Letina Smith, the caregiver for three children in Kissimmee, Florida, will stand trial for child abuse for a horrific punishment she invented called “the electric chair.”
Smith was taking care of her cousin’s children, two boys and a girl under ten, for an indeterminate length of time, the Orlando Sentinel reported. It is not clear why they were not with their mother.
The abuse came out when the girl asked her teacher not to call her home when she misbehaved because she feared “the electric chair.”
"(She) explained that the punishment was to get touched with a 'taser,'" the arrest report stated. "The electric chair consists of the child who is in trouble holding themselves… with their back on the wall and their legs forming a chair. They have to stay there for an hour and if they speak or move Letina will come up to them with the electrical weapon, "taser," and activate and touch them with it.
When the police spoke separately with the children, they each gave a similar account of the punishment. One boy said “that it hurt very much and he was very afraid of it,” while the other described how “Letina touched him with the electrical weapon while it was activated and shocked him in the arm which woke him up” after he fell asleep in the car.
Smith admitted to owning a pink stun gun—a rectangle with two metal prongs between which electricity flows— but said she didn’t touch the children with it. She said she held it a few inches away from them as “a scare tactic” during “the electric chair.”
The state Department of Children and Families is conducting its own investigation.
"I can only recall one other ( that involved a stun gun) but we do see all types of what we could consider 'bizarre' punishment," DCF spokeswoman Carrie Proudfit wrote in an email to the Orlando Sentinel.
Smith is now in Osceola County Jail on $3,000 bail. She faces three separate child abuse charges.
Sources: Orlando Sentinel