updated 10/13/2004 11:39:50 AM ET 2004-10-13T15:39:50

Prosecutors have decided to drop felony child-neglect charges against a Florida man who forced his 13-year-old stepson to drink hot sauce as punishment for leaving a gate open.

When Michael Massanelli was arrested in June, he told detectives he was upset because his 2-year-old daughter could have wandered out of the gate left open by his stepson.

According to an attorney for Massanelli, prosecutors have acknowledged that making the teen-ager drink hot sauce was no different than washing a child’s mouth out with soap.

In the lawyer’s words, “if giving hot sauce were criminal, then a lot of our grandmothers would have gone to jail.”

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