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.