Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Education

Family of Polk County girl who died after bullying files lawsuit (w/video)

BARTOW — The mother of Rebecca Sedwick, the 12-year-old who fell or jumped to her death last September after being bullied repeatedly, has filed a civil lawsuit alleging that the Polk County School Board was negligent in its supervision and discipline of one of the middle school girl's classmates, ultimately leading to Rebecca's death.

The suit also alleges that the classmate, identified as G.S., caused intentional emotional harm to Rebecca and that Cemex Construction, which owns the property and the cement silo that Rebecca fell or jumped from, was negligent in not properly securing the abandoned grounds.

Both are named as defendants, along with the Polk County School Board.

The 13-page suit was filed Monday in circuit court by Orlando lawyer Matt Morgan of Morgan and Morgan on behalf of Tricia Norman. It seeks damages in excess of $15,000 to cover funeral expenses and mental pain suffered by Norman and by Rebecca's father, Kim Lee Sedwick.

Rebecca fell or jumped to her death from the abandoned silo in Lakeland on Sept. 9, an act the Polk County Sheriff's Office and Rebecca's family blamed on bullying and cyberbullying by former classmates at Crystal Lake Middle School.

The identity of the classmate named in the suit was unclear Monday. However, the initials G.S match those of one of the two girls arrested after an investigation into Rebecca's death.

The Sheriff's Office arrested the girls, then 14 and 12, on felony aggravated stalking charges. But the Polk State Attorney's Office declined to prosecute them.

Morgan asserted that G.S., "continually inflicted psychological distress upon Rebecca Sedwick, until she took her own life."

The Sheriff's Office said it arrested the girl after reviewing numerous conversations and posts on social media, including some posted after Rebecca's death. But the bullying did not occur just online.

Morgan wrote that the School Board knew that G.S. frequently bullied Rebecca and that the aggressive conduct continued in an escalating pattern throughout the 2012–13 school year.

However, Morgan wrote, the School Board did not properly supervise or discipline G.S.

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