The Polk County Sheriff’s Office on Monday arrested charged two middle school students with felony aggravated stalking–or cyberbullying–in connection with the suicide of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick in Lakeland on September 10, 2013.
Katelyn Roman, 12, and Guadalupe Shaw, 14, are accused of repeatedly and maliciously harassing Sedwick. from December 2012 to February 2013, according to their arrest affidavits. The case drew worldwide attention after Sedgwick climbed a tower on an abandoned cement plant in north Lakeland and jumped to her death after changing her user name on a cell application to “That Dead Girl.”
“In jumping,” The New York Times reported last month, “Rebecca became one of the youngest members of a growing list of children and teenagers apparently driven to suicide, at least in part, after being maligned, threatened and taunted online, mostly through a new collection of texting and photo-sharing cellphone applications. Her suicide raises new questions about the proliferation and popularity of these applications and Web sites among children and the ability of parents to keep up with their children’s online relationships.”
The charges, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, are a result of numerous detectives’ interviews.
All three girls attended Crystal Lake Middle School at the time of the alleged stalking. Several students corroborated stories of both girls bullying Sedwick on different occasions, through name-calling, intimidation, threats to beat her up, and at least one actual physical fight. The Times account had reported that up to 15 girls had been involved in the cyberbullying, urging Segwick to kill herself.
According to witnesses, including a boyfriend of Shaw’s who had previously been Rebecca’s boyfriend, Shaw had several arguments with Rebecca on Facebook, as well as verbal confrontations at school. During the incidents, Rebecca was observed walking away from Shaw and not engaging, leading witnesses to determine that Rebecca was being bullied by Shaw. Shaw also reportedly bullied anyone who was friends with Rebecca. For this reason, some children did not want to be friends with Rebecca, out of fear of being bullied by Shaw.
Witnesses reported that Shaw sent messages to Rebecca, calling her ugly, telling her to drink bleach and die, and telling Rebecca that she, Rebecca, should kill herself. Shaw tried to instigate physical fights with Rebecca on more than one occasion.
Shaw also instigated fighting between Roman and Rebecca. According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office’s release, Roman was friends with Rebecca, until Shaw convinced Roman to stop being friends with her. Roman was suspended for one fight that occurred in February 2013, during which Shaw encouraged Roman to “beat up” Rebecca. Rebecca did not fight back. When interviewed recently by detectives, Roman admitted that she “bullied” Rebecca, and that she was sorry for doing it.
Detectives have determined that the malicious harassment by Roman and Shaw was likely a contributing factor in Rebecca’s decision to commit suicide.
Shaw and Roman were arrested Monday evening, October 14, 2013, and booked into the Polk County Juvenile Assessment Center. They were released from the Juvenile Assessment Center the same evening, into their respective parents’ custody. They remain on home detention.
In addition to releasing their names, the sheriff’s office released the booking images of the two girls, which have been included in news accounts of their arrests. The images of juvenile offenders are not usually released by police agencies. The Polk Sheriff’s Office is headed by Sheriff Grady Judd, currently the president of the state sheriff’s association and one of the nation’s harshest and doctrinaire top cops, fighting crime with a version of retributive justice that blurs the line between policing and punishment.
Judd, a media-savvy sheriff, had described Sdgwick as “absolutely terrorized on social media” during a news conference last month.
were the parents says
the parents of the young people should be charged also, what parents don’t know what their kids are doing,they should be ashamed of their selfs ,god bless rebecca’s family thay don’t have their lil girl any more cause of these kids and parents not know what their kids are doing.or don’t care.
