A Florida teacher has been accused of encouraging several of her students to cut and burn each other as part of a pagan ritual to rid their bodies of evil spirits.
Danielle Harkins, 35, allegedly took seven teenagers to a location near a pier in St Petersburg on Saturday and got the ceremony underway by lighting a fire.
St Petersburg Police Department spokesman Mike Puetz said the children chanted and danced around the fire before Harkins urged them to cut each other to release the evil spirits from their bodies.
"They would follow that up with some sort of cauterisation of the wound to keep the evil spirits from getting back into the body," Mr Puetz said.
Two students were cut and one suffered second-degree burns after the teacher allegedly poured perfume on his wound before igniting it with a cigarette lighter.
Another child was cut in the neck with a broken bottle and the wound was sealed with a heated-up key.
Police said interviews with the students involved have been difficult because the children were "quite loyal" and reluctant to disclose what happened.
Harkins has been charged with child abuse and aggravated battery.
The children were all reportedly former students of Harkins, who taught literacy skills at the Lealman & Asian Neighborhood Family Center for four-and-a-half years.
A woman who worked with Harkins said she was a good teacher who had recently started exploring religion.
Harkins is going through a divorce and her children are staying with her ex-husband.