Courtroom Drama: Judge Orders Mom To Chop Off Daughter’s Hair In Bizarre Ruling

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teen punishmentPicture this: a 13-year-old girl named Kaytlen Lopan was playing in one of those McDonald’s play spaces in Utah along with an 11-year-old friend. They ended up chatting with a little 3-year-old, who had long blonde hair down to the middle of her back. For some reason, Kaytlen and her buddy thought it would be a good idea to cut the girl’s hair, so she asked a server if they could borrow a pair of scissors. When the server refused, the pair headed to a nearby dollar store to buy a pair. Then they returned to McDonald’s and proceeded to chop of the little girl’s hair.

Well, you can just imagine the drama that ensued! The 3-year-old’s mother was rightfully pissed. So much so that she charged Kaytlen with assault and took her to court. It was here that Judge Scott Johansen decided on an eye-for-an-eye of punishment rarely seen in court these days. He told Kaytlen’s mother, Valerie Bruno, that he’d reduce her daughter’s sentence if she cut off the teen’s own ponytail right there before him. (The choice was to chop her hair or have the teen spend an extra 150 hours in detention.)

Bruno opted for the haircut. She pretty much chopped her daughter’s ponytail off, at which point the judge asked the 3-year-old’s mother, Mindy Moss, if it was short enough for her liking. When Moss responded no, the judge ordered Bruno to keep cutting. No Bruno is angry, and she’s filed an official complaint against the judge. Oy, the drama!

Obviously I feel for the little girl. She was taken advantage of and I’m sure the whole thing was traumatizing for her. Of course, like many moms out there, I picture my own little 3-year-old befriending the older kids everywhere he goes, and I’d also freak out if any one of them threatened him or tried to hurt him in any way.

That said, I also think that Kaytlen has some major issues, and I doubt this bizarre punishment will teach her a thing. In fact, the ruling seems like more of an exercise in public shaming than anything else, really. Kaytlen has reportedly been charged in another case involving eight months of phone calls she made to a Colorado teen that included threats of rape and mutilation. This is serious stuff, to say the least, and it shows that Kaytlen is clearly troubled. It sounds like she needs some serious help, which is why this whole courtroom incident saddens me.

By no means am I defending Kaytlen’s actions – I think she deserves to be punished for what she did to that little girl – but it’s sad that she’s not getting the help she so clearly needs.

(Photo: c12/Shutterstock)


  1. Eileen

    June 25, 2012 at 10:38 am

    This is the stupidest thing I’ve heard today.

    What I want to know is how the little girl felt. The mom was upset? The judge asked the mom if Kaytlen’s hair was short enough? I’m sorry, but this is hair, not a body part that won’t grow back exactly the same. The only person whose opinion matters with regards to her own hair is the little girl, not her mother.

    • Andrea

      June 25, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      While it may not be “assault” I’m pretty sure that I’d be pretty pissed if some tween decided to cuff my toddler’s hair. And I wouldn’t want an eye for an eye, I’d want her to learn her lesson and probably would have opted for the detention.

      At any rate it is obvious that this tween has serious issues that need to be looked at, starting with her home life. For instance, why was a 13 year old alone at a play area in McDonald’s? How was she able to walk to the store and purchase sisscors? Where was her mother/father???

    • Eileen

      June 25, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      Oh, yeah, no doubt about it she has issues. And she certainly shouldn’t have cut someone else’s hair. But the mother isn’t the injured party here; the 3-year-old is. (Shorter hair on a toddler doesn’t create a hardship for mom the way having an actually injured child would)

    • Andrea

      June 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      I would argue that having shorter hair for a 13 year old isn’t as bad as 150 of detention.

    • whiteroses

      June 26, 2012 at 4:05 am

      At the same time, Eileen, the little girl in question is three years old, and this girl was a complete stranger to her. As a parent, your job is to protect your children- and a three year old is hardly able to stand up for themselves.

      Somehow, this 13 year old got it into her head that it was an excellent idea to chop off a kid’s hair- a kid who was completely unknown to her. And I, personally, don’t think that the judge was too far off the mark. To those who keep saying “its just hair”- maybe it is. But the pathology behind it is pretty damned disturbing. Thank God it was ONLY a haircut- because God knows what she could have done with those scissors instead.

      Kudos to the judge, who came up with a pretty creative punishment. But I can’t help but wonder if we’ll be hearing about this girl in 10 or so years and learn that she’s been arrested for serial killing.

    • Emdane

      June 26, 2012 at 4:15 pm

      Of course the 3 yo’s mother was the one who pressed the charges and spoke for her daughter, whether or not that mother was “injured”. A three year old is not competent to file a statement of charges under oath and likely would not be competent to testify on her own behalf.

