State Attorney's Office: No charges for woman who let snake bite toddler

The woman allowed a snake to bite an infant, but she won't face charges.

Update as of June 20, 2017:   A woman seen on video letting a snake bite a toddler won't face charges.  That's according to the state attorney general's office following an investigation by the Highlands County Sheriff's Office.  

The State Attorney's Office was not able “To prove the crime of child abuse beyond a reasonable doubt, the state must prove that the defendant intentionally inflicted physical or mental injury upon a child, or did an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to cause physical or mental injury to a child," according to a case filing evaluation from the State Attorney.

Sheriff Paul Blackman said, “Our Special Victims Unit interviewed snake expert Greg Graziani, who also has over 20 years of law enforcement experience, about the video. Graziani said he had shared the video with a colleague from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and while both felt that the treatment of the snake and the child were not wise, they did not see any criminal actions. We also attempted to find someone to do a mental evaluation of the child, but were not successful."

Going forward, the sheriff encourages parents to learn from the case and to think about teaching methods before performing them.

Original story: A woman has been accused of cruelty toward a child after she put a snake in front of a 1-year-old girl and let it bite the child, Highlands County sheriff's deputies said.

According to a charging affidavit, Chartelle Geanette St. Laurent, 34, said she grew up catching and interacting with snakes and other reptiles as she was growing up. She said she had seen poisonous snakes on her property before, so she decided to expose the child to a snake.

She caught a 14-inch, non-venomous red rat snake in a Tupperware container and put it in front of the child.

A video shows St. Laurent holding the snake in front of the child, who reached for it. The snake bit the child on the right thumb, and St. Laurent can be heard laughing while the child is crying.

When questioned about her laughter, St. Laurent said she was just surprised that the snake had bitten her, the affidavit said.

The child was not injured by the bite.

St. Laurent said she had allowed the snake to bite her first to make sure the snake would not injure the child.

The affidavit will be forwarded to the State Attorney's Office, who will decide whether charges will be filed.

 

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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