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In Ohio Pepper-Spray Assault Case, Victim Gets to Fire Back

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PAINESVILLE, Ohio — An assault suspect who pepper-sprayed someone in the face at a fast-food restaurant received similar treatment in court as punishment from a Cleveland-area judge embracing the principle of "an eye for an eye."

Painesville Municipal Court Judge Michael Cicconetti on Thursday told Diamond Gaston she could serve 30 days in jail or be pepper-sprayed by her victim, and she chose the second option. Cicconetti said he couldn't really allow pepper spray, so harmless saline spray was substituted without Gaston knowing.

"He goes, 'I'd really like to use pepper spray,' and I said, 'No, no, we can't do that!" Cicconetti told WEWS-TV. He said what mattered was that the punishment sting emotionally, if not physically.

The Painesville woman, 20, says she learned her lesson.

"He's like 'Oh it's water,' and I'm like 'Oh OK, that's a relief,'" Gaston told WKYC-TV.

Cicconetti is known for occasionally doling out unusual sentences.

In another case he handled Thursday, a woman who failed to pay a cab driver was given a choice between jail time or paying $100 restitution and walking 30 miles, the distance of her ride. She chose to walk and will do so at a fairgrounds, wearing a GPS monitor, WEWS said.

In previous cases, Cicconetti has told a drunk driver to view crash victims' bodies at a morgue and had teens in criminal mischief case fulfill community service by playing drums as entertainment at a park, WJW-TV reported.

"I do whatever I think will prevent a person from coming back in the courts again," he told WKYC. "Yeah it's a little different. It's a little unique, but maybe we just need that a little bit in the judicial system."

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