Florida bullying suspect's stepmother charged with child abuse as result of Facebook video
The stepmother of a 14-year-old accused of bullying a Florida girl prior to her suicide was arrested and charged with child abuse as a video depicting the woman beating a boy was posted on Facebook, a sheriff said on Friday.
During a news conference, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the arrest of 30-year-old Vivian Vosburg on two counts of child abuse with bodily harm and four counts of child neglect is a shocking chapter in a months-long tragic story in central Florida.
Judd said Vosburg is the stepmother of one of two girls charged with felony aggravated stalking earlier in the week. Officials say the girls, 14 and 12, bullied and harassed 14-year-old Rebecca Sedwick before she climbed a tower at an abandoned concrete plant and hurled herself to her death Sept. 9.
“The apple doesn't fall far from the tree,” Judd said of the accused girl.
It was a Facebook comment over the weekend that Judd said led him to arrest the girls. He repeated the online post from the older girl almost word for word at a news conference last week.
“ ‘Yes, I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself but I don't give a —' and you can add the last word yourself,” Judd said.
He identified the girls and showed their mug shots during the news conference, but the AP generally does not name juveniles charged with crimes.
Vosburg identified herself as the teen's mother when she appeared on CNN and ABC to say the girl did not bully Rebecca and that she checked her stepdaughter's Facebook every night.
Vosburg was booked into the Polk County Jail in Bartow on Friday evening, and it's unclear whether she has retained an attorney. A voice mail message left on her home phone was not immediately returned.
Judd said that after detectives arrested Vosburg's stepdaughter, people from the community saw her on TV — then sent tips to the law enforcement agency, urging them to look at the Facebook page of another of Vosburg's children.