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Attorney Jose Baez: Charges dropped against girl accused in FL bullying case (Updated)

Attorney Jose Baez: Charges dropped against girl accused in FL bullying case (Updated)

Charges have reportedly been dropped against the younger of two girls who were charged last month in the bullying case of Rebecca Sedwick.

From CBS News:

The state of Florida has dropped all charges against the 12-year-old girl accused of bullying Rebecca Sedwick, a 12-year-old who committed suicide in September, according to a press release from Jose Baez, the attorney representing the defendant.

Baez, who famously won an acquittal for Casey Anthony, is expected to hold a news conference later Wednesday to discuss the new development.

The 12 year old girl had been charged with aggravated stalking in October in connection with the case.  A 14 year old girl was also charged with the same at that time.  Authorities alleged that both of the girls harassed Sedwick for months before she took her own life.

At the time of the girls’ arrests, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd emphasized the role of parents in getting involved in what their children are doing, especially online. “Ladies and gentlemen, when it comes to cyberbullying, and a lot of this occurred online, when it comes to cyberbullying, it’s very very important that parents understand they’re the first line of defense for either the person being bullied or the person doing the bullying,” Judd said.  He has previously been critical of some of the parents in the case, and has not been without his own critics in his handling of the case.

Late last month, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office released a series of private Facebook chats of the two accused middle school girls, in which the 12 year old seemed especially remorseful upon learning of Sedwick’s suicide. “Why does everything have to f*** up i feel like rebeccas dead cause of me if only i could say sorry,” one message from the 12 year old read.

Baez said last month that his client had not done anything criminal. “We don’t need to have any more tragedy…She feels absolutely horrible for what happened to Rebecca,” Baez said after a court hearing.

Baez also told CBS News’ Crimesider that his client “never said a single negative thing to Rebecca” and was being “bullied by the system.”

NBC News also reported that Baez is considering a lawsuit against the sheriff who arrested his client.

UPDATE 5:58pm ET:  Just as this post was published, a report from the Sun Sentinel indicated that charges against the second girl, 14, may have also been dropped.

Meanwhile, an attorney for the other girl charged in the case, age 14, said she believed the charges against her client’s were also being dropped by prosecutors.

“We do not have the formal document, but our understanding is that the charges have been dropped,” defense attorney Andrea DeMichael said.

UPDATE 6:15pm ET : There were interesting press conferences from both Baez and Sheriff Grady Judd – this post will be updated shortly with video.

WFTV: Jose Baez holds news conference after charges dropped in cyberbully-suicide case

BayNews9: Sheriff Grady Judd responds to charges being dropped. “The girls are getting the help they need.” He also responded to the public comments made by defense attorney Jose Baez.

(Featured image credit: CBS News video)


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BannedbytheGuardian | November 20, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Impossible charges .

For a moment I thought the title Read “Joan Baez”. Wait, what?

Well, the whole world now knows how they acted and the results of their actions. That was the real plus of the arrests. Unfortunately, the whole world will forget the names of these girls, their actions and their results by next week. They will be free to harass other girls. Also, what the heck is this that a 12 year old uses such language? I lived in a different world and didn’t hear that world until I married. Looking back, it was a better world by far.

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to BarbaraS. | November 20, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    You are judge & jury of a case that was never going to get past first base especially after the Sherriff weighed in .

It is awful that the little girl killed herself. But blaming “bullying” is over the top, there never was a case here.

When I was young, we called it “junior high.” Kids are mean. Learning to deal with it is part of life. Being a mean person isn’t a crime.

If the media wanted to shame the bullies, that’s on them. But arrests and charges are just not called for. I begin wonder if the Sheriff is up to date on all the warrants his office is obliged to serve, since he has time to waste on middle school drama.

    Spiny Norman in reply to Estragon. | November 21, 2013 at 3:10 am

    The internet, and social networks, give the “mean girlz” an effective weapon. Dealing with vindictive adolescents who target vulnerable classmates is a difficult problem, to say the least.