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Polk Sheriff Judd announces arrests in bullying case

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Photo of the message board Photo of the message board
Katelyn Roman Katelyn Roman
Guadalupe Shaw Guadalupe Shaw
Tricia Norman, mother of Rebecca Sedwick Tricia Norman, mother of Rebecca Sedwick
POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) - Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd announced Tuesday the arrests of two girls in connection with the death investigation of the Polk teenager Rebecca Sedwick.

Detectives said Rebecca Ann Sedwick took her own life after being bullied online.

Related story:  Polk cyberbullying victim to be laid to rest


According to PCSO, Katelyn Roman, 12, and Guadalupe Shaw, 14,
were arrested and charged with felony aggravated stalking.

"This all started, apparently, as a result of Guadalupe's current boyfriend, who was Rebecca's former boyfriend," explained Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

Deputies said, all three girls went to Crystal Lake Middle School.
According to the PCSO, the girls threatened Rebecca through name-calling, intimidation, threats to beat her up and a fight. Guadalupe bullied others to stop them from being friends with Rebecca.

According to PCSO,
Guadalupe Shaw sent messages to Rebecca telling her to drink bleach and die, that she was ugly and she should kill herself.

Judd said this investigation is ongoing, but a post Shaw made on Facebook over the weekend necessitated a swift arrest. He said she posted under the name Guadalupe Borgen, and admitted to bullying Rebecca, also adding that she didn't care that the 12-year-old died.

"We can't leave her out there," said Judd, referring to Shaw. "Who else is she going to torment? Who else is she going to harass?"

Katelyn Roman said she was sorry for bullying Rebecca, according to PCSO. The two used to be friends before Guadalupe Shaw convinced Katelyn to stop.

Judd pointed his finger squarely back at Roman and Shaw's parents. He said the parents of both girls refused to bring them in for questioning. He added that, even after talking to authorities, Shaw's parents continued to allow her to post on social media websites.

"Watch what your children do online," he said. "Pay attention. Quit being their best friend and be their best parent."

Rebecca Sedwick's family moved away from Lakeland after her suicide. Her mother held a press conference following the arrests from her new home in Pasco County. She called the arrests bittersweet, but said there is some relief the girls are being held accountable.

"I can't say I want these girls to spend the rest of their lives in jail, or anytime in jail, but they do need serious rehabilitation," said Tricia Norman.

Norman said Rebecca would have turned 13 on Saturday, and an arrest is an appropriate present.

"She should be here," she said through tears, "She should be here to see justice getting served."

Norman regrets that her daughter's reports of bullying were not heard earlier. She said the school was notified numerous times, and the family made a police report once.

"Becca was told numerous times she needed to adapt to her surroundings. She needed to develop a thicker skin. She just needed to ignore them," Norman said.

Authorities arrested the girls Monday. They appeared before a judge Tuesday afternoon. Shaw is still in juvenile custody. Roman was released to her parents and is on home detention because of her remorse and cooperation. She is not allowed to attend school.

Related story: Online bullies create 'hateful' Facebook page

 A man who answered the phone at the 14-year-old's Lakeland home said he was her father and told The Associated Press "none of it's true."   

"My daughter's a good girl and I'm 100 percent sure that whatever they're saying about my daughter is not true," he said.

A message left at the 12-year-old girl's home was not immediately returned.

  NOTE: wfla.com has made the decision to name the girls arrested in this case.  We generally don't name juveniles charged with crimes but in this case, WFLA management has decided to name them based on the nature of the crime and the fact that the juveniles were charged with a felony.   

Stay with
WFLA.com for more on this developing story.

Related Content: Bullying Resources and Experts
 

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