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The Globe and Mail

‘Eye for eye’ judge asks mother to chop daughter’s hair in courtroom

You walk into a McDonald's with your child for a quick lunch. You know the nutritional value of the food is questionable and the play area is probably crawling with germs. But one thing you don't think you need to worry about during a visit to the Golden Arches is your child's ponytail being chopped off.

That's what happened in Price, Utah, when a 13-year-old girl snipped the hair of an unsuspecting three-year-old girl.

As if that's not bizarre enough, after being charged with assault for her actions, one part of Kaytlen Lopan's punishment was to have her own ponytail chopped off by her mother, in the courtroom.

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A judge told Valerie Bruno that he would reduce her daughter's sentence if she cut the girl's hair in his courtroom. "She definitely needed to be punished but I never dreamt it would be that much of a punishment," she told Deseret News.

Police say Kaytlen along with an 11-year-old befriended the toddler at a McDonald's and then used scissors to snip several inches of her hair. "It was beautiful, it was long, it had natural curl," said Mindy Moss, the victim's mother, adding that now her daughter's hair only reaches her jawline.

Judge Scott Johansen ordered Kaytlen to serve 30 days in detention, pay restitution to her victim, and perform 276 hours of community service. Then he made Ms. Bruno the unique offer. "I'll go get a pair of scissors and we'll whack that ponytail right off," said Judge Johansen, according to a KSL News report.

(As it turns out, this wasn't Kaytlen's first brush with the law. She was also charged in a separate case where she was accused of making harassing phone calls to another teen, including threats of rape and mutilation, according to KSL News.)

As Ms. Bruno began cutting her daughter's hair, the judge asked Ms. Moss whether she thought it was short enough. "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." Ms. Bruno eventually chopped Kaytlen's ponytail up to the elastic.

KSL News reports that Judge Johansen also ordered the other girl involved to have her hair cut, but allowed it to be done at a salon. Ms. Moss is satisifed with the punishment, telling the station, "Why shouldn't she get her hair cut? The other little girl had to get her hair cut. It fits the crime."

But now that Kaytlen's mother has had time to mull over the situation, she is angry and has filed a formal complaint against the judge. "I guess I should have went into the courtroom knowing my rights, because I felt very intimidated," she told KSL. "An eye for an eye, that's not how you teach kids right from wrong."

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Do you agree with the judge's punishment? As a parent, would you chop off your child's ponytail to teach her a lesson?

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