NY girl, 12, arrested for scalding friend at sleepover

NEW YORK • A 12-year-old girl was arrested and charged with assault after a bizarre attack at a sleepover party in a Bronx apartment that left an 11-year-old girl with second-degree burns to her face and upper body.

The victim, Jamoneisha Merritt, was sleeping on a living-room couch, the police said, when the 12-year-old poured a cup of boiling water over her face and shoulders.

Friends inside the apartment then poured cold water on the scalded girl to try to alleviate the pain, according to the police.

Police officers responding to a 911 call at 4.40am on Monday arrived at the apartment to find Jamoneisha, who lives in a neighbouring building, conscious with burns on her face, neck, chest and back.

She was taken to Harlem Hospital, where she remained in serious but stable condition, said her mother, Ms Ebony Merritt.

Standing outside of the hospital after visiting her daughter on Thursday, Ms Merritt was shaken by what had happened, and deeply angry.

"I just want justice for my daughter," she said. "I want all that was involved to be brought to justice."

In postings online, Ms Merritt said she thought her daughter was a victim of a social media stunt called the Hot Water Challenge.

It is an apparent knock-off of the Ice Bucket Challenge, a viral video phenomenon that led thousands of people, including many celebrities, to record themselves having ice water dumped on their heads as part of an effort to raise money for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

On Facebook on Monday, Ms Merritt posted a warning to other parents about the Hot Water Challenge.

A YouTube search turned up thousands of videos of people trying to withstand extremely hot water, either pouring it over themselves or dipping in a hand or foot.

Ms Merritt said her daughter and the other girl were friends. She said she and the other girl's mother frequently watched over each other's children, alternating sleepovers on weekends. Ms Merritt said she had also taken the other girl on numerous trips out of town.

Ms Shernett Panton, the mother of the girl arrested, whose name was not released by the police because she was charged as a minor, described the scalding as a prank between friends gone wrong.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2017, with the headline 'NY girl, 12, arrested for scalding friend at sleepover'. Print Edition | Subscribe