Prime time special includes a powerful and emotional interview with a California teenager who speaks out for the first time about his alleged assault.
With students returning to school and the 2016 football season underway, Outside the Lines PRIMETIME: “Hazing: The Hidden Horror” (Tuesday, Sept. 13, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN) will examine extreme hazing, primarily amongst high school athletes.
“For the last eight months, Outside the Lines has been investigating a series of violent, athletic hazing incidents with one troubling common thread – all of the victims have been sodomized,” said OTL investigative reporter John Barr. “Hazing victims with the courage to break the code of silence, police, who specialize in investigating sex crimes and experts, who’ve studied this phenomenon have all helped to lift the veil of secrecy on what’s become disturbingly-ritualized behavior.”
Outside The Lines has identified more than 40 similar hazing assaults since 2011 in towns and cities across the country.
Coordinating producer Tim Hays said the team set out to find someone who had survived such an attack to learn what the long term impact is on these young athletes. Two people agreed to speak with Barr about their hazing experiences: Josh Villegas of Hesperia, Calif. and D’Arcy McKeown of Toronto.
Villegas is 17 now and entering his senior year of high school but as a 14-year-old freshman, he says, he was attacked in a locker room bathroom before football practice, pinned against a wall and sodomized by two older teammates as part of a violent hazing ritual. He has never spoken publicly to anyone about his experience until now.
McKeown reflects on his experience years later and the changes that have taken place since 2005, when he was 18 and an incoming center on the football team at McGill University in Montreal. There, he was sodomized with a broomstick by older teammates as part of a hazing ritual. It was McKeown’s decision to speak up the day after his assault, and in the months that followed, that led to change at McGill.
The special also includes the story of Jordan Preavy of Milton, VT., a victim who committed suicide one year after he was assaulted by his high school teammates. Preavy’s mother, father and stepmother talk about their son’s experience and the way the school mishandled reports of extreme hazing, which OTL found to be a common occurrence.
ESPN’s Outside the Lines has been covering hazing extensively for more than 15 years since Rites and Wrongs: Hazing in Sports aired in 2000. The program continues its investigative efforts to tell stories that will help affect change.
“When our team of journalists started looking into the hazing story, we quickly realized it was an important, sensitive and complex issue that would require deep reporting and deft storytelling,” said senior coordinating producer Dwayne Bray, who supervises ESPN’s television investigative unit. “With these Outside the Lines Primetime specials, we will continue to shine a light on some of sports’ most-difficult and interesting topics.”
Barr’s written report on hazing will be available on ESPN.com on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 13.
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