A woman from Sebring, Florida, located in Highlands County, Chartelle Geanette St. Laurent, 34, has been accused by the police of committing an act of cruelty to a child when she let a snake bite a one-year-old toddler and then posted the video on Facebook. On Tuesday, the sheriff’s office in Highlands County released the video and also commented on it, providing details as to what the footage depicts.
FOX News reported that officials from the sheriff’s office in Highlands County said St. Laurent told them she let the snake bit the toddler “as a lesson.” Investigators said that the Florida woman could be charged with committing a felony.
The video shows St. Laurent, at her home in Sebring, presenting a Tupperware container to an unidentified one-year-old girl. The young girl reaches towards the container, and a 14-inch-long red rat snake inside it strikes at her. NBC affiliate, WCNC, reported that the snake bit the toddler’s right thumb.
According to ABC News, the toddler is St. Laurent’s daughter, and that red rat snakes are also known as red cornsnakes. The non-venomous snakes can grow to a length of up to six feet long.
The video then shows the toddler start to cry. A female’s voice can be heard in the background, laughing. Detectives with the sheriff’s office have identified the person laughing as St. Laurent.
The charging affidavit released to the press by the sheriff’s office in Highlands County, Florida, mentioned that St. Laurent admitted to the detectives who came to her Sebring, Florida house that she let the rat snake bite the young girl “to teach her a lesson.” She gave the detectives the explanation that as she had grown up with a father, she had been exposed to several interactions with snakes and other reptiles.
The detectives’ report on the incident said she told them she found a non-poisonous red rat snake on her 9-acre property “to expose [the girl] to.” St. Laurent considered the experience to be an educational opportunity for the toddler, and told the detectives she had let the red rat snake bite her, first, to make sure the girl would not be physically injured in the encounter.
On Monday, St. Laurent was interviewed by ABC’s Tampa affiliate WFTS, and said that she had allowed the snake to bite her infant daughter only because she had let it bite both her and her son multiple times and “it didn’t leave a mark.” She stated she believed the snake was, as she put it, “harmless.”
Continuing, St. Laurent said that the snake’s teeth were “too small to actually puncture the skin.” She called some people “too sensitive” and added people who knew her, knew she would never intentionally hurt her children.
According to WFTS, the video that St. Laurent had posted on Facebook showing her young daughter’s first encounter with a snake has been removed. The entire incident is under investigation by the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office.
The report written by the detectives noted they did not detect any “marks or injury” to the young girl that were caused by the snake. Continuing, the report stated that St. Laurent told them “the interaction” she had arranged between the one-year-old girl and the red rat snake had “the desired effect” she wanted to happen from the encounter, that even though the snake soon became more docile, the toddler “no longer wished to touch it.”
The report written by the detectives then mentioned that St. Laurent told them when she laughed in the video, it was just because she was “surprised” at the reaction of the child to the snake. Chartelle Geanette St. Laurent, 34, has been accused of committing an act of cruelty to a child, when she allowed a red rat snake bite her one-year-old daughter. St. Laurent’s infant daughter was not apparently physically harmed by the snake’s bite, but the State Attorney’s Office has been sent the charging affidavit. It will be up to the State Attorney’s Office to decide if any charges will be filed.
By John Samuels