Sheriff Determined To Find Some Reason To Arrest Parents Of Girls Who Are Accused Of Bullying Girl Into Suicide

from the that's-not-the-way-'justice'-works dept

We recently covered the arrest of two students for their connection to a bullied girl’s suicide. I noted at the time that, while certainly not perfect, at least the two were charged with violating laws already on the books, rather than a newly-crafted (and, most likely, badly written) cyberbullying law.

Whatever sense of relief I may have had then has been completely wiped away by Sheriff Grady Judd’s continuing comments. If there’s going to be a rational resolution to this, Grady can’t be involved. He’s swiftly turning this into a crusade, which is exactly the wrong thing to do.

The Florida sheriff investigating a girl’s suicide allegedly prompted by online bullying said he’s considering charging the parents of one of the two girls arrested in the case because they’re in “total denial.”

Polk Country Sheriff Grady Judd told Fox News Thursday that if evidence indicates the parents of one of the two girls knowingly allowed the girl to post the bullying comments online, they could be charged with contributing to the dependency or delinquency of a child.

It’s not enough for Judd to have arrested two students. Now, he’s seeking to extract some sort of vengeance for a perceived “lack of remorse” on the part of Guadalupe Shaw, the 14-year-old arrestee, even if it means stretching the law so he can go after her parents. In Judd’s mind, they’re “in denial.”

Shaw’s parents have maintained their daughter’s account was hacked and that she never made the posts that got her arrested. They also claim to check in on Shaw’s account “daily.” Whether or not any of those claims are true (or at least should be subject to an investigation before making very public claims) apparently doesn’t matter to Judd, who has his own opinion on how Shaw’s parents should have handled things after being informed of their daughter’s posts.

“You tell me that there’s not parents, who instead of taking that device and smashing it into a 1,000 pieces in front of her child, says, ‘Oh, her account was hacked?’ We see where the problem is.”

Judd says “we,” but he’s likely on his own. This is no longer a case he should be in charge of. He’s made it personal and is drifting dangerously close to turning this into a vendetta. And, again, he’s doing this solely because in his opinion, Guadalupe Shaw isn’t showing enough remorse for her actions.

“We knew that there was total disregard for life, and if she would say those things after she bullied Rebecca and after the parents knew that, we had to act more quickly,” Sheriff Grady Judd, from Polk County, Fla., told “Fox and Friends” Wednesday morning.

Judd is pursuing vigilante justice under the color of law. Further comments made elsewhere show he’s grasping at straws to make someone pay.

“They don’t think there is a problem here, and that is the problem,” he said. Judd added that the girl’s parents gave her back her Facebook access even after learning about her alleged bullying of Rebecca. “That’s terrible,” he said. “That’s why we moved fast to lock their daughter up.”

“I’m aggravated that the parents aren’t doing what parents should do,” Judd told reporters. “Responsible parents take disciplinary action.”

The investigators working for him can’t be happy with Judd’s crusade. They haven’t found anything they can charge the parents with, but it’s pretty clear Judd won’t be taking no for an answer.

Judd told NBC’s Today on Wednesday that investigators so far have found no criminal charges that could be filed against the parents, “but if we can find contributing to the delinquency of a child, we would certainly bring that charge.”

Bringing charges against someone for “contributing” to another person’s suicide is problematic and it’s an area someone like Judd shouldn’t be so willing to wander into using only his perceptions of other’s attitudes and thoughts to guide him. Grasping about for charges to file against Shaw’s parents, who are even further removed from Sedwick’s suicide than their daughter, is a dangerously desperate act.

If he manages to follow through and successfully have both Shaw and her parents prosecuted, he won’t set any legal precedents, but he will set a low bar for future arrests. With Judd around, no one in his county will need a new cyberbullying law to abuse because the sheriff is perfectly capable of abusing the laws he already has.

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Comments on “Sheriff Determined To Find Some Reason To Arrest Parents Of Girls Who Are Accused Of Bullying Girl Into Suicide”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Notice to Florida State Attorney General

You need to get to Polk County RIGHT NOW, and put a muzzle on this clown. There’s NO room for this kind of vigilantism in public law enforcement. That’s the same problem we’re running into in New York, Philadelphia, and many other places. Just further signs of an evolving Police State Mentality.

