Christopher Hendon was helping the community discipline misbehaving children, defense attorney Don Malarcik said.
Malarcik said at Hendon’s sentencing hearing on Wednesday that his client was meeting a need, the Akron Beacon Journal reported. But prosecutors, parents and the children Hendon hurt in Akron, Ohio, don’t see it that way.
Authorities say the 26-year-old man posed as a police officer last year, wearing tactical gear and carrying a gun, while running a fake “scared-straight” program. Hendon is not a certified police officer, Cleveland.com reported.
Hendon entered an elementary school and a charter school wearing the law enforcement gear, including a firearm, a badge and a Taser, Fox 8 reported. He tricked school officials into believing he was an officer for a program meant to scare children into avoiding bad behavior, The Associated Press reported.
He handcuffed, threatened and physically assaulted several students at the schools, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors say Hendon took children — between the ages of 6 and 14 years old — out of their classrooms and handcuffed them. He also slammed them to the floor or against lockers, desks, cabinets or chairs, the Beacon Journal reported.
Hendon showed up to a juvenile detention facility with three handcuffed youths, prosecutors said. He was ultimately denied entry, Fox 8 said.
Malarcik said that if anyone in the schools saw Hendon abusing children, they were supposed to report it, the Beacon Journal reported.
“That didn’t happen,” he said.
Hendon pleaded guilty to more than two dozen charges in January, including abduction and kidnapping, Cleveland.com reported. He was sentenced Wednesday to more than five years in prison, the AP reported.
Roslyn Christian, a parent of one of the victims, said Hendon “put the fear into the mind and heart” of her 8-year-old son, the Beacon-Journal reported.
Another parent, Shanti Portis, says her 6-year-old son is still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after Hendon handcuffed and shouted profanities at him and her 12-year-old daughter, the newspaper reported.
“I am a parent who has done my best to provide a safe, stable environment for my kids,” she said. “In a matter of minutes, you brought doubt and uncertainty into my home.”