The Sideshow

Mom says she filed complaint against judge over daughter’s ponytail-cutting sentence

The cover of Pavement's 1994 album, "Cut Your Hair" (Matador Records)

A mom who felt "intimidated" when a juvenile court judge offered to reduce her teenage daughter's sentence if she agreed to cut off the 13-year-old's ponytail in court has filed a complaint against him.

Valerie Bruno of Price, Utah, filed a formal complaint with the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission against Scott Johansen, a judge in the 7th District, Utah's Deseret News reports. In May, Johansen ordered Bruno's daughter, Kaytlen Lopan, to serve 30 days in detention and perform 276 hours of community service for cutting off a 3-year-old's hair.

According to police, Lopan and her 11-year-old friend "endeared themselves" to the 3-year-old girl at McDonald's in Price, then used scissors to "cut several inches of hair from the little girl's head."

"She definitely needed to be punished for what had happened," Bruno told Deseret News. "But I never dreamt it would be that much of a punishment."

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Johansen offered to reduce the sentence to 126 hours of community service if her Bruno cut off her daughter's ponytail in the courtroom.

"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 in court.

"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."

Bruno reluctantly agreed.

"I felt very intimidated," Bruno said. "An eye for an eye, that's not how you teach kids right from wrong."

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According to the Associated Press, Mindy Moss, the mother of the 3-year-old, approved the sentence and "even spoke up during the hearing when she felt Bruno had not cut off enough of her daughter's hair." Johansen told Bruno to cut the ponytail "all the way 'to the rubber band.'"

Johansen ordered the friend of Bruno's daughter--who helped cut the 3-year-old's hair--to "have her hair cut as short as his." The friend, though, was "allowed to go to a salon to have it done, then return to the courtroom to ensure that the new hairstyle met with the judge's approval."

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