Corpus Christi Caller-Times, April 19, 2000

Two more file complaints against Roloff home
Dan Parker

Three former residents allege abuse at hands of officials

Two former residents of a People's Baptist Church and Ministries home Tuesday filed misdemeanor complaints alleging they were assaulted by four people helping run the home.

The action brings to three the number of young men who formally have alleged abuse by officials of the Lighthouse, a home for troubled men ages 17 to 25. Nueces County Sheriff Larry Olivarez said his department is investigating claims by four other former residents who have alleged mistreatment at People's Baptist Church and Ministries.

Tuesday, Jeremy Gullick, 20, of Tennessee, filed complaints in the court of Nueces County Justice of the Peace Henry Santana, alleging assaults by Allen Smith, former superintendent of the Lighthouse; Jason Langford, a Lighthouse employee; and Wiley Cameron Jr., a trustee of People's Baptist Church, according to court records.

Wiley Cameron Jr. is the son of Wiley Cameron Sr., pastor of the church and head of the ministries. Wiley Cameron Sr. has not been charged.

Justin Simons, 18, of Georgia, filed two complaints with Santana. He alleges he was assaulted by Wiley Cameron Jr. and by Jason Tackett, a team leader at the Lighthouse, records show. Team leaders are residents who have done well in the Lighthouse program and have been selected by ministry officials to mentor other residents.

Langford, Smith, Tackett and Wiley Cameron Jr. could not be reached for comment. Wiley Cameron Sr. said he believes all four men are innocent.

The complaints are Class C misdemeanors punishable by a fine of up to $500 and no jail time, similar to a traffic ticket.

The complaints come after more than two weeks of controversy surrounding the Lighthouse home at People's Baptist Church and Ministries, which operates a number of homes for troubled children and adults on a 557-acre piece of land on Old Brownsville Road. The facilities also are known as the Roloff Homes, named after the late evangelist Lester Roloff, who founded the homes.

Sheriff's deputies arrested Smith on April 7 on a felony charge of unlawful restraint with injury after Simons told sheriff's investigators about punishment he allegedly received from Smith. Simons said Smith punished him because he thought Simons was planning to run away.

Simons said Smith forced him to run through thorny scrub brush without shoes, hit him with a stick and ordered him to dig in a 15-foot pit. Simons said he was not allowed to take a break unless he jumped across the pit. When he tried, he said, he fell and suffered sprained ankles.

Smith's attorney, Grant Jones, has said Smith will be exonerated.

In his complaints filed Tuesday, Simons said Tackett hit him in the back of the head around March 28 and that Wiley Cameron Jr. punched him in the chest around March 14.

Gullick, in a complaint Tuesday, said Smith hit him in the head with a broom and kicked him in the stomach sometime between March 20th and 22nd. Gullick said Langford punched and slapped him in the face in February. He said Cameron kicked him in the leg and hit him in the face, back and chest on Feb. 5.

Nueces County Sheriff's Department officials said they are investigating an allegation by Gullick that he also suffered a more serious assault by another official at the Lighthouse. Gullick said the official struck his leg, causing a large bump.

A crew with the national television news program "Dateline" filmed Gullick and Simons Tuesday as they filed their complaints at the Nueces County Courthouse.

Staff writer Dan Parker can be reached at 886-3774 or by e-mail at parkerd@caller.com

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