Deputy shoots students with Taser, charged with child abuse

(NBC) - The Lake County Sheriff's deputy who resigned after shocking 30 high school students with a Taser at a career fair is now facing several charges, including multiple counts of child abuse.

The Lake County District Attorney's office is charging former Deputy John Ortega with 11 counts of child abuse resulting in injury, nine counts of reckless endangerment and one count of child abuse with no injury.

"You would certainly hope they would know better," Lake County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said, "That they would be trained and that they would know a Taser is not a toy. We don't think Mr. Ortega was doing anything malicious, but it was certainly a bad, bad judgment."

If Ortega is found guilty on all charges, he could be sentenced to more than 27 years in jail. All the time would be served in the county jail.

Ortega resigned around April 12, following the April 8 incident at Lake County High School.

Ortega told Lake County Sheriff Ed Holte he collected waivers from the students, saying he could shock them. Colorado law says a minor cannot consent to an act of physical or sexual abuse.

"Purely and simply, the minor cannot voluntarily agree to be assaulted so as to prevent criminal charges from being filed," Legal Analyst Scott Robinson said.

Students attending the career fair apparently asked Ortega to shock them so they knew what it felt like. He agreed and shocked 30 students. Two of them received minor burns and had to be treated at a nearby hospital.

Ortega's position has already been filled. According to Holte, a woman who recently graduated from a law enforcement academy filled his slot.

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