The other day, I posted the story about two middle school girls arrested after a bullied girl’s suicide. The case of Rebecca Sedwick has been at the center of much media attention in recent days, sparking a good deal of debate on all sides of the issue, including some discussion here at Legal Insurrection.
Florida authorities are still investigating the case, but the sheriff has since said that he would charge the parents as well, if he could, according to ABC News.
“If I could, they would already be in jail,” Judd told ABC News Wednesday. “But I can tell you this, that we’re keeping our options open.”
The charge would be “contributing to the delinquency of a minor,” the sheriff said.
The boy who had dated both Sedwick and the 14 year old charged in the case has since spoken out, urging witnesses to tell someone if they’re being bullied or see bullying.
In an interview with FOX News, Sheriff Judd was very critical of the parents of the two young girls charged. He reminds people following the case that the two were not charged with the death of Sedwick, they were charged over the alleged stalking. (See video at FOXNews.com)
Some have criticized Judd for his handling of the case, suggesting that he may be overstepping in his role.
Tampa defense attorney Jeff Brown says Polk Sheriff Grady Judd is just that — a sheriff.
“He is just a sheriff. He is not a judge, he’s not a lawyer, he is not the state attorney’s office, he’s not representing these girls. So he is doing an awful lot of pre-judging, he’s bringing a lot of his side of the facts out there, and maybe these are the facts. But I don’t understand why he can’t let the system play out, why he can’t let the people who are the lawyers — not the sheriff — investigate the case, look into what’s going on here, and then have a judge decide what the appropriate penalty or sentence is, and see about the proper way to handle this in a courtroom.”
Brown said it seems that Judd wants to skip the court system.
“If find that very odd from someone who is sworn to uphold the law. He seems to just ignore skip the rest of the system and the court and try to do it all himself,” Brown said.
He added that we should not judge the two girls too quickly.
“Let’s let the system play out. There may be an appropriate time to make them the example of what went on. But now is not the time. Now is the time to find out what went on, and let the professionals, not Sheriff Judd, look into this.”
An article in the Washington Post highlights the division on the general issue of online bullying, noting that some have called it ‘uncharted territory.’
A decision by a Florida sheriff to arrest two girls, ages 12 and 14, on felony charges for bullying a classmate until she committed suicide has divided experts and reverberated far beyond the town where the tragic events unfolded.
Some experts said the arrests were a just response and will help draw attention to the problem of online bullying, a growing dynamic among the nation’s youth as more of them spend time on mobile gadgets. Others questioned the use of criminal charges and argued that the arrests will only prolong the pain in this case.
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