Paul Boron is 13 years old and he’s facing a felony eavesdropping charge that could change the course of the rest of his life.
His story stands as another chapter of controversy surrounding an eavesdropping law some experts have criticized as ripe for abuse and misapplication.
On Feb. 16, 2018, Boron was called to the principal’s office at Manteno Middle School after failing to attend a number of detentions. Before meeting Principal David Conrad and Assistant Principal Nathan Short, he began recording audio on his cell phone.
Boron said he argued with Conrad and Short for approximately 10 minutes in the reception area of the school secretary’s office, with the door open to the hallway. When Boron told Conrad and Short he was recording, Conrad allegedly told Boron he was committing a felony and promptly ended the conversation.
Two months later, in April, Boron was charged with one count of eavesdropping – a class 4 felony in Illinois.
“If I do go to court and get wrongfully convicted, my whole life is ruined,” said Boron, who lives with his mother and four siblings in Manteno, Illinois, an hour southwest of Chicago. “I think they’re going too far.”
In his petition to bring the charge, Kankakee County Assistant State’s Attorney Mark Laws wrote that Boron on Feb. 16 “used a cellphone to surreptitiously record a private conversation between the minor and school officials without consent of all parties.” Members of the Manteno Community Unit School District No. 5 board, Conrad and Short have not responded to requests for comment on the incident.
“We cannot comment on a pending matter, and we are not authorized to release confidential student information to the press,” district Superintendent Lisa Harrod wrote in an email.
Boron’s mother, Leah McNally, was shocked when she learned about the charge against her son.
“It blew my mind that they would take it that far … I want to see him be able to be happy and live up to his full potential in life, especially with the disability he has,” she said. Her son is legally blind in his right eye.
See More: Source: Illinois Policy. Org