This story courtesy of www.fox28.com.
The accusations are troubling.
Teenaged girls being strip-searched, beaten, their communication monitored, being given little contact with the outside world.
Several women are coming forward to talk about their experiences at Hephzibah House, a boarding school for troubled teens in our own backyard of Warsaw.
In a Fox 28 exclusive investigation, we spoke to many former students who say, for them, Hepsibah House was a house of horrors.
“The paddlings or beatings were very frequent.”
“Every single day, we had to write down what our bodily functions were on a board, they called it the b.m. board.”
“She actually had a pail and she threw up into the pale and they literally made her drink it.”
“They were all about controlling you and the different incoming mail and and your communication with other people. They did everything in their power to control your every movement.”
These former students are all from different parts of the country. Their stories span decades. But they all have Hepsibah House in common. These women were students at the religious school for troubled teen girls in Warsaw.
For years, they say their story has remained under cover much like the school.
Jennifer was a student 11 years ago and she says this happened on the first day.
“People started circling around me and they all held me down. People were sitting on my legs and on my arms and they just started smashing me with this rod and I heard them calling it the rod of God,” Jennifer Sengpiehl says.
Susan was a student there 25 years ago.
“When I first got there, the first 3 to 4 months, I was paddled almost every day. And very severe. I fainted twice when I was being paddled. I saw a girl who had puss and blood oozing through her clothes,” Susan Grotee says.
They say all of their communication was monitored and they had a “talking list.”
“It was a real list and each girl had specific people they were all to talk to or were not allowed to talk to. Some girls actually could not talk to anybody for months on end,” former student, Gabriella Fluery says.
Many spend anywhere from 15 months to more than 3 years here, never leaving the property. And most of them tell us they remember vividly strip searches and female exams.
“They took me into a closet and there was a nurse and a man and at this point, I was a virgin. I had never had a physical exam. Just thinking about it to this day disgusts me.”
So why are these women who’s experience range from 4 years ago to 25 years ago, talking now? They found each other through the internet after several started web pages about their experience.
“As we came together. Alot of us talked about it. Alot of us prayed about it and I for myself want to make sure other girls don’t have to go through this experience.
“So What does Hephzibah House and Pastor Ron Williams say about the accusations? We started trying to sit down with them last week. Their attorney told us Williams wouldn’t be available until this Thursday. They did ask many others to call on their behalf, including some former students.”
“I can’t say it was a walk in the park. It was hard. I didn’t want to e there. I wanted to be with my family.” according to Shannon Grant.
Grant continues, “When I look back at it, there are alot of things that today I would not be able to do if it weren’t for that. Hephzibah House had given me character.”
Another former student, Alisha Gorbet says, “My experience there was great. I didn’t have any problems with the place. I was never beaten into submission or forced into anything.”
She goes on to say, “My parents just were never there and when I went there, they became family to me. I couldn’t trade it for the world.”
We also received countless phone calls from Pastors across the country supporting Hephzibah House and saying they have alot of success stories from there.
Pastor Williams attorney has told us he will sit down to interview with us on Thursday.
And Wednesday, the group we spoke with is protesting in front of the Kosciusko County Courthouse.
Filed under: abuse and the church, Abusive Leaders | Tagged: abuse in the church, abuse of authority, child abuse, church abuse, Hephzibah House, spiritual abuse, teen boot camps, troubled teens, violence |