A 12-year-old girl has been placed on probation and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service for poisoning her sixth-grade teacher by pouring a chemical into his open Coke can.
The girl, who is not being identified because she was charged as a juvenile, blamed peer pressure for her decision to place the chemical in her teacher's drink June 10 at George Fox Middle School in Pasadena.
"I didn't mean to hurt him," she told Judge Bruce C. Williams during a hearing Friday in county Circuit Court. After the judge asked her why she did it, the girl said, "Just a prank."
Williams responded: "Is that your idea of a prank?" He ordered her to continue receiving psychological counseling and said he was ordering her to perform community service "just to remind her this is not the kind of conductthat can be accepted by society. Even though she's 12, she has to learn that quickly.
"Get on with your life and behave yourself," he told the girl.
The teacher, Timothy Stephen Dahle, 42, of Annapolis felt dizzy and lightheaded for hours after drinking from the can, police have said. He was not hospitalized but was treated by his own doctor.
The girl was charged with poisoning and with reckless endangerment after a weeklong investigation by Dahle, school officials andpolice. She was released to her parents, police said.
The incident occurred at lunchtime, when Dahle drank his Coke and immediately recognized, through its smell and taste, a substance that the class used as a glue and that he kept in a small squeeze bottle on his desk. The substance was later identified as methylene chloride, a volatile liquid used as a solvent, refrigerant and dental anesthetic, police said.
Dahle did not immediately notify police or school officials, choosing instead to speak to the pupils he suspected the next day. He asked them to take out a piece of paper and write down what they knewabout the incident, and 18 of them identified the girl as the one who put the substance in the Coke can on his desk, police reported.
The teacher then notified an assistant principal, and the school administration began an investigation, which identified the girl as the suspect, according to a police report.
On the last day of the school year, police detectives interviewed four pupils who said they witnessed the incident. Some of them said the girl had done the same thingon an earlier date, police reported.
The girl's mother told the court: "The most we've ever had to speak to her about was cleaning herroom. That's why this was such a big surprise."
The girl is attending another school, according to her lawyer, Alan S. Forman, who didnot identify the new school.