Charges dropped against girls in Rebecca Sedwick bullying case
Rebecca Sedwick, 12, committed suicide in September.
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -
Charges of aggravated stalking filed against two defendants related to the bullying of a Polk County girl who committed suicide have been dropped.
Rebecca Sedwick, 12, committed suicide in September. As the result of an investigation, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd announced the arrest last month of a 12-year-old girl and a 14-year-old girl.
At a news conference on Wednesday, attorney Jose Baez, who is representing the younger girl who is now 13, called on Judd to publicly apologize.
"He should get a lawyer and a darn good one, 'cause he's going to need it," said Baez.
Baez said his client got into a "school yard fight" with Sedwick over a year ago, but that was the extent of her involvement.
"These are children that sometimes make mistakes, but it never, ever, ever rose to the level of bullying," Baez said. "I don't think that Rebecca's death had anything to do with the conduct of my client."
Judd responded at a separate news conference, saying the goal was to bring about awareness and an intervention to help the defendants receive help.
"If we'd not made an arrest, if we'd not brought this to the court system, would these children be receiving services today?" he asked. "The answer is no. We were successful."
Sedwick jumped to her death after what investigators said was months of relentless bullying.
The two girls were charged with aggravated stalking in October. The 14-year-old is accused of leading the bullying, which supposedly started over a boyfriend.
Both girls were publicly identified by the sheriff's department after their arrest in connection to Sedwick's death. FOX 35 is not identifying the girls, because they are minors.
The unprecedented arrests made national news, which offered Baez -- known for his role in Casey Anthony's acquittal -- a platform to spar with Judd over the arrests.
"I think my client is just as much a victim in this case as she is a defendant," Baez told reporters in October. "Why is this child being thrust into the spotlight? Why is this child having to go to court with cameras following her? Why is the sheriff of the county stuffing her mug shot in front of all of the cameras?"
"Start trying to help that child, so she's a productive citizen," Judd shot back.