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John Legal
John Legal, Attorney
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When I was in boarding school in 1990, my roommate secretly

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When I was in boarding school in 1990, my roommate secretly tape recorded me, goading me into breaking school rules on verbal harassment. I was 15 at the time, a freshman. He turned the tape over to the headmaster, & I barely avoided expulsion. Was it legal of him to record me, without my consent? Was it legal for the school to severely punish me, based entirely on the recording? If it was illegal, has the statute of limitations passed for me to seek damages? Thank you.
Welcome! Thank you for your question. That is certainly something to make you feel violated.

What state was the boarding school in?

Was your roommate part of the conversation that he was taping?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
It was in Newport Rhode Island. It was only myself and the taper in the room, & I did not consent. He set up a hidden recorder, then led me violating the schools verbal harassment rules one by one, while smiling all the time.
James,

Unfortunately, in Rhode Island it is legal to record a conversation so long as one party to the conversation consents. Your roommate was the consenting party here.

Here is the statute. I have highlighted the consent rule under paragraph number 3 below:

§ 11-35-21 Unauthorized interception, disclosure or use of wire, electronic, or oral communication. - (a) Except as otherwise specifically provided in chapter 5.1 of title 12, any person: (1) who willfully intercepts, attempts to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or attempt to intercept, any wire, electronic, or oral communication; (2) who willfully discloses or attempts to disclose to any person the contents of any wire, electronic, or oral communication, knowing, or having reason to know that the information was obtained through interception of a wire, electronic, or oral communication in violation of this section; or (3) who willfully uses or attempts to use the contents of any wire, electronic, or oral communication, knowing, or having reason to know, that the information was obtained through interception of a wire, electronic, or oral communication in violation of this section; shall be imprisoned for not more than five (5) years.

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(b) The provisions of subdivisions (a)(2) and (3) of this section shall not apply to the contents of any wire, electronic, or oral communication, or evidence derived from those contents, which has become common knowledge or public information.

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(c) It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for:

(1) An operator of a switchboard, or an officer, agent, or employee of a communication common carrier, whose facilities are used in the transmission of a wire, electronic, or oral communication, to intercept, disclose, or use that communication in the normal course of his or her employment while engaged in any activity which is a necessary incident to the rendition of his or her service or to the protection of the rights or property of the carrier of the communication. No communication common carrier shall utilize service observing or random monitoring except for mechanical or service quality control checks;

(2) A person acting under color of law to intercept a wire, electronic, or oral communication, where that person is a party to the communication, or where one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to the interception; or

(3) A person not acting under color of law to intercept a wire, electronic, or oral communication, where the person is a party to the communication, or one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to the interception unless the communication is intercepted for the purpose of committing any criminal or tortious act in the violation of the constitution or laws of the United States or of any state or for the purpose of committing any other injurious act.

 

 

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