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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Mom Defends 11-Year-Old YouTube Sensation Jessi Slaughter

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Eleven-year-old Jessica Leonhardt of Florida (who goes by "Jessi Slaughter" and "Kerligirl13" online) recently posted the following video on YouTube [Warning: Explicit language -- NSFW]:

Afterward, she began receiving death threats, and her phone number and home address were posted online. She and her father then made the following video [Warning: Explicit language -- NSFW]:

These controversial videos have already been viewed by more than a million people -- and have even landed Jessica in police protective custody. Jessica's mom, Dianne, speaks exclusively to momlogic.

momlogic: How did all of this Internet drama start?

Dianne Leonhardt: On Thursday evening, it all started. I got a phone call from a guy [representing] himself as a police officer and inquiring about an alleged missing person -- a kid -- who knew or was associated with my daughter. I asked for the missing kid's name and my daughter said she didn't even know who he was. Something didn't seem right; the call seemed weird. So I asked the "officer" what the police chief's name was, and he hung up. The phone rang again, and I told the guy that if he was a real police officer to send a unit to my door. My daughter became more upset because someone had posted a photo of her over the Internet using her head with someone else's body. My daughter was sitting by the computer, and that's the video where my husband was screaming for all of this to stop. We shut the computer down and we were very upset.

ml: When did the actual police get involved?

DL: We all went to bed that night, and then at 1:15 AM, my doorbell rang. Our dog started barking and we heard bam, bam, bam ... someone was banging on our door. It was the Marion County Sheriff's Department. An officer said an anonymous tip had come in that our daughter was hurting herself. He wouldn't tell us who called the tip in, but he made me wake my daughter up to make sure she was OK. The officer was really rude and my daughter kept denying that she made any videos. She kept saying, "I didn't do any of this!" He was here for about 15 minutes.

The next morning, my husband and I were sitting in our home when the doorbell rang again. Another sheriff's department officer was banging on the door. This time, they had another anonymous tip from someone in California claiming my daughter had female prostitutes coming in and out of our home from ads posted on Craigslist. Again, my daughter denied making any of these videos. In the meantime, my mother-in-law called from Michigan, saying she'd gotten a message on Facebook from a man who sent a photo of my daughter with some other guy. I have no idea how they even found her on Facebook! I put the officer on the phone with her and he took down the information. I then went onto my Facebook page and the same guy had sent me a message, too.

After the officer left, I had messages on my voice mail from a man asking me for sex. The guy left his name and number. I also received a death threat on my voice mail, so we called the police back. It was from a bogus number, so they couldn't trace it. The same number has been calling for the last two days, all day and night. We believe it's the same person.

ml: Were you aware that your daughter had been making and posting these videos online?

DL: Jessica has a webcam and a computer. All of her friends have webcams, too, so they video chat with each other. I knew she'd made a video to apply for "America's Got Talent." She sings and sent an audition video in. I had no idea she was making other videos. I have seen her chatting with her friends, but not making videos. 

ml: When did you find out about the videos, and what was your reaction?

DL: The officers had said there were videos, but Jess denied making them. Then my mother-in-law called and said there were videos. But I haven't watched them. I can't be in the room 24/7. We tried to talk to Jess last night, but she got very upset all over again. I am trying to get her back to normal. It's taken a very emotional toll on her. I don't know if she made these videos or not, but she says she didn't. Right now, I am trying to figure out what's real and what's not. This has been very difficult to deal with.

ml: Is it true that your daughter was taken into protective police custody?

