Utah – Charges Stand Against Woman Who Bugged Diaper Bag

A Utah woman who put a microphone device on her children’s diaper bag to listen to what their father was telling them has been charged with eavesdropping.

Teri Smith, 37, of Salt Lake City is being charged with three counts of wiretapping or intercepting electronic communication for trying to pick up conversations between her ex-husband and two children.

Smith and her lawyer said that she was legally allowed to do so because she believed that her children may be in danger, which is legal under state and federal law.

Prosecutors disagreed and said that none of the alleged sexual abuse took place.

They said that Smith put an audio recorder in her children’s bag nine times in 2012, according to the Standard-Examiner.

The husband discovered the recorder and confronted his ex-wife about it, but found another recorder in a child’s coat pocket several days later.

No charges have been filed against the ex-husband.

Smith filed for divorce from him in 2011 and the two have since been engaged in a lengthy custody battle.

The wiretapping charges are third-degree felonies, which carry possible jail time of five years or a fine of up to $5,000.

Her alleged use of a diaper bag is not the first time that a parent has used children’s items to spy on an ex-spouse.

A Nebraska woman named Dianna Divingnzzo was sued by her ex-husband in 2009 after putting a recording device in a teddy bear with plans to use the audio to prove her former spouse’s abuse of their daughter.

She had wanted to use them during a custody trial, but destroyed the recordings the day a judge said they could not be admitted because they were obtained illegally.

In 2011 she and her father were each ordered to pay $10,000 to the ex-husband and five other plaintiffs who had been recorded by the bear, amounting to $120,000 in fines, according to Ars Technica.

1 reply
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    A judge ruled that even though a woman claimed she only wanted to record conversations between her ex-husband and children, the electronic eavesdropping charges against her will stand.

    For more than an hour Thursday, 2nd District Judge Robert Dale heard arguments by defense attorney Rebecca Skordas and Deputy Davis County Attorney Richard Larsen about whether the charges against Teri Anne Smith are valid.

    Smith, 37, is charged with three counts of wiretapping or intercepting electronic communications, all third-degree felonies. Another hearing is scheduled for Aug. 27.

    Smith secretly recorded conversations between her ex-husband and her two children in 2012, according to court documents.

    Skordas said under federal and state law, a parent has the right to record conversations between a child and another adult if the parent believes the child is in danger. She said because Smith believed her children were in danger, she did not break the law. Skordas had filed a motion in June to dismiss the charges.

    Larsen said after court, “The state and the alleged victim disagree (with the defendant) concerning any claims of sexual abuse that was taking place.”

    No charges have been filed against the ex-husband.

    Dale said in his ruling that putting a recording device in a diaper bag in hopes of recording a conversation between the other parent and a child is a “shotgun approach.”

    He said he was concerned there may have been other people in the home who expected privacy and would have had their conversations recorded without their knowledge.

    Larsen said in court that Smith sent a recording device in her child’s diaper bag nine times. He said if law enforcement personnel tried to bug someone’s home to hear conversations between two people without their knowledge, “they’d be sued.”

    Police said Smith’s ex-husband picked up his children for visitation in February 2012 from her home. After he arrived at his Layton home, he saw a “red light vibrating inside a diaper bag and discovered a recorder,” police said in charging documents.

    The ex-husband then “had a conversation” with Smith about the recording device. A few days later, he found another recording device in one of the children’s coat pockets, police said.

    According to charging documents, listing three incidents, Smith sent recording devices into her ex-husband’s home on Feb. 14, 2012; Feb. 20, 2012; and March 7, 2012.

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