Prosecutors have dropped charges against two girls accused of cyberbullying 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick of Lakeland until she committed suicide, attorneys for the girls said Tuesday.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd had his deputies arrest the girls in October on felony aggravated-stalking charges in a case that garnered national attention.
On Tuesday, an attorney for the younger girl, who turned 13 in October, had harsh words for Judd.
Jose Baez, speaking at a news conference outside his Orlando office, called the sheriff's conduct "unconscionable," "reckless" and "reprehensible" and criticized him for talking about the case on national television and distributing arrest photos of the girls.
"He should get a lawyer and a darn good one, 'cause he's going to need it," said Baez, who called upon Judd to publicly apologize. Baez previously defended Casey Anthony, who was found not guilty of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.
Judd, at his own news conference, called most of Baez's words "bluster" and said he did not regret his actions, which he said led to the girls receiving counseling. Judd said he was following Florida public-records law when he disseminated information about the arrests and the pictures. He did not apologize.
"Our goal was to create an intervention," Judd said. "Our goal was to bring this conduct to the proper authorities in the proper manner to make sure it was dealt with."
The State Attorney's Office would not comment, citing juvenile-court privacy laws.
Baez would not provide a court document showing that his client's charge was dropped. Andrea DeMichael, an attorney for the older girl, who is 14, said she had not seen the paperwork but was notified late Tuesday.
"The State Attorney's Office dropped this case because there is zero evidence of any stalking in this case," Baez said.
Judd urged people to remember that the victim is Rebecca, who jumped to her death from a tower at an abandoned cement factory near her home. Her mother and investigators said she had been bullied in school and online for more than a year.
Baez said his client was not responsible for Rebecca's death.
"These are children. They sometimes make mistakes," he said. "But it never, ever ever rose to the level of bullying."
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