Monday, December 29, 2008

The Freedom Village..... experience!!!!!

My name is not important but what is important is that I at 15 years old was sent to Freedom Village by my over zealot Christian father because as he put it, I was a "troubled teen". I am now 31 years of age and still remember everything I went through at Freedom Village, USA located in Lakemont, NY. It's like this, take everything you think you know about it and multiple that by 1000 and you still have no idea what it was like being there.

I was talking to my girlfriend this eve and we got on the subject of my past and that is when I told her about my time at the "Village". When I arrived at this secluded place located deep in farm country, ( where you would find any good cult ) I was shell shocked. I did not realize that what I had done as a child warranted coming to this horrible place.

From my very first day I was made aware of what was expected of me and what would happen to me if I did not do as I was told. Mind you the location of this place is in the middle of a field that is extremely large and has/had little "guard" shacks located at either of the entrances to the "Village" and to the back past the lagoon was the train tracks that lead to Watkins Glenn and beyond the tracks was a cliff that dropped into Seneca Lake. I was told to never try and run from the property or I would be sorry. So, me being the kid I was after a few days of the crap they put me through which I will explain in a moment I tried to run. I made it about 50 yards out from the main boys dorm when I was tackled by three of the "older" boys at the dorm. One of them who's name was Kyle who told the other two that he had me and would take me back to the dorm and they could leave. The other two guys left and Kyle took me around the back of the main administration building where he stomped and beat me with a retractable club he had in his jacket. I passed out and when I woke I was in my room back in the dorm. I was unable to get up to do anything, even use the restroom, or eat. No food was brought to me until I was able to go to the mess hall myself. My roommate tried to bring me some food but he was caught and that was that.

My room had no door handle and was one room amongst two floors of other rooms within the building. There were two guys to each room. After I was able to get myself some food I was sent to the "No Level Room" which was a room dedicated to driving you literally insane. It was a white room, with white desks, and chairs. The walls were blank and once in the room the door was locked. We/ I had to sit there for eight hours a day for a week and every other time I was "bad" as they called it with Christian preaching being pumped in through speakers in the wall.

They had other punishments as well which all lasted the length of the day, eight hours. We had to carry cut wood three pieces at a time from one end of the parking lot to the other over and over again. If we dropped a piece from exhaustion the staff would make us stay out an hour extra for each piece of wood dropped without food, water, or rest. My hands and arms would be so bruised and cut from the wood it was even hard to sleep when I finally did get the chance to do it.

Then there was the times in the spring and summer months where they would make us go out into the fields and pick all the dandy lions because pastor Brothers hated looking at them. They had to be picked at their base and had to be at least four inches in length. If we were caught picking smaller flowers or not picking them at all they would make us sit in the no level room for hours on end.

The showers in the building were almost like jail showers except there was no soap on a rope. We were forced to get into the shower fifteen guys at a time and we were only allowed 6 minutes per shower.

There were girls there and we were not allowed to talk, look, listen, know that they existed. Which was messed up because they lived in dorms over the other side of the yard and ate with us in the same mess hall. If we were caught talking or looking at them we would get punished and a few of us myself included who seemed to get the brunt of the punishments were on different occasions forced into the lagoon to wash the sin from our bodies.

The lagoon was where all the excess water from the "Village" drained to. It was also were backed up toilet water was drained from the dorms. On at least twenty occasions I was forced into the water of the lagoon because I was full of sin and sinned aginst God and the "Village".

Six different times I was beaten within inches of my life and then punished and was not allowed to get even remotely close to a phone to call for help.

I was once caught talking to a girl and was beaten for it. I talked to her again in the stable and was beaten and put in the "no level room" for three days. I still talked to her and made the mistake of telling the staff that they could not keep me and this girl apart. I was wrong and in fact they took the girl and locked her away for almost two weeks. When I saw her again she told me they had done terrible things to her while she was locked away.

Her and I were caught one day in the stable as we were supposed to be doing our runs on taking care of the horses. They found us laying next to each other talking in the hay. Her name was Jess. I was grabbed by Kyle the staff member and slammed into the wall. He took Jess by her hair and litterally threw her and she busted her arm. She was crying out and I had no way to help her. Moments later two other guys came in and one of them punched me in the side of the neck and head so many times I did not know where I was. I was lying on my side on the floor in a pile of horse dung while Kyle and the other guy beat and raped Jess right in fron of me.

