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article imageGirl offered lighter sentence if mom chops off hair in court

By Yukio Strachan     Jun 24, 2012 in Crime
Price - A judge told the mother of a 13-year-old girl who cut the hair of a 3-year-old girl at McDonald’s that he would reduce her daughter's sentence if she did to her daughter what was done to the little girl: cut off her hair.
"She definitely needed to be punished for what had happened," Valerie Bruno, the 13-year-old's mother, told the Deseret News. "But I never dreamt it would be that much of a punishment."
In March, Kaytlen Lopan, 13, and an 11-year-old friend were at McDonald’s in Price, Utah, when they met a 3-year-old little girl.
According to the police report, MSNBC writes, they befriended the girl and gained her trust. Having done so, the two made a plan to cut off the young girl’s hair.
Not having any scissors on them, they asked the employees at McDonald’s if they could use their scissors, but they said no.
But hope was not lost, across the street was a dollar store. So the girls walked across the street and bought a pair. When they returned, they took turns cutting several inches of hair from the back of the 3-year-old’s head, Fox reports.
"It was beautiful, it was long, it had natural curl, and now it's cut up to here," said the victim's mother, Mindy Moss, gesturing to her jawline.
Meeting Juvenile Judge Scott Johansen
Lopan was charged with assault, and taken to court. She was also charged in a separate case where she made months of harassing phone calls to another teen, threatening her with rape and mutilation, according to the Huffington Post.
At a May 28 hearing, 7th District Juvenile Judge Scott Johansen called the girl's behavior "egregious." He ordered Lopan to serve 30 days in detention, pay restitution to her victims, and serve 276 hours of community service.
According to KSL, in Utah, judges can exercise flexibility as to how they sentence youth in juvenile court.
"The Utah Code states that juvenile court should use sanctions that will 'promote guidance and control' and prevent 'future unlawful conduct' and develop 'responsible citizenship,'" a statement from the court read. "Judges are given discretion in coming up with sanctions for youth that will change their behavior in a positive way."
Eye for an Eye
The judge did just that. As reported by KSL news, the following dialogue ensued:
"If she was my daughter," the judge said. "I wouldn't want her with the (youth) work crew."
"I know, I thought of that," Bruno said.
"I'm going to give you this option: I will cut that by 150 hours if you want to cut her hair right now," Johansen said.
"Me, cut her hair?" Bruno asked.
"Right now," the judge said. "I'll go get a pair of scissors and we'll whack that ponytail off."
The judge even involved Moss, the victim's mother.
"Satisfied? Is it short enough?" Johansen asked Moss, after Bruno made the initial cut.
"No," she replied. "My daughter's hair that had never been cut, that was down to (the middle of her back), was cut up to here."
That was good enough for the judge, so he proceeded to the next step.
"Take it off clear up to the rubberband," the judge told Bruno, who protested that the scissors he'd given her weren't up to the task.
"Take a little bit at a time," Johansen said.
KSL said Johansen also had ordered the other girl involved to have her hair cut, but allowed it to be done by a salon.
Second thoughts
Having had time to think things over, Bruno is angry. She wishes that she hadn't taken Johansen up on his offer of a reduced sentence for her daughter, and that she'd consulted an attorney before taking her daughter into his courtroom.
She has filed an official complaint against the judge.
"I guess I should have went into the courtroom knowing my rights, because I felt very intimidated," she said. "An eye for an eye, that's not how you teach kids right from wrong."
Moss told the KSL she was "happy" with the sanction.
"Why shouldn't she get her hair cut?" she said. "The other little girl had to get her hair cut. It fits the crime."
Was this punishment appropriate? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!
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