Mom of Suicide Tween Rebecca Sedwick to Sue 'Those Responsible'
(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- The mother of Rebecca Sedwick, who committed suicide after persistent online bullying by classmates, said on Monday that she intends to sue those responsible for her death. The girl's mother, Tricia Norman, did not identify who she would sue, but two girls, ages 12 and 14, were originally arrested and charged with cyberstalking in Sedwick's death. Those charges were dropped last week.
"People keep asking me, 'How do you feel?' I don't really know how to answer that question," Norman said on Monday. "I feel like I'm living a nightmare and I can't wake up."
"My heart aches constantly," she said. "My body is numb. I can't sleep. My happiness no longer exists. My baby is gone."
Sedwick, 12, of Lakeland, Fla., climbed a silo tower at an abandoned plant and jumped to her death on Sept. 9 after police say she was relentlessly taunted online.
"To be honest, I'm very angry with the individuals I believe are responsible for my daughter's death," Norman said. "I keep waiting for an apology I now know will never come."
She announced that she would be pursuing wrongful death lawsuits in civil court.
In October, attorneys for Norman said they were exploring their legal options and that they hadn't ruled out suing the local school board or the parents of the two girls who had been accused.
"I intend to hold them accountable to the full extent of the law," Norman said.
Norman's attorney, Matt Morgan, called bullying a "problem of epidemic proportions" that has "reached a tipping point" as they announced three pieces of legal action, including the civil lawsuits.
He first proposed Rebecca's Law, a state law they want that would criminally punish bullies for their conduct. Morgan said the state has a statute that prohibits bullying, but that there are no punishments under the statute.
He also announced that they hope to pass the "first-ever federal anti-bullying law" titled the Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2013.
The act would dictate that if schools receive funding from the state, they must have certain policies and procedures to address bullying and schools must adhere to those.
Norman said she would do everything in her power to pass Rebecca's Law.
"My goal is to use this personal tragedy to make society a safer place to live," she said. "I know it is what Rebecca would want."
Two girls ages 12 and 14 were arrested on felony aggravated stalking charges after the Polk County Sheriff's office said both "terrorized" Sedwick and then showed no remorse for Sedwick's death. They were under house arrest until the charges were dropped.
On Wednesday, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said his office was "exceptionally pleased" with the outcome of the case. He said both children are going to receive the counseling and services they need, which is the "best outcome" for the juveniles.
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