Remember back a month ago when Polk County, Florida sheriff, Grady Judd was everywhere. It seemed that there was no media appearance too small for him to do. He was oozing with passion and excitement in front of the cameras while showcasing to the world that two juveniles, a 12 and 14 year-old, were arrested for a horrible crime. While literally holding their photographs, he announced their names to the world and alleged that the girls’ cyberbullying caused another teenager to commit suicide. Fueling his fire more was an alleged remorseless Facebook post by the older arrested teen wherein she allegedly shrugged off the suicide. Without question, the girls, charged with felony aggravated stalking, were vilified.
In a move that shocked many, including this veteran of the criminal justice arena, this week, prosecutors dropped charges against both teens. Apparently, AFTER the teens’ arrest, prosecutors carefully combed through and analyzed thousands of Facebook chats. One of the lawyers for the teens claimed that the 27,000 Facebook pages showed absolutely no evidence that either teen committed a crime. Rather, he alleged that there was evidence that the 12 year-old defendant was bullied by the alleged victim. Prosecutors aren’t commenting, claiming they can’t speak about the case because the law precludes them from speaking about cases involving juvenile defendants.
Sheriff Judd doesn’t feel the need to apologize. On the contrary, he claims that he has no regrets and that Florida law permits him to release the names of any and all juveniles charged with felonies. Further, he said that he believed he had probable cause to make an arrest and that prosecutors have the right to decide whether to move forward on a case. He told reporters that he is proud of the fact that he “raised awareness and helped kids.”