'That sexual abuse in front of his team devastated him'

By Debbie Schipp

Jordan Preavy was '10 times the man you will ever be', his father told one of his assailants. Source:Supplied
Jordan Preavy was '10 times the man you will ever be', his father told one of his assailants. Source:Supplied

Jordan Preavy was living his high school dream. At 16, he'd made the football team.

Then he was sodomised with a broomstick by his "teammates" - for want of a better word - in a "hazing" to initiate him.

A year later, he was dead.

Hazing is the practice of rituals and other activities involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group.

And it was happening at Milton High School in Vermont. And, it turns out, in schools across the USA, a feature by ESPN's Outside The Lines investigative team, led by journalist John Barr, has revealed.

The team unveiled 40 such incidents across the US since 2011 - seven of them this year alone.

Outside The Lines investigated a trio of hazing incidents: former Oak Hills football player Josh Villegas, who claims he was forcibly sodomised while on the Californian team; collegiate athlete and former McGill football player D'Arcy McKeown; and Jordan, who committed suicide following hazing suffered as a member of the Milton football team.

Villegas spoke publicly for the first time about his hazing.

But with Jordan dead, it was up to his father and stepmother to speak about the impact of what they now know happened in the lead-up to Jordan's death.

A haunting promo for the documentary showed father Sean Preavy, and his wife Karen visiting Jordan's grave, seeking solace and answers.

It's a well-worn path they tread every few weeks. Their loss was compounded by the ugly, excruciating, painful details of what happened almost a year before.

Jordan was 16 when he was pinned down and sodomised with a broomstick by at least two of his teammates.

According to ESPN, witnesses told police Jordan's head "snapped back and he looked pained, yelling 'No!' and 'Get off'," as he was sodomised through his clothes with the broomstick as part of the hazing ritual.

Jordan never told his parents about the incident.

A year later, in August, just before his 17th birthday, the teenager committed suicide.

It's alleged Milton High School knew in May 2013 Jordan had been hazed, and still didn't report the incident to anyone, or tell Jordan's parents.

It was another year before police investigating other allegations of hazing in the school's football team finally told Jordan's family he had been hazed.

Jordan's parents believe the hazing contributed to his suicide, and are suing the school citing its failure to protect him.

"Having that sexual abuse in front of his team devastated him. Devastated," Jordan's mother, Tracy Stopford says.

Adding insult to injury, in a court response the school district denied culpability, arguing that the broom handle did not break Jordan's clothing: "It is not likely that Preavy killed himself because on one occasion an object was pressed against his clothing in the buttocks."

The criminal investigation into hazing at Milton eventually led to the conviction of five football players on various charges.

An independent report commissioned by the school district, though, criticised its officials for failing to report the attack on Jordan to authorities as required by school policy and state law.

Last year, Vermont passed "Jordan's Law", which requires school officials to report all hazing incidents to the Department for Children and Families within 24 hours.

In May, one of those who held Jordan down and assaulted him, Brandon Beliveau, was sentenced for his role in the hazing and faced Jordan's family for the first time.

"As a captain of the football team, I had the responsibility to ensure safety, and that is something I did not do," Beliveau said in court. "There are not words I can say to make you feel better ... or bring him back."

He added, "I'm sorry, and I take full responsibility for what I did."

Ms Stopford fought tears as she said: "We do not understand why kids can do something so horrendous to each other. Our lives will never be the same and our hearts will be broken forever."

Mr Preavy delivered a withering assessment of his son's assailant: "I don't believe that you are remorseful, and I don't believe that you take responsibility for your actions that you are clearly guilty of.

"My son, Jordan Daly Preavy, at 17 years old, was 10 times the man you will ever be.

"You, sir, in my opinion are a coward and a failure as a human being. I can't wait to walk out of this courtroom today and have to never deal with you again."

Ms Stopford said both she and Jordan's father's family will be moving out of the US.

"We cannot bear to live and work where Jordan once lived," she said.

Mr Preavy's right arm carries a tattoo of Jordan's name.

- news.com.au

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