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Attorney: Berkeley BOE files to exclude audio evidence in abuse suit, sues victim’s mother

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Defendants in the case of Adri Pack have filed a motion asking to exclude the audio recording that surfaced last fall providing evidence of verbal and possible physical abuse against the 6 year-old girl.

In October, mother Amber Pack placed a recording device in Adri’s hair after noticing bruises on her when she returned home from Berkeley Heights Elementary. Adri is a student with special needs and is non-verbal. On the recording, you could two women believed to be teacher aides threatening, cursing and yelling at Adri several times.

Amber Pack filed a lawsuit in February, which describes what is heard on the recording:

  • 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

The defendants in the case have been identified as Berkeley County Schools employees Christina Lester, June Yurish, Kristin Douty and Amber Boeckmann. Boeckmann is the principal of Berkeley Heights. They filed the motion on the grounds of privacy, saying the recording violates state and federal wire-tapping laws.

Amber Pack’s attorney Ben Salango said this right does not apply in public settings. Salango was a guest on MetroNews affiliate WEPM’s ‘Panhandle Live’ Monday.

“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.”

In this particular classroom, parents had signed consent forms permitting Berkeley County Schools to film, photograph and record the children. Salango said this eliminates any argument the defendants had for a reasonable expectation for privacy.

“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.”

Furthermore, Salango confirmed Monday that the Berkeley County Board of Education has pursued legal action against Amber Pack, the victim’s mother.

“They filed a lawsuit against the mom trying to hold her personally responsible arguing that she can’t use the audio that she recorded. In 21 years that I’ve been practicing law, I have never seen a defense like this. I’m not sure why they sued the mom personally, but they did and we’ll deal with it.”

A Berkeley County Schools spokesperson told WEPM Monday “at the advice of counsel, we can not comment on pending litigation”.

WEPM’s Melanie Miller contributed to this report.


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