(MONTVILLE, Conn.) — A former substitute math teacher at a high school in Connecticut is facing charges after allegedly encouraging boys to fight in his class during school hours, according to state police and ABC affiliate WTNH-TV in New Haven.
Police in Montville, Connecticut, arrested 23-year-old Ryan Fish on Thursday following an investigation that began in December 2017, according to a state police report.
Fish allegedly forced students at Montville High School to engage in “slap fights,” in which male students were encouraged to slap each other across the face and head, according to the police report, which refers to four teen boys ages 14 to 16 as witnesses.
The fights were captured on cell phone video, and Fish can be heard on a video seeming to give the fighting students directions, such as at one time saying something to the effect of, “Move this way, away from the door,” the police report said. “These strikes appeared to me to be full force strikes with open hands,” an officer said in the police report of what can be seen on the video.
Fish was escorted by security to the principal’s office in October 2017, where he told the principal that “boys will be boys” and that he grew up in the country where “boys do stuff like that,” the police report said.
He has denied facilitating the fights, according to the police report. He told police in January that two boys began slapping each other when he briefly left the classroom.
He also told police, “I just try to be the teacher that the kids could come to and actually express themselves and actually work through their issues kind of have a social thing,” the police report said.
“Mr. Fish stated, ‘I would let them be teenagers and let them get their energy out … I will admit that I did at one point egg them on,'” the police report said.
In a separate conversation with police, Fish said, “‘The truth is I’m an idiot and wanted to befriend them … I’m immature,'” the police account said.
Fish was charged with two counts of risk of injury to a minor, four counts of reckless endangerment in the second degree, and breach of peace in the second degree.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges in state court in Norwich, Connecticut, on Thursday. He was released on a promise to appear at his next court hearing on May 8.
It is unclear if Fish has a lawyer currently as none is listed by the court.
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