Charges Dropped On Both Students Charged In Connection With Classmate's Suicide

from the this-is-what-happens-when-actions-are-dictated-by-emotions dept

The two students arrested and charged with "felony aggravated stalking" by Polk County (FL) sheriff Grady Judd for allegedly participating in the bullying of a classmate who committed suicide have now had all charges brought against them dropped.

All charges against one of the girls accused of cyberbullying Rebecca Sedwick, the Lakeland girl who committed suicide, will be dropped, according to attorney Jose Baez.

Baez represents the 12-year-old girl.

"They dropped these charges because they simply didn't have the evidence, and they felt it was the right thing to do," said Baez.

The lawyer for a 14-year-old girl charged in the case says it is her understanding that charges against her client will also be dropped.
The state Attorney General hasn't given an official comment on the status of these cases as they're still pending, but Grady Judd seemed to confirm this was the case in a statement he made to the media.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd held a news conference to discuss the latest developments and said the outcome of the case was a success.

"Our goal was to create an intervention," he said. "Our goal was to bring this conduct to the proper authorities..."
Both girls are now receiving services and counseling. The 12-year-old's lawyer bashed the Sheriff for his actions, saying Judd "wanted to be a TV star" and was using his position as a "pulpit."

Baez's statements aren't exaggerations. Judd has leveraged his position as Polk County Sheriff into a countrywide child porn sting operation.
As sheriff, backed by a like-minded State Attorney's Office, Judd has made the signature of his administration child porn stings, Craigslist prostitution stings and so-called cyberstings modeled after NBC's To Catch a Predator. His undercover detectives pose online as teen girls to let men talk dirty to them. He arrested a swim coach from North Carolina. He arrested a man from Orlando who earlier had been called a hero for rescuing people from a plane crash. He arrested in Maryland a 57-year-old deputy press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security.

Almost all these men live somewhere else. Judd brings them to Polk County.
Apparently, no matter where you live and what local laws you haven't violated, if moved to do so, Sheriff Judd will send his officers after you and haul you back to Florida to be judged by his rules.
A man in Colorado a couple of months ago published a book called The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure, and he didn't get arrested for it, and this made Grady Judd mad.

So the sheriff of Polk County, whose job is to protect and serve the roughly 500,000 people who live in the mostly agricultural area between Tampa and Orlando, had one of his undercover detectives contact Phillip Greaves of Pueblo, Colo., and ask to buy his book. Greaves sent a signed copy back to Polk, where Judd got a search warrant, and then sent two of his men 1,856 miles to arrest him the week before Christmas.
While some may argue that all's fair in the war on child porn, there are indications that Judd's idea of what is or isn't criminally obscene may be very skewed.
In 2007, commenting on a case in which he had arrested a man who was running a porn site out of his home in Polk, he said: "No normal person could even imagine what's depicted in those videos and in those photographs." A sexual behavior expert from the University of Central Florida said in a motion in the man's court file that it was run-of-the-mill erotica available anywhere on the Internet to anyone.
Judd's subjective morality may be what pushed him to pursue felony charges against two students, especially when he himself made statements that suggested their actions may have only played a small part (if any) in Rebecca Sedwick's decision to kill herself.
According to Judd, bullying "only contributed" to the death of Rebecca Sedwick, who died last month after jumping from a tower at an abandoned cement plant near her home…

Judd told CBS News' Crimesider that he charged the girls with stalking because what they did to Sedwick went beyond bullying into harassment and intimidation, but he also said that Sedwick had problems at home that may have contributed to her state of mind on the day of her death. According to Judd, Sedwick slept not on a bed at home, but in a recliner. Her sister, said Judd, slept on the couch, and the girls' clothes were kept in "grocery sacks" in the living room.

Sedwick's mother, Tricia Norman, has been in trouble with the law since at least 1995, when she was charged with multiple counts of writing bad checks, according to Polk County records. In 2005, she was again charged with writing bad checks, as well as fraud and probation violation. The records reveal that Norman apparently has several aliases, including Tricia Craig, Tricia Howard and Tricia Jones.
While this look into Sedwick's home life may have contributed to the charges being dropped, it apparently didn't factor into Judd's decision to charge the two youths. If nothing else, his surprising move to arrest the two students garnered him the attention he seems to thrive on.
Judd says he has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from his community - and people as far away as Hawaii and Alaska - for his decision to charge the girls for their alleged bullying.
Then there's this quote from a local police chief and former co-worker of Judd's.
"I kid him: 'The most dangerous place in Polk County is to get between you and a TV camera.' He just laughs. But he's worked the media very well. It's going to keep him elected. "
While many people would like to see bullies punished for their actions, letting a publicity-hungry Sheriff who has a track record of moralizing on a national scale from his Florida office use an emotionally-charged issue as a personal chew toy is a terrible idea.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Christopher Best (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 2:35pm

    Hey you know what?

    If the Polk County, FL Sherrif's office has the resources to send deputies to Colorado to arrest a guy, they obviously could stand for some budget cuts. Money's tight everywhere, after all, and they obviously have a surplus.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    S. T. Stone, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 3:57pm

    At this point, we may as well just support the police by beating ourselves up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 4:22pm

    It's probably worth noting that all Phillip Greaves apparently got was two years' probation, and was not forced to register as a sex offender. Just goes to show how poor their case against him actually was.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 4:30pm

    Interesting how the minion knows more, and sets himself up as arbiter.

