Hate Crime

Charges dropped against Fla. teens accused of stalking girl who committed suicide

Charges have been dropped against two teenage girls accused of stalking a Florida classmate who later committed suicide after complaining of being bullied, MyFoxTampaBay.com reported Wednesday.

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Jose Baez, a lawyer for one of the girls, immediately demanded an apology from the sheriff who arrested her.

Sheriff Gardy Judd dismissed his comments as "bluster."

Rebecca Sedwick, 12, jumped to her death in September after what investigators said was months of relentless bullying.

After Judd promised an investigation, a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old were charged with aggravated stalking in October.

Baez says it was "reckless" for Judd to bring a juvenile count of third-degree felony aggravated stalking against his client, the 12-year-old.

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"I found zero evidence having to do with my client that would rise to the level of a criminal act," Baez said at a news conference outside his Orlando office.

Judd said he had no regrets about bringing charges, adding “our goal was to create an intervention.

"Our goal is that these kids never bully anyone again, never torment anyone again," Judd said.

At last month's news conference announcing the arrests, Judd said the bullying began about a year ago after the 14-year-old girl started dating Rebecca's ex-boyfriend. The older girl allegedly threatened to fight Rebecca while they were sixth-graders at Crystal Lake Middle School in Lakeland, Fla. and told her "to drink bleach and die," the sheriff said.

She also persuaded the younger girl to bully Rebecca, even though they had been best friends, the sheriff said.

Authorities said Rebecca climbed to a tower at the abandoned plant and hurled herself to her death.

Baez said his client hasn't ruled out a lawsuit against the sheriff.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.