PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sheriff Says Cyber-Bully's Hateful Message Prompted Arrest in Girl's Suicide

The Florida sheriff who arrested two middle-school girls for their role in the suicide of a third says he had to draw a line somewhere.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has charged a 14-year-old and a 12-year-old with felony aggravated stalking in the suicide of Rebecca Sedwick, who jumped to her death at an abandoned cement plant in Lakeland last month.

Judd says the girls were among 15 who bullied Sedwick in person and then, when she switched schools, sent her months of hate-filled messages.

He says the last straw came when 14-year-old Guadalupe Shaw went online with her response to the suicide.

"Guadalupe sends this message: 'Yes, I bullied Rebecca, and she killed herself, and I don't give a bleep.' And that was the last straw", Judd said.

Shaw and her parents say someone hacked her account to post that comment, but Judd isn't buying it. He's also arrested Shaw's stepmother in an unrelated child-abuse case.

A new law giving schools more power to punish cyber-bullying went into effect on July first.

Now Judd – who is also president of the Florida Sheriffs Association – is calling for more civil penalties for cyber-bullying as well.