2 arrests made in death of bullied Florida girl

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Posted: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 1:00 pm | Updated: 9:22 pm, Thu Dec 26, 2013.

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) — A central Florida man says allegations that his 14-year-old daughter bullied a 12-year-old girl who killed herself are not true.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Tuesday authorities arrested the 14-year-old girl after she admitted online over the weekend that she had harassed Rebecca Sedwick.

A man who answered the phone at the 14-year-old's Lakeland home identified himself as her father. He told The Associated Press that his daughter was "a good girl" and he was "100 percent sure that whatever they're saying about my daughter is not true."

A 12-year-old girl was also arrested in the case. A message left at her Lakeland home was not immediately returned.

Rebecca climbed at tower at an abandoned concrete plant Sept. 9 and hurled herself to her death.

AP generally doesn't identify juveniles charged with crimes.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WINTER HAVEN, FL. - Two girls have been arrested in the death of a 12-year-old central Florida girl who authorities say committed suicide after being bullied online for nearly a year.

On Monday, Polk County Sheriff’s Homicide detectives arrested and charged two middle school students with felony Aggravated Stalking. The charges are a result of numerous interviews conducted by Pasco County detectives who are investigating the suicide of Rebecca Sedwick of Lakeland that occurred on September 10, 2013.

According to their affidavits, from December 2012 to February 2013 (during the 2012/2013 school year), a 12-year-old and 14-year-old repeatedly and maliciously harassed Sedwick, who all attended Crystal Lake Middle School.

Several students corroborated stories of both girls bullying Sedwick on different occasions, through name-calling, intimidation, threats to beat her up, and at least one actual physical fight.

According to witnesses, including a boyfriend of Shaw’s who had previously been Rebecca’s boyfriend, Shaw had several arguments with Rebecca via Facebook, as well as verbal confrontations at school. During the incidents, Rebecca was observed walking away from Shaw.

Shaw also reportedly bullied anyone who was friends with Rebecca, and for this reason some children did not want to be friends with Rebecca out of fear of being bullied by Shaw.

Witnesses reported that Shaw sent messages to Rebecca, calling her ugly, telling her to drink bleach and die, and telling Rebecca that she [Rebecca] should kill herself. Shaw tried to instigate physical fights with Rebecca on more than one occasion.

Shaw also instigated fighting between Roman and Rebecca. Roman was friends with Rebecca, until Shaw convinced Roman to stop being friends with her. Roman was suspended for one fight that occurred in February 2013, during which Shaw encouraged Roman to “beat up” Rebecca. Rebecca did not fight back. When interviewed recently by detectives, Roman admitted that she “bullied” Rebecca, and that she was sorry for doing it.

Detective determined that on September 10, 2013, Sedwick committed suicide by jumping from a concrete silo tower to her death, and that the malicious harassment by Roman and Shaw was likely a contributing factor in Rebecca’s decision to commit suicide.

Shaw and Roman were arrested Monday and booked into the JAC. They were released from the JAC the same evening, into their respective parents' custody. They remain on home detention.

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