Have you ever been on a long flight and had someone’s child cry almost the whole way? How about at the movies? or at your favorite restaurant? The parents just sitting idly by in the hopes the child will cry himself out which they never seemingly do. Have you ever wanted to — well, just shut the kid up yourself? It’s Ok. We all know you do. We all imagine taking that extraordinary action in our own minds when we encounter it, whether we want to admit it or not. (I’m kind of partial to imagining stuffing a hand grenade into the toddler’s mouth and pulling the pin, but that’s just me).
Enter Roger Stephens of Stone Mountain, Georgia (unhappily pictured right). While shopping at a nearby Walmart, Stephens encountered a crying toddler shopping with her mother. After listening to the incessant crying of the 2-year-old for more than a while, Stephens turned everyone’s fantasy into a reality. He angrily approached the mother and told her, “If you don’t shut that baby up, I will shut her up for you!” Stephens then went about his shopping. When Stephens encountered the still crying toddler in yet another aisle of the store, according to the police report, “He grabbed the 2-year-old and slapped her across the face four or five times,” and then boasted, “See, I told you I would shut her up!” But that momentary silence was only enjoyed long enough for the toddler to fill her lungs for the bloodcurdling scream she immediately unleashed in the aftermath of the slaps. A bystander came to the rescue and held Stephens at bay until store security could arrive, and they in turn called the police.
After the police noticed a slight reddening on the child’s cheek, Stephen was arrested for cruelty to children, a first degree felony punishable by 5 to 20 years behind bars.
A week later, the toddler is no worse for the wear and has forgotten all about the incident, while the toddler’s mother is still horrified and shaken up. Meanwhile, Stephens remains in the Gwinnett County Detention Center and is being held without bail.
For the record:
Under Georgia law, had Stephens slapped the toddler’s mother instead he would only be facing a simple misdemeanor for battery.