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School Dist. Faces New Suit re Alleged Laptop Webcam Spying, By Sister of Teen Who Got $175K

Posted Dec 9, 2011 10:33 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A suburban Philadelphia school district reacted with outrage today, after learning that it had been sued again, by the sister of a teen student to whom it had made a $175,000 settlement, concerning alleged illegal webcam monitoring in their home on a Harriton High School-supplied laptop.

Paige Robbins, 18, says in the federal suit she filed yesterday in Philadelphia against Lower Merion School District that an April 2010 deposition in her brother's case alerted her that her own privacy had been compromised, too, according to Courthouse News and the Narberth-Bala Cynwood Patch.

In the deposition, an assistant vice principal at the high school said the school district “remotely accessed the webcam feature on the laptop issued to the plaintiff while she was in the bathroom, or in the nude, or partially dressed or sleeping or in her bedroom in a compromised state," Robbins contends in the suit.

It seeks damages from the school district and district officials for claimed violations of her civil rights, state wiretap law, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Stored Communications Act.

School district officials, however, portrayed the suit as blatant profiteering over a nonissue, arguing that an investigation by the FBI and others failed to discover any photos of the plaintiff and that Robbins is essentially trying to win a double payout, now that she is an adult, after a settlement already was made to the family.

Spokesman Doug Young told Courthouse News her suit is "bizarre" and the "epitome of an attempted money-grab and a complete waste of tax dollars."

Robbins is represented by Mary Bogan, a Philadelphia lawyer.

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