      To many three year olds, it would not have been just about the hair. It was an unwanted assertion of control over the three year old’s body by a larger stranger. While some might think that is blowing things out of proportion, to a three year old, I would think this would be pretty traumatic. Older unknown girls cut her hair without her permission and, presumably, against the child’s wishes. Its not whether the hair grows back, it is the actual event that is the problem.

      I think the punishment was appropriate and I have no problem with the choice given to the mother. Perhaps it was shaming, but she should be ashamed of her behavior. Will she learn something from having her own hair cut? Maybe, maybe not. It wasn’t the sole punishment and hopefully while she is serving the rest of her detention she will also get some counseling.

  2. ipsedixit

    June 25, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Aren’t all punishments handed out by the courts somewhat of a public shaming?

    Since the judge gave her options, I don’t see the problem. In fact, I’d say he’s pretty lenient in giving her any options at all; most people aren’t so lucky. Kaytlen could’ve chosen to do the full sentence rather than “eye for an eye.” She decided to reduce the sentence by cutting her hair.

    This case is only about assault. I’m assuming that once the other case goes before a judge, they’ll be able to see there is a pattern and have an idea of just what kind of help Kaytlen needs.

    • Frances

      June 25, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      Oops, I just saw the part where you DID mention the harrassment. Sorry! For some reason whenever I read this on my iphone half of the story is cut out or I have to reload two or three times to see it. Damn technology, lol.

  3. Frances

    June 25, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    That kid is a sociopath and should be punished severely. This punishment will teach her nothing.

    She methodically planned and executed an assault on a baby. If she had done something to an animal people who liken her to a serial killer in the making, I don’t understand why no one is making the connection here.

    What you didn’t mention is that this same kid also threatened to rape and mutilate another child a couple months beforehand and she has years of disipline problems as well. If she was a little boy she would have been dealt with much more harshly in both this harassment care and the pony tail incident.

  4. Kelly

    June 25, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Yes, that 13 year old and her 11 year old accomplice definitely have problems. So noted.

    But where were the parents of the 3 year old while this was going on? How on earth did it even get this far? When I take my kids to the McD playland, I’m also watching them.

    • NotThumper

      June 25, 2012 at 6:14 pm

      I also wondered what a 13 and an 11 year old were doing in the play place…aren’t they a little too old/big??

    • Another Steph

      June 26, 2012 at 2:16 am

      I can see how it would happen. Mother looks out, sees her toddle playing with some older girls, nothing too nefarious there. The girls asking for scissors happened ‘off scene’, so it would be easy to miss, and then the actual action of cutting the hair would have happened so quickly that the mother could have missed it, or even if she’d seen it, could have happened as she was running over.

  5. Sarah

    June 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    All of you who are bashing a 13 year old are dispicable. This is my niece and obviously you reporting skills are off if you didnt read the police report or even learn that Scott Johansen (the judge) takes things too far. Is it okay to slap a 16 year old across the face? He thinks so! Kaytlen did not cut this girls hair.. The other girl did. She was there so punish her accordingly. All of you who are saying awful things need to look in the mirror and see your faults before you get on the internet and say things that will follow her for life. Ridiculous. As for the author of this story.. Get your facts straight before saying anything. No need for replies. I wont be back.

    • ipsedixit

      June 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      Actually, the police report said they *both* took turns cutting hair.

      Generally, you don’t *admit* to assault if you didn’t do it. Kaytlen admitted to the assault, along with the disturbing phone harassment, while in court. Pretty open and shut case if you ask me.

      Sounds like the family has a “not my kid!” attitude. No wonder the kid is making harassing phone calls and assaulting minors by the age of 13.

      Previous cases (16 year old girl) that the judge has presided over which you gave no additional details for are irrelevant to this case.

    • rapunzel

      June 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm

      And may we ask about Kaytlen and the girl in Colorado? Both girls were punished and they deserved it and your neice being the oldest should know better or doesn’t your family teach your children right from wrong. Go off and hide auntie but find a good place because Kaytlen is on a road to destruction, either her own or anyone that rubs her the wrong way.

  6. Miles

    June 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    The judge didn’t *order* the mother to chop off the 13 year old’s hair. It was given as an alternative to serving the full sentence. Had that been the only option, then sure, I would have an issue with it. The mother made the choice, and now she is complaining?

  7. aussie

    June 25, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Im pretty sure if a male ten threatened to sexually assult another child there would be a bigger call for action my god this girl needs some serious help before she hurts someone or herself.

  8. Pingback: Ponytail For Ponytail: Mom Mad that Judge Had Her Cut Daughter’s Hair As Punishment « The Industry Cosign

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