A former substitute teacher in Connecticut is accused of running a real-life Fight Club in his math class.
Ryan Fish, 23, is accused of encouraging Montville High School students to hit each other during a series of one-on-one brawls. Fish denied these allegations in court Thursday, claiming that he didn’t egg on the fights and had no clue that these fights would occur until they happened.
“I didn’t necessarily let them do it. I just wasn’t aware of what to do. I didn’t know how to handle the situation,” Fish said, according to WVIT.
The arranged brawls are said to have occurred last year. However, it wasn’t until Thursday that Fish was charged with two counts of risk of injury to a child, four counts of second-degree reckless endangerment, and one count breach of peace.
The Hartford Courant reported that police began their investigation in December. During their probe, the learned that fights between four boys, ages 14 to 16, transpired under Fish’s supervision, police said.
A report obtained by The Washington Post stated that police discovered at least eight videos during their investigation. The videos reportedly contradicted Fish’s claims of non-involvement: The educator was allegedly recorded counting down the fights, signaling “Round Two!,” and instructing students to move away from the door.
In many of these taped matches, one teen would be considerably smaller than the other, according to The Courant.
An assistant principal at the high school was alerted to these videos in early October and confronted Fish about it. Fish reportedly told her “boys will be boys” and was fired the same day, according to The Post.
While Superintendent Brian Levesque claimed no students were injured, reports indicated that one student suffered a bloody nose, another began vomiting during a fight, and a third student exhibited “real and identifiable” signs of being traumatized. A court liaison with Department of Children and Families told police that the third student, a 15-year-old, was filmed retreating throughout the fight, The Norwich Bulletin wrote.
The choice not to inform law enforcement—and students’ parents—of Fish’s so-called Fight Club has been met with controversy.
“I took immediate action in firing the substitute teacher that allowed this to happen,” Levesque told The Post in a statement.
“At the time, based on the initial video that I viewed and the information I was provided, I didn’t feel that this was a law enforcement matter. Had I known then, what I know now, yes, I should have contacted police.”
The ex-math teacher was also accused of allowing students to draw male genitals on the board and telling his class about how he would smoke marijuana.
“The truth is I’m an idiot and wanted to befriend them,” Fish told police, according to the arrest warrant.
Fish was reportedly released from jail Thursday after posting $75,000 bond. Outside of court, he revealed that he’s currently receiving treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder.
“I am so sorry…To be perfectly honest I was just trying to reach the kids,” he told reporters, according to WTIC. “I thought these kids were just being rambunctious I just thought they needed an out.”
[Featured Image: Ryan Fish/Connecticut State Police]