Parents of Accused Cyberbully Blame Facebook Hack
(NEW YORK) — The parents of one of the teenage girls accused of bullying Rebecca Sedwick to suicide said they monitored their daughter’s Facebook activities nightly and saw no signs of bullying, leading them to believe someone hacked her account.
The parents of the 14-year-old girl charged with felony aggravated stalking described their daughter as a “lovable,” “caring” girl who was not a bully. They are the parents of seven and say they pride themselves on their involvement with their children’s lives.
“I would check her Facebook every time she would get on it,” the suspect’s mother told ABC News Tuesday night.
The teen’s father said, “If we saw something that was not right, we would’ve addressed it and it would’ve ended right then.”
The parents said they monitored their daughter’s Facebook account and her cellphone.
The parents are reeling from the vile portrait Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd painted of their daughter. Judd accused the 14-year-old and a 12-year-old girl of leading the digital torment against Sedwick, 12, who jumped from a concrete silo tower to her death on Sept. 9.
The two girls were arrested and charged Monday night with felony aggravated stalking in Sedwick’s death, who would’ve celebrated her 13th birthday this weekend.
The 14-year-old’s parents tearfully lashed out at Judd for exposing their daughter’s name and photo on live TV Tuesday during a news conference to announce the charges. Judd also identified the younger suspect. ABC News is not revealing either girl’s identity because they have been charged as juveniles.
“My daughter don’t deserve to be in the place she’s in right now and I just hope that the truth comes to the surface so we can get out of this nightmare,” her father told ABC News.
When asked whether their daughter’s Facebook account was hacked, her father replied, “Oh, I’m sure of that.”
The teen’s mother added: “Yeah, we’re sure of that.”
The father of the younger alleged bully told ABC News he wishes he could have done more if he knew more about social media.
“I feel horrible about the whole situation,” he said. “It’s my fault, maybe that I don’t know more about that kind of stuff. I wish I did.”
The parents of the accused 14-year-old say their daughter will most likely remain in the juvenile wing of the Polk County Jail until her next hearing on Oct. 25.
Judd said on Tuesday he brought both girls into custody because he saw a lack of remorse.
He pointed to a Facebook post allegedly written this weekend by the 14-year-old suspect that said, “‘Yes, I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself but I don’t give a f—.”
Judd said, “You can add the last word yourself.”
The suspect’s mother denied her daughter would ever write something so heinous on Facebook.
“No, she wouldn’t write anything like that. She’s not that type of girl that would just say something like that,” her mother said.
The teen’s father said whenever he saw inappropriate language on his daughter’s social media accounts, he would bring it to her attention immediately.
“I’ll be honest with you, the only time we saw something, like her language maybe not appropriate, we would address her and say you can’t be like this. And there’d be a lot of times where my wife would be looking through the phone and making sure everything’s good,” her father said.
The alleged bullying started in December 2012 when Sedwick and the two suspects were students at Crystal Lake Middle School, according to a statement from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Judd said the 14-year-old suspect had started dating a boy Sedwick had been seeing, but the girl “didn’t like that and began to harass and ultimately torment Rebecca.”
The teen allegedly sent Sedwick menacing messages on Facebook calling her ugly, telling her to “drink bleach and die,” and encouraging her to kill herself, police said.
The alleged bullying soon escalated to confrontations at school, including at least one physical attack, according to police.
Police said witnesses, including Sedwick’s ex-boyfriend, told them she did not engage her tormentor, leading them to believe she was being bullied.
The 14-year-old suspect also allegedly bullied anyone who was friends with Sedwick, according to police, and even encouraged the 12-year-old suspect, who was Sedwick’s friend, to turn on her.
The younger girl was suspended for one fight in February 2013, according to police, in which the older suspect encouraged her to “beat up” Sedwick.
During a recent interview, police said the 12-year-old girl told them she bullied Sedwick and expressed remorse.
The 12-year-old was released into the custody of her parents and has been placed on home detention pending further proceedings.
Sedwick tried to get a fresh start at a new school for the 2013-14 school year, authorities said, but the torment continued online.
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