DL: Yes. On Friday afternoon around 2:45 PM, another deputy and a DCF officer showed up at my door. The DCF agent was saying my daughter was making all these videos online. I never saw any videos and I didn't even want to turn on the computer. I wanted to leave it alone, but they were hammering my daughter. They didn't talk to her, they were talking at her. They were blaming her, saying, "You did this!" She was denying making the videos. I haven't watched the videos, and I don't want my daughter back online. I don't want to make her all upset again. After all that, DCF took Jess on Friday and put her in protective custody at a center. She came back yesterday. I am so angry about how she was treated. I went to visit her on Saturday, and she just wanted to go home. These kids have to get up at 7:00 AM, have breakfast and do schoolwork. There is no TV for them, and nothing else to do. From 1 to 2 PM, you can have visitors, so I went to see her. If you have no visitors, they tell you to take a nap. I couldn't return that evening for visitation, so they allowed her to make a five-minute call to me. She said she was bored and just staring at the walls. After three minutes, they rushed her off the phone.

ml: Do you have any idea how many people have watched these videos of your daughter online? Some of the videos have more than a million views! Do you realize the magnitude of this situation?

DL: I heard there were over a million views online of people looking at these videos. My phone has been ringing nonstop. I have let my phone go to voice mail, and people are calling and leaving crazy messages. A car company called because [someone] used [Jessi's] name requesting information on a vehicle. Domino's Pizza called because [someone] used her name to order hundreds of pizzas online. Pizza Hut called confirming an order for more than $1,000 worth of pizza; a girl left a message on our voice mail saying, "Hope you're enjoying the pizza." Now I am hearing [that] people are saying online that Jessi killed herself! She's an 11-year-old girl! We're trying to figure out what she posted and what she didn't -- what's real and what's not. We've received many threats. This is out of control. People think this is funny, but they don't realize the damage they're doing.

ml: Why do you think this happened to your daughter and family?

DL: Jessica helps a person write song lyrics. He's in a band, and people are jealous because she knows him and they became friends. She's been to one of his concerts and they've become friends. My daughter is a really friendly person and she chats online with people. She has also been bullied and picked on at school by a boy and two girls. The two girls got in trouble and they were suspended for three days after bullying her. Towards the end of the school year, Jess was suspended for 10 days after being accused of slapping a boy in the face and bruising him. She says she didn't do it and that the boy was sitting at a lunch table talking about how he got bruised after his brother hit him in the face with a softball. Every time something happens, there are no teachers or security guards at the school and Jessica gets in trouble. 

ml: As a mother, what have you learned from all of this?

DL: I am still trying to take this all in. I can't believe this is happening. My daughter is an only child -- she was our miracle child, because I had cervical cancer and was told I couldn't have children. Then, on two years to the date of my recovery, I wasn't feeling well and found out I was pregnant. I can't be in the same room with her 24/7 and I am trying to explain to her what's going on. It's been very difficult because I don't understand what's going on -- I don't even know what these videos show and I don't want to view them. I am upset enough. I have been throwing up and I haven't been able to eat or sleep since this all started last week.

ml: What message do you have for other moms?

DL: Communicate with your child, try and watch them and try and believe what your child is saying to you. Give your child the benefit of the doubt, because nobody else will. And talk to your child about cyberbullying and about how bad it's going to hurt another person. They don't know or understand the dwindling-down effect of what they've created.

next: Teens School Jessi Slaughter (and Her Parents!) via YouTube
480 comments so far | Post a comment now
Amanda July 19, 2010, 12:59 PM

Is it me or this mom in the dark??

Anfernee Sunderbaun July 19, 2010, 1:11 PM

Oh for Christ sake. “She says she didn’t so she didn’t, my little girl is an angel!”

Look, what people did to this girl went way over the line, but this mother is a friggin joke.

lolwut July 19, 2010, 1:22 PM

the mom is totally clueless!!

Kristin July 19, 2010, 1:24 PM

As terrible as it is that people are treating her like this, it wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t made those videos. I hope she comes out as close to OK as possible but *NO* 11 year old should EVER be allowed to do what she has been doing, talk like she has been talking or act the way she has been acting. Her father isn’t helping the situation acting like that either.

jessica's mom July 19, 2010, 1:30 PM

uh yeah this is jessica’s mom and i think that your comments are very hurtful. my daughter may be a dumb piece of crap BUT YOU JUST DUN GOOFED BY MAKING FUN OF MY DAUGHTER. CONSEQUENCES WILL NEVER BE THE SAME!!!! I BACK TRACED IT!!!!

jessica's mom July 19, 2010, 1:30 PM

uh yeah this is jessica’s mom and i think that your comments are very hurtful. my daughter may be a dumb piece of crap BUT YOU JUST DUN GOOFED BY MAKING FUN OF MY DAUGHTER. CONSEQUENCES WILL NEVER BE THE SAME!!!! I BACK TRACED IT!!!!

