The family of a Florida teen who Polk County law enforcement officers publicly identified as a suspect in a bullying case will likely file a lawsuit against the authorities that released her name.
Last year, after a 12-year-old girl committed suicide by reportedly jumping from an abandoned factory, police officers arrested Katelyn Roman, a minor, on felony charges of aggravated stalking. Polk County Sherriff Grady Judd later shared her name at a press conference, which Roman’s mother says have led to extreme cyber-bullying targeted toward her daughter. The charges against Katelyn Roman were later dropped.
According to the family’s attorney, the sheriff and other law enforcement officials embarked on a “witch hunt,” and in an effort to target a cyber-bulling suspect, engaged in a serious form of bullying themselves. The statement of facts in the suit also states that the incident destroyed Roman’s future, and that she has been the target of substantial bullying from her peers over the last year.
For his part, Sherriff Judd says that he was clearly within legal boundaries set by Florida’s Sunshine Law, which allows and encourages public officials to share open records with the public. However, Roman’s family is adamant that her identity should not have been shared, considering she was a minor and that police did not have enough evidence to move forward with a conviction.
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Attorney Shane Herbert also contributed to this blog post.