September 1st, 2011
09:40 PM ET

Video: UnGodly discipline investigation

Editor's note: Gary Tuchman investigates a faith based home for girls, where former residents say they were abused.

Filed under: Gary Tuchman
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. James

    I think the discipline of child for the sake of GOD is wrong but I have not seen your show demonstrate the discipline of the Muslim community for their failure of following the laws of their god. If you are going to condemn one religion then you should look at the other religions for their own failures you are so readily willing to dismiss. Or are you willing only willing to accuse one religion and not another.

    September 2, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  2. Carole

    To Spare the Rod, and Spoil the child has been badly misinterpreted. To Spare the Rod, the Rod is a line of measure, the line of measure God has given us to live by. The Ten Commandments. To spare the Ten Commandments, will spoil the child. People get a grip, did Jesus Christ ever once suggest we beat our children, or anyone for that matter? No! The exact opposite.

    September 2, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
  3. Mercedes

    This story is repulsive. They are abusing children and it shouldn't be tolerated. What bothers me the most is that when a parent or guardian is found guilty of abusing their child there is consequences but what about here? No consequeces? Government officials are turning a blind eye on this one and ppl are suffering...just wrong

    September 2, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  4. Tina Marie

    Please investigate Maranatha Baptist Church and their affiliated school in Elkton, MD

    September 2, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  5. Adrianne Mackey

    My father-in-law was a wise man of very few words. However, once when we were talking about spanking, he said, spanking just makes kids mean. I decided I did not want to raise mean kids. They are grown now, one a fireman, one who has an MBA and his own company. They are raising their children with rules, but no spankings.

    September 2, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
  6. Helen King

    A child learns inadvertently from our example. I find it ludicrous that the author of 'Raising Up a Child" uses violence to teach a child not to be violent. He needs to go stand in the corner... of a therapist's office. I shudder to think of all the little children who are the essence of innocence, whose lives have been scarred forever scarred by him and his wife.

    September 2, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  7. Catherine

    I am watching the show. A tape was played of Roger Voegtlin at Fairhaven in Chesterton, IN. I am his adopted daughter. Cooper, CNN, etc. has NO idea of the abuse that is going on at that church, school, college. The only way to describe that place is a CULT. I lived there from 75 to 89. Someone needs to take a stand against that place. The truth needs to come out. Anderson, I commend you for your stand, for your obvious heart felt attempt to bring these people to justice. I support you 100% and I am more then willing to sit down with you and enlighten you on what is truly going on there.

    BTW... Voegtlin always funded Hepzibah House... he sent several of my highschool friends there.


    September 2, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
  8. Theana Kastens

    "Spare the rod, spoil the child" appears NO WHERE in the Bible. It is from a 17th century Samuel Butler poem.

    September 2, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
  9. Deborah

    When I lived in Indiana, I wrote to my state senator and state representative about this issue. They are the only ones who are empowered to change the statute that limits oversight over these institutions. I would encourage Indianans to do the same. The more they hear about this, the more motivated they'll be to make some changes.

    September 2, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
  10. tony s

    The stories about spanking are on the extreme it is offensive to all of us who LOVE our children and are educated.
    It is more about shaping the will Not breaking the will.Please ask Dr James Dobson about this issues. We as Christians
    don't believe in abuse.Please don't let the good suffer with the bad!!

    September 2, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
  11. Marissa

    As I watch this show on "discipline" aka child abuse, it is bringing me to tears. I grew up in this nightmare. Hearing the recording of Zariah saying she needs to bring a bucket to the hospital in case she throws up makes me want to vomit right now, as I know what that feels like. Growing up in this environment is horrible in more ways than one. Of course, there's the abuse that is a nightmare in and of itself, but because of the way these "godly" people do it, they make you think that God wants this to be done to you. Growing up, the pastor of our church would demonstrate at church in front of everyone how to properly "spank" (beat) your child. He would say "the blueness of the wound cleanseth away the sin", basically saying that your child would not be truly sorry if they were not bruised. So, my parents believed him. I could be on here for hours talking about all the abuse – all the days that my siblings and I couldn't go to school or out in public because of all of our bruises. I'm now in my mid 30's, married, live a normal life and have 2 great kids. My biggest hurdle has been disciplining my kids. I admit I am soft on them. I've never once spanked or hit my child. It is difficult for me to discipline them, because I go back to the days of me getting disciplined and don't want to hurt them. Something desperately needs to be done to help out these poor children. I can't believe the dad of this little girl only got 20 years and the mom got 12. They should be locked up for life! They tortured a little girl for over 7 hours. That is a monster to me.

