A D.C. policewoman has been convicted of cruelty to children and assault with a dangerous weapon for allegedly holding the arm of her 6-year-old son over the flame on the kitchen stove of their apartment after the youth ate a piece of cake without permission.

Marian V. Paige, 31, a two-year member of the police force who has been suspended without pay from her post at the 1st District, could be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison and fined $250.

Paige, who is scheduled to appear for sentencing April 26 before Judge Reggie B. Walton, was convicted on the two counts Tuesday by a D.C. Superior Court jury.

Police alleged that Paige's son Kurtis suffered first- and second-degree burns on his arm when his mother grabbed him by the hand and placed his arm over the flame at their apartment at 208 Elmira St. SW on Jan. 21, 1984.

Paige contended that she merely wanted to "frighten" her son and was "trying to teach her child right from wrong," according to her attorney, when the boy pulled away from her and burned his arm on the stove.

According to a police affidavit, the boy was taken to Kaiser-Georgetown Clinic, where he was treated for his burns.

Paige was placed on leave in February last year.

Kurtis and Paige's two other children were sent to live with a relative.

A Superior Court grand jury found that Paige "did torture, cruelly beat, abuse and otherwise willfully maltreat" her son and charged that she used the flame as a weapon.

Paige's attorney, Paul K. Regan, had asked that the charges be dropped, saying that Paige had a right to choose the means of disciplining her child.

"The courts have long recognized the right of parents to discipline children according to their wishes," Regan told the court. "This discipline may vary from corporal punishment to verbal abuse to the methods espoused by Dr. Spock."

Regan maintained that there was no evidence that Paige "acted willfully" or "with an evil intent or with bad purpose to maltreat the child." Paige's conduct, he said, "may appear to be poor judgment but is not criminal."

Paige could not be reached for comment yesterday.