Hazing Scandal Stuns Rye

Westchester County Police arrested and charged three Rye teen-agers with Hazing, Assault, and Unlawful Imprisonment following a joint investigation by the County and City of Rye police departments.

Published June 8, 2012 5:00 AM
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Westchester County Police arrested and charged three Rye teen-agers with Hazing, Assault, and Unlawful Imprisonment following a joint investigation by the County and City of Rye police departments.


By Robin Jovanovich and Jon Craig

 

Westchester County Police arrested and charged three Rye teen-agers with Hazing, Assault, and Unlawful Imprisonment following a joint investigation by the County and City of Rye police departments.

 

The investigation began the night of Friday, June 1 after Rye Police learned that several teens were forced into a car in front of the Rye library and then driven to the county-owned Marshlands Conservancy. Two victims were then “paddled” multiple times with a large piece of lumber, causing bruising and other injuries to their buttocks and legs. One of the boys was treated at a local hospital for his injuries.

 

Each of the teens, all of whom are minors, was charged with Assault 2nd Degree, a felony, and Hazing 1st Degree and Unlawful Imprisonment 2nd Degree, both misdemeanors. They were arraigned in Rye City Court Monday night and released.

 

Schools Superintendent Dr. Edward Shine made the following statement soon after the incident: “While this incident did not occur on school grounds or as part of any school activity, we strongly condemn anything that results in pain, injury, or humiliation of students. Pending the outcome of the police investigation, students may be disciplined if deemed appropriate. We encourage parents to come forward to police with any knowledge of this matter.”

 

The story has made the national news and prompted wide comment. One Rye resident penned a Reader’s Forum on the subject.

 

As is its practice, The Rye Record does not publish the names of minors accused of a crime. We have spoken to a number of Rye High students, current students as well as those who graduated over a decade ago, regarding hazing at Rye City Schools. Speaking confidentially, they acknowledged that “Freshman Friday,” if not a tradition, is not an uncommon experience for eighth graders in the spring. They spoke of being paddled, being made to run gauntlets, and other kinds of hazing. The paper asked the Administration to comment on this issue but was unavailable for comment as of press time.

 

The Administration has acknowledged its concerns regarding “Freshman Friday” in the past. In spring 2010, Dr. Ann Edwards, Principal of Rye Middle School, wrote the following letter to parents.


Dear Parents,

 

Fear is in the air at Rye Middle School. There is a lot of chatter that June 4 is Freshman Friday, and eighth grade boys are fearful they are going to be attacked by balloons filled with Nair and have their bottoms smacked with paddles. It is hard to tell what is rumor and what is actually going to happen.

 

For several years, an odious spring tradition has taken place in Rye: junior boys paddle eighth grade boys off school grounds. In recent years we have heard of fewer instances of paddling, but the practice has not been extinguished.

 

Hazing is not tolerated in this community. The Rye Police Department will be on patrol tomorrow and will be on heightened alert all weekend. If you are the parent of an eighth grade boy, we suggest you encourage your son to keep a low profile this weekend. If the unthinkable should happen and you child should be on the receiving end of a hazing incident, we strongly encourage you to contact the Rye Police and help them identify the perpetrators. Together we can put an end to this dangerous tradition.

 

Have a safe weekend.

 

Regards,

Ann Edwards




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