Bethel failed two portions of inspection Bethel failed two portions of inspection
By American Staff Writer
Hattiesburg American, July 16, 2004

Report: Bathrooms, sewage in bad shape

E-mail to Project NoSpank, 7/17/04

And Mississippi is once again fails to protect children in a child abuse cult compound

There are a lot of good folks in Mississippi working to end child abuse at these cult compounds, but they are always trumped by paid-off judges and news editors, etc. The US Federal govt. is complicit in the continuous child abuse at these cult compounds because these places deal in interstate commerce and interstate trafficking of children, yet the Fed. govt. does not regulate or investigate either. It looks like now only fairly trivial issues will be addressed, and it will all be "settled" with some non-binding or low binding, probably temporary agreement, and there will once again be no court cases and no public testimony, which Bethel desperately works to avoid in all cases, lest there actually come a transcript of what really goes on in these places.

It is interesting that even the trivial-seeming health dept. concerns might indicate some of the abusive attitude at Bethel. The fact that there was no hot water so the girls had to shower in cold water, was that accidental or deliberate?

The health dept. had separate concerns than social services, but the larger issues of no trained school teachers, ritual child abuse, children made to stand in sewers, threats or actual beatings, carried out by both staff and "leader" students with the staff's apparent blessings, etc., and much worse in the boys compound, were not addressed.

Jeff Charles

The Bethel Girls Academy failed two portions of an inspection on the day state officials removed 38 girls from the facility, the Mississippi State Department of Health said Thursday.

A residential facility inspection report dated May 19 shows that the facility's sewage system was not functioning properly and that toilet facilities were not in good repair, according to documents released Thursday in response to a request by the Hattiesburg American under the Mississippi Public Records Act.

According to the inspection report obtained by the newspaper:

Four showers at the facility were out of order.

The hot water did not work in the shower room.

The front entry way bathroom doors did not fit the door entrances. Herman Fountain Jr., director of the Christian-based home for troubled teens near Petal, said all the problems cited in the inspection report have been fixed.

"I received a copy of that report and everything has been fixed," he said.

Fountain said the facility's sewage system wasn't running properly because of a leak in the on-site sewage system.

"And we have that fixed, too," he said. "We had to seal the leak."

The Bethel Girls Academy has been under investigation by several state agencies including the state Health Department, the Attorney General's office and the Department of Human Services since May 19, when the girls were removed from the facility.

State Department of Human Services officials have said the agency had received reports of physical and verbal abuse against girls at the privately-run group home for at-risk teenagers.

Special Assistant Attorney General Earl Scales said earlier this month that the investigation into abuse allegations at the Bethel home is complete and an agreement is being negotiated between state agencies and the academy's director.

As of Thursday no charges had been filed against the home or Fountain.

Documents obtained by the Hattiesburg American included statements by whistleblowers who said Fountain cursed at girls at the school and threw a table at some of them after they protested their treatment.

DHS released statements last month taken from girls interviewed at the school. Some of the students told investigators they were beaten, were forced into a pond containing sewage and had to listen to tapes of sermons from 5 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. for eight days.

Fountain has denied all allegations of abuse.

"We are still waiting to hear from DHS," Fountain said Thursday.

Scales and Rick Whitlow, spokesman for DHS, could not be reached for comment.

Fountain said eight girls are currently housed at Bethel.

Under state law privately-run group homes have the option to seek a license from DHS.

A letter from Special Assistant Attorney General Dennis L. Sharp that was included in a packet of material sent to the newspaper Thursday states that child residential homes are not licensed facilities, but that they must register with the Department of Health.

"The registration and inspection of these facilities is governed by the Mississippi statutes and by regulations approved by the state Board of Health," Sharp wrote.

A recent survey conducted by the Hattiesburg American shows that Mississippi is the only state among six states in the South that does not require residential child care facilities to be licensed. Facilities in Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and Georgia each require residential child care facilities to be licensed.


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