Report cites other factors in girl's bullying death

Tampa, FL -- A new report suggests additional factors may have led bullying victim Rebecca Sedwick to take her own life.

The Polk County girl jumped to her death from an abandoned cement tower last September, after months of relentless badgering by classmates.

An Associated Press review of Sedwick's 300-page investigative file suggests the 12-year-old was battling personal demons beyond the bullying that investigators say led her to commit suicide.

AP REPORT: Portrait of bullied girl Rebecca Sedwick emerges from case file

The report, stemming from an article published this month by Cosmopolitan Magazine, cites an increasingly-absent father following the divorce of Rebecca's parents in 2004, fighting between her mother and step-father, a recent break-up with a boyfriend, and self-inflicted cutting.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd charged two teenage classmates with aggravated stalking following Rebecca's suicide. The charges were later dropped for a lack of evidence.

The AP found that many of the offensive quotes cited by Sheriff Judd do not appear in the official report, that there were no transcripts of the alleged bullying text messages, and that screenshots of mean-spirited conversations had been deleted.

Tricia Norman, who has since dedicated her life to battling the kind of bullying her daughter endured, says she doubts any other factors led to Rebecca's death.

Her attorney, Matt Morgan, says Norman is saddened -- even offended -- by the report.

"Tricia did everything in her power, literally everything in her power to ensure Rebecca's happiness," said Morgan.

Morgan says the tragedy would be if the article were to somehow diminish the perception that bullying can have deadly consequences. Lots of children, he points out, live with divorce. They survive break-ups with young love interests, and endure family arguments.

"The fact still remains that Rebecca was tormented and bullied, literally to her death," says Morgan.

Tricia Norman continues to push for legislation that would make bullying a crime, and she maintains that is what sadly led her daughter to kill herself.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office, whose investigation is cited in the article, had no reaction. Their investigative report, they say, speaks for itself.

Related Stories:

Rebecca Sedwick, 12, took her own life because of bullying

Rebecca's mom speaks after teen arrests in bullying suicide case

Sedwick's former boyfriend: Speak up if you see bullying

Mother says school district could have done more to stop bullying


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