15-year-old girl arrested on stalking charges, accused of cyber bullying peers
WFTS Staff , Jacqueline Ingles
3:12 PM, Nov 7, 2013
9:21 AM, Nov 8, 2013
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A 15-year-old St. Petersburg girl faces felony charges after being arrested for cyber-bullying.
The girl, who is not being identified because of her age, is charged with Aggravated Stalking and Tampering with a Witness.
St. Petersburg police said she sent hundreds of threatening texts through an app called "Kik" to three victims, all 15-year-old girls. Police said the girls were all formerly friends.
"There was some kind of rift that occurred and because of that rift, this girl became hostile," said Bill Proffitt, spokesperson for St. Pete PD.
The app, "Kik," was created by a Canadian company and allows users to send texts through the app via the internet without using a cell phone.
The texts occurred over the course of eight days in October, police said. Police added that the teen sent them while at home and at school.
"This is extreme since it is a 15-year-old girl and these threats are very specific and very vile," Proffitt added.
"You just wouldn't expect these kinds of words to come out of the mouth of a 15-year-old. Maybe it's a little naive to think that way, then again, maybe that is the society we live in."
The suspect reportedly knew that one of the victim's relatives had recently committed suicide and encouraged that victim to commit suicide and go see her relative rather than force the suspect to have to kill her, an arrest affidavit states.
Police said the girl admitted to sending some of the texts, including, "If this isn't bullying, then I don't know what is." Detectives said other texts included comments such as, "You're a pathetic piece [expletive], you're a [expletive], nobody likes you, I hate you so much and I hope to cut you, [expletive]."
The girl was ordered not to have contact with the victims, but she continued to send threatening texts, police said, and the charge of Tampering with a Witness followed.
The girl was arrested and transported to a Juvenile Assessment Center.
Florida has a bullying law named after a teenager who killed himself after being harassed by classmates. Amended July 1 to cover cyber bullying, the law leaves punishment to schools, though law enforcement also can seek more traditional charges.
The Bay area saw a similar cyber-bullying case in Polk County back in September. The case grabbed international headlines because it ended in the tragic death of Rebecca Sedwick. The 12-year-old took her own life after an alleged bully told her kill herself.
ABC Action News went to the teen's home but no one answered the door. Multiple calls were placed to the teen's mother for comment, but they were not immediately returned.
Neighbor Lori Gagen watched the teen grow up and was stunned by the allegations.
"Oh no!" said Gagen. "This would be very out of character for her."
Gagen described the teen as playful, loving and always by her mother's side.
"It is sad. It's very sad. I hope that she gets whatever care she needs. I hope the community can stand around her," Gagen said.
The teen is slated to go before a judge in the morning.