Bethesda home for girls

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Information
Current status Closed
Checked April 29, 2012
Close.gif Closed 1986?

Bethesda Girls Home was a behavior modification facility also named as a fundamentalist group home located on 196 Blue Lake Road Petal, Mississippi 39465 [1].

It remains unclear when the facility closed but an article in New York Times claimed that it was around 1980. However in a thread on Fornits webforum women speaks of staying at the facility in the 1980's [2]. Alternative names as Christian Life Academy is mentioned. It is believed that it was the FBI-investigation in 1986, which lead to its final closure [3] [4]

The owners moved to Missouri where there also back then was no regulation of faith based schools and became involved in the opening of Mountain Park Academy [5]

Program structure

This facility used corporal punishment

The program worked like most of the Roloff homes on the basis of strict rules, isolation from the families and corporal punishment [6]

Misc.

Girls, some of whom were pregnant , who was committed to these facilities due to their pregnancy were often forced to give their child up for adoption. One of these typical cases can be learned about in an adoption forum [7]

I have always wondered about my older 1/2 brother. My mom was sent to the Roloff Bethesda Girls Home in Hattiesburg, MS when she was 16 (in 1973 or 1974). All she has ever told me is that he was adopted by missionairies...she thinks. I am curious to know how he is. If you could be him and you feel comfortable, please email me at ....

The owners Bobby Wills and his wife Betty is mentioned in relationship with Mountain Park Academy, which were run in the still un-regulated state of Missouri.

In the news

Around 1960 they operated a choir to market the facility [8]

In 1980 the authorities raided the facility [9]

In 1982 a hearing was held by order of Judge Myron Thompson [10]. The allogations of abuse was targed on Bobby Rays Wills and his wife as well as staffmember Linda Williams. A young woman named Donna M testified that she was hit with a wooden board as punishment for trying to escape the torment of the home [11]. The owners denied the claims [12], which also did include brainwashing [13].

Jean Merritt, a psychiatric social worker in Washington, D.C., who was asked by the splc to examine some of the girls, told the court that Bethesda is a "brainwashing environment, by the fear, the physical and emotional abuse, and the close-off of communications [with family and friends]." [13]

In 1986 FBI started an investigation [3]. The state sought new homes for 120 teenagers [14]. Despite protests from local Christian fundamentalists the investigation resulted in the closure of the facility [15]

A girl named Connie Munson died during an escape attempt from the facility [2]

The facility is mentioned in a lawsuit [4]

Late 2010 the former campus was victim of a fire which destroyed the main dorm [16]

External Links

Info pages

Known adoption cases

Community Groups

Message boards

References

  1. The facility on Flash Earth
  2. 2,0 2,1 Bethesda Home for Girls, a thread on Fornits webforum
  3. 3,0 3,1 FBI investigates charges against Bethesda home, The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.), November 8, 1986
  4. 4,0 4,1 Candy H. v. Redemption Ranch, Inc., et al., Southern Poverty Law Center, case no: Civ. A. No. 81-100-N
  5. Insiders Tell of Boarding School Past and Present, By Kim Bell, St. Louis Post-Dispatch/March 31, 1996 (Re-print from the The Rick A. Ross Institute)
  6. How I Shut Down My Christian School, interview with Blackbird Willow.
  7. 11/21..Hattiesburg, MS...Bethesda Girls Home, sister seeking brother, Adoption.com forums.
  8. Performance, The Rockmart Journal, August 19, 1961
  9. In a Small Southern Town, a Church And Child Welfare Officials Do Battle, By RONALD SMOTHERS, SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES, The New York Times, June 16 - 1988
  10. Teens at facility in Mississippi are like "prisoners", Judge told, Gaineville Sun, March 6 1982
  11. HOME'S EX-INMATES TELL OF BEATINGS, By REGINALD STUART, New York Times
  12. OPERATORS OF HOME DENY BEATING WAYWARD GIRLS, New York Times, march 10, 1982
  13. 13,0 13,1 Students Claim Abuse, Brainwashing In School, By Pat Clem, Education Week, March 17, 1982
  14. Officials won't divulge why new homes sought, the Advocate, September 13, 1986 (Newsbank)
  15. Angry crowd protests closing of home for girls, The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.), September 17, 1986 (Newsbank)
  16. Fire destroys former home for troubled youth, WDAM, December 16, 2010