NAPLES, Fla. – A woman who had her 13-year-old daughter's genitalia pierced to make it uncomfortable for her to have sex was acquitted of aggravated child abuse on Thursday.
The girl, now 16, had testified that her mother asked a friend in 2004 to shave the girl's head to make her unattractive to boys and later held her down for the piercing.
A jury deliberated for about three hours before deciding the mother's actions didn't involve punishment or malicious intent, or cause permanent damage or disfigurement.
The 39-year-old woman, whose name is being withheld to protect her daughter's identity, could have faced up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the charges.
The girl was not in court for the verdict. Her guardian declined comment.
"She was trying to protect me, but it hurt me," the girl testified earlier this week. "It not only hurt me physically, but it hurt me mentally. ... That's emotionally scarring. That's physical abuse."
Prosecutors said the mother called on a friend to shave the girl's head and do the piercing after realizing that she had been having sex, including with the mother's boyfriend.
Defense attorneys told jurors that the mother had trouble with her rebellious daughter and that the girl agreed to the piercing to help rebuild her mother's trust.
Child welfare officials were called after the girl became infected from the piercing.
Tammy Meredith, 43, who did the piercing in her home, was sentenced to a year in jail for her role. An arrest warrant has been issued for the mother's boyfriend on allegations he had sex with the girl.