Former school board member Long turns herself in, posts bond
Wendee Long, a former Argyle school board member, turned herself in to authorities on two felony charges Monday in connection with a video allegedly recorded in a girls locker room at a varsity basketball game in February.
A Denton County grand jury indicted Long on Thursday on charges of improper photography or visual recording; and unlawful interception, use or disclosure of wire, oral or electronic communications, said Jamie Beck, first assistant district attorney.
“She has turned herself in and posted bond and has been released,” Beck said.
According to county jail records, Long posted $25,000 bail.
Daniel K. Peugh, Long’s attorney, wrote in an e-mail Tuesday that he and his client are “surprised and disappointed” at the grand jury’s decision.
“Wendee maintains, and I agree, that she has not violated any law,” Peugh wrote. “We do not believe anything has taken place that should involve the justice system. However, now that we find ourselves in the system we are confident that Wendee will be cleared of any wrongdoing.”
If convicted of the improper visual recording charge, Long could face 180 days to two years in a state jail. She also could face a fine of up to $10,000, Beck said.
The second-degree charge of unlawful interception, which Beck said is under the same statute as wiretapping, carries a punishment of two to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
According to Beck, people who have never been convicted of a felony offense are eligible for probation.
Long, a principal of five years at Wayside Middle School in Fort Worth, part of the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw school district, informed her employers of the charges Friday and has since been placed on administrative leave, district spokeswoman Kristin Courtney said.
“Our offices are closed this week, so we will start our own investigation when we return next Monday,” Courtney said. “We will determine any implications for our district once we go through the investigation.”
Long has been an educator for 18 years and an administrator for nine, according to a letter on the Wayside website.
She served a three-year term on the Argyle school board from 2009-12 before running for re-election and being defeated in the May 12 school board race.
Argyle Superintendent Telena Wright said Tuesday that the district had no comment on the indictment.
At the base of the indictment is a video allegedly recorded in the visitors’ locker room at an Argyle-Sanger high school girls basketball game Feb. 7.
This past spring, Wright told the Denton Record-Chronicle that she and board members received copies of the video, which appeared to be edited, anonymously by mail. She said she turned her video over to Argyle police, who in turn gave the video to police in Sanger, where the recording occurred.
Sanger police opened an investigation March 26 into the recording after receiving a copy of the recording from Argyle police and after 14 parents from Argyle filed a joint complaint with Sanger police requesting a full investigation.
In May, Sanger police turned the case over to the district attorney’s office for review.
In a statement released by the department in May, Sanger police indicated that the edited recording, which “did not contain inappropriate images of Argyle players,” showed the girls locker room at halftime and included audio of a postgame conversation. During the investigation, police received information implicating Long and her daughter Caydan, 17, and recovered the unedited version of the recording, which “only contained audio and no inappropriate images,” according to the statement.
Beck said a case was presented to the district attorney’s office on Caydan Long and was no-billed by the grand jury.
Sanger Detective Jonathan Perkins, investigating officer in the case, said that there was no specific motive for the recording but it’s assumed the recording was taken to capture the actions of girls varsity coach Skip Townsend.
There was no indication that recording equipment was placed in the home team’s locker room, he said.
Beck said it could be three to four weeks before an arraignment on Wendee Long’s charges takes place.
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.