New York Students Charged for Paddling Middle Schoolers

PHOTO: Three Westchester County high school students are facing criminal charges for alleged hazing.
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Three New York high school students face felony and misdemeanor charges in connection with the alleged hazing of eighth graders in their suburban town in an annual "freshman Friday" ritual.

Sean Pinson and Tristan Scragg, both 17, and 16-year-old Max Meyerson allegedly kidnapped several teens at Rye Public Library, forced them into a car and drove them to a wildlife conservancy, where they paddled two of the boys with a "large piece of lumber," police said.

One student was hit so hard that he sustained injuries requiring medical attention at a hospital. Police are asking other possible victims to come forward. More arrests may be made in the case, police said.

The alleged attackers, juniors at Rye High School, were arrested Saturday and charged as adults with assault, hazing and unlawful imprisonment. They were arraigned Monday night and released without bail.

The incident was part of what students call "freshman Friday," a ritual that targets incoming freshman.

"It's been happening for a number of years," one student told ABC News affiliate WABC. "They don't usually do anything about it, the cops."

Edward J. Shine, superintendent of the Rye City School District, disputed the fact 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. 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," the superintendent said in a statement to parents.

Shine said that officials are "greatly disturbed" by the allegations.

"Though this incident occurred outside of the school day and off school grounds, we must stress that there is, quite simply, no place in our schools or society for violent acts like those that have been alleged. While this is, first and foremost, a serious legal matter for the young men who have been arrested, these students will also face severe disciplinary consequences as students of the Rye public schools," read the statement.

"Freshman Friday" is not unique to Rye High School. Parents at Malibu High School in California were warned of the possibility of a similar 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.

"This is not a rite of passage. It is dangerous and could have tragic results. Following the hazing, there may be a party involving alcohol hosted by 11th graders. This, too, is extremely dangerous and against the law," read a letter sent to parents, obtained by NBCLA.

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