By Jacob Engels
A lawsuit may be filed against Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who used the suicide of 12-year-old Lakeland student Rebecca Sedgwick in September as a springboard to publicly shame two girls accused of bullying her to death before all the facts were out. The girls were arrested in October, their names and photographs, released by Sheriff Judd, appeared on national television without evidence to support criminal charges.
It doesn’t help Sheriff Judd, who referred to his widespread smear campaign as an “intervention,” that Polk County prosecutors have dropped felony charges against the two girls.
The parents of one of the two girls said that since Sheriff Judd publicly identified their daughter, they have been threatened, harassed and fear for their safety. The lawyer of that girl, Jose Baez, has announced an intent to file suit.
“He [Judd] should get a lawyer, and a darn good one, because he is going to need it,” Baez said. ““Don’t go out and decide to use the shield of the public trust as your pulpit.”
Sheriff Judd has defended the arrest of the two girls as probable cause and hidden behind Florida law to justify the release of their identities.
“We’ve raised awareness and we’ve helped kids,” Sheriff Judd said, “I’m glad we did what we did, and we would do it again tomorrow.”
Time, it seems, to see if any charges would stick, would have aided the Sheriff’s case. It is now apparent that the Polk Country Sheriff’s Office only amplified the damage caused in this tragic case.
Rebecca Sedgwick killed herself by jumping off an abandoned cement factory in September.
Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post. Along with the Post, he owns several other businesses and is currently enrolled at Valencia College. Jacob has lived in Avalon Park since it’s founding and enjoys playing with his black Labradoodle Jasper, listening to indie rock, and seeking out new business ventures. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org