‘Cyberbully’ girl arrested for ‘driving 12-year-old to suicide’: “Stigma made me want to kill myself too”

Following the suicide of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick, her classmate Katelyn Roman was arrested and accused of cyberbullying. She has now given her side of the story.


by Kayleigh Dray |
Published on

In September 2013, Rebecca Sedwick jumped to her death from the top of an abandoned concrete plant in Florida, stopping only to text a friend in another state:

"I can't take anymore. I'm jumping."

She was just 12 years old.

Rebecca's mother, Tricia Norman, told police that her daughter had been ostracised by a group of girls at school and, after investigation, detectives decided that bullying - both online and in person - had contributed to Rebecca's death.

Katelyn Roman, who was 12 at the time, and Guadalupe Shaw, 14, were arrested on charges of aggravated stalking. Their names and photos soon made it into the press, leading to the girls being targeted by the general public.

The charges were later dropped for lack of evidence; detectives said companies behind the texting apps used by Rebecca did not provide a sufficient history of the texts she received.

But now, speaking with Cosmopolitan, Katelyn has said that she did NOT bully Rebecca - and that she did not deserve to be named and shamed in public for something they didn't do.

Katelyn says she was not responsible for her classmate's death
Katelyn says she was not responsible for her classmate's death

Katelyn explained that she had become friends with Guadalupe, who was "cool", but the older girl became interested in one of Rebecca's ex-boyfriends. Worried he still had feelings for the girl, she began turning people against her.

"I was still her friend. But everyone was telling me she was a liar. I'd hear it all around school. Every day, I'd hear stuff about her.

"I didn't want to believe what everyone was saying, but I didn't know what to do."

Katelyn eventually bowed to peer pressure, telling Rebecca she didn't want to be her friend anymore - but the other girls insisted that she "fight" her former friend.

The two girls ended up in a physical fight at school, before sending each other a series of heated texts. But Katelyn insists that the texting ended a year before Rebecca's death - and that, in the summer of 2013, Rebecca had reached out and asked to be friends again.

"She texted me and said, 'Do you want to be friends again?' I was nice about it, but I said no. I just didn't want anything to start up again."

Rebecca reportedly text several people on the morning she jumped to her death, telling them she wanted to say goodbye forever

On the day Rebecca died, Katelyn didn't believe the news:

"At first, I was like, No way, she wouldn't do that. Then when I was in my last-period class, someone showed me the news on my phone. I started crying. I couldn't believe it.

"I told her mom I was sorry for her loss. She basically said it was my fault. I felt so horrible."

Police arrived at Katelyn's home that evening to talk to her about the suicide - and Katelyn claims that they made her feel as if she was to blame right away:

"I felt like everyone was telling me how horrible I was. Rebecca's mom thought it was my fault; the police thought it was my fault. I felt guilty because they were making me feel like I did it.

"I felt bad because everyone kept telling me it was my fault. I thought it must be my fault."

In a text message after her meeting with the police, Katelyn said: "Yeah I'm a bully I deserve to die I wish it was me and not her…"

A month later police arrested Katelyn, charging her with aggravated stalking - a crime which could have landed her a heavy fine and 5 years in prison.

Katelyn says she was subjected to threatening phonecalls following her arrest

After being released on bail, she claims the threatening phone calls began.

"I felt like everyone wasn't getting my side of the story.

"They said I was pounding [Rebecca] with text messages. I wasn't. We had barely even been in touch for a year. I thought, How could they say that?"

Katelyn was suspended from school and put on house arrest, but the charges have since been dropped.

Her parents argue that the police acted irresponsibly, arresting their daughter and making her name public before conducting a proper investigation.

However Sheriff Judd says that he had probable cause for the arrests and insists that the outcome was not a loss.

He said: *"No one wants to criminalize children — this is a case that should be worked out, not a case where you lock them up and throw away the key. Our desire was to make sure these children got counselling. *

"If we had not brought charges, there would not have been any personal responsibility and they would not be in counselling. I was given the public trust to do what's right."

Do you think young bullies should be named and shamed? Let us know in the Comments Box below now.

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