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Kids Say Couple Used Stun Gun At Day Care Center

September 19, 1986

DALY CITY, Calif. (AP) _ Ten children, including four babies, were punished with shocks from a 50,000-volt stun gun at a day care center, police alleged Friday.

But authorities may be unable to file felony charges against the couple running the center because the unlawful use of a stun gun is a misdemeanor in California unless it is used on a police officer, said juvenile officer Dennis Pinnatore.

″No one thought this would ever be used on children,″ said the officer.

Some of the children allegedly were stunned when they talked during nap time, and the babies allegedly were shocked on their feet when they became troublesome, Pinnatore said.

″One child said it was like putting your finger in a light socket,″ according to Pinnatore.

Deputy District Attorney Elaine Tipton reviewed the case with pediatricians and stun gun experts to help decide what charge could be filed against Max Santiago, 69, and his wife, Frances, 49.

″This is a fairly new area of the law,″ she said, noting prosecutors pursuing felony charges would have to prove the children suffered physical harm.

The couple could not be reached for comment because they had no listed number and did not answer when reporters went to their door.

Pinnatore said they had run the licensed day care center since 1970 without incident. A complaint charging them with running an unlicensed day care center was filed on Wednesday, but officials said that charge could be dropped, since it appeared a license renewal had been approved.

The home was licensed for six children, but the couple was caring for 13 children, including their four granchildren, he said.

After receiving a tip from parents, police interviewed the children separately and several said they were ″electrocuted″ with a stun gun, Pinnatore said.

″The kids said the stun gun was even used on the feet of little babies,″ said the detective. No stun gun was found at the home, but ″some kids freaked out when we showed (one) to them,″ he said.

He said the children seemed ″horrified, but they didn’t want to make their parents angry with them ... Most of all, they were afraid no one would believe them and they didn’t want to be ‘electrocuted’ again.″

Pinnatore said he accidentally zapped himself with the device ″and I didn’t like it. I just did it on my finger and it was like a really sharp shock. It hit you and got your attention.

″Our sergeants use them, mostly on people on PCP,″ he said. ″It’s great on a 200-pound beligerent PCP user who’s fighting you, but it was not made to hurt little children.″

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