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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
Rooster July 20, 2010, 5:06 PM

THUS IS THE POWER OF ANONYMOUS!

Let all who read this recognize our superiority in matters both earthly and immaterial. Jessi Slaughter is an enemy of Anonymous. All that has occurred over these past weeks has been by the will of Anonymous.

Jessi Slaughter should be grateful. She has been immortalized through the internet. She will become as notorious as ‘2 Girls, 1 Cup’. This is the fate of those who cross Anonymous.

I am but a servant of Anonymous. Anonymous is Legion, Anonymous does not Forgive, Anonymous does not Forget. Pray that Jessi Slaughter is the last of their great exploits.

Alisha July 20, 2010, 5:19 PM

This is the kind of thing that makes my blood boil. Everyone here is right, the mother is completely clueless. That has to be one of the sorriest excuses for parenting I have ever seen.

IT IS SICKENING. My little sister is 10 and she would never behave that way. And if she did, my mother would not stand for it. Does her mother realize that her daughter has created a pedophile’s dream? Because she has completely disregarded the fact that something worse than pranks and nasty comments can happen. Being cyberbullied is nothing compared to what could come of this. How IGNORANT can you be as a mother?? But shes all like *la di da… If I ignore it, it will go away*

My only hope is child protective services come in and get that girl out of their care. These are sad, sorry, disgusting excuses for parents.

Gurrrl July 20, 2010, 7:43 PM

So, about three years ago I was 11 years old. I played Toontown in a computer that was in the kitchen, I didn’t know what any of the phrases she’s used in her video meant, and I wore clothes from Justice and the Gap. Last year, another new class of sixth graders came into my school and many of them were more experienced than my 8th grade class. They dressed like sluts, cursed like sailors, and many of them talked about making out with people. It scares me to think about having my own kids when I grow up because I don’t want them to be associated with the likes of Jessi. I agree with the people who say she needs to get taken from her parents, but at this point, it’s probably too late for her to grow up to be a normal, healthy, respectable woman. It’s sad.

Shorty July 20, 2010, 7:47 PM

Her parents are a joke. I seriously hope that DCFS steps in and takes her away. She needs some real parental supervision and discipline that her parents obviously aren’t able to give her. You can tell her mom’s just in denial. I mean, to blindly believe your kid when they say they didn’t make a video when you can know for sure just by taking a few seconds online is ridiculous. If she were my daughter, I’d take her computer and burn it and she wouldn’t leave the house except for school for at least a year. If her parents won’t set boundaries for her, I can imagine how she’ll turn out in the future.

stirfry July 20, 2010, 7:55 PM

Jessi has set up a chat page @ http://xat.com/NeonRainbowCupcakes?p=0

Her parents have taken away her webcam but have let her back on the computer unsupervised.

pyramid July 20, 2010, 8:15 PM

Are you kidding me? You haven’t watched the videos your daughter OBVIOUSLY DID MAKE yet?

Are you that stupid or are you in some kind of ridiculous denial?

maybe you should verify what your daughter is saying is true before you believe her. Maybe she wouldn’t be in child protective services now.

Emily July 20, 2010, 8:25 PM

When I was 11 I liked to climb trees.

compassionate mom July 20, 2010, 8:29 PM

Such a young girl in such a big mess! She may be too young for the kind of freedom she has been given. Maybe the computer should be moved to the family room.

concernedmom July 20, 2010, 8:35 PM

I can’t watch my son 24/7 either. That is why his computer is in a common area of the house and he does not have a web cam. He isn’t suffering because of it, and can explain to his friends why he doesn’t have one because he has been taught that things like what happened with Jessi actually happen. He can have a webcam and a cell phone when he’s 18,and he’s good with that (and no, he isn’t a loner with no friends). Parents need to be smart enough to say no and give a good reason for saying it instead of acting like sheep. It is not being over-protective - it is using your brain. It seems like so many parents today let the computer act as a baby-sitter because they’re too lazy to be parents.