DONNA SERVIDIO says
that girl was a beautiful girl…….the scumbags were probably jealous of her…….they should use them as an example and throw them in jail and let the prisoners beat the crap out of THEM…then they would be bullied…………………
Ben Dover says
Parents now days let their kids watch mean girls , bridzilla, play violent video games, and use the computer as a babysitter so they can go about their lives without their kids bugging them , if you don t want to instill love , trust , morals and common sense into your children then don t have any, I was no angel , very far from it , but I had the nuns and my parents whipping my ass, today`s society calls this child abuse , I never hated my mother or father for punishing me I knew what I did was wrong when I was doing it, kids should not be allowed to have computers or cell phones till they are properly taught what is and is not exceptable behavior , we never had school shootings, or bullying to this degree , parents who`s kids do this are just as responsible as mine were for breaking someones window playing curb ball and stick ball where we weren t supposed to, this one girl actually bragged about driving this girl to take her life and was proud of it , this is a child who`s parents are definitely using the computer as a baby sitter ,and not spending time with their kids to instill manners , right from wrong , or a conscience, they should have family prisons where they lock them up together and teach them the correct way to raise and care for your child , at 12 and 14 it may be too late , these girls are horrific and Im sure their parents are as well
Couldn’t agree more
Nancy N. says
Other media is reporting that the arrests were the triggered as the result of a recent Facebook post by the 14 year old in which she said of Rebecca “yeah I bullied her and she’s dead and I don’t give a #$%”.
If true, this raises several questions:
1) Where are this girl’s parents? They should be taking away every internet access she has and telling her to keep her freaking mouth shut to protect herself legally! [I know – if they were supervising her she wouldn’t be the school’s most feared bully in the first place, but you’d think someone dying would snap them to attention.]
2) This child sounds scarily like a sociopath. What is she truly capable of if at the age of 14 she is so cold that she can not care that someone is dead because of her?
Yes they should face charges. kids can be the most crule things in the world to eachother. Also maybe in another similar case the school and other government officials should be held on charges for the suicide of this poor kid ~
An Alabama high school student killed himself after he was threatened with severe legal consequences — including registration as a sex offender — because he went streaking at a football game.
Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/13/student-threatened-with-sex-offender-status-commits-suicide/#ixzz2hpCnsvz8.
This behavior must be stopped. Why was she allowed to become the school’s most feared bully? Bullying needs to be grounds for dismissal.
These monsters are children. How does this behavior not set off alarm bells?
Reading above: If parents aren’t literate, it shouldn’t surprise anyone how their children act while in their home or out in the public world that we all occupy.
The population of this country has been led to the kool-aid for so many years that nothing surprises me anymore- NOTHING!
My heart breaks a little more each time I am exposed to these stories of bullying. It doesn’t matter whether the victim is as pretty as the little girl in this article, or a somehow deformed other child (or adult). It just isn’t right.
Just perhaps the fact that the bad girls names are now posted worldwide might at least slow down the bullying in that particular school. I truly hope so.
I always feel so down at the news of a young life cut short. It always leaves some of us wondering what has actually ended here. Where would this girl-child have gone in her life? It’s all so sad.
I wish that I had an answer that would cover all questions. I don’t.
I am just totally sad. There. I said it again.
I heard a lawyer on tv say that they probably won’t do any jail time or get harshly punished because of the right to free speech! %&#! Yes those girls are young, but they should spend their time in juvenile detention and get counseling until they are 18. The more these kids get away with this stuff, the more there will be of. Raising kids is a stupendous undertaking and if couples don’t want to take on the total responsibility of teaching and being involved with their kids, then they shouldn’t have them.
Nobody is paying attention to the fact that cruelty and murder is being more and more dismissed as “part of life”. How much is it going to take to change the mentality of people? It seems like the present society is becoming more and more vicious and disrespectful, I shudder to think of this up and coming generation and what they will face.
If school officials were notified these incidents were occurring and took no action to halt this then they too hold some responsibility towards this entire event. Furthermore, it should not be hard for a teacher to figure out when a child who normally is participating in class starts to withdraw socially, there is a problem (whether a family issue or otherwise). Over the period in question, the parents of this child were not aware of issues? I have three kids and can tell when something minor is bothering them, I could not imagine ignoring something larger like threats and at first instance something turned physical I would start asking more pertinent questions, like how long has this been going on? What are the circumstances which caused this? Very, very, sad and I could not imagine the emotional toll this takes on these families now.