JESSICAS PARENTS July 19, 2010, 1:31 PM


Anonymous July 19, 2010, 1:34 PM

guess her mother didnt see her pictures that she took

chatarri July 19, 2010, 1:38 PM

Why is this child dressed in a low cut blouse showing her developing breasts at 11 years old? What kind of parents allow her to continue. Why not turn the computer off & hold this child?? These parents should never have allowed this child unlimited unrestricted computer access….How stupid.

viktor July 19, 2010, 1:42 PM

i saw naked pictures of your daughter from ebaums im going to send this pics to local authorities, didnt saved them just forward them to child protective services she needs counseling and its for her own safety because there are many pedos ands sickos also bears

Leeds July 19, 2010, 1:43 PM

This is a fine example of a parent who is completely unprepared to raise a child.

Her daughter was suspended from school and the mother believes that it was a set-up.

Her daughter brags online about sleeping with the leader of this band and the mother says that they’re friends and lets her go unsupervised to their concerts.

Her daughter says that she never made any inflammatory videos (in fact she says she never made any) and the mother believes her, despite being the only person in the country not willing to take the 20 seconds to check her facts.

It is sad to see this all happen but it’s a bit over the top for the mother to end this article suggesting that other parents should follow her terrible example.

This mother needs to snap out of it and wake up before something terrible happens simply because of her inattentive, bad parenting.

Queen of the Dream July 19, 2010, 1:44 PM

They should have made their daughter post an apology video and taken away her computer privileges for a year. They are not handling this well at all, and I hope they get some guidance soon!

Erin July 19, 2010, 1:45 PM

Hey mom,

TAKE AWAY HER COMPUTER for a VERY LONG TIME. Problem solved. Not having such an audience should deflate her little ego quite a bit.


You dun goofed July 19, 2010, 1:46 PM

This is so sad. her parents are the reason why she turned out like that. and she’s still in denial! dear god. If it were my mom, she wouldn’t blame anyone else but me.

Anonymous July 19, 2010, 1:46 PM

Her mom really is shockingly clueless. She HAS to watch the videos. It’s her responsibility as a mother. Her daughter is clearly lost and has serious issues. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. Good parenting.

Anonymous July 19, 2010, 1:51 PM

Your a miserable mother.

Wolf July 19, 2010, 2:00 PM

I think this girl can still be saved from ending up in the gutter, but her parents are so deep in denial about their horrible parenting that I do not have much hope.

I really have to cite who gave some solid advice on the issue:

Normally, we find fears about kids on the Internet the product of technophobic hysteria. But this case is a very good argument for why parents should at least be vaguely aware of what their kids are up to on the Internet. Is your 11 year-old girl embroiled in an underage sex scandal with the lead singer of a popular emo band? Is she threatening to shoot people on YouTube videos? Maybe now is the time to invest in good parental control software before she becomes a meme.

cyberpolice July 19, 2010, 2:02 PM

never be the same, the consequences!

You Shouldn't Have A Child July 19, 2010, 2:05 PM

Honestly, how much of a complete fraud of a mother do you have to be in order to witness this happen, the police get involved, the death threats, the “claims” of all these videos being put up, etc etc and you don’t even bother checking ANY of them?

This woman is an absolute disgrace, it’s no wonder her kid is going down the road she is.

Wat July 19, 2010, 2:06 PM

She says “Jessica helps a person write song lyrics. He’s in a band, and people are jealous because she knows him and they became friends. She’s been to one of his concerts and they’ve become friends.”

She may be speaking about Dahvie Vanity from a band called “Blood on the Dance Floor” he was arrested for alleged rape and sexual assault on a young girl.
Vanity has yet to confirm or deny any ties to Jessi Slaughter

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