SLIDELL, La. (KLFY) — The Headmaster of Lakeside Christian Academy in Slidell was recently arrested, accused of taping students’ mouths shut as a form of punishment. He has released a statement with a personal account of the incident.

Pastor John Raymond, 60, of Lacombe, was arrested Thursday, April 7 on three counts of cruelty to juveniles after allegedly taping several students’ mouths shut as a form of punishment for their disruption of class.

Police said because the tape was wrapped around the students’ heads, it had to be removed with a pair of scissors. The students, according to police, told authorities that they had trouble breathing and that the removal process was painful.

Raymond released a personal statement about the incident on Lakeside’s website Sunday, April 10. In the statement, he denies some of the details released by the Slidell Police Department about the incident, which happened on March 18.

He said that he gave the students the option of calling their parents and facing suspension or having their mouths taped closed with small pieces of Scotch packing tape. He said the students all chose the tape, and he one-by-one taped the pieces over their mouths, then asked if they all could breathe.

“At any time, the students could have easily removed the tape by simply pulling it off,” Raymond said in the post. The pastor said when he told the principal, she said she wasn’t comfortable with it, and after a few minutes, the tape was removed.

According to Raymond’s statement, five boys were involved, and the parents of three of them pressed charges. The Slidell Police Department said the three boys were all 13 years old.

Raymond said in his statement that after a complaint was filed, he left a voice message for Chief Randy Fandal asking if a detective could call so that Raymond could give a statement, but he wasn’t contacted until an arrest warrant was issued two days later.

“We love all of our students at Lakeside and strive to maintain a safe and effective learning environment. Building character in teenage boys can be difficult,” Raymond said.

“These students were given a choice between suspension and the temporary tape. They were never in any physical pain. Their breathing was never impaired. The tape was never wrapped around their heads. And it was off in under ten minutes. No student was ever treated with cruelty or harmed in any way.”

Read Raymond’s full account of the incident here.