After that we did not see Jess anymore and I was put in the no level room for almost a month. Jess wrote me a letter that was given to me by one of the other girls at the stable. In the letter Jess told me that she was tired of the bullshit that this place had put her through and did not know what to do. I tried to get to her but was unable to. two days later she killed herself by slashing her wrists and bleeding out in the shower of the girls dorm while all the girls were out on a day trip.

After her suicide we went to a service which we had to do everyday anyways but this service was about her even though they NEVER mentioned her name. The pastor did a sermon on sin and what that can do to you and if you commit suicide you will burn forever in HELL. No one ever mentioned her again and that is when my trouble really started. All the stuff that had happened to me before was childs play. I was beaten and belittled every single day after that all in the name of God. I was forced to endure things that no one should EVER have to go through in the name of God or anything for that matter.

It came to a point when I tried everything I could think of to get out of there and nothing seemed to ever work. Until the day I carved Hail Satan in my leg and almost bled to death in the process. I dragged myself to the paster private residence and bled all over his side walk and front door. Never once did he open the door to talk to me. he yelled through it and called me all sorts of vile names. He called his "people" to come deal with me. They beat my ass one took me into the kitchen of the mess hall. One of the guards smeared rock salt into my fresh razor woulds and told me the pain I felt was nothing compaired to the pain I was about to feel in HELL. After they beat me for a while I was taken to the nurse who was a nice lady I guess, she fixed me up and after a few days I was put on a bus and sent back to my father without even an explanation about anything that happened there.

I have tried to call them and talk about everything they did to me but no one will talk to me and no one has ever returned my calls.

29 comments:

  1. C'mon Shannon. I work with a guy who was at Freedom Village for most of 92 and 93 who can't say enough good about the place. He says he might even remember you.

    Obviously, you were a little put off by the place, but I sure hope no one reads this and decides not to let their child go there to get help. From what I have seen, they do a pretty incredible job.

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    1. no they don't I work there and was in the program. unless you experienced it yourself you will have no idea what the places like. I know some of the quote unquote people that turned out great but not as great as everybody thinks

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    2. Obviously jdh4476 the guy u work with is either full of crap or completely dilusional. The place is a hellhole of disatrious proportions. That poor girls suicide is public record now. The "Village" has been featured on Dateline as "one of the most horrific cults in existance" my very good friend was sent there by her crazy mother so that she could "cleanse the demons from her body". And my friend who was there when that girl Jess killed herself remembers all to well the horrors that those kids are subjected to. She has nightmares to this day about that place. No child, no matter how bad they are or what atrocities they have committed, should be forced to go through that torture. So before you, jdh4476, jump to conclusions about something you know nothing about maybe you should do your homework first. Look up the 1000's of complaints made against that place. Look at the tons of horror stories posted. And watch the Dateline broadcast. Because maybe the reason your coworker knows this man is because he was one of the ones who beat him senseless every other day.

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    3. Time for the state police, fbi ,homeland security, to go kick soom ass there and save all these kids alng with residents of watkins glen and any neiboring village or town .I would love to drive the few hours to help!

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    4. I live close and am going there tomorrow; want to go? It will not be my only trip there

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    5. I've been there and have friends that have also been there. wherever wrote this column and or agrees is delusional. if all this is true this place would have been shut down years ago.

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  2. Well I hope people do read this article and are put off by it. I was at New Bethany Boys Home in the early 80's. Beatings that you described for you are very similar to what happened there as well. Matter of fact the place was closed down by law enforcement. It was then re opened in South Carolina where it was raided again and 2 men ended up pleading no contest to felony charges.

    Back in Louisiana they ended up in trouble again and had to be taken to court before they would release a boy they had there at the girls / boys home in Arcadia.

    People want to call us liars, say we dreamed it all up. Well in my case there are news articles, police reports, court documentation and even the ex wife of the director of the home I was at, and her sons as well, that back up what I and others have to say.

    Here's an article by Al Clendenning of the Associated Press:
    http://www.whtg.org/media/nb_history.htm

    Here are newspaper articles:
    http://whtg.org/docs/newspaper_may_1981.jpg

    http://whtg.org/docs/walterboro%20news.jpg

    http://whtg.org/docs/NYTimes1.pdf

    http://whtg.org/docs/NYTimes3.pdf

    Here's the Matthew Grise story about how it took law enforcement to get involved to get him freed from New Bethany:
    http://www.teenliberty.org/Success01.htm

    http://www.nospank.net/grise5.htm

    And the mother load of links and references for New Bethany:
    http://www.secretprisonsforteens.dk/fornitswiki/index.php/New_Bethany_Home

    We also have a survivors group on Multiply:
    http://newbethanysurvivors.multiply.com/

    There are others at there. Hephzibah House is still in operation. Here are their stories:
    http://www.hephzibahhouse.com/

    Here's a Facebook group for Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Cult Survivors (and their Supporters):
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=35429320847&ref=ts

    And my personal story:
    http://clarkword.com/blogs/?p=6

    As you can see there are a lot of us out there in the world who are no longer being silent about the people who committed such atrocities against us in God's name.

