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Valley PE teacher pleads not guilty to felony child endangerment

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Peter Samhammer is accused of an unusual and illegal form of getting students in check during his PE class at Herndon Barstow Elementary in Fresno. (KFSN)

Peter Samhammer has been a longtime teacher and wrestling coach. Tuesday, his attorney said he never acted with ill will or intended to harm anyone during his tenure.

Peter Samhammer is accused of an unusual and illegal form of getting students in check during his PE class at Herndon Barstow Elementary in Fresno.

Fresno County sheriff's detectives say he placed a jump rope around the necks of several children while having class outside. However, Samhammer's attorney, Dan Bacon, describes it more as horseplay.

"And I think some of the students maybe took it the wrong way. But it was never any intention to hurt or place anybody in danger," Bacon explains.

Despite this, the judge issued a criminal protective order banning Samhammer from being near any of the four students involved. They are all between the ages of nine and eleven.

Dan Bacon says there is no video evidence of the alleged crime. He claims Samhammer has an impeccable record as a teacher and member of the community.

"I have, unsolicited from the community, over 75 letters from former students, coaches, teachers, administrators, lawyers -- all with glowing recommendations of my client."

Sheriff's detectives say the students were left with minor injuries on their necks and shoulders, mostly red marks. He's accused of tightening the rope briefly and then letting go.

Samhammer is hoping to retire soon, but his attorney said based on the current charges he would likely be stripped of his teaching credentials, which he is hoping to keep.

He remains on administrative leave with Central Unified.

Related Topics:
child abuseteachercentral unified school districtFresno County
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