Mother of cyberbullying victim to file wrongful death lawsuit
Tricia Norman discusses death of daughter Rebecca Sedwick
The mother of a Polk County girl who committed suicide after she was bullied said at a news conference on Monday that she plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against those responsible for her daughter's death.
Her attorney, Matt Morgan, would not say who is named on the lawsuit.
It's the first time Tricia Norman talked after the state dropped charges against the two girls accused of bullying her daughter. Guadalupe Shaw and Katelyn Roman will not be prosecuted on felony charges of aggravated stalking.
Norman says she was saddened by the dismissal of the charges because it sends a message that is bullying is acceptable.
"I feel like I'm living a nightmare and I can't wake up," Norman said. "I keep waiting for apologies I now know will never come."
Norman is also looking to see changes in bullying laws. A Florida statute addresses bullying and just this summer cyber-bullying was included. But some argue the law is difficult to enforce and prosecute.
Attorney Morgan says the law in its current form does not make bullying a punishable crime. They are hoping to "draft and enact a law which criminally punishes bullies for their conduct," said Morgan. The law would be called "Rebecca's law."
Morgan says they have sponsors at the highest level for an anti-bullying federal law that would federal law requiring schools to follow strict rules and regulations.
The civil lawsuit could have challenges. According to a report from Polk County Sheriff's Office, in November 2012, Sedwick accused her mother of physical abuse. Sedwick told a deputy she was afraid of her mother hitting her because her mother had backhanded her several times.
Sedwick also said her mother burned her by pushing her into hot coals from a fireplace. Sedwick later admitted she made the claims up.
Morgan believes the report will have no affect on the lawsuit because the sheriff's office said the claims were unfounded, as did the Department of Children and Families.
"She had a very loving home life Trisha Norman is a fantastic mom.," Morgan said.
On NBC's "Today" show last week, one of the accused tormentors, Katelyn Roman, said, "it's not OK to bully. You should stand up when you have a chance to stand up to bullies."
While she claimed she did nothing wrong, the middle school student is now taking a stand against it.
The Polk County sheriff initially accused the teen and her friend of terrorizing Sedwick for the past year.