    This, despite all possible flaws, has unshakeable basis: dead kid. But from the start, this way, way, outsider, without any more evidence than news reports, self-righteously preaches that it's all hokum, and that's really the most curious point here. The level of hate directed at the sheriff is remarkable without personal involvement. 2nd is that it's not tech, so why IS it run? -- Seems as with the sheriff, more drives the minion than is visibly founded.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 4:45pm

    Re:

    Are you trying to take food out of the mouths of the sheriff's deputies' children?!? If you beat yourself up, they won't need as many deputies on staff and those downsized deputies will need to go on welfare and then they'll just beat their own children instead of you to deal with the depression and beating withdrawal symptoms. Think of the children!

     

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  6.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 4:45pm

    Oddly enough, the only thing he's done that I can find fault with is this specific case. No matter what "contributing factors" may exist, suicide is a choice, and the person's blood is on their own hands and nobody else's.

    But if this guy is going around the country taking down pedophiles, I say more power to him, and if you think he's doing something wrong then screw you, you're part of the problem. My brother got targeted by one of these sickos. He was being "groomed" by him and if a stroke of luck hadn't led to my family finding out, he would have become a victim. The legal system refused to do anything beyond issuing a restraining order because the guy hadn't actually sexually abused my brother yet, and his lawyer came up with this big line of crap about how our family was "persecuting" him because we "objected to his lifestyle as a gay man," and he ended up getting off scot-free.

    My brother's safe now, but that doesn't mean any other kid he may end up meeting is. I wish this sherrif had been around back then, and had found him.

     

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  7.  
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    Christopher Best (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 4:57pm

    Re:

    But if this guy is going around the country taking down pedophiles


    Is that the duty of a Sheriff in Florida? To cross state lines and arrest people for writing books?

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and "For the children!" is a damn good intention...

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 5:13pm

    Re:

    If they go after real abusers, more power to them. If they go after anyone who ran across something weird on the internet they will rightly rot in hell, or get caught maybe.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Rekrul, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 5:53pm

    Re:

    It's probably worth noting that all Phillip Greaves apparently got was two years' probation, and was not forced to register as a sex offender. Just goes to show how poor their case against him actually was.

    He shouldn't have "got" anything for writing a book.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 6:48pm

    Re: Re:

    he plead guilty, so that was his bad...i think a judge would of thrown in out eventually on the 1st, but hey thats the America i want to be in, not the one im in

     

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  11.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 7:38pm

    Keeping his community safe?

    When he goes on one of his field trips to apprehend a far-flung suspect, I assume he brings them back to his county to be held until court.

    So he's keeping his community safe by going afar and bringing pedophiles into it? Ones that otherwise would never have come within hundred of miles of there? That sounds like a fascinating community safety plan.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 11:22pm

    Re:

    Ages of consent vary from state to state. I don't want someone from a state where age of consent is 18 dragging people from states where age of consent is 16 to his state to try them for statutory rape.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 6:29am

    Re: Re:

    I'm not saying he should have. My point is that when you have an obvious pedophile (aka an easy target), and can't manage to force him to register as a sex offender; then you have absolutely no case against him.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    scotts13 (profile), Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 6:29am

    Does he have jurisdiction?

    Forgive my ignorance, but don't most law enforcement officials have specific jurisdictions, and limited to no authority elsewhere? This guy's a local sheriff, not a federal marshall. In my town, the sheriff isn't even regular law enforcement, he just serves papers and such.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Sobe (profile), Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 6:43am

    Re: Re:

    I agree. If he does it for one thing...what's to say he stops there? When stuff like that becomes the norm...it'll catch on to other parts of the country...and pretty soon it'll be so bad that if you write/say something a LEO doesn't agree with...they'll come get you no matter where you are.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Sobe (profile), Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 6:44am

    Re: Hey you know what?

    Hahaha, no joke

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Jasmine Charter, Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 10:06am

    On what authority?

    On what authority does a county Sheriff prosecute people who don't commit a crime within his borders?

    If it's someone from outside the county, then that's someone else's jurisdiction. If it's outside the state, it's a federal matter or at the very least needs extradition.

     

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  18.  
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    justinscott, Nov 23rd, 2013 @ 7:26am

    Nobody seems to care these bullies weren't held accountable for their actions. It is now open season for more teenage bullies and stalkers to harass anyone online without fear of consequences. It will became the new knockout game.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Stevo, Nov 23rd, 2013 @ 11:40am

    Re: On what authority?

    Sounds like the officers he would have pretending to be youths would be receiving communication within his jurisdiction. And the dude selling books, sounds like the reason he had one of his men purchase the book is so that it would have been sold and mailed into his jurisdiction.

    They wouldn't have been in his jurisdiction without the enticement, which you have to wonder if law enforcement should be involved in creating a crime situation and persuading someone to act on it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2014 @ 12:55pm

    Wait, is this an episode of Veronica Mars?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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