SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — A South Salem science teacher apprehended by police for allegedly using a Tesla coil to burn the phrase “I love mom” into the arms of his students has had charges against him dropped, authorities told KOIN 6 News.
Samuel Dufner, 37, was arrested Tuesday at South Salem High School, Salem Police Dept. said. He was accused of criminal mistreatment, only to have the charges against him dropped a day later.
Salem police told KOIN 6 News it was a complaint from a parent that got their investigation started.
“It was not okay, in my opinion,” student Katy Broadwater said. “I feel like it’s still putting marks on students, even though he got permission, I still feel like it’s not OK”
Using the ‘free Dufner’ hashtag on Twitter, one student proclaimed to show the very small area of raised skin caused by the Tesla coil.
“I can see where they would be mad, but honestly it doesn’t last more than a day and it really doesn’t hurt,” student Caliah Lloyd said. “I haven’t gotten it done, but I know people who have and they say it didn’t hurt at all.”
Salem police spokesman Lt. Steve Birr said Dufner used the Tesla coil to ignite gases to propel a rocket across the classroom. Police said he then asked for volunteers to see if anyone wanted images burned onto their skin; 8-10 students volunteered.
“When asked about a pain scale — we use a 1-10 — one child said it was about a one, another child said it was about a three,” Birr said. “But on Tuesday while we were investigating, you couldn’t see the burn marks on their arms.”
Police said it was a lapse in judgment on Dufner’s part, and that in his effort to inform kids about science, he may have forgotten about his lawful duty to protect them.
Marion County District Attorney’s Office said the investigation is ongoing.
Now that the charges have been dropped, students have taken to Twitter to express their relief.