Bullying death charges dropped

Charges dropped after sheriff publicized names of two girls accused of bullying a classmate to death


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," November 21, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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INGRAHAM: In the "Back of the Book" segment tonight, a FACTOR exclusive, the Florida sheriff who publicized the name and faces of two young girls accused of bullying a classmate to death.

Prosecutors yesterday decided not to charge the two teenagers in the death of 12-year-old, Rebecca Sedwick, who committed suicide in September. This is Sheriff Grady Judd said back in October.


GRADY JUDD, SHERIFF, POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA: The reason this is a felony -- the reason this is a third-degree felony, as opposed to a misdemeanor, is because our victim, Rebecca, was only 12 years of age.

So, we immediately took both of them into custody, we have these wonderful photographs of our two new felons. They had never been arrested in their life.


INGRAHAM: Jose Baez, the attorney for one of the alleged attackers, now says that Sheriff Judd may need a lawyer.


JOSE BAEZ, ATTORNEY: To go out on TV and put her mug shot out there as if she is public enemy number one when she's really just a child, and for really serving no purpose.

I've got some advice for him. He should get a lawyer, and a darn good one because he's going to need it.


INGRAHAM: Joining us now from Winter Haven, Florida, Sheriff Grady Judd. Sheriff Judd, so, did you jump the gun here.

JUDD: No, I didn't. I complied with Florida law. Florida law clearly says, "Felons who are arrested, whether they're juveniles or adults, are subject to public records."

And the public records says their photographs and their names are to be released. And that's what we did.

Bullying is a national epidemic. Now, we've got this defense attorney saying, "Oh, he shouldn't have done that."


He's trying to move the focus away from a 12-year-old dead child that was bullied. And then they talk about that, well, the charges are dropped.


But what they don't tell you, as we said all along through the clips, that we weren't looking to lock the door and throw away the key and keep those kids in jail.

We were looking for counseling. We wanted them to stay in the juvenile system. And that's what happened. One child was diverted.

And, Jose Baez, he has his child in intervention. And then he takes her to New York and puts her on all the television stations, her face and name. She bullied and violated the law and that's why we charged her.

INGRAHAM: OK, obviously, the defense attorneys are saying, the charges were false that's why they weren't dropped. And they weren't bullied.

The Facebook account -- remember that horrific and very callous reference on one of the -- we're not using their names -- one of the alleged attacker's Famous pages was, you know, "Yes, I bullied her and, frankly, I don't care." I'm just summing it up. He said that was hacked, "That was something my daughter, my client, would never say." And you rushed out there and -- to make an example for the nation because bullying is such a problem.

But the criminal justice system is based on whether or not the alleged perpetrators, you really have the evidence to rush out before the cameras and actually say this. That's their argument.

JUDD: Yes, we do have the evidence. In fact, when we arrested them on probable cause, we took them to a juvenile judge the next day. And he ruled they were -- there was probable cause.

In fact, he kept one in custody and released the other one to their parents. In addition to that, our goal was -- and we agreed with the State Attorney's Office, when there is a diversion -- this is in the juvenile system in Florida -- when there's a diversion, the charges are dropped from the criminal court and that's what occurred.

There was a diversion through the other attorney with his client. And Jose Baez agreed that counseling and doing what was being in the best interest of his client and the charges were dropped. It served no useful purpose to drag these kids through the criminal justice system --

INGRAHAM: So why charge them.

JUDD: -- to end up with the same -- now, let me finish.

INGRAHAM: Right. But why charge them. You want to make example of them but --

JUDD: Are you going to let me talk.

INGRAHAM: I will, sheriff. But, as a matter of criminal justice -- I don't have any sympathy for bullies. We're having a good debate here.

But as a criminal justice matter, you said you had probable cause. You basically seem to think they're guilty. And yet, we were trying to make an example out of bullies nationwide and I understand it's a social policy matter.

That's very noble. But they're either probable cause and guilty or not. And, in this case, these charges were dropped. They're in the custody of their parents, correct. And they're going to go about their lives.

JUDD: Right.

INGRAHAM: But, I guess, their argument is their names have been sullied, their reputation has been sullied. And, you know, "We're still not guilty of this. And we're proven correct." And that's what they're arguing.

JUDD: Laura, you're not listening to me at all. In the juvenile system in the State of Florida, when you enter a diversion, when you do counseling, when you don't take them through the court system -- and very few adult -- I mean, excuse me, very few children go through a trial process in Florida when there's diversion. And that's what occurred, then the charges are dropped.

INGRAHAM: Now, I understand.

JUDD: But had we not made the arrest, -- listen to me. Had we not made the arrest -- had we not made the arrest and we made that on probable cause, then those kids wouldn't be having counseling at this time and the bullying could continue.

And as a result, that's what we did, what we did. So, when you say the charges were dropped, there's no evidence, that's not true. The charges --

INGRAHAM: So, the diversion -- do you think --

JUDD: -- were dropped because there was counseling.

INGRAHAM: Do you think the diversion and the fact that their names are out there, and you went out there in October, is that going to stop some bullying, maybe some incremental effect on bullying in the state.

JUDD: You know, I can tell you this. That it stopped those two from bullying.


And I can tell you that it made a big impact around the nation. But the bottom line is, they were arrested for felonies. By Florida law, their name and their photograph is public record.

The fact that you and the other media outlets choose to publish it is your decision, not my decision. But I can tell you this, if the same set of circumstances --

INGRAHAM: We actually didn't.

JUDD: -- present themselves today, we're going to arrest them again.

INGRAHAM: And we should say that, again, counsel on the other side, I mean, they took their client over to the "Today" show today and they did an interview.

So, they're willing to continue to talk about this and get the alleged attackers' names out. Sheriff, we really appreciate it. Thanks so much.

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