Last Updated:November 24 @ 07:25 pm

Mom in Florida cyber bullying case is charged with child abuse

By Los Angeles Times

The mother of one of the girls charged in the Florida case of cyber bullying has been arrested on charges of abusing children, the Polk County Sheriff's Office announced Friday.

Vivian Vosburg, the mother of one of the girls, has been taken into custody on two counts of child abuse and four counts of child neglect, Sheriff Grady Judd said at news conference. He said the arrest was unrelated to the cyber bullying that led to the suicide of Rebecca Sedwick.

On Sept. 9, Rebecca jumped off of a silo at an abandoned cement plant in Lakeland, Fla. Authorities said she had been targeted for about 10 months by two girls, one 14 and the other 12. The girls told Rebecca she was "ugly" and "should go kill herself" on numerous occasions, according to the arrest affidavit that was released publicly under Florida law. After Rebecca killed herself, the older girl posted messages on Facebook admitting the bullying.

Both girls have been charged with felony aggravated stalking in the case, which has set off a national furor.

Vosburg was booked into the Polk County Jail on Friday and is scheduled to make her first court appearance Saturday, officials said. The charges are felonies.

According to the arrest affidavit in the Vosburg case, the sheriff's office began receiving tips from Lakeland, Fla., residents about a video posted on Facebook.

"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 total of six juveniles ranging in ages from 9 to 14 were observed in the video," officials said.

The adult was identified as Vosburg, the mother of one of the girls charged with aggravated stalking in Rebecca's death.

Judd said the video of Vosburg beating the children along with her daughter's alleged bullying "clearly indicates to us what appears to be a normal way of life."

"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree," Judd said.

The video was posted on Facebook early in July 2013 by one of the juveniles to whom Vosburg has access and who was in the room at the time of the incident, according to officials.

"This video was easily located on the juvenile's public social media page as recently as 9 a.m., today, Friday, October 18, 2013. It is clear, not only has Vosburg 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," Judd had said earlier in a prepared statement.

According to the sheriff's office, "Vosburg admitted that she is the woman in the video, and admitted 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 that she continued to hit one juvenile after the other fell to the floor because he was attempting get up from the bed. Vosburg stated she knew she should not have hit the juveniles with her fists."

"I would suggest to you that this violence always occurred, but there was not a mechanism to record it and post it for the whole world to see," Judd said in the news conference.

Times staff writer Mathhew Hamilton contributed to this report.


(c)2013 the Los Angeles Times

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  1. inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
    October 19, 2013 @ 9:08 am

    Thus continutes the reign of the government thought police who actually think you can murder another individual with your minds, which of course have to then be leashed and controlled and punished when free thinking opinions of others are spoken in the presence of the weak minded who jump off the cliff of their own weaknesses, or jump into the camps of Liberal Party politics of pandering prevaricating protectors, or survive to become the next Democrat President of national mind control. Just whatever happened to “I may not agree with what you said but will defend to the death your right to say it”?????? We now live in a nation of the weak willed and weak minded who if left o their own devices would cull themselves out to the cumulative strengthening of our remaining national minds and spirits. When you worship the weak and powerless this is what your country becomes. Trust Mother nature when it comes to survival of the fittest or politically fit as well. Children should be protected from physical abuse at all times and the mothering nature of this mindless woman whose nature is anything but mothering should be punished,,,, but this nonsense that your opinions of other people have to be silenced, even when they happen to be true is a recipe for state control of ALL behavior which is never to be tolerated in a land that cherishes individual freedom which begins with the freedom of indiviual thought.

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  2. crustyoldgeezerComment by crustyoldgeezer
    October 19, 2013 @ 9:53 am

    If it’s a ‘bad thing’ to Bully other people, why does the government exempt itself from the same laws?

    Let a government ‘regulator’ walk into a room or a workplace and everybody gets edgy because the “biggest Bully on the planet” is among them, and he is armed with the most powerful government in the world.

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  3. prairelivingComment by praireliving
    October 19, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

    Having been a victim of schoolhouse bullying for my entire grade school education I know how ugly it can get. My 4th grade teacher actually encouraged my parents to take me out of school early because ‘she’d never seen a child so bullied by other kids’.

    What saved me from either killing myself or from doing something to retaliate? Well, first and foremost I knew that God loved me, he was there for me, and the suffering I was taking at the hands of these other parochial school students was not worse than Jesus himself suffered. I wrote letters to God, I spoke with him through prayer and I knew that he was by my side even when it seemed he wasn’t. Secondly, my parents were there for me. They did what they could to reduce the abuse and they always told me that it didn’t matter what these other kids thought. I was a great person and they were the one’s who were losing out by not knowing me. My parent’s didn’t pander to me only let me know they loved me.

    I came to realize over time, and with age and maturity, that the other kids were jealous and petty. They really didn’t know me but I didn’t quite fit in. I wouldn’t be mean to others, I studied hard, and our family wasn’t from the same ‘class’ as the mean kids (my dad was a laborer and European and their dad’s were professionals and had no accent). I wonder now, so many years later, what has happened to these kids. Did they learn anything, did they ever change. I know I went on to succeed because the best way to get back at them wasn’t to kill myself or shoot up the school but to do better than them and prove them wrong.