    September 2, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  12. Nancy Williams

    I'm a Baptist and studied the Bible for many years. Nowhere does it teach that children are to be abused...these finatics should be arrested.

    September 2, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  13. Elizabeth Nunez

    As a Christian mother, I was very disappointed in the "Ungodly Discpline" report given by Anderson Cooper. I felt that the report made it sound like all belivers of the bible abuse their children. That's like accusing all Muslims of hating america OR all single moms must be liar's like Casey Anthony so they murder their children and party. Wake up America! I strongly beleive that parents need to start raising up their children in the way they should go but not abusing them, especially to death.
    Parents are trying to be their child's friend and not their parent. Preschoolers are telling parents when their bedtime is set. I beleive that "Godly Discipline" needs to be brought back into home.

    September 2, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  14. Abby

    It's a shame that some people with anger issues use the Bible and God's name to abuse and mistreat innocent people. That doesn't portray the loving God who created us. God is not an abuser neither does he tell us to abuse others. What he does tell us is to be merciful and love one another.

    September 2, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  15. Kristina

    What is the name of the medical condition that happened to include the vomitting after the little girls were beaten to death? Were they scared to death or did they die from all the broken blood vessels in the buises? My husband had a RPG hit his humvee in Iraq 2003 and his doctor says he has a TBI, he doesn't remember vomitting after the Trauma but he didn't remember what happend exactly until a couple years passed. Still he cannot remember names of people who were riding with him. Traumatic events themselves wouldn't seem like they would cause someone to die from panic. I am curious to learn more about this condition but couldn't find anything online with key words.

    September 2, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  16. Lauren

    I am watching this report on AC360 right now and I am sickened by it. The couple who killed their adopted daughter deserve every second of prison time they got and more. As for that psychopathic couple from Tennessee who wrote the book, I can't even put into words how disgusted I am by them. I'll tell you, I'd love to "spank" that stupid grin right off the wife's ugly face.

    September 2, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  17. anne ruddy

    Why have these sadists been allowed to exist for over 40 years?! Why hasn't the Baptist church, Gov. Daniels, local pols, parents, former staff done something to stop these perverts.
    It's appalling, disgusting, sad. I can't believe it's happening in 2001.
    Anderson, PLEASE stay on top of this.

    September 2, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  18. Thomas Moore

    Hey there! Great to see some exposure on the troubled teen industry but I do want you to know you haven't even scratched the surface. You have my email, please feel free to contact me for more information. I was in a program called Straight, Inc. Now closed but there are clones out there and it focuses on thought reform by violence, taking away your ability to do anything alone (yes, even going to the bathroom with someone in watching you), ability to make decisions for yourself, ability to read anything, talk without permission, etc.

    Please let us use your voice to help stop this insanity in America.

    Thanks Anderson Cooper.

    September 2, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  19. trisha

    Being raised in an IFB home and church, I was abused and witness much abuse. Please keep telling these stories so we can protect the children that are in the position I was in 20+ years ago.

    September 2, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  20. Joan

    If what these girls claim is true, then I truly feel sorry for them and for what they had to endure. If true, the perpetrators should be put in jail. However, Lester Roloff was NOTHING like the men portrayed in this story and Rebekah home had no affiliation with this home whatsoever. Lester Roloff should not be compared to the people who run Hephzibah in any way. He was a kind and loving man that was never convicted of abusing any of the girls in his homes.

