Rye Hazing Incident: High School Student Defiant in Face of Allegations

PHOTO: From left to right; 16-year-old Max Meyerson and Tristan Scragg, Sean Pinson both 17, are facing criminal charges for alleged hazing.
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A New York student at one of the nation's top high schools charged in an alleged "freshman Friday" hazing beat down is defiant in the face of the public outcry and says what actually happened will "be decided in court."

Tristan Scragg, 17, along with Max Meyerson, 16, and Sean Pinson, 17, two of his classmates at Rye High School, have been charged with assault, hazing and unlawful imprisonment after allegations that they rounded up eighth-graders from their area and brutally paddling them as part of a hazing ritual.

They were arrested Saturday and charged as adults.

"You don't know actually what happened. You weren't there. You don't know what happened," Scragg told an ABC News reporter who asked him this week outside his Rye, N.Y., home about the incident.

"I'm not going to tell you what happened. It'll be decided in court. You need to leave me alone," Scragg added, shielding his face.

Police are widening their investigation after cellphone video captured the alleged incident where the three high school juniors kidnapped several teens, forced them into a car and drove to a wildlife conservancy. The three high school juniors "paddled [the freshmen] multiple times with a large piece of lumber, causing bruising and other injuries to their buttocks and legs," police said.

One of the eighth-graders was hurt so badly he had to be taken to the hospital.

Rye High School is ranked 72 in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Parents in the wealthy New York City suburb say they find it difficult to believe that an incident of this nature could have happened there.

"It's upsetting. I've got two eighth-grade girls, and had two eighth-grade boys, and when the boys were that age they were afraid of this paddling day," resident Jennifer Howard said. "But the school was very strict, so I'm surprised it got out of hand."

Some students said it's all just a part of the school's tradition.

"I was with my friends and we pretty much all got paddled, so we were kind of expecting it. It wasn't a big deal," Chris Santagelo, a student at Rye High School, said.

But Edward J. Shine, superintendent of the Rye City School District, disputed the notion that "freshman Friday" is a tradition.

"Some have suggested that these alleged acts are part of an annual 'tradition' at Rye High School. Let me be clear: just because a small handful of students choose to believe that this is the case, does not make it a fact," he said in a statement to parents. "Our school district and our educators put a premium on student safety, respect, and dignity, and work diligently each day to inspire these traits in our students."

Such activity would not be unique to Rye High School, though, and the rituals, considered rites of passage to some, are taking place in schools across the country. Parents at Malibu High School in California were warned of the possibility of a hazing ritual, in which eighth-grade girls are "initiated" into high school by being covered in cat food and forced to roll in the sand in bikinis. ABC News' Olivia Katrandjian contributed to this report.

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