The mother of Rebecca Ann Sedwick, the 12-year-old Lakeland girl who killed herself last month after relentless bullying, has hired the prominent Morgan & Morgan law firm in her quest for justice.
Tricia Norman has retained attorney David Henry, the managing partner at Morgan & Morgan's Winter Haven office, the firm announced this week without naming potential defendants.
"We're going to look at every possible potentially responsible party," Henry is quoted as saying. "We applaud the efforts of Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and his office in investigating and responding to this tragedy."
Judd last week announced the arrests of two girls, ages 12 and 14, for allegedly tormenting Rebecca for more than a year, both in school and online, before she jumped to her death from a tower at an abandoned cement factory near her home on Sept. 10.
The case has drawn international attention to the issue of cyber bulling and the responsibility of parents to monitor the online behavior of their children.
Henry's statement said "parents can no longer rest on their laurels when leaving their children alone with nothing but the Internet to keep their attention."
The Sentinel is not naming the girls because of their ages.
The 14-year-old instigated the bullying after she started dating Rebecca's ex-boyfriend, Judd said.
The 12-year-old girl was once Rebecca's friend — but the other girl turned her against Rebecca.
The girls "repeatedly and maliciously" harassed Rebecca while all three attended Crystal Lake Middle School in Lakeland, investigators said.
They allegedly tormented Rebecca by calling her ugly and urging her drink bleach to die.
The harassment continued — even after Rebecca's parents moved her to a different middle school.
The bullies reached her on her smartphone through text messages and social media.
"Yes ik (I know) I bullied Rebecca nd she killed her self but IDGAF" (I don't give a (expletive)),'' the 14-year-old girl wrote on Facebook, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The girls admitted to the abuse after their arrests, Judd said.
"It used to be a parent could be relatively assured that their kids were safe in their room, but that's no longer the case. A computer in a child's bedroom is their porthole to the outside world," Henry is quoted as saying in the statement. "Cyberbullying has become a pervasive problem among our children and it needs to stop."
The mother of the 14-year-old suspect was arrested last week after a video surfaced on Facebook showing her in a fight with unidentified juveniles, records show.
Judd said she admitted to punching one of the juveniles in the face with a fist and punching the second juvenile several times on the back of the head and between his shoulders.