    September 2, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  21. renae mccartney

    i just posted this story to facebook.........i am so upset this is going on and there is nothing that can be done.........i have been talking with some friens that live in warsaw and they are outraged!!!!!!!! we are right now currently trying to get a friendly picket to happen sunday when all of their followers are there.............please help us and let us no what we can do and how we as concerned people want to help these young girls out........please respond
    thank you again for exposing what is going on and i hope we can help to make a difference
    renae mccartney

    September 2, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  22. Becky (Cramer) Slattman

    I watched the piece on Hephzibah House last night. You did a nice job with it and Susan's interview was great. I really hope it brings more awareness to what's going on there. I was only there for 6 1/2 weeks. I got lucky and was sent home because of the girl that ran away and went to the police. Still have horrible memories of that place. Thanks for airing it and doing what you could to help!

    September 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  23. Chelsea Kapela

    Please look into WWASP facilities as well. As a survivor of one of their toughest schools overseas, this organization is one that definitely needs US media attention. (Not to mention they are a large contributor of Mitt Romney's campaign) Please, please, please run a story on WWASP.

    September 2, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  24. Don P

    Thank you Anderson Cooper for exposing the perverted abuse that is taking place in independent, fundamental Baptist reform homes. Donald Williams' sermon illustrated perfectly the problem in this group. Little girls are to blame for being whistled at, molested, and raped. The girls are guilty, not the men with lust in their hearts. These are sick people and they need to be held accountable. Thank you, Anderson Cooper, for doing what fundamental pastors will not do – thank you for exposing the abuse.

    September 2, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  25. Cindy Foster

    Thank you so much for shedding light on an industry that has thrived in the darkness while claiming to 'be light'. There is a missing element in our laws which prevents Law Enforcement or Child Welfare Services from exercising the very duties for which they exist–to protect those who cannot protect themselves and that is, that they cannot act unless someone inside the institution reports the abuse. But that is exactly why nothing has been done. Those children are so effectively isolated and guarded that no one is able to report. Hopefully now, the attention this cause is getting from the press will light a fire and get the provisions The Law needs to fix this.

    September 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  26. Marie

    Their are dozens of simliar places like this, not all religious though. Look into WWASP programs and you will see the truth from what former students have to say about places that have rules like this place. Don't doubt places like this don't exist, because they do and these stories are true.

    September 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  27. Sharyl Yeisley

    This is very sad. Someone needs to pursue investigating into the school and help the kids there. Can't the one girl (20 year old) press charges for abuse and sexual assault because there is not statue of limitations on crimes against children? Maybe that would help get someone in there. I am disgusted they would (men of all things!) examine her with a speculum!

    September 2, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  28. Kristen Hutson

    notice they did not spend much time talking to the girls who said nothing every happened there out of the ordinary. I have seen this happen time and time again some one who is bitter about their parents sending them some place because they are uncontrollable so they get bitter and angry and try and blame the church and God. Its just not right. If you give me actual proof then ok but this video doesnt.

    September 2, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  29. Erika

    Wow..Nothing state or government can do about it..but state and government can regulate our lives everywhere else? Or atleast try to? This is repulsive and offensive to me, as well as others who have been victims of this kind of abuse over the past several years..use that government money to the good...

    September 2, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  30. Marcus Chatfield

    These programs all use essentially the same technology. Break a teenager down, reduce them to an infantile state through trauma induced dis-association and then re-condition them into a new doctrine. Eventually society will see this as the torture it is, America will stop "brainwashing" as a therapeutic tool. Abuse is newsworthy, but when will we address the larger intention behind the abuse, the technology used in coercive thought reform?

    Please spread the word, torture in the name of sobriety, in the name of therapy, in the name of Jesus...is torture.

    September 2, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  31. sheila smith alessio

    I was in rebekah in 1983 and i was abused-brother roloff had died in 82 and the camerons took over the farm-the barretts took over rebekah and thats when it got bad. beatings-i also had to kneel on pencils-all mail was read so we couldnt tell our parents-all phone calls were listened to-lock up sometimes for a month straight and the room had no running water.ALL IN THE NAME OF GOD!!

    September 2, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  32