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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
Moot July 19, 2010, 9:06 PM

A moral safety-valve popped…
This issue needed to be dealt with, and the anons took matters into their own hands to Wake The Parent Up.

This should be a wake-up call for all moms to really take a hard look at their child(ren) and see if they are headed in the wrong direction as jessi is(was?)

A decision had to be made…..

Patsy Stone July 19, 2010, 9:21 PM

I think she’s tremendous.

Alexandria July 19, 2010, 9:24 PM

wow this lady needs to wake up. seriously. her daughter did it, it’s not fake ,its everywhere there’s no denying it. she is seriously braindead and should never have her child returned to her if she’s made child porn, which is also everywhere in her own home. she makes women and mothers everywhere look bad.

Anonymous July 19, 2010, 9:27 PM

Trust me “Dody”, I work for law enforcement, and I know everything on this case.

You are blatantly lying to prolong the suffering of a child, and slander the parents of a child.

I urgently ask you to cease such slander, or face legal consequences.

Do not think that using one or two proxies or someone else’s wifi will cover up your crime.



Alexandria July 19, 2010, 9:29 PM

also, who in the hell lets an eleven year old girl talk to a grown 28 year old man and says they’re friends? what could they possibly have in common? that aside her perfect sweet abused little angel brag about having sex with this guy, who by the way has priors for rape. wtf is wrong with people nowadays? someone please take her child away.

Motherisamoron July 19, 2010, 9:39 PM

Okay, so going into this whole situation I was completely against /b/ and their antics. I’m still no fan of the place, but this mother(and the father) deserve every second of this for being horrible parents.

You can’t be in the room 24/7? DON’T BUY YOUR 11 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER A WEBCAM. Moron. I don’t care if all her friends have one, she’s 11. How can you expect her to not give into peer pressure when YOU do by giving her things that she isn’t old enough to handle?

And WTF is this **** about “oh I can’t watch the videos?” Clearly you can’t watch them because you don’t want to face the facts that you failed your miracle angel baby by letting her do whatever she wants.

And no, her slapping some stupid kid at school has nothing to do with this at all. It happened because your 11 year old daughter posted an obnoxious, profanity filled video and then proceeded to post all over a message board that is filled with gore and sometimes even child porn. And all of THAT happened because you “give your child the benefit of the doubt”. 11 year olds haven’t earned that right. Try actually raising your child while they’re still a CHILD, and give them the benefit of the doubt when they’re an ADULT.

This mother is a complete and utter failure as a parent. She is totally uneducated about the internet and her daughter’s behavior, and even after this huge mess occurs she STILL refuses to even understand how and why it happened. Yes, the bullies deserve a lot of blame, but this horrible mother and her husband deserve the high majority of it.

Woof July 19, 2010, 9:45 PM

Despite all the sources, the mother still does not believe that her daughter made any videos. She said she wanted to “find out what’s real and what’s not” however she also said she didn’t want to check the internet to see the videos. More like she wants to just say BS to protect her child while being completely ignorant.

It also just amuses me when she starts freaking out “OMG MY CHILD HAS NO TV!” Tell her to smarten up, get a better vocabulary, and stop staring at the TV so she won’t get brainwashed so easily.

According to Darwin ideology, she shouldn’t have had a child.

lolwat July 19, 2010, 9:48 PM

This woman sounds like she’s got a slushie for a brain

Posting Again July 19, 2010, 10:00 PM

Motherisamoron put it best. Are the bullies in this in the right, or justified in any way? No, they went way farther than they should have. HOWEVER.

If you give your 11 year old daughter a webcam in her room, we can stop right there. That’s as far as you need to read into this to understand her parents don’t understand the world they’re supposed to be guiding this kid through.

Anonymous July 19, 2010, 10:05 PM

omg how does her mom not see that she did it to her self… byt yet she is a lil angel and ppl are the bad ones…. if i did this at a 11 years old i would still be in trouble and i am 23 now…..

anonymous July 19, 2010, 10:06 PM

She’s like the Balloon Boy of the internet.