    Anyone with any common sense would know that it's not a giant conspiracy to tell lies against so called "godly men". But that's what those that commit such atrocities and those who support them would have you believe.

    Thank you for speaking up.

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    1. Im 18 I'm being sent to this place. is there any thing you can tell me that can help me like do they. search you can i hide a comunication divce. plz call me if you have some guidence for me and i will help free our brothers and sisters I've had no famuily most of my life so i basicaly raised my self to not be afraid of any thing. or any one call me at 315359 7473

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    2. I was homles in rochester for 3 long years i got jumped shot at so that's why I'm saying its a opertunity to finely end the torcher give me the chance to help from the in side

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  3. I believe you.
    I hope everybody sees this and refrains from sending their kid away. This is how people make their livings... feeding off the money of others by taking in children and abusing and scaring the bejesus out of them. I am so sorry for your abuse. Good on you for speaking out.
    As a former New Bethany inmate, I can see much correlation between your experiences and what others have gone through. You did not deserve that treatment, and you CAN do something.

    Go to Cafety.org and relate your story. They are working with others to enact HB911, a bill that regulates youth detention facilities.

    Keep speaking out. IF people don't believe you, to hell with them...
    Find people who will.

    Peace,
    Cat Givens

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  4. My mother had suggested freedom village for assistance with my troubled son, she has heard the advertisement over a christian radio show. so i decided to look it up and see what exactly it has to offer in my mind when she told me about it i only pictured a cult, i am glad that i have the good sense to investigate my son has done nothing so bad that i would subject him to something so cruel.. I will not be sending my son anywhere we will just tough thing out together

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    1. Great idea that's what kids needs a lot of patentees days I don't see it that way and it sad

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    2. I am sorry not quite sure exactly what was just written. but the point I was trying to make is that kids just need parents ,they need their love your discipline and in time you will see a difference and I see you love your son and I pray that everything worked out with him.

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  5. first of a all I hate the place personally the pastor there is in my eyes not a pastor I was in the program for 3 years I also worked there for 2 years after my exhusband I got married which he got fired because he was horse playing with the guys. yes the whole thing on the wood was unacceptable n the no level n the way they did it made you feel like you are piece of crap. about 5 years after we left work in the program my husband I were going to get a divorce because he was abusive towards me and I left him and my ex husband went up to freedom village to go work again and Pastor brothers told him to divorce me and they even had a private investigator following me so the money that is getting sent to this place is not for the kids it is for brothers use only. now for the beating in stuff I never saw that and the girls dorm but I am so sorry for if it did happened to you I can't say that you're a liar because I don't know the situation. when I was working at the program there was a girl named Jess had tried to commit suicide it was unsuccessful and she did it exactly the way you explained. when we worked at the village I had four children I had to get my diapers from the ladies Ruth home just so I could put diapers in my newborn baby's body they gave us 150 dollars every 2 weeks that's lucky if we had it. I would never send the kids there if my life depended on it and even though I went to freedom village they didn't teach me how to be in the real world and yes I ended up in another Christian addiction program the reformers unanimous home in Hammond Indiana and there I change my life married a good Godly man who treats me like a princess he was not brainwashed like my ex husband to treat me like a piece of garbage the way brother treated to his wives. I didn't know that he had a fourth wife until today I only knew about the 1 he divorced and he was married to Kerri I don't know who he was married to after . so if you're reading this don't send your children there. most kids need attention love and discipline not to be locked up in a home with a get treated like garbage

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  6. My name is juanita and I was there in 98/99 and I believe you pastor brothers was a tyrant I witnessed him drag a girl out of her room by her hair down the stairs the girl was kicking and screamimg I dont know what he did to her after that but I didnt see her again freedom village was horrifying..the year 2000 was coming up and pastor brothers told us that the world was gonna end and if we were not on the grounds or participating in the program that we were gonna die and our families will die too...that place was the worst place ever and I would never send my child there....

