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Chicago (AP)—When some fourth-graders decided they didn’t like their substitute teacher, they didn’t bother with childish pranks like putting thumbtacks on his chair. Instead, one girl offered her classmates $1 bribes to falsely accuse the teacher of sexual abuse, authorities said.

A police investigation eventually uncovered the plot, and school officials are trying to decide what punishment the children should get.

The teacher, Albert Thompson, hasn’t gotten another teaching assignment.

“We’re in a society where you’re guilty until proven innocent,” Thompson said Tuesday. Political correctness and children’s rights “overrode my rights,” he said.

Thompson told police his fourth-grade class at Fuller Elementary School on Chicago’s South Side became unruly during his May 9 assignment. He said some children ran out of the classroom, and he had to stand by the door to keep other pupils inside.

When Thompson threatened to report their misbehavior, a 9-year-old girl offered to 10 of her classmates $1 each if they falsely accused that Thompson fondled them, police said.

Thompson, 43, was never charged. Police cleared him after some of the 10 children – nine girls and one boy – made inconsistent statements.

“One of the children finally admitted they concocted the story to get the substitute teacher in trouble,” said Lt. Robert Hargesheimer of the police department’s youth division.

The 9-year-old girl also recanted, he said.

“What’s so scary – and so sad – is that you’ve got 9-year-old kids sophisticated enough to know they can get a teacher by saying he fondled them,” said Jackie Gallagher, Chicago Teachers Union spokeswoman.

“You just don’t want to think that our little kids who you’re still reading nursery rhymes to are figuring they’re going to stick it to their teacher.”

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