MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Seventeen media companies have been named in a lawsuit suit regarding coverage of Berkeley County school abuse case.
The complaint, filed by Martinsburg law firm Stedman & Riddell for former Berkeley County teacher aides June Yurish and Kristen Douty, alleges the recording from 6 year-old Adri Pack’s hair in October that captured alleged verbal abuse was unlawful. Amber Pack, Adri’s mother, placed a recording device in her daughter’s hair after becoming suspicious of her sudden behavior changes.
The recording device captured audio believed to be Yurish and Douty verbally abusing Adri. Amber Pack’s February lawsuit against the Berkeley County Education details what can be heard on the tape.
“Defendants Lester, Yurish and Douty made numerous inappropriate, abusive and threatening comments to then six year-old Adrianna Pack that included, among other things:
- Threatening to punch Adri in her face
- Threatening to pull Adri’s hair until she starts crying
- Threatening to backhand Adri “right in her teeth” and afterwards asking her “how’s that for anxiety?”
- Calling Adri and other students words such as animal, wench and pygmy
- Requesting that Adri massage the teacher and/or aide’s feet”
– Amber Pack v. Berkeley County Board of Education; others
Now, Stedman & Riddell’s case contends that the tape violated West Virginia Wiretapping Laws in a new suit released Wednesday.
“5. A.P. (Adri Pack) was not legally capable of consenting, was not offered the opportunity to give her consent, and did not, at any point, give actual consent.
6. A.P. then went to school at Berkeley Heights Elementary and, unbeknownst to her, recorded all ambient noise, conversations had, and statements made within audible range of her hair, regardless of whether such statements were being had to her, to other students, or between teachers and other school staff.
7. Thereafter, Ms. Pack, or another individual on her behalf, edited approximately sixty to one hundred a twenty seconds of clips from the unlawful audio footage, captured over an entire eight-hour school day, and unlawfully disseminated said edited footage to various
The suit also seeks compensation for damages it says Yurish and Douty have sustained following the release of the tape.
“58. The widespread proliferation of the misleadingly edited footage, and the ensuing public mob it engendered, caused Complainants to be the victims of ongoing and sustained harassment of such severity that Complainants are uncomfortable leaving their homes and often cannot do so without having pictures of themselves and their families posted on the internet by total strangers with malicious comments attached thereto.”
Amber Pack’s Attorney Ben Salango previously told MetroNews affiliates WEPM & WCST that West Virginia is a one party state…meaning only one person has to know a recording is happening in order for it to be legal.
“Because the teachers and the parents of the students knew that you could video tape, so there’s no expectation of privacy. Now remember, West Virginia is a one-party consent state. West Virginia has recognized already that if you suspect that your child is being abused, you can record.”
“If this had been a situation where someone had planted it in a home where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, that’s far different than having it in a public school in a public setting.”
MetroNews affiliate WEPM is listed along with 16 other media outlets from across the nation for broadcasting the audio. The suit alleges that broadcasting or sharing the secret audio is a violation of wiretapping laws.
“W.Va. Code § 62-1D-6 entitles any person whose oral communication is
intercepted, disclosed, or used to compensation for actual damages not less than $100 for each day of violation, punitive damages where proper, and reasonable attorney fees and reasonable costs of litigation.
Complainants, as a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s breach, incurred actual damages of $210,618 in lost salary on behalf of Complainant Yurish, $97,353.76 in lost retirement income on behalf of Complainant Yurish, lost healthcare benefits on behalf of Complainant Yurish, $665,914.48 in lost salary on behalf of Complainant Douty, $241,344 in lost retirement income on behalf of Complainant Douty, and lost healthcare benefits on behalf of Complainant Douty, as well as severe emotional distress on behalf of both Complainants Yurish and Douty.”
Others defendants listed in the suit are Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., Barrington Broadcasting Group, LLC, Cunningham Broadcasting Corporation, Deerfield Media, Inc., Gocom Media of Illinois, LLC, Gray Television, Inc. , Howard Stirk Holdings, LLC, Roberts Media, LLC, New Age Media, Nexstar Media Group, Inc., Shenandoah Communications, Inc., Tegna, Inc., E.W. Scripps Company, Greer Industries, Inc. (WV Radio Corporation/WEPM), Thomas Broadcasting Company, Waitt Broadcasting, Inc., RSV NG, LLC, Preston and Salango, PLLC, Bowles Rice, LLP and Adrian Wood.