WOODSTOCK -- A jury has been deliberating since about 2:15 p.m. in the case of a Harvard substitute teacher criminally charged for taping a special education student to his chair.
Mathew Konetski who admitted taping student's arms and legs together and mouth shut at a Harvard school in 2006 testified Friday that he was trying send a message to the student "in a fun way."
"I was trying to get the point across to the boys that they needed to follow the instructions of the adults in charge," Konetski said. "It was not to scare them, to punish them or to make them feel uncomfortable."
Konetski said he taped two boys after they acted up in gym class while roller-skating. One of the boys wouldn't obey orders to slow down and knocked over another girl, he said.
After the boys failed to comply with a time out, Konetski said he decided to tape them.
After he placed a ring of masking tape around the boys' arms and legs, over their clothes, Konetski said the boys started laughing.
"I said there was no laughing, so I took a piece of masking tape and put one over each of their mouths," Konetski said.
Konetski said he removed the tape within minutes, after one of the boys appeared upset at him.
"It was a form of discipline; I tried to make it fun for the boys," he said. I thought it was appropriate because my other option would have been to yell at the students."
Konetski, 32, faces charges of aggravated battery and unlawful restraint in connection with his actions on March 7, 2006 at Jefferson Elementary School.
Closing arguments in the case are expected to begin around 1 p.m. and then the jury will be handed the case for deliberations.
Konetski's defense asserts that he was acting within his legal authority as a teacher when he restrained the students.
"A teacher may use reasonable force, and a teacher has lawful authority to restrain a child," said Dan Regna, an attorney for Konetski. "We're second-guessing a teacher in a very challenging situation."
Prosecutors, however, believe Konetski's actions were criminal.
"In no way were the defendant's actions justified," McHenry County assistant state's attorney Sharyl Eisenstein said. "The defendant was not playing a game ... rather he was punishing an 8-year-old boy who did not want to sit still."
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