Anonymous Coward says:

Question, if in his desire to pursue this vendetta, he happens to cause the accused child to commit suicide (Perhaps from trumping up some charges to teach her a lesson), what are the chances that he would be willing to take responsibility himself for “contributing” to another person’s suicide?

For some reason I can’t help but think the answer is “Absolutely no chance”

Manabi (profile) says:

He's already punished the parents

The sheriff’s a total idiot. He’s already punished the parents, simply by arresting their daughter, causing them national shame. If that’s not enough he needs to simply focus on making sure the daughter is convicted, by building the case against her till it’s rock-solid. Something he should be doing anyway.

The parents may be vile human beings (likely are, the girl had to learn it somewhere), but do this correctly. If you don’t, you risk the case falling apart entirely and no one being punished. Punish the girl and parent’s punishment follows. They obviously believe she’s a perfect angel, so seeing her convicted of a crime like this is going to hurt them BAD.

Anonymous Coward says:

Can’t he prove without a doubt that the account wasn’t hacked?

Sure the provider have logs of what IP’s accessed that account.

You know do some digging and find out, there is a chance and so you must exclude all possibilities first is that not what police work entails?

Do people know how easy it is to compromise a Facebook account?

XSS are difficult to plug, they are not easy, every major website probably has one right now somewhere.

So until the hacking is ruled out by an competent investigation, I don’t think it should be out of the question, after that we can talk about how the girls morals are all twisted how their parents are probably just as bad, but first and foremost make it sure you have the right person.

Anonymous Coward says:

Facebook the paragon of security.

I think law enforcement believe websites are secure, they are not.

If you poke long enough, you will always find something in it.
Each webpage today have hundreds of components if not more, any of which could turn out to be a vector for exploitation malicious or otherwise. The sheer number of security disclosures just proves that point, that doesn’t account for the other half that don’t disclose things at all.

Youtube: BackTrack Hack Facebook Exploits 2013

So please before jumping to any conclusions about the morals of the girl there, first lets make sure it was her and not her pissed friend who got her cookies and used that account.

Had Mr. Judd there at the very least contacted Facebook to see who had access to that account?

Anonymous Coward says:

In Florida this in nothing.

There were the two dumb cops in Tampa who arrested a fellon on a parole violation.
Seems he had a handcuff key head out.
He escaped and killed the two cops dumb copps on the way to jail..
So the cops killed him and put his girlfriend in jail for life because she failed to tell the two dumb cops he had a handcuff key.
The never did put in the paper if she knew or not.
The also never explained how making her talk or not talk did not violate the 5th amendment.

bigpicture says:

Nobody's Ever Responsible the American Way

Well that is unless you downloaded some songs, then that is probably worth a million bucks, but somebody’s life there is no money involved so that is worth nothing. Isn’t that the American way?

What kind of logic is the author using here “a personal vendetta?” well what exactly is cyber bullying does it not fit in that category? So then would that not be “what goes around comes around”?

arkiel (profile) says:

I like this guy, if only because he’s echoing what everyone thought when the parents played the “hacked” card. I don’t have much problem holding them vicariously liable either… but only because they’ve gone to such lengths to establish that they were monitoring the account on a regular basis. Hell, maybe someone, somewhere will read about this and actually start paying attention to what their own kid is doing as a result.

Manabi (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If the account really was hacked, then… maybe. They’ve stated in public now that they closely monitored the account activity. So if it was hacked and these messages were being sent over a long period of time, why didn’t they notice them?

Either they lied about monitoring it (which would probably mean it’s more likely they know their daughter really sent them) or they monitored it and failed to stop it. Saying that in public was insanely stupid.

Drew says:

Ten years ago there would be mass outrage if he tried to pull this.

Twenty years ago he would have been fired.

Thirty years ago he would have been fired and charges brought against him for police corruption. He might have escaped prison time.

Forty years ago he would have been fired, charged, and sitting in prison.

For me to be sitting here today thinking this is nothing new is honestly sickening.

As for the parents and the hacked excuse I call bullshit, but hey any parent would do the same for their children. The bullies might have been a factor, but obviously there was far more going on for that kid to kill herself. I won’t say what because I don’t know, but I do know that there was. Also why doesn’t he charge the teachers with it since they go above and beyond their teaching duties to monitor students social networks and punish them? I mean they act like they see all and know best so this should have never been an issue if that were true.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Ten years ago there was no Facebook. Twenty years ago there was only a “baby” internet. Thirty years ago computers weren’t in very many homes (Commodore 64 anyone?). Forty years ago.. well, you get the point.

