Saturday, March 31, 2012

CNN AC360's Investigation into Pinehaven Part I of III: Yet Another Child Abuse and Trafficking Ring

AC360 again focuses on one of the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) affiliated homes for troubled teens as part of its ongoing series concerning child abuse by Evangelical Christians called Ungodly Discipline.  (See addendum note.)  Like Hephzibah House, Pinehaven in Montana is just one of many of these types of residential facilities where drastic discipline techniques, beating, shaming, and heavy labor are used to allegedly help purify the souls of these throw-away children. As Kathryn Joyce points out in her 2011 article, it seems that the laws in Montana where many homes facilitate their ability to operate, despite many reports of injustice and abuse. In many cases, these children who are seen as hopelessly tainted by sin or are rendered worthless because they've been sexually violated are told that they can only live a marginally meaningful life. The harsh conditions and complete isolation from family that they're forced to endure at the IFB homes supposedly will purify them so that this marginal life will be possible for them.

Addendum 31Mar12 5PM:  Since this initial posting, I've been made aware that though the IFB does run boarding homes like Pinehaven, the facility in Montana is not directly affiliated with the the IFB in the same way as homes like Hephzibah House.  Apparently, the home is subsidized as a missionary effort in the same way that the IFB homes are and practice the same types of discipline and heavy labor as a "Christian ministry" but receive donations from a variety of sources including funds from many evangelicals including Baptist and Catholic sources.  Like the homes directly affiliated with the IFB, Pinehaven does operate without oversight from anyone under the laws protecting private homes and religious liberty.

Each segment in this three part series will be presented as a separate blog post to allow for all three videos to be embedded.

Part I of III as it appears on the AC360 blog entry.

March 27, 2012 transcript not captured in Video:

COOPER: Talking to us at great risk I should point out. Is it discipline or violence? Former employees and students of a boarding school say the kids there were being abused. Gary Tuchman went to see and find out for himself in part one of latest installment of our series, "Ungodly Discipline" investigation.


COOPER: Welcome back. A new report in our "Ungodly Discipline" series tonight. For more than a year, we've been investigating accusations of child abuse under the guise of religious discipline.

We've looked at a man who's written a popular book, stolen the virtues of striking children with rods and belts and twitches. We've also look at some small religious schools where students say they were disciplined in the name of God and virtue is taught through violence.

Well, tonight a new report. Another school, this time in Western Montana. Gary Tuchman investigates.


COOPER: I'm -- it's an interesting defense. How many alleged victims did you talk to?

TUCHMAN: We talked to 12 people, former teachers and former students who alleged abuse. We also talked with many more people on the telephone and via e-mail.

COOPER: And did the students pay to go to this school?

TUCHMAN: Bob Larsson tells us there's no tuition. That it's just donations, but the students we talked to said their parents shelled out thousands of dollars a year for them to stay there. They also tell some interesting.

They say they had to do most of the construction work. The students built the houses on the ranch and they believe that this ranch could not survive without the student labor.

Bob Larsson denies that, but he does admit the students built the houses and they do the construction work. He says it's a good life lesson for the students.

COOPER: And part two of your story tonight, what does it include in that?

TUCHMAN: Right, part two, I will show you a clip that it may surprise you much to know that Pinehaven is unaccredited, unlicensed, uncertified by the state of Montana. The only people who watch over Pinehaven is Pinehaven.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): If teachers and counselors at Pinehaven were certified and licensed by the state of Montana, could they have helped to prevent or deal with certain horrifying situations? For example, former student James Mason says he was sodomized by another student.

MASON: I was raped. I never told anybody that. He threatened me with pliers to my throat and testicles if I would ever tell anybody.


TUCHMAN: The stories are sad, Anderson and there's a lot of point, counterpoint, but it doesn't bode well for Pinehaven. That this guy Ned Kent had acknowledged to me publicly for the first time that he did indeed applied so-called pressure points.

COOPER: Do we know when they were told they could not do that any longer?

TUCHMAN: Not exactly sure of the timetable. There are some who fear rise up students that they were told the day we arrived. Bob Larsson says it was a long time ago, but he can't remember exactly when he told that Kent not to do those pressure points.

COOPER: Stunning stuff. Gary, thanks.

Link here to Part II and Part III
with transcript not included in the video.