Average Joe July 19, 2010, 10:10 PM

Wow. The mom is completely clueless about her daughter’s actions online. She refuses to even look at the videos, as well as acknowledge them. It’s clear that she loves her daughter and doesn’t want her daughter to experience the real world at such a young age (all of this, she brought on herself), but that is just ridiculous. She must be into that new aged child rearing thing. She believes every word her daughter says, and then is befuddled when hearing about videos she had no idea her daughter was submitting. Her mother needs to take her daughters computer and open every folder, check her history, her emails, every website she is on, and really see what kind of an angel she has. It’s mother like this that make me proud of the parents I have. If I wasn’t monitored and taught right from wrong, I don’t know what I’d be like today.

Anonymous July 19, 2010, 10:20 PM


To the admins, is it possible to manually approve comments? It’s gettin’ just a liiiittle out of hand when some troll starts posting as “the FBI”.

Carol July 19, 2010, 10:23 PM

If my mother-in-law said she received a picture of MY daughter (her granddaugther)I would believe that it is her and my daughter she says it’s not.
The second the polcie leaves my house the first tiome. I would march my a$$ into my daughter’s room and ripp out the computer and webcam. At least then the daughter has no way of seeing the “haters” posted or post more profanity laced videos.
And seriously, Momm where did your “miracle angel” get the idea that she is prettier than evreyone else and perfect?

Anon July 19, 2010, 10:27 PM

dear parents of this idiotic camwhore,
check out her youtube account sometime, read what your daughter put in her about me sections and such.. this is the link to said page.

Anonymous July 19, 2010, 10:29 PM

Either she has a very bad memory or is a liar(I wonder which it really is…). When talking about the “officer” that called her she says that “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.”

Ladies and Gentlemen the man that made that phone call recorded and posted it on youtube and it tells a very differnt story. He dosent hang up, she does! Look it up for yourself.

Mike July 19, 2010, 10:33 PM

I have been online since 300 baud modems, before the WWW when then internet was a unix shell account, I thought I had seen it all. Apparently not, It seems humanity just gets worse… If we all think back to being 11 or know someone who is 11, we all at some point were little arrogant snots, but that is NO excuse to post her name, address, and phone number, and death threats, the parodys are not helping matters at all. SHE IS 11.
Yes, the mother is clueless, I know you can’t be with your child 24/7, but having a webcam and computer in your 11 year old daughters room was the first mistake… You place it in the family room where you can look in on it, you set hours for her to use it.. I am 39, I don’t have kids, but if I did, I would NEVER give them a private computer and webcam, nor would I let them use it unsupervised..
I hope the girl turns out OK, I really feel bad for her and the family.

MiHi July 19, 2010, 10:45 PM

Oh, render unto me a freaking break! Mom claims that “she can’t watch her kid 24/7” (she sure says that a lot in the interview. I guess she’s said it as an excuse thousands of times over the years) and that the people trolling her snowflake are “jealous”.

I can see with epic denials like this from everyone in that family, that they will learn NOTHING from this experience.

Hell, I bet they’re already prostituting themselves to every talk show producer they can find so they can whine about “poor innocent, perfect little me”.

mo July 19, 2010, 11:06 PM

The lesson she should’ve taken away from this is that children shouldn’t be online unsupervised. She doesn’t want to view the videos because she doesn’t really want to know what the kid’s doing—she might have to actual do some parenting then.

Kids don’t raise themselves…

New Parent July 19, 2010, 11:14 PM

Unfortunately, incidents such as this are just fuel on the fire for those pushing to censor and filter the internet, when really the problem lies with in the atrophy of social and moral standards at home and in society as a whole. It scares me thinking that I’ve just brought a new life into a world where people who think and act for themselves and are willing to accept responsibility for those actions are becoming a rare breed. I only hope that I can instill some sense of moral ethics and responsibility in my new baby.

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