Any probation deal should be contingent on a thorough psychological evaluation being conducted on both these girls, with any resulting recommendations being a mandatory component for completing said probation. One of the components should include, at the very least, parenting classes for the parents of both those girls, after CPS has conducted an investigation into their homes. The girls should also be responsible for some form of restitution to the victim’s family and the completion of community service, to foster a sense of responsibility towards others, as well as teaching them a much needed lesson about cause and effect when it comes to their behavior.
Advice for any young person who believe their being bullied on line……STOP GOING ON LINE…and find someway else to socialize in person. If someone bully’s you in person……..Beat the Snot out of them ! If your unable to do that, find a family member or friend who will beat the Snot out them for you. That’s how you take care of a bully.
in the other hand..why does a 12-14 years old children has facebook, twitter etc etc?? i mean…it’s good your children use internet for homeworks, study or some kinds of enterteinment..but parents should be aware of how their childrens use it… We..as grown ups..know that internet is something very dangerous for the youngest..it’s not about bullies..but kidnappers, or child molesters……..
Parents are as much responsible. They should go in jail.
This is why anti-bullying programs don’t work. They don’t punish the individual bullies, but make every child look like a potential problem, which is wrong and creates a sense of anger and resentment that can increase bullying. The majority of kids do not do this kind of stuff and should be left alone. Another solution is that a kid that has no choice but to protect him or herself from facial or head injuries should not be suspended along with the bully, because that has led to suicides and feelings of hopelessness among bullying victims.
Someday those girls will regret what they said and did… even if it happens through their own children (though God help those kids if they have any.)
Apparently, this fourteen year old wrote some comment on her facebook page that indicated that she was not only NOT sorry for the things she had done to contribute to this suicide victim’s misery and subsequent death, but that she “literally” did not give a ****. An article I read today stated that the fourteen year old’s parents are now claiming (to reporters, no less-what idiots they must be) that their little darling would NEVER do such a thing and that her facebook page had to have been hacked..This comment was issued to said reporter through the family’s door while their pit bull was barking. It looks like their dog is not the only pit bull this girl’s neighbors need to be worried about!. Some neighbors have also told reporters that the same girl has been seen playing “roughly” with other neighborhood children. Where is Child Protective Services in all of this? This girl is obviously a danger to herself and/or others! She needs to have a Psychiatric and Psychological examination done PRONTO and any lawyer or Public Defender assigned to her who is worth their own spit should waste NO time getting her one. I wish they could TOX screen the parents as well, and remove any firearms floating around that home, but understand that they may have no legal basis to do take such actions unless a random CPS visit to the home turned up something incriminating.
Don’t children usually act out when they are seeing and experiencing the same behavior at home? The families here definitely need to be examined. A threatening child usually faces a threatening parent at home.
I am sick of people trying to minimize the brutal actions of teens by blaming society or their parents. Yes the parents were probably no models of nurturing parenthood but what these girls did to Rebecca was cruel, deliberate and sustained. I taught middle school and know how cruel they can be to each other. I believe this is simple cruelty on the part of both girls. My prayer for Rebecca’s parents and her sister. It broke my heart watching the tv coverage. I have a teen girl myself and this has hit home for me. Again to Rebecca’s parents my condolences.
Joshua Marks says
Abi Robertson says
THESE GIRLS SHOULD BE PUT BEHINDE BARS ! THEY TORTURED THAT LITTLE GIRL . SHE HAD HER WHOLE LIFE AHEAD OF HER & THE BULLIES CONVINCED HER SHE WASNT WORTH A DAMN ! I can only imagine how the parents feel !! My prayers go out to them ,
it’s unbelievable the behavior of teenagers…while some parents make efforts to raise their children..other doesnt give a crap..like the parents of these 2 beast cause they are not childrens, they do not feel guilt of what they have done…Parents are guilty too, cause they are not aware of what their childrens are doing, but mostly cause they haven’t teached to respect anothers..shame on them!!
