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Wiretapping charges were dropped Wednesday against a Pensacola, Fla., high school student who taped a chemistry lecture without the teacher’s consent. Prosecutor John Molchan said the wiretapping law applies only when the person being tape-recorded has a reasonable expectation of privacy — and that was not the case in a classroom of 30 students. “The young lady was recording a lecture, trying to assist her in learning at that particular time. I’m not sure that’s an appropriate forum for prosecution,” the prosecutor said. Asher Zaslaw, 17, a varsity weightlifter, said she recorded the October lecture at Navarre High School because she was having difficulty in the class and wanted to maintain her 3.89 grade-point average. Teacher Shelaine Goss filed a complaint, and the state brought charges Feb. 5. Calls to the teacher’s home were not immediately returned on Wednesday. Principal Louise Driggers said taping in the classroom is against school policy. She said the rule is intended to prevent students from listening to tapes or CDs in class. Zaslaw would have faced penalties including community service if convicted. “The toll it’s taken on her up to this point is a shame,” said Asher’s father, Jay Zaslaw. “That’s not the kind of thing that kids on the right track should be subjected to.” Barbara Peterson, executive director of the First Amendment Foundation in Tallahassee, said the wiretap law was never intended for classroom lectures. “There’s no expectation of privacy in a classroom,” Peterson said. “It kind of stuns me.” Florida’s law is similar to one in Maryland that Linda Tripp was accused of violating by recording conversations with Monica Lewinsky about her affair with former President Clinton. The charge was dropped when Lewinksy refused to testify. The most notable Florida case involved a couple who were fined $500 each in 1997 for using a scanner to tape former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s cellular phone discussion of his ethics problems. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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