental well being of students in every school I go to, and measures against it should be applauded.
    Anyway, by recording others he’s only doing what he’s been told by the federal government is socially appropriate and legally responsible, so what could be wrong with that?

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