The mom of a girl accused of tormenting a 12-year-old in a high-profile cyberbullying suicide case has faced an arrest because she is now accused of beating up kids in a separate incident, according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
The 30-year-old Lakeland woman has been charged with two counts of child abuse with bodily harm and four counts of child neglect after a video surfaced on Facebook taken by a juvenile who witnesses the alleged attack in July.
The woman told detectives she was breaking up a fight and should not have resorted to violence, deputies said.
“This video was easily located on the juvenile’s public social media page…” Judd said in a statement Friday. “It is clear, not only has [the woman] demonstrated she cannot control the behavior of children she has access to without using violence, but she is obviously not monitoring the social media sites of children she has access to either.”
The Sentinel is not naming the woman because it has previously not identified her 14-year-old daughter, one of two suspects accused of bullying a Lakeland girl who killed herself in September. That girl and a 12-year-old were charged in connection with Rebecca Ann Sedwick’s Sept. 10 suicide. It’s a case that has drawn international attention to the issue of cyberbullying and the responsibility of parents to monitor the online behavior of their children.
Deputies are not identifying the children in the July incident. They are also not revealing the relationships, if any, with the Lakeland mother.
She admitted to punching one of the juveniles in the face with a fist and punching the second juvenile several times on the back of the head and between his shoulders.
“She stated she continued to hit one juvenile, after the other fell to the floor, because he was attempting get up from the bed,” a report said.
She said she knew she should not have hit the juveniles with her fists.
On Thursday, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office received several tips from residents about the Facebook video.
“The video was of two juvenile subjects fighting, an adult female punching the fighting juveniles and screaming profanities, and several other juveniles shouting profanities and moving around in what appears to be a bedroom of a residence,” a Sheriff’s Office report says.
“A total of six juveniles ranging in ages from 9 – 14 were observed in the video,” the report added.