Florida Bullying Case: Charge Dropped Against 2 Teens

View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    Polk County Sheriff's Office
    Rebecca Ann Sedwick

    Lawyers for two teenage girls charged with stalking a Florida classmate who complained of being bullied before her suicide said Wednesday that charges against both have been dropped.

    Attorney Jose Baez said the State Attorney's Office in Polk County had dropped the juvenile count of third-degree felony aggravated stalking against his client. She was 12 when she was arrested and has since turned 13.

    Facebook Messages Released in Florida Cyberbullying Case That Led to Girl's Suicide

    [MI] Facebook Messages Released in Florida Cyberbullying Case That Led to Girl's Suicide
    A 12-year-old girl was in juvenile court Friday morning, where she was expected to be arraigned on an aggravated stalking charge for allegedly harassing Rebecca Sedwick. Sedwick, 12, jumped to her death after being bullied for months, according to authorities. But the 12-year-old defendant’s attorney, Jose Baez, said she is being bullied by the legal system. (Published Friday, Oct 25, 2013)

    Separately by email, attorney Ronald Toward said his 14-year-old client had the same count dropped against her.

    Baez demanded an apology from the Polk County sheriff who arrested his client and then placed her name and mug shot before television cameras at a news conference last month.

    2 Girls Charged in Florida Bullying Case

    [MI] 2 Girls, Aged 12 and 14, Charged in Florida Bullying Case
    After 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick committed suicide last month, one of her tormenters continued to make comments about her online, even bragging about the bullying, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Tuesday. NBC 6's Adam Kuperstein reports on the arrest of a 14-year-old girl and a 12-year-old girl who were primarily responsible for bullying Rebecca, according to Judd. (Published Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013)

    Sheriff Grady Judd announced the arrests last month. He said the two girls primarily were responsible for bullying Rebecca Sedwick, a 12-year-old girl who jumped to her death at an abandoned concrete plant in September.

    "I found zero evidence having to do with my client that would rise to the level of a criminal act," Baez said at a news conference outside his Orlando office.

    Baez described his client as a "troubled young girl" who had been bullied herself, and he said it was "reckless" for Judd to have arrested his client.

    At a news conference in Winter Haven on Wednesday just minutes after Baez's news conference had ended, Judd said he didn't regret anything he did. He said that he is happy with the outcome and that the girls will receive "the services they need."

    "Our goal is that these kids never bully anyone again, never torment anyone again," Judd said.

    Baez said his client hasn't ruled out a lawsuit against the sheriff.

    Brian Haas, a spokesman for the State Attorney's Office in Polk County, said Florida law prevented him from commenting on juvenile cases.

    At last month's news conference announcing the arrests, Judd said the bullying began about a year ago after the 14-year-old girl started dating Sedwick's ex-boyfriend. The older girl threatened to fight Sedwick while they were sixth-graders at Crystal Lake Middle School in Lakeland and told her "to drink bleach and die," the sheriff said. She also persuaded the younger girl to bully Sedwick, even though they had been best friends, the sheriff said.

    Though both teens had been identified by authorities, The Associated Press doesn't generally name juveniles charged with crimes.

    More on NBC6.com: