These days, Jesse Mactagone can smile and he can walk. And that's saying something, after he suffered the kinds of injuries that are tough to recover from.
"The emergency room nurse informed me he had two broken legs, and I needed to get down here right away," remembers his mother, Jennifer Mactagone.
"Down there" was Salina, Kansas. And the Saint John's Military School - 1,200 miles away.
14-year-old Jesse had wanted to go to the school. In a picture of him taken by his mom, getting his head shaved the day she dropped him off he looks so happy.
Just 4 days later, he had injuries and scars that will be with him the rest of his life.
"Once we got to the hospital and we actually looked at him, that's when the anger comes in. An anger I can't describe," Jennifer Mactagone said.
Jesse's parents are convinced he was intentionally abused at the school at the hands of his classmates and instructors. Hazing. And even worse, they are convinced that the school ignored his injuries for days.
"We knew there was a certain amount of discipline that goes along with that... but not beatings," said Scott Mactagone, Jesse's father.
In a statement, St. John's has said it "denies that there was a culture of abuse, lack of institutional control, failure to supervise or any kind of cover-up."
But other students are saying something different.
"I just want to get it out there that this is real. this is happening," said Michael Kelly, a former student who showed a picture of himself, bound and gaged in duct tape. It's a picture he says was taken by other students, and sent via cell phone to his mother.
And since Jesse's ordeal, other students have come forward to tell their own horror stories.
"I go to bed every night and I think about who took Jesse's place. The moment he was gone, they picked on somebody else," said Jennifer Mactagone.