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.

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Comments on “Charges Dropped On Both Students Charged In Connection With Classmate's Suicide”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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!

out_of_the_blue says:

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.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

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.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

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.

Stevo says:

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.

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