Tampa, FL – There has been a major development in the case of Rebecca Sedwick, the Polk County student who committed suicide after months of taunting and cyber-bullying.
On Monday, Rebecca's mother, Tricia Norman, filed a lawsuit against the Polk County School District, blaming them – in part – for her daughter's death, and named two other parties in the civil filing as well.
"There's no way to describe the pain, or the emptiness," said Norman, sitting at her attorney's office in Tampa. "She was a really big part of my life and now she's not here."
When her 12-year-old killed herself last year following months of relentless bullying, Tricia Norman accused the Polk County school system of failing her daughter. On Monday, she followed through on those words with a lawsuit, saying they need to take responsibility.
"She deserves justice. I mean, she suffered enough when she was here," said Norman, "And now she's not. I think somebody needs to pay for it."
The 15-page lawsuit alleges the staff at Rebecca's school, Crystal Lake Middle "Negligently failed to adequately supervise" students whose relentless cyber bullying and taunting - allegedly drove Rebecca to take her own life.
READ: Tricia Norma's lawsuit (PDF)
In October of last year when 10 News sat down with Polk County School's Assistant Superintendent Nancy Woolcock, she relayed the district's sympathies, but defended actions taken by them.
"Crystal Lake did do the investigation. And there were class changes, a suspension and referral to law enforcement," said Woolcock.
In the months that followed, Polk Sheriff Grady Judd filed charges against two of Rebecca's classmates. The so-called ring-leader, who is still a minor -- and still bullying other kids, says Norman -- is also named by her initials as a second party to the civil suit.
The third party named in the suit is Cemex Construction Materials.
It alleges the company, which owned the property where Rebecca jumped to her death from an abandoned cement tower, should have done a better job securing it.
Cemex says it's still waiting to see the lawsuit.
"However, we were deeply saddened to hear about the events that led to Rebecca taking her own life," said Sara Engdahl, Spokesperson for Cemex, "and we continue to send our heart-felt condolences to Rebecca's family."
Like Cemex, The Polk County School District said it still needs to read through the lawsuit before commenting on it, but did release a statement saying in part: "The Polk County School District is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for its students. A system is in place for students, parents and others to report any suspected instances of bullying or harassment. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family and friends of Rebecca Sedwick."
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- Mother says school district could have done more to stop bullying
- Portrait of bullied girl emerges from case file