Cafeteria Worker Says She Never Put Boy In Freezer

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - A cafeteria worker said she did not lock a student in a freezer as she was charged but only threatened to do so.

Vanessa Rodgers, 31, was charged with misdemeanor child endangering and appeared in Toledo Municipal Court on Tuesday.

She and another food service worker were accused of putting the fifth-grader in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes as punishment for throwing food.

Both Spring Elementary School workers were suspended with pay last week.

Defense lawyer Jerome Phillips said Rodgers told him she saw 11-year-old Frankie Coley throw food and took him to the cafeteria's office where she told him she would take him to the dean's office if he didn't stop.

Phillips quoted his client as telling the boy: "And if you are really bad, I'll put you in a freezer."

The boy returned to his table and two school officials took the students back to class, Phillips said.

Frankie told his mother, Shana Thompson, that the cafeteria worker grabbed him by the neck and put him in the walk-in freezer and shut the door. Thompson said her son was in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes and did not get out until a classmate opened the door.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)