A substitute teacher who was working in a high school classroom in Connecticut is facing charges for allegations that he encouraged students in the school to participate in “fight club” type activities.
Ryan Avery Fish, a 23-year-old substitute teacher, was working an assignment in a high school math class at Montville High School from August until October of 2017. During his time as their teacher Fish has been accused of allowing the teenagers at the school to form a fight club inside of his classroom. In a statement to the authorities, he said that he permitted the activity in order to “let them be teenagers and let them get their energy out.”
On December 14 one of the 15-year-old students in Fish’s class reported that he was experiencing emotional distress after unwillingly taking part in a fight where he was beaten up and had his belongings stolen by his fellow schoolmates. The DCF Juvenile Court Liaison in Waterford was notified and reported that the alleged victim would be receiving a mental health evaluation from a local hospital in order to assess his condition.
When the DCF liaison contacted the Montville Police Department about the incident officers went to the high school and began an investigation into the report. The assistant principal was interviewed and said that she had learned about the alleged existence of the fight club on October 10 and she discussed the matter with the principal. She further reportedly shared video clips recorded on student cell phones with the officer, depicting fights that had taken place in Fish’s class. In some of the clips, Fish was allegedly identified as advocating for the brawls. Students were also reportedly visibly injured in some of the video contents.
The principal asked that school security escort Fish to his office so they could discuss the allegations, and Fish explained that he believed the behavior taking place was typical for boys based on his upbringing and experiences. Fish was fired from his position immediately, and school made the decision that they would not notify the police about the alleged activities at that time.
When Fish spoke with the authorities he said that he was trying to encourage social bonds in the form of friendships with the students, though he stated that he believed his behavior was immature. Fish shared that a total of four fights happened over approximately a one month period in his classroom while school was in session and that he did not believe what he was doing was wrong.
When students at the school spoke with officers they shared their accounts of the events that took place in Fish’s classroom and described them as fights in the form of timed slap-boxing rounds. Because the incidents appeared to suggest an organized event, they fall within the legal category of criminal activity.
The Montville Public School Superintendent gave a statement sharing that he did not believe the activities taking place were illegal and had he known it would have been reported to the authorities.
Police took Fish into custody on April 12 and he is facing charges of four counts of reckless endangerment, two counts of risk of injury to a child, and one count of breach of peace. His bond was set at $75,000.
If you or someone you love is suspected of a crime, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.