This makes me sick that this young beautiful girl took her own life because of these two disgusting individuals. Wish I could turn time around so i could be a friend that had her back. mayb this wouldnt have happened. This breaks my heart. This bullying needs to stop.
What a shame! She was such a beautiful young girl. I didn’t know her but her death just breaks my heart. To be this desperate at age 12 is heart-shattering. May this beautiful little angel rest in heavenly peace. My condolences to her family and friends.
I hope that the bullies will get what they deserve one day!
Please, raise your kids in a way that they will respect others. They’re our future…it’s on us to make sure it’ll be a bright one!
RIP Rebecca :(
When I was 16 I had an aol account. My parents worked a lot and were rarely home. I thank them for working so hard to provide for me and my sister. I remember meeting an older man online and he talked me into meeting him in person. I only needed a friend and made that clear to the man. When I met him (dummy me) In person….. lets just say he had other things in mind. I didn’t know he would want what he wanted. Im thankful I didn’t get hurt or worse. I don’t think children should have face book, twitter and whatever else is out there. My dad took me off aol and he never gave me a cell phone. Got my butt whooped for talking to people on aol. I was alone all the time and looked for attention else where when I figured out what those men had in mind. I looked at it like this……. Hey this guy really likes me, he shows me attention when no one else does. I was bullied too at school. My parents moved us to a small town where I was never accepted by my peers. Teachers and others never tried to step in. I stood up tho one girl who was bigger (physically) than me (younger in age)… She called me a Mexican loving Wh*#@. I slapped her. She never bothered me again… We actually became really good friends. She had a bad family life where she was forced to be a bully to fit in with her family “standards”. She decided not to be like that anymore. A lot of her family despised her for being my friend. She has departed from that family now. Parenst who don’t pay attention to kids will regret it someday. The parents are not paying attention… PLAIN AND SIMPLE!
Here is news that is sad but not at all surprising. The stepmother of the 14 year old bully has now been charged with child abuse after a facebook posting has shown her in a physical altercation with two young boys. Said one of the officials involved: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” You think? Child welfare has now been called out to investigate. One has to wonder, what took them so long?
Ya know reading this and hearing it daily on the news breaks my heart. I have 10 yr old twin girls and god knows I am already worried about them entering middle school and high school because of crazy stuff like this. I would be the one going to jail for kick a minors ass! Im sorry but its true. So does it make me as bad as them? Probably. Do I give a damn? No. My kids know better than to treat another PERSON like this and have compassion for PEOPLE. The ones that do the bullying…..well their PARENTS have not taught them properly or given them the guidance and love all KIDS HALF TO HAVE in order to function in this world!!!
I mean I would tear my kids ass up if I even thought they were doing this to another child, come on ADULTS YOUR TALKING 12 years old????? get a clue man.
So what if DCF gets their nosy ass in the picture at least you know you are doing right by your children even if your not allowed to spank your children these days if they were taught morals and self respect and have GOD and discipline then you probably dont need to spank them. Heck I dont half to spank mine, but damn if they would still do something evil like this without something major happening. I dont know what I would do and I dont really want to think about it because I would be so pissed it would not be good this I do know. I am so for home schooling and everyday when I see these people doing this to one another I am so glad that I am the way I am regardless of what anyone thinks.
I am a couple years younger then rebecca and I have friends that are her age and I would have love tobe hr friend and stand u to those to mean grls I woudve called the poic thts how muchi would want to help her if I could
Anonymous pegasister says
I’m glad the girls got arrested, but its heartbreaking how the story of Rebecca Sedwick died. Those girls, if they were in Texas, would probably not have even been released to their parents! They probably would have gotten 25 years to life!