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Facebook video leads to arrest for child abuse

A Facebook video allegedly depicting an Altha woman abusing her two small children landed her in jail last week. Ashley R. Starling, 24, has been charged with child abuse in the case. According to the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office, a tip led Lt. Mark Mallory and Capt. Michael Bryant to a video posted on the social media Facebook site where a white female could be heard saying, “Don’t record me.” She grabbed a five-year-old boy and three-year-old girl and placed them in front of a video camera, then asked, “Do ya’ll see this cake that ya’ll ruined?” The woman then grabbed the boy by the back of his head and smeared cake on his face and hair as he cried. The process was repeated on the little girl, then the woman poured a pail of water on the children. A female’s voice could be heard in the background saying, “That’s mean, Ashley.” The video continued to record the children as they cried while others could be heard laughing. Lt. Mallory and Capt. Bryant went to Starling’s home and she offered the video was of her two children and asked if they would like to see the video. She then provided a mobile phone that was used to record the video. Lt. Mallory seized the phone and memory card. Starling said the other people heard on the video were her boyfriend, who taped the incident, and her 12-year-old niece. Starling said the cake smearing was a tradition on a child’s first birthday, but admitted she was not having a birthday party and her children were ages 3 and 5. Investigators notified the abuse registry with the Florida Department of Children and Families. After a DCF investigation, the Sheriff’s Office issued a warrant for Starling’s arrest.

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