Employees At Tulsa Public Schools Accused Of Hacking Co-Worker's Email

Tuesday, August 16th 2011, 9:47 pm

By: News On 6

Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Tulsa police seized several computers from the Tulsa Public Schools athletic office to investigate a possible cyber crime. Three district employees, including the district's athletic director, are accused of hacking into a co-worker's personal email account.

No charges have been filed against the accused and they haven't been suspended. And the woman who says her email was hacked wants to know why.

After 12 years with Tulsa Public Schools, Cheryl Murphy says she can't believe she's in this situation.

"Very much so, because I was a very dedicated and loyal employee. I gave 110 percent all day, every day. And it's been very, very hard," Murphy said.

Murphy says she was suspended in June from her job as an assistant to Tulsa Public Schools Athletic Director Stephanie Spring.

She says she was told she was being fired for repeatedly being late, but she was fighting the termination.

While on suspension, she was told by Tulsa Police she might be a victim of a cyber crime.

"They hacked into my clients private emails," Attorney Richard O'Carroll said.

According to police reports, Spring and two people who work for her, Jon Wheeler and Patricia Pruitt, admitted to the school district's lawyer they'd found Murphy's password and accessed her personal email account.

And the Chief of Tulsa Public School Police recovered an envelope of Murphy's emails, including one labeled attorney client privilege.

"They claim they found her password, that's actually not true. Find it or not find it, you don't get to hack into somebody's personal emails," O'Carroll said.

Allen Smallwood is Stephanie Spring's attorney.

"This is coming from a disgruntled employee," Smallwood said.

Ashli Sims, News On : "Your client never accessed her secretary's personal email?"
Allen Smallwood, Spring's Attorney: "She never, without authorization, accessed anybody's computer system."

Smallwood says Spring is a longtime, respected TPS employee who has done nothing wrong.

"Well I think the fact that she's still employed is an indication about what the Tulsa Public School system thinks about the accusation," Smallwood said.

TPS did offer Cheryl Murphy her job back, but with no action taken against her former boss and coworkers, she says she's afraid to go back to work.

Tulsa Public School officials say they cannot comment on the situation. In a written statement, the district says "the superintendent and relevant staff are actively seeking all information that may exist as to any allegations."


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