A potential child abuse charge has been sent to the State Attorney’s Office for a Highlands county mother after she posted a video to Facebook showing her 1-year-old daughter being bitten by a red rat snake.
The video has since been taken down, but Chartelle St. Laurent exclusively told ABC Action News that she does not regret putting her baby face-to-face with the snake.
She found the snake in the driveway of the family’s property outside of Sebring.
“It had bitten me and my son and didn’t leave a mark, several times,” she said. “So, I thought it was a good opportunity to introduce her without actually getting hurt.”
Highlands County Sheriff’s Office investigated the incident and determined purposely exposing the 1-year-old to the snake violates Florida’s child abuse law.
“There’s always ways to teach your children lessons and this just did not seem like a good way to teach your child,” said Scott Dressel with the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the sheriff’s office, a charging affidavit for one count of cruelty toward a child, a third-degree felony, was forwarded to the state’s attorney for review.
It will be up to the State Attorney’s Office to decide if St. Laurent will be charged with a crime.
“People are too sensitive,” she said. “They just think that I hurt my child intentionally. The people that know me know that I would never hurt my children.”
She says the child was not hurt, only scared of the snake’s quick strike.
“His teeth are too small to actually puncture the skin,” St. Laurent told ABC Action News reporter Ryan Smith. “So he’s very harmless.”
Living on a rural, 9-acre property in Highlands County, she says it’s important that her kids learn how to handle all kinds of wildlife and what to stay away from.
She tells ABC Action News, she grew up learning how to handle reptiles by assisting her father, a Jupiter police officer, with animal service calls. She now believes her methods are teaching her children a valuable lesson.
“She’s not scared of snakes but she doesn’t want to touch them, either. That was my goal.”
via ABC Action News
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