It sounds like a TV movie, but it actually happened: A Florida teenager who was arrested for stealing her 2020 homecoming queen election says the allegations have ruined her life. Now her attorney says she's planning to sue the school district. Read on to find out why authorities accused the girl of using electronic devices to rig the vote, why her mother was also arrested, and why the highly unusual drama continues to unfold.
"Horrific Emotional Pain and Suffering"
The New York Post reports that Emily Rose Grover, 19, claims her civil rights were violated when she was accused of electronically rigging the vote for homecoming queen at Tate High School in Cantonment. Grover was expelled over the incident.
The controversy also caused a university to rescind Grover's full-ride scholarship, her attorney, Marie Mattox, told the news outlet. "She has had horrific emotional pain and suffering, as you can imagine," the lawyer said. "Her life has been destroyed. She is trying to get back to a semblance of normalcy."
Mother's School-District Used to Hack Votes, Tipster Alleged
The drama began when an anonymous ethics complaint was filed to the school district a month after Grover was crowned homecoming queen. The complaint alleged that Grover used the school district employee account of her mother, an assistant elementary-school principal, to inflate her vote totals, Mattox said.
The Feds Get Involved
In November 2020, the Escambia County School District contacted the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to report that hundreds of student accounts were improperly accessed. After an investigation, the FDLE said it found evidence that 246 fraudulent votes were cast from accounts accessed by computers inside the Grover family home or from the mother's cellphone.
Students, Teacher Said Girl Used Mom's Account
Eight students and a teacher told investigators that Grover talked about accessing her mother's school district employee account for nearly four years, and some actually watched her do it, according to court documents obtained by the Post.
"I have known that Emily Grover logs into her moms [sic] school account in order to access grades and test scores since freshman year when we became friends," one student told authorities. "She looks up all of our group of friends' grades and makes comments about how she can find out our test scores all of the time."
Mother and Daughter Arrested
In March 2021, Grover and her mother, Laura Rose Carroll, were arrested and charged with unlawful use of a two-way communications device and criminal use of personally identifiable information, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Early this year, Grover completed a pre-trial diversion program, and the charges against her were dismissed. She is now enrolled at the University of West Florida. Carroll pleaded no contest to one count of felony unlawful use of a two-way communications device earlier this month. She was sentenced to 18 months of probation.
Lawsuits Planned, Attorney Says
Grover's attorney sent a letter to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in early April, claiming Grover was wrongly accused and asking the agency to preserve any evidence relevant to the case, the Post reported.
The attorney said Grover may sue the FDLE in addition to the school district by early November. She maintains the disgraced homecoming queen and her mother are innocent. "We believe that the evidence is going to show that [Grover] did not do what she was accused of, that there was no electronic tampering with the vote," she said. "I don't think her mom did either."