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.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.
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.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd held a news conference to discuss the latest developments and said the outcome of the case was a success.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."
"Our goal was to create an intervention," he said. "Our goal was to bring this conduct to the proper authorities..."
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.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.
Almost all these men live somewhere else. Judd brings them to Polk County.
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.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.
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.
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…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 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.
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.