Maryland police have filed child abuse and assault charges against a woman who appeared in a viral video that seemingly showed two kids being abused
Maryland police have filed child abuse and assault charges against a 26-year-old woman who appeared in a 22-second viral video that seemingly showed her beating on two small children.
Rachel Marie Pietro was arrested on Tuesday; court records failed to list the name of her attorney, if she has retained one.
She is being held without bail and has not entered a plea to her charges.
The video, which PEOPLE has reviewed but declined to publish, was shared tens of thousands of times online after police said it was posted to Facebook last week.
The clip seemingly shows Pietro pummeling a crying girl before grabbing a boy by the hair and punching him repeatedly in the head.
She then appears to yell directly into the camera, “I’ll beat these kids to death.”
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Police in Baltimore County, Maryland, were dispatched to Pietro’s home on March 16 “after many concerned citizens forwarded” about the footage.
Officers spoke with Pietro and her husband before referring the case to their Crimes Against Children Unit. The following morning, detectives from that division visited the home and opened an investigation into the footage.
“The investigation shows that Pietro — who initially told police the video was 2 years old — recorded the video at [her home] some time in the past two months,” police allege. “She said she recorded the video because she hoped it would encourage her husband to come home and take care of her. She also said she was angry with the children.”
The two kids in the video, a 5-year-old boy and 6-year-old girl, as well as a 2-year-old boy are now in the custody of of family members, a police statement explains.
Minor injuries were documented on only one of the children, according to police.
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Charging documents claim the children told police that Pietro would repeatedly beat them and pull their hair. On one occasion, one child was allegedly thrown up against a wall.
The children also told police their mother would lock them in a 3-foot-by-3-foot wooden toy box as punishment.
According to investigators, Pietro allegedly told officers she struck one child for pulling scissors and a knife on her. She said the other child was beaten for biting her.
Pietro appeared with her husband on The Steve Wilkos Show in 2013, in an episode titled “Did You Kick Your 2 Year Old In The Face?”
During the program, Pietro’s spouse acknowledged abusing her and their children.