A literacy teacher at a community center in St. Petersburg, Florida, is accused of encouraging her students to cut each other in a bizarre cleansing ritual.
Police say Danielle Harkins, 35, told half a dozen teens that they had demons inside them and the only way to get them out was to slice open their skin and then burn the wounds.
She was charged with child abuse and held in jail on $55,000, but police say the seven teenagers are still loyal to Harkins and they fear the teacher may have done much worse.
Harkins was suspended without pay from her position at the family center.
'We had no suspicion of any of this. It's bizarre.' Carolyn Chance, the center's administrator, said.
Lisa Cope, Harkins' next-door neighbor, said the teacher had recently taken an interest in extreme religious beliefs. 'She told me I was okay,' Ms Cope said to The Tampa Bay Times.
'She said I didn't have any demons.'