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Lawsuits & Litigation

Former Teacher Aides Accused of Harassing Students Sue Media Companies for Making Recordings Public

— May 9, 2019

Two former teacher aides, Kristin Douty and Jun Yurish, are suing 17 media outlets over allegations they disseminated a secret recording of alleged verbal abuse.

A handful of media companies are in hot water after two teacher aids decided to file a lawsuit against them. The teacher aids, Kristin Douty and Jun Yurish, “lost their jobs in West Virginia over allegations that they harassed special needs students.” Douty and Yurish decided to sue 17 media companies that “disseminated a secret recording of the alleged verbal abuse.”

How did the aids harass the students, though? Why are they suing the media companies? Well, according to prosecutors, “a recording device hidden in a mentally disabled student’s hair captured eight hours of audio with numerous instances of verbal abuse.” In one instance, one of the adults can be heard saying, “I ought to backhand you right in your teeth. How’s that for anxiety?”

Image of legel books on a shelf
Legal books; image courtesy of witwiccan via Pixabay,

The harassment was only discovered because the mother of one of the special needs students suspected her daughter was being harassed by school staff and hid an audio recording device in her daughter’s hair. Unfortunately, her suspicions turned out to be true. After hearing what was captured on the recording device, the mother, Amber Pack, filed a harassment complaint with the Martinsburg Police Department on Oct. 5, 2018.

From there, Pack posted clips of the recording to various social media platforms when “school administrators failed to take action against its staff. Once media outlets got a hold of the recording, they “disseminated the recording by broadcasting it on air and quoting it online.”

The problem the two former aides have with the media companies is that the media outlets allegedly “violated state and federal wiretapping laws by airing clips of the audio recording.” As a result, the women are seeking thousands of dollars to cover lost salary and retirement income, “compensation for lost health care benefits, $1 million each for pain, suffering and emotional distress damages, and punitive damages of $5 million or a sufficient amount to deter similar conduct in the future.”

According to Douty and Yurish, the following media companies are included in the lawsuit:

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, Shenandoah Communications, Inc., Tegna, Inc., E.W. Scripps Company, Thomas Broadcasting Company, Waitt Broadcasting, Inc., Greer Industries, Inc., RSV NG, LLC and Nexstar Media Group, Inc.

What do you think? Do the former teacher aids have a case?


Ex-teacher aides accused of verbally abusing students now suing media for making recordings public

Ex-teacher aides sue media over release of videos showing abuse of special needs students

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