/b/ July 20, 2010, 8:49 PM

Like mother like daughter… sick in the head. Hey, I think I just backtraced it! Lulz

TheFuzz July 20, 2010, 9:09 PM

The videos have have already been viral and she STILL denies making them. Yep, she ‘s getting what she deserves. The band name they talk about is “Blood on the Dance Floor” another hopeless band.

It’s the internet, it’s as bad as the outside world if you don’t handle it right. She made a video actually threatening people.

Welcome to the internet Jessi Slaughter, how we may screw up your life today?

Marie July 20, 2010, 9:10 PM

if you don’t have the time to explain to your daughter what’s right and what’s wrong, than you shouldn’t be a parent.

Cyber Police July 20, 2010, 9:10 PM

Don’t worry mom. We here at the Cyber Police Station are on the case of the terrible parenting

shabadooo July 20, 2010, 9:11 PM

you know where this jessi would fit perfectly on the muary show when they have out of control teens that have sex with like bunch of guys but then again she does not seem like the person who would admit it proudly if her parents are around ( if she was posting on youtube or twitter if her account was stil around would be loud and proud about)

but sirously she needs to take a lie detector test

Alex July 20, 2010, 9:15 PM

This little girl is a future dangerous offender. She is sick, evil and clearly suffers from some kind of personality disorder (I’d bet multiple personalities…)

That time in protective custody was probably the very best day of her life - it was structured and that is what she needs most. No TV? Really? Awww! I haven’t had cable for years and I’m better for it.

This girl needs a swift kick in the arse and to be put into therapy sessions with a side of heavy meds. The mom too.

Hey lady, your level of denial almost surpasses that of your daughter’s. Man up, watch the videos and hold your child accountable for all the nasty, hateful behaviour she has shown the world. Parent. Your. Child!

Dazey July 20, 2010, 9:21 PM

I feel so sorry for that little girl. Kids act out like that for attention. Maybe if her mom paid more attention to her she wouldn’t be acting like that. “I can’t be with her every minute”?? Is that going to be her excuse when some sicko ends up with pictures of her…or worse.
we set up the kid’s computers in common spaces when they were little. Sure it got noisy sometimes, even annoyingly so, but better too much noise now than regretful silence later…

Anon July 20, 2010, 9:57 PM

Your daughter took at least 1 picture i know of with her hand covering her breast. and you havent even watched the videos? what the hell are you thinking. you daughter said she would “pop a glock in your mouth and make a brain slushy” how does it make you feel knowing you your an idoit and the same as you daughter. she should be take from you and you should never be aloud to have kids again. oh wait the whole cervical cancer thing… i want to come to your house with my laptop and show you the pictures and the videos. the maybe you will see what your daughter has done. its not random. its her fault. she is lying to you and the police. i would have my room stripped clean of everything in it if i did what she did. and im 21.

Andrew July 20, 2010, 10:25 PM

She’s in the dark—no—she’s in denial! She has no idea what kind of trouble her daughter has gotten herself in. When someone is getting trolled like Jessica did, you have to let it go and ignore them, they’ll eventually go away. Yelling at them, like what Jessica’s dad did, is putting fuel on the fire and it’s just going to make things much worse.

As warning to the parents on this site. Watch what your kids are doing on line. The Internet will eat people alive if they provoke it enough like Jessica has done. On the Internet your identity must be protected at all costs. DO NOT USE YOUR REAL NAME, do not post personal information like your address, or birth date. Protect your identity like you protect your social security number.

Anonymous July 20, 2010, 10:35 PM

I understand how a mother can be “too” upset, but a mother who is upset still has the responsibility to do what mothers are suppose to do. I also agree with other people about how she has to watch the videos. If she does not even know whats happening, how can she change anything? Learn from your mistakes and move on.

Anonymous July 20, 2010, 10:43 PM

From what I can tell from the situation, her advice to other mothers to “try and believe what your child is saying to you.” is a joke, since she’s been lied to about her daughters acts. She seems to hardly be a “good little girl.”
Here’s a tip for parents: Don’t be clueless. know what kind of person your child is, and not the face they put on when around you. And yes, they DO put on a new personality when you’re involved.


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