Student Accused of Rigging Homecoming Queen Election with Her Assistant Principal Mom
Emily Rose Grover and her mother, Laura Rose Carroll, are facing multiple criminal charges
A Florida high school student accused of rigging a homecoming queen election with her mother, an assistant elementary school principal, to give her the title is now being charged as an adult after turning 18 last month, according to prosecutors.
Emily Rose Grover, who was arrested in March when she was still a minor, will now be tried as an adult, the State Attorney's Office in Escambia County confirmed on Monday.
"This is not unusual with young people of that age. Juvenile (court) cannot do anything or supervise them after they become 18. And so it just makes better sense to move them into adult court where they can be supervised effectively," Assistant State Attorney John Molchan told the Pensacola News Journal.
Grover and her mother, Laura Rose Carroll, 50, are facing one count each of offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks, and electronic devices, a third-degree felony; unlawful use of a two-way communications device, a third-degree felony; criminal use of personally identifiable information, a third-degree felony; and conspiracy to commit these offenses, which is a first-degree misdemeanor.
An investigation began last fall when the Escambia County School District reported unauthorized access into hundreds of student accounts, with 117 votes for Tate High School's Homecoming Court flagged as fraudulent for originating from the same IP address within a short period of time, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
During the investigation, officials concluded that Carroll, an assistant principal at Bellview Elementary School, and Grover, a student at Tate High School, had used the school board's FOCUS program to access student information, the FDLE said in a news release.
According to the agency, investigators were able to link "evidence of unauthorized access" to Carroll's cell phone and home computer, alleging that 246 votes for the Homecoming Court were cast using those devices.
"Multiple students reported that the daughter described using her mother's FOCUS account to cast votes," FDLE said in a news release.
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In their investigation, authorities also found that Carroll's FOCUS account had allegedly been used as far back as August 2019 to access 372 high school records — 339 of which belonged to Tate High School students, according to FDLE.
Grover and Carroll each face a maximum 16-year sentence, the Associated Press reported. According to the outlet, Grover remains free on $2,000 bond, while her mother is free on $6,000 bond.
Randall Etheridge, Grover and Carroll's attorney, declined to comment when reached by PEOPLE, but confirmed that both mother and daughter have pleaded not guilty to the charges.