Students testify against ex-PE teacher accused of placing jump rope around their necks

FRESNO, Calif. -- Former PE teacher Peter Samhammer is accused of going "too far" at Herndon Barstow Elementary when some students weren't following his rules.

His method of getting kids back in line was a jump rope that investigators say was used in a criminal manner.

RELATED: PE teacher accused of putting jump ropes around kids' necks

The students had free play that particular day in September. Some played basketball, other jumped rope. But a game called 'airplane'- that was apparently not allowed is what prompted this alleged incident.

A jump rope that Fresno County Sheriff's deputies say was an unusual and illegal way to get students back in line was the focus of a preliminary hearing Thursday.

He is accused of placing the jump rope around the children's necks and tightening the rope briefly.

Sheriff's detectives have said earlier that the students were left with minor injuries on their necks and shoulders, mostly red marks.

Student after student took the stand to describe the circumstances surrounding that afternoon. They were between nine and 11 years of age at the time.
Defense attorney Dan Bacon worked hard to discredit each victim who took the stand. He compared the statements they initially gave to deputies and during other interviews to their courtroom testimony.

"I'm not playing a tape, I'm just asking if this statement refreshes their memory or if they said it. They can say no, they can say yes," said Bacon.

Each student has alleged different actions the former teacher is accused of taking, after ordering the class to do 100 pushups for playing what he felt was a dangerous game involving swinging a jump rope.

One student said he had stopped doing the pushups when he was pulled up using the jump rope.

"Do you remember telling Officer Gloria that he gave you a little tug and said something to the effect of hurry, hurry up?"
This student said yes, he did recall those words. But Bacon questioned him about why he said in 2017 the jump rope was blue and white- but now testified it was red and white.

The longtime teacher could face 10 years in prison if he's convicted of the charges he's currently answering to.

Testimony continues on Friday with the lead investigator taking the stand.

The families of the students also sued the school district civilly.
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