Florida mom who recorded baby being bitten by snake has child abuse charges dropped
Florida police have dropped child abuse charges against a mother who recorded her one-year-old daughter being bitten by a snake.
Chartelle Geanette St. Laurent admitted to Highlands County police to putting an eight-inch red rat snake inside a container and holding it up to her young daughter. The 24-year-old posted video of the incident on social media on June 2.
The video shows St. Laurent’s daughter curiously reach for the snake, which then lunges and bites the girl. St. Laurent can then be heard laughing as the baby cries.
A police affidavit reported St. Laurent laughed because she was surprised by the snake biting her daughter.
Highlands County Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit investigated the incident but dropped the charges after State’s Attorney Christine Pletcher deemed there was not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that St. Laurent abused her daughter.
“The state must prove that the defendant intentionally inflicted physical or mental injury upon a child, or did an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to cause physical or mental injury to a child,” a statement from the State’s Attorney Office for the 10th Judicial Circuit read.
“While we believe the actions were inappropriate and there was probable cause that what was shown in the video was child abuse, we recognize that there is a higher standard for actual prosecution of such a case,” Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman said in a statement.
St. Laurent told police that she grew up around reptiles and had seen poisonous snakes on her property and wanted to teach her daughter about the snakes.
“I want to encourage parents to learn from this case,” Blackman said. “While we all have a duty to teach our children, we should always think about the methods involved in that education and realize that some methods are just not appropriate, especially when the child is too young to understand the situation and comprehend the intended lesson.”
The affidavit reported that St. Laurent found the snake on her property and allowed it to bite her first to make sure it would not injure her daughter.
An offence report said St. Laurent showed officers a second video recorded that showed her daughter laughing while holding the snake, which “appeared tame.”
The officer reported that St. Laurent regretted posting the original video online.
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