A US school teacher who taped the mouths of five different students shut for talking too much has defended his actions after police received a complaint of potentially abusive behaviour.
Pastor John Raymond, founder of Lakeside Christian Academy in Louisiana, claims he did so because the youngsters were bullying their teacher.
Raymond, a former participant on the popular reality TV show Survivor, released a lengthy statement in response to his arrest last week on three counts of cruelty to juveniles.
The pastor claimed the children had shown "complete disregard" in disrupting their seventh-grade class with constant talking, but none were harmed by the unorthodox and unconventional means of discipline he dished out.
Raymond says the teacher in question had entered the office sobbing and threatened to quit over their alleged classroom disruptions, so Raymond took matters into his own hands.
He is said to have taken the disruptive students into the hallway and given them the choice between a suspension or having their mouths taped with Scotch tape.
Pastor Raymond said: "The students all chose tape and I pulled off one piece at a time and carefully placed it over their mouths making sure I did not touch their nose or interfere with their breathing. At no time was tape wrapped around any student's head."
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The children collectively said their breathing was not constricted, Raymond alleges, but the school's principal says she wasn't "very comfortable" with the strange punishment Raymond administered.
He forcefully defended his actions, saying: "We have a zero-tolerance bully policy at Lakeside. This means students cannot bully each other or bully the teachers. We are serious about protecting both our students and our teachers."
Five teen boys were involved, with three whose parents decided to press charges, the New York Post reported.
A police statement read: "Due to the fact the tape was wrapped around the students' head, it had to be removed with a pair of scissors. During the encounter, the students claim they had trouble breathing and that the removal process was painful."
Raymond said: "No student was ever treated with cruelty or harmed in any way."
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