US & Canada

Florida 'bullying death' charges dropped

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd talks about the events leading up to the arrest over the weekend of two juvenile girls in a Florida bullying case at a press conference in Winter Haven, Florida 15 October 2013
Image caption Sherriff Grady Judd said he did not regret the arrests

Stalking charges have been dropped against two teenage girls in connection with the alleged bullying of another Florida girl who took her own life.

The two girls, aged 12 and 14, are said to have hounded Rebecca Sedwick online for a year.

A lawyer for the 12-year-old has demanded an apology from Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd for the arrest.

But Sheriff Judd said he did not have any regrets and that the girls will now receive "the services they need".

"Our goal is that these kids never bully anyone again, never torment anyone again," he said.

'Troubled young girl'

The girls were arrested a month after Rebecca, 12, jumped to her death from a tower at an abandoned concrete plant on 9 September.

Officials said the bullying had begun last year after the 14-year-old girl objected to Rebecca dating a boy whom she had been seeing.

Image caption Authorities said Rebecca Sedwick was "terrorised" online by up to 15 former friends

The girls bullied Rebecca through online message boards and mobile text messages, authorities told the news media.

On Wednesday Jose Baez, a lawyer for the 12-year-old, said he had found "zero evidence having to do with my client that would rise to the level of a criminal act".

He said his client was a "troubled young girl" who had been bullied herself.

Mr Baez said he has not ruled out a lawsuit on the girl's behalf against the Polk County sheriff's office, for what he called a "reckless" move to arrest her and the 14-year-old, name her and show her police-booking photo at a press conference.

A lawyer for the 14-year-old confirmed to the Associated Press news agency that charges against her had been dropped as well.

That girl's stepmother, Vivian Vosburg, was arrested last month on child abuse charges in connection with a video posted to Facebook allegedly showed her punching two boys.

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