Teacher used Tesla coil to burn ‘I Love Mom’ on arms of students – Watch

Teacher used Tesla coil to burn 'I Love Mom' on arms of students - Watch

Teacher who police say used a Tesla coil to burn the phrase “I love mom” into the arms of students has been charged with criminal mistreatment.

Samuel Dufner , 37, was taken to the Marion County jail, where he posted $2,000 bail. He has been placed on administrative leave by the Salem-Keizer School District.

Marion County District Attorney Walt Beglau said Wednesday that his office did not immediately file paperwork to arraign Dufner, and that an arraignment had not been scheduled as of Wednesday afternoon. An arraignment is a court proceeding in which an accused person is formally charged with crimes before a judge.

Beglau said it was incorrect to say that charges against Dufner had been dropped, and that the DA’s office was still gathering evidence.

“We have no-actioned the case until we can review all the evidence,” Beglau said Wednesday afternoon.

Jay Remy, a spokesman for the Salem-Keizer School District, said that if charges against Dufner were dropped, school district officials would begin their own investigation, and that Dufner would remain on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

Remy said there will be no way to predict how long that might take.

Lt. Steve Birr of the Salem Police Department said no student was taken to the hospital or required any medical treatment in connection with the class demonstration.

According Birr, Dufner conducted the demonstration April 30 in several class periods, during which he taught students about chemical reactions by using a Tesla coil to ignite gas for a rocket.

Toward the end of each class, Dufner showed students how the coil could be used to make marks on the skin by touching it to his hand and forearm, according to Birr, who described the marks as electrical burns. Several students volunteered to touch the coil, which left red marks on their skin.

According to some students, however, several of those who volunteered requested darker, more prominent marks.

Cheyenne Ward, a 17-year-old junior at South,is a student aide in Dufner’s third-period class. She was also present during second period and explained what happened at the end of class.

“He was making, like, smiley faces and stars, but some students wanted to see how long they could hold it there,” Ward said. “Obviously, the longer he held it down the stronger the mark.”

Most of the students in second period volunteered to be marked by the coil, which didn’t hurt, she said.

“Almost every student did it, and everyone was laughing when they went up there,” she said. “Nobody was sad or upset. It didn’t hurt at all.”

Birr said that at least one student asked Dufner to write “I (heart) mom,” on his arm.

An investigation of the classroom demonstrations continued Wednesday, Birr said, and the total number of students who were affected by them had not been determined. Birrestimated there were about 30 students in each class, and according to students, the coil demonstration occurred in at least four class periods.

A Tesla coil is a transformer used as a source of high-voltage, high-frequency alternating-current electricity. It is commonly found in science classrooms and often can be used for entertainment.

Eduardo Montes, 15, was in Dufner’s first-period physical science class on April 30 and said at least seven people he knew asked to be shocked by the coil.

Montes said he chose not to participate in the end-of-the class demonstration, but it looked like the students were having fun.

“They were laughing,” Montes said. “I don’t think (Dufner) was trying to harm anyone. He was just making the class fun.”

Angelica Avdeyeva, 17, was in Dufner’s sixth-period marine science class and said that a lot of students felt like they were at fault for their teacher’s arrest.

“I think this whole thing has been blown out of proportion,” Avdeyeva said. “He never wanted to hurt anybody, and I don’t think he should have been arrested. This is his career, you know? He has a family, and we all feel bad.”

While some students expressed their feelings that Dufner had been wrongly arrested, Birr said the arrest was warranted.

“By law he has a duty to protect them,” Birr said. “He inflicted the burns and, in fact, assaulted them.”

Birr said Salem Police were alerted to the incident by way of an angry parent who left a message with the school on Friday evening. The message was passed on to police Monday, and an investigation began Tuesday.

Salem-Keizer School District spokesman Jay Remy declined to comment Wednesday, saying the incident was still being investigated.

South Salem High School Principal Lara Tiffin also declined to comment.