The state of Montana has removed 27 children from a Christian youth treatment facility following allegations of severe abuse and mistreatment.
Officials at the Ranch for Kids, a camp that says on its website that it is based on “Christian principles and the values of caring, simplicity, consistency, and accountability,” reportedly neglected and abused the kids physically and psychologically. Montana has now taken steps to rescue the children and halt the camp’s operation.
It’s good that the kids are now safe and receiving medical attention. But the allegations themselves are extremely serious and truly disturbing. According to the state’s Health Department, examples of the “egregious abuse” included these allegations:
The state Department of Public Health and Human Services said it had suspended the license of the Ranch for Kids in Rexford, in Lincoln County near Kootenai National Forest along the Canadian border, “to prevent future abuse.”
“The 27 children that were removed are now at a safe location,” the agency said in a statement on Tuesday. “They are receiving medical care. The details of their care and condition are confidential.”
Sheila Hogan, the department’s director, said the agency was working to get in touch with parents to try to reunify families or to find other suitable placements for the children.
- Children were hit, kicked, body slammed and spit on by staff members.
- Staff members inflicted “persistent psychological abuse” on children, including prolonged isolation.
- Children were forced to go on 15- to 20-mile “disciplinary walks” on remote Forest Service roads in harsh conditions.
- Food was withheld from children.
- A nail gun was shot at a child.
The executive director of the ranch, Bill Sutley, has denied some of the allegations, including the one involving the nail gun being fired at a young kid. He also said the other allegations were exaggerated. But the odds of all these complaints being completely false? Hard to imagine.
It wouldn’t be the first time that a faith-based program involved cruelty in order to achieve some goal — just ask gay people put through conversion therapy.
At least for now, Sutley and his staff won’t be able to hurt anyone while further investigations take place.
(Image via Facebook. Thanks to Scott for the link)