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  7. this entire post is full of crap I personally have been to freedom village I personally was in the program I personally was a troubled teen.. I say almost a year at their facility and I can tell you there's absolutely nothing like what he has said yes it's out in the wild because they have a horse farm there with the kids work with animals look it up that's considered horse therapy.. and on top of it yes there's a chapel services in the morning and that is for 1 45 minute session. on Sunday there is a 11 o'clock service and a Sunday school service that's it. and Fletcher Brothers is a godly loving caring compassionate man. YouTube it still drains are treated with compassion in respect if another child hurts one of the show other kids that is not his fault but he does make sure that child is given what he calls no level but its not putting a room for 8 hours that eight hours is supposed to be time for schoolwork.. those white desk this child talks about is your school desk with dividers so that nobody can cheat on your and look of your papers.
    this post is such a outlandish exaggeration of what the real truth is... and don't forget to add all the distortions at all the delusional additions..
    I'm going to tell you I am 34 years old and I was there when I was 17 so that means I was there roughly about the time this guy was there and nothing he is telling you is true!

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  8. Well I was there there during the time and I also were there two years after that and I can say that everything he said was true and I would never ever send anyone there it is a cult.

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    1. Ok.. What's your name? And who was your "big sister"?

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    2. Tonia, you may have had a positive experience, the fact remains others did not. And to call their experience untrue and lies unless you personally observed how this person was treatedis hardly a stellar example of fine christian behavior.

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    3. Would you give your personal details to some anonymous person on the internet? You have no right to demand others

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    4. my names jackie and my big sister was megan back in 01

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  9. Well I was there there during the time and I also were there two years after that and I can say that everything he said was true and I would never ever send anyone there it is a cult.

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  10. Well I was there there during the time and I also were there two years after that and I can say that everything he said was true and I would never ever send anyone there it is a cult.

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  11. I am just horrified by the main story I read at the top and others that varified this was their story as well. I stumbled onto the FV website looking for work in upstate NY; we do not have any detention center for youth in my area so I looked into FV. My first red flags came when I read the application form; on page 13, the disclaimer that needs to be signed made my hair stand on end. I live 20 miles from Freedom Village, pass it all the time and often wondered what the place was like on the inside. I contacted our local State Police and led them to a few website; they are looking into it. Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences and I am so so sorry that this has happened to you. I think I might pack up some beer in a cooler and go covert on the outside with my camera.

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  12. I was there in '94-'95, when Mr. Baker was there don't know if he's still there or not but it is not a very good place. Pastor Brothers had the no level girls and the regular girls always working or walk wood at his home or in front which Ithought was strange. I remember when I was on no level he had us in the freezing cold walking wood late at night to the point that my fingers and hands where almost frozen. And his son was so spoiled that I hated the dude cause he got special attention. I was 15 when I went , I am now 33 I look back at it and glad that I got into the fight that got me kicked out of there. Most of the stuff that I've been reading have witnessed it except the girl killing herself

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    1. hi i am writing a book on bad experiences at freedom village to be particular if you are or know anyone willing to share there story of the place good or bad feel free to message me via email at jlovespar25@gmail.com thank you

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    2. I'm 18 going in if thers bad things going on as god as my witness. iwil do wat i can from the inside but you guys need to give the game plan tell me how the plase works how to hyde stuff possible escape routs any thing that could help me so i can help the others

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    3. John my name is steve, I was recently there and was able to smuggle in a cell phone. I will send you a pre paid straight talk phone with a camera without picures as proof its hard to prove anything. I from the bottom of my heart think going there is endangering your life. No bullshit. My father is a state trooper and litterally had to show up and kick down the no level room because I was pad locked inside of it for 3 solid days before I told a friend were I hid the phone and to call my dad before I died of de hydration because they didn't feed me or give me water but made sure to beat me at least once a day. The only way to escape is 3 am use the a and c wing stairs and watch the cameras and use the timing to get to the woods and head to watkins glen. Its far but deff the closest to help

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  13. I was pulled in the Pastor's office and threatened with multiple felonies for something I didn't do. Besides that bad taste in my mouth, I am aware of a child molestation to a minor that happened there, with to my knowledge, no report to law enforcement. The internet is misguided, the real reason for the "staff exodus" was that a staff member saw the Preachers car in the driveway of a female staff members at 3:00am. Under the surface of this facility is a very dark presence, and in my opinion should totally warrant a Federal investigation into what is really happening at Freedom Village.

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