Cyberbullying is different than the “old school” bullying. At least when it was limited to real life you could go somewhere to get away. Thanks to our leaps in communications technology, it is nearly impossible to get away.

Now that we have such things not only would the people involved and in the immediate vicinity know of the pain inflicted upon the person being bullied (the “old school” bullying), but all of a bullied person’s friends and friends of friends (and so on) are witnesses also. This amplifies the shame inflicted. The only option open to a victim of cyberbullying is to unplug, which effectively means disconnecting entirely from their peers and the rest of the modern world.

I don’t believe this type of speech, which is effectively hate speech, is protected by the First Amendment.

arkiel (profile) says:

So is it that our sense of outrage over police corruption has faded, or that after 50 years of pretending parents aren’t responsible for the murderous freaks their action and inaction has spawned, we’ve decided that at least threatening them with liability for the actions of their, frankly, evil children is acceptable?

People like these need to be shamed and remembered for the evil their child did, because they’re the reason the kid is like that. They are the proximate cause of the bile that kid was spewing.

nasch says:

Re: Re:

So is it that our sense of outrage over police corruption has faded, or that after 50 years of pretending parents aren’t responsible for the murderous freaks their action and inaction has spawned, we’ve decided that at least threatening them with liability for the actions of their, frankly, evil children is acceptable?

The point is that the police are not supposed to be looking for a crime to charge someone with when that person does something they don’t like. They’re supposed to find the culprit when it appears a crime has been committed.

charliebrown (profile) says:

Bullying And Denial? So what?

I was bullied heaps as a kid. I met the mother of my main bully in the third grade. I told her what he did. She said he didn’t do it and that she didn’t want to talk about it. I thought she was stupid. I was eight years old at the time.

Now when I think back on it, I think she was being a normal mother who, like most normal parents, think their kids are darling little angels who could never do anything wrong. I know she was wrong, but so what? She was being a normal mother!

Lee (profile) says:

Clearly I'm in the minority

I can’t believe I’m the only person here who thinks the parents deserve everything they’re getting. If my son or daughter bully someone to the point of suicide on an electronic device you can be damn sure they’ll lose the privilege of using it and suffer the legal consequences of their actions. Their poor parenting is the reason their kids are such assholes and they deserve to share in the responsibility and guilt.

Hellano says:

Sheriff Judd

The Polk County Sheriff’s notoriety hardly begins with this matter. It’s been a “got porn? go to jail” (and of course “dry”)county for decades. If you are driving on I-4 between Orlando and Tampa, you are well-advised to stay within the posted speed limit and to be very, very polite if you are pulled over for a traffic stop.

Ed (profile) says:

misplaced outrage

Sorry, I have no sympathy for the parents. Facebook hacked? Yeah, right. Even they don’t believe it, they are purposely lying and trying to mitigate their own culpability with a ludicrous fabrication. The Sheriff is over-reaching for sure, but faced with such brazenly arrogant parents, I don’t think it is so unwarranted.

Anonymous Coward says:

“You tell me that there’s not parents, who instead of taking that device and smashing it into a 1,000 pieces in front of her child, says, ‘Oh, her account was hacked?’ We see where the problem is.”
Yes this thinking is an epidemic it’s the same thinking they use when they look at or rights as citizens… Constitution “smash it”

Anonymous Coward says:

He should be pursuing this to the full extent possible. Shaw’s parents have failed her. She needs to be dealt the consequences for her actions, period. Her parents are in part to blame. They sound stupid with their “hacking” claim. Clearly, the lights are not fully on for the parents or the Guadalupe. And not to worry, I doubt Shaw would ever commit suicide it’s been made clear she loves herself far too much.

Frankz (profile) says:

Of course the first thing they’ll say is their precious little snowflake didn’t do it, and the Facebook account was hacked.
A subpeona for Facebook logs will show if the account was hacked or not. It will show the IP address the account was logged in and posting from. Then a subpeona to that ISP will show the home address. Doesn’t matter who’s account it really is, simply where it was logged in and posting from. If it really was hacked, it will show it logged in from the hacker’s home address, not the bully’s. If it shows the bully’s address, then we’ll know it wasn’t really hacked at all and they’re just lying.

The mother of one of the 2 girls charged, has been arrested for child abuse on unrelated charges:

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