Teri Anne Smith, of Farmington, Utah, and her now-ex-husband Greg filed for divorce four years ago, but as happens far too often in divorce cases, the defunct couple have been embroiled in an angry custody fight over their two children ever since. Unfortunately, whether true or not, allegations of sexual and physical abuse often find their way into these fights, and that’s what happened in the case of Teri Anne and Greg Smith.
But the measures that Teri Anne Smith took to try to catch her ex-husband in the act could now land the 37-year-old mom behind bars.
Here’s what happened, according to a police account as reported by the Ogden Standard-Examiner newspaper. In February of 2012, Greg Smith picked up the two kids for an approved visitation at Teri Anne Smith’s home. He took the small children back to his own place in Layton, Utah, when he noticed something odd inside the kids’ diaper bag.
Buried amidst the diapers, the dad saw a blinking red light. When he reached into the bag to investigate, he found a voice recorder.
According to court records, Greg Smih had “a conversation” with Teri about why having their kids show up wired for sound was not a good idea.
But on another visit, he found another recorder in the pocket of one of the children’s coats. And that wasn’t the end of it either. According to the documents, Teri Ann Smith tried to bug her ex-husband on three occasions — that he was able to discover: February 14 and 20, and March 7 of 2012.
Teri Ann Smith was later arrested and charged by police with three counts of conducting illegal electronic surveillance.
She had planned to strike a plea bargain and plead guilty to lesser charges, but when she appeared for her latest court hearing on Thursday, July 23, this week, the mom and her lawyer decided to fight the charges after all.
The reason: According to Smith’s defense lawyer Rebecca Skordas, Teri Anne had reason to believe that Greg Smith was sexually abusing the kids, and under federal law, the lawyer argued, parents who have cause to believe that their children are in danger are allowed to set up their own wiretaps and other forms of electronic surveillance to monitor the kids’ safety.
Greg Smith has never faced sexual abuse charges, and prosecutors said that they “disagreed” with Teri Anne Smith and her lawyer “concerning any claims of sexual abuse that was taking place.”
In the end, Judge Robert Dale let the charges against Teri Anne Smith stand because, he said, her “shotgun approach” to bugging her husband could have recorded other people’s words without their knowledge, which is illegal. Now the mom must decide whether to keep fighting the charges — or risk serving time in jail.
[Image: Davis County Sheriff’s Department]