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Two Florida girls whose alleged bullying led to a 12-year-old girl's suicide have been arrested and charged with felony aggravated stalking.
The girls, 12 and 14, allegedly ganged up against Rebecca Sedwick of Lakeland and "terrorized" her for nearly a year through online message boards and texts. As many as 13 other girls took part in bullying Sedwick online, investigators claim.
Last month, Sedwick jumped to her death from atop a silo at an abandoned concrete plant.
Felony Aggravated Stalking
Under Florida law, a bully can be charged with aggravated stalking for willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following or harassing a minor under 16.
There is quite a bit of evidence suggesting such a pattern of behavior existed in this tragic case.
For more than a year, the bullies hurled insults at Sedwick, picked fights with her, and urged her to kill herself. Sedwick received countless offensive messages such as "You're ugly," "Why are you still alive?" and "Go kill yourself," according to the Orlando Sentinel.
"Yes, I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself and I don't give a [expletive]," the 14-year-old wrote online after the suicide.
The 14-year-old allegedly instigated the bullying after she started dating Sedwick's ex-boyfriend.
A person convicted of aggravated stalking, which constitutes a felony of the third degree, faces up to five years in prison in addition to fines of up to $5,000. However, given the young ages of the alleged bullies, their penalties may be reduced significantly if convicted.
Though Sedwick's mother had her daughter home-schooled and then transferred to another middle school, authorities discovered evidence that the bullying continued unabated, according to the Sentinel.
The morning Rebecca took her life, she posted a message to a 12-year-old North Carolina boy whom she'd reportedly met once at an airport: "I'm jumping and I can't take it anymore," the text read.
It wouldn't be surprising if Sedwick's mother ultimately takes a similar route as other bullied victims' parents and pursues a wrongful death lawsuit against her daughter's bullies and possibly even their parents -- if only to send a strong message about bullying.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.