Teen Arrested for 'Cruelty to Child' Charge

Teacher turns in Georgia student for launching baby in YouTube video.

July 4, 2008 — -- The muffled cries of an 8-month-old baby end a chilling YouTube video that has shocked viewers and resulted in the arrest of a teenager who wanted to show the world how "a baby can fly."

The 16-year-old Georgia boy was arrested this week for laying a baby on an inflatable pillow, then jumping on the edge of the pillow to launch the infant into the air and across the room.

"Watching the video made me physically sick," said Col. Duane Sapp of the Lee County Sheriff's Office. "The baby landed on its face, which opens up a whole range of possible injuries to his neck, head and internally."

Police arrested the Lee County High School teenager this week on a felony charge for cruelty to a child and another misdemeanor charge. He is being held in a youth detention center. He could face incarceration until the age of 21.

The baby boy had been left in the care of the family of the teen who'd shot the video -- "Baby Fly" -- which has now been taken down from the YouTube site, according to the police. The teen who shot the video has not been charged.

Police demanded that the parents of the baby take their child to the doctor and the medical report was returned Thursday. "The baby had a full physical and there was no damage," said Sapp. "God is good."

'Clearly Case of Abuse'

"This is clearly a case of abuse," said Dr. Kristine Williams, an emergency pediatric physician at St. Louis Children's Hospital. "An 8-month-old can't do anything for himself. Babies can't speak for themselves. They are completely defenseless."

In a fall such as this, an infant will usually land on its head, which is heavier and bigger than the rest of its body, according to Williams. The child could have suffered anything from correctable facial injuries to a concussion, or something as serious as a skull fracture or internal bleeding.

"Babies are more susceptible to severe injuries with less trauma than an adult," she said. "The brain can swell if there's enough bruising and bleeding, and it can affect the child's breathing and eventually cause death or severe permanent brain damage."

The baby's parents -- Hugh and Lorna Slaton of DeSoto, Ga. -- left their infant in the care of the family of the videographer while out of town. The adult babysitters had stepped out of the room and were in another part of the house when the teens attempted their stunt.

Sapp said police showed the baby's parents the video and "they were horrified."

When reached by ABC News, Lorna Slaton indicated she was too emotional to comment.

The "hero in the story," according to Sapp, is a Lee County high school teacher who inadvertently viewed the video and recognized the teen as a former student and reported him to the police.

"If she hadn't called, we would never have known about this, and who knows what [the teen] would go on to do," said Sapp.

The teacher requested that she not be identified in this story, as she fears her family may be subject to repercussions.

Students Horrified by Video

The teacher told ABCNEWS.com that she ran across the video while on her MySpace account, where she often keeps up with the lives of students and her own family members. There, she saw comments from some of her students, who were horrified by the video.

"I clicked the video, and it was right there in front of me," she said. "My heart sank. The whole time I was thinking, 'No, no, this isn't real,' praying it was a doll. I was shaking like a leaf."

The veteran teacher said she knew her legal responsibility and reported the teen, who she said was a "a good kid who just didn't use his brain."

"We are first responders," she said. "Anytime we see or are told something, you don't sit and watch. You get a sense of urgency. You do something when something isn't right."

Neither of the teens involved in the making of the video has ever had any brushes with the law, according to police. The judge in the case will decide if the teen must stay in detention and, if found guilty at a trial, will impose the punishment.

"Juvenile court is pretty wide and sweeping -- anything from probation to community service or detention until he's 21," said Sapp. "But I can't envision that happening."

Police and the arrested teen's former teacher worry about the YouTube phenomenon and the popularity of the "Baby Fly" video.

"To a certain extent, kids are encouraged by the whole phenomenon of the Internet," said Sapp. "They think, 'Well, I saw him do this. I can one-up him and do it better and have my own fame.'"

The teen's former teacher agreed. "I could say this is an isolated case, but I've seen comments posted that said this was the funniest video they had ever seen," she said. They're not alone in that thought process.

"I love this young man, but he's got a lot to learn."