Guadalupe Shaw and Katelyn Roman, Polk County, Florida middle school students, were arrested Monday after Rebecca Ann Sedwick, 12, committed suicide, purportedly because of continued bullying by the pair, news sources report. The child defendants, ages 14 and 12 respectively, were taken into police custody on Monday on charges of aggravated stalking. Roman has since been released to her family’s care, but Shaw remains in custody with the Department of Juvenile Justice. The press did not specify whether the defendants’ parents have hired attorneys on behalf of their children.
According to reports, the incident started at Crystal Lake Middle School in Lakeland, which all three of the girls attended as sixth-graders. When Shaw began dating a boy Sedwick had once dated, she allegedly began to harass Sedwick. Roman, who had originally been friends with the victim, joined in in the bullying, sources allege. News reports suggest that as many as 15 female students may have joined in tormenting the victim.
The defendants “repeatedly and maliciously” bullied Sedwick at school on a regular basis, according to reports. “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,” a police report supposedly says. Based on reports, Shaw is accused of calling Sedwick ugly and telling her to commit suicide. Earlier this year, Roman was removed from school after she reportedly physically attacked the victim.
Sedwick’s mother transferred her daughter to home-schooling before enrolling her at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, physically removing Sedwick from the bullying. However, the alleged bullying continued via text messages and Facebook. Sources say Shaw used Facebook to send the victim messages telling her she was unattractive and suggesting she kill herself by drinking bleach.
On September 10, Sedwick posted on a friends Facebook page, reportedly saying, “I’m jumping and I can’t take it anymore.” Sources say she then went to a decrepit concrete factory, where she climbed to the top of a silo and jumped off. The fall resulted in her death.
“As I child I can remember my mother telling me, ‘Sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt you,'” a Sheriff’s Office spokesperson reportedly said in regards to the allegations. “Today, words stick, because they’re printed. And words are as hurtful — and sometimes more hurtful — as sticks and stones. Ask Rebecca’s family.”
Shaw spoke out about the suicide sometime later, allegedly posting on Facebook, “Yes [I know] I bullied Rebecca and she killed [herself] but [I don’t give a f***].” After reading the message, police arrested both defendants on the stalking charges. Shaw and her parents have reportedly since claimed that Shaw’s Facebook account was hacked and that she did not actually post that remark.
Shaw has apparently not been released because, reports suggest, she has not shown remorse for her actions. However, the press got in contact with someone who said he was Shaw’s father, sources say. “My daughter’s a good girl and I’m 100 percent sure that whatever they’re saying about my daughter is not true,” he purportedly told reporters.