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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
lolwht July 21, 2010, 5:45 AM

[comment removed by the cyberpolice]

I HAVE THE PERFECT BOYFRIEND AND YOUR JELEOUS CAUSE I HAVE 3 July 21, 2010, 5:52 AM

OMG.. THIS CHICK BROOO, SHES OBVIOUSLY OFF HER HEAD !! dude, she talks like some 23 year old prostitute.. Her mum has no idea, “i dont’ want to watch the videos” yeah buddy, yu might not want to, but you kinda have to, shes your daughter you mofo

pedrobear July 21, 2010, 6:00 AM

that mum has no idea whatsoever

her daughter made videos in very revealing outfits and event sent nudes on requests

WHY DON’T YOU EVEN BOTHER CHECKING HER COMPUTER????

Seargent squiggles July 21, 2010, 7:33 AM

the fake police call can be found here

and also if you didnt already know read te=he first paragraph of how the conversation “went down” then listen

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWHfw3Nlky4

Anonymous July 21, 2010, 7:48 AM

I can’t believe this mom is even given any attention by the media. She’s just one of those parents who think their little kids are fully grown adults and who are always perfect, always right, never make mistakes….

Not to mention the dad who behaves like an 8 year-old.

Take care of your child lady and get off my Internet!

Lulz July 21, 2010, 7:52 AM

I hope the pizzas were just plain cheese pizzas. Anything more would be a waste.

0xi July 21, 2010, 8:48 AM

HEY #gF$V U MAD?

watergrrl July 21, 2010, 9:06 AM

Mom says she understands that her child posted videos but “can’t” look at them. She whines that she can’t be in the same room 24/7. I call BS.

I have a 16 year old. No I’m not in the room 24/7, but I do keep an eye on her internet activities. Her computer desk is in the family room.

She knows I have educated myself on computers and can find out things if she tries to hide them.

Webcam? For an 11 year old child? He** NO! You have given in to her every whim, because you feel she is your “miracle child”.

Be a parent! Remove the computer. At least for a time, only allow access for school work. Make her earn the privilege. Quit making excuses for her and yourselves as parents.

sherri July 21, 2010, 9:38 AM

If you don’t understand how to operate and monitor a computer, your child shouldn’t be on one. If you can’t be there 24/7 there should be no computer especially with a webcam. I have seen the videos and for one I would be shocked if this were my daughter.
She isn’t the first nor will she be the last of the ” camwhores” out there looking for ANY attention from anyone.

Dianne Lied July 21, 2010, 9:55 AM

Here’s the prank phone call:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWHfw3Nlky4&feature=player_embedded

She’s probably embarrassed that she was fooled so easily.

Lisa July 21, 2010, 10:22 AM

This is why we need government control over the internet. Sites like 4chan and such should not be allowed and people that go to those sites and post things should be arrested and have their computers taken away.

This is an 11 year old girl. The pedophiles at 4chan (YES, that is what they are) are trying to get her to kill herself.

We need government control over the internet NOW to prevent the bullies from being able to continue to run around breaking the law.

Snow July 21, 2010, 2:27 PM

Okay, really… This mother is CLUELESS.

I have 3 younger step sisters. My mom found out that they were using the house computer to send dirty pictures of themselves, and writing out adult role-play sessions on IMs (I suspected this at one point, so I turned on IM logging).

My mother took the power cord of the computer they were using so it couldn’t be used without them asking.

I password locked mine so they couldn’t get on it while I was at work.

Guess what? It worked. No more dirty IM logs or naughty scanned images, they were banned from the computer the rest of the time they lived there, and that eventually escalated to banned from using the home internet when the oldest one got a job and bought her own computer.

Perhaps this girl’s mother should open her eyes and try the same with her daughter.

FluffyInDrag July 21, 2010, 3:39 PM

Okay, to start with…
In order to comply with COPPA (all you moms know about COPPA, don’t you? I’d suggest you google it.) users of any website that requires personal information for registering, including Youtube, Facebook, and MySpace MUST be over the age of 13. Jessica is not and is therefore unlawfully accessing these websites. Additionally, she not only included personal information but she also allowed free access to it, including adding as friends on Facebook users with names like “I P Freely” and “Pedobear”. The internet can NOT be blamed for her stupidity.

Additionally, it is a very simple thing to set up parental controls on a computer to block access to particular websites and limit usage of internet. Another possibility could be moving her computer into a family room so she can be monitored while using it.

Just one last comment… her mother and father should be VERY glad that their daughter is hopefully learning her lesson on the internet rather than in real life. As much as users of particular sites are willing to harass, it’s highly unlikely that they will do anything more than that. Had their lovely daughter dared to say such things as were in that video in public she would have been in much more danger than a bit of namecalling and harassing calls.

I hope this serves as a lesson to you ALL… children are morons and parents who don’t keep an eye on their children are even more stupid.

Bystander July 21, 2010, 3:57 PM

the first paragraph is a complete lie, unless it’s a different phone call. The prankcall’s video has been posted online, and after watching it you see that not only did SHE hang up, she also never asked for him to send a unit to the house.

anonymous July 21, 2010, 4:34 PM

she dun goof’d

Tyciol July 21, 2010, 4:37 PM

I hope they leave this girl alone, she seems upset.

Lightforce July 21, 2010, 5:04 PM

Is it true that there will be a report of Jessica Leonharted on Good Morning America? I heard somewhere it was.
~Lightforce :3

Anonymous July 21, 2010, 5:14 PM

@ Lisa July 21, 2010, 10:22 AM

So you want the Gov. to babysit so parents can be irresponsible?

People like you make me Sick !!!
You have NO idea what your spouting !!!
If you want to go live in a little white government sanctioned box of life, go ahead…but don’t try and drag FREEDOM loving people along into your pathetic excuse for a sterilized life.

Im tired of people NOT taking responsibility for their life and actions and want Big Brother to do it all for them.

THIS is whats sick in this world…
Your as bad as Jessis mom….possibly WORSE !

LESS Government Not Moar !!!

Anonymous July 21, 2010, 5:47 PM

best parenting method: bury your head in the sand and pretend your daughter is perfect.

iamdisapoint July 21, 2010, 5:48 PM

when I was 11…I was reading books…playing outside

NOT HANGING AROUND 25 YEAR OLD MEN WHO ARE SUSPECTED OF STATUARY RAPE

I am just saying


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