Susan Burke denies that she choked students

A former Greencastle Elementary School teacher on trial for allegedly abusing students denied that she ever hurt or choked students during testimony Thursday.

Susan Burke faces ten charges of second-degree assault and two charges of second-degree child abuse. Several former students testified in court earlier in the trial that Burke choked them when they acted up in class. The students, however, at times offered confusing and contradictory accounts of what had happened.

Burke on Thursday testified that there were only three reasons she would have to touch a student: To tap them on their back to get the student’s attention, break up fights or to prevent students from hurting themselves during role playing.

She denied that she ever choked the students.

A 7-year-old former first grader in Burke's class testified that the teacher put her hands around his neck on five different occasions, hurting him. He told the jury he was scared of Burke. The boy's mother told jurors her son had nightmares and said he didn't want to go to school.

A second boy also said that when students got in trouble, Burke would choke them with both hands. One 7-year-old boy testified that "one time she kicked me, punched me, and choked me."

On the stand, the children sometimes offered contradicting accounts. One of the boys said he was choked twice, then minutes later said happened 10 times. He claimed he never told anyone because he thought no one would believe him.

At times the boys mixed up dates, numbers, places and names. The teacher says she never touched the students inappropriately.