    I wonder how many of the kids these days who are using a permanent solution to a temporary problem really have God in their lives and realize that the views of others isn’t as important as what is in your heart and where you go in the future.

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    • bobwojo48Comment by bobwojo48
      October 19, 2013 @ 4:06 pm

      All kids need is loving parents that care! Obviously yours did.

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  4. mrwilsonComment by mrwilson
    October 19, 2013 @ 6:47 pm

    I have dedicated more than my time to putting an end to bullying in America. It has grown way beyond my experience. No longer is it the punk, with a pair of side-kicks, swaggering about the playground picking on the little kids. He was easily taken care of with a good left hook or a perfectly landed kidney punch. If that failed, a few of us, with a baseball bat back behind the school would clean it up for the year. Bullies are true cowards.
    The White House initiative; “Stop Bullying Now,” and the tens of millions spent on it has failed. The “zero-tolerance” policies of schools, and school boards has failed. The many so called non-profits who get involved when a particular incident reaches the level of the national media has failed because their true intent is only to garner more money in donations and further their particular agenda. Parents, or in half the population, “parent” have failed because they have no positive character to teach their child or do not take the time to teach at all. Schools in America can no longer teach or instruct in “Character Education”. Positive morals, values, principles, ethics; call it as you will are forbidden. Premier examples of “good” are increasingly rare. Where do children turn. Very few children even read the Bible or know the teachings of the old prophets or the speed-ball that Jesus delivered when he offered up the Sermon On The Mount. I have been around and I go around enough to see that the majority of children have changed. Wanting to see where a big chunk of my tax dollars go, I visit the local public schools who annually take many grand from me in order to dysfunction. Just to witness the behavior of children in the halls of the schools explains why it is reported that our best teachers last, on average, five years in a public school job. Why would anyone want to tolerate the rude and crude behavior of these children from very wealthy homes. Look at their role models. Their most recent is this Cyrus child; whose next five years of development are sadly so predictable as to be a positive wager, any amount!
    These selfish, self-centered, egocentric, me-first, me-only, mean and nasty little children are brutal towards other children who are not within their little clique.
    This is not exclusive to the public schools. I also visit the very exclusive/inclusive private schools that my grand children and great grand children attend. Selfish, inconsiderate brats every where.
    And why not? The leader of the so-called free world is the most arrogant and divisive s 0 b that I have seen running our once great nation under God. A little mercy and compassion goes a long way in making a more perfect world. The ability to admit you were wrong in something and to apologize for it can also make a grand difference. That egomaniac, who borders on sociopathic behavior, is incapable of both, of all…
    The child in Florida, the three rapes of little girls recently in Maryville, Missouri, are just what hits the state run media. If you want the news set your Google alert for the key words and be ready to translate. You will be bombarded by **** you really never want to hear. To hell in a hand basket is most apt.
    From past experience I knew it would drop to this level. The law man would eventually step in, flash his badge, arrest the bad guys, and court would be in session. That morals and character become litigious concerns is a flash back to the myriad laws of the 50s and 60s. The rulers of America were going to change the culture through laws, set all things on level via laws. Today, the Supremes are listening to yet another case. With all those laws one might expect the peace, love, equality, and justice that was the argued conclusion. Wrong fellows and lassies. There is more hate and hate mongering today than ever in our history. It is impossible to legislate character, morals, or social mores and norms. The very concept is pure eyewash.
    Finally, there are many people who consider the act of suicide to be the ultimate form of “weakness”. If those same people could manage to keep an open heart and do some reading they may find more insightful reasons for that final act on this earth. The old saying; “walk a mile in another man’s shoes” surly does apply here. I do not know the origin of this expression, Rome, the Bible, Indians of North America…Close-minded meffers are destroying all that made America.

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  5. braines57Comment by braines57
    October 21, 2013 @ 9:55 am

    This article is just more proof positive that often the victims of child abuse go on to become abusers themselves. A home is supposed to be a sanctuary – a safe haven for the family, and parents are supposed to provide the foundation for that security. When they violate it, it stands to reason that their children will go on to enact the same behaviors to which they have grown accustomed. How can someone who has never experienced true love go on to express it to others? Of course, this is exactly what happens when you take God out of the equation – out of our schools, out of the lives of children. They never learn about the matchless grace of God which is His gift to all, so how can they possibly know how to show grace and mercy to others? Faith in God teaches you how to act when no one else is looking, because God is all-seeing and all-knowing, so without that, what motivation do these children have to do the “right thing” when they think no one is looking? However, through my own daughters’ years in public schools, I have to say that there are far too many teachers out there who practice “situational ethics” in their daily classrooms. How can they do this? Because parents no longer take the time to be really involved in their children’s daily school activities. Too often, parents leave all “teaching” of their children up to the schools. After all, isn’t that what their tax dollars pay for? However, the evidence is all around us that parents have to be fully engaged in what is taught to their children. Education starts and ends at home, and part of that education is discipline and respect. This woman deserves to be charged and to do time for what she has done to her children; however, it is obvious that her “teaching” at home has already harmed her children, from the actions and attitude of her child toward the girl she bullied. Why would this girl ever have feared consequences for her actions, when her mother was able to get away with such deplorable physical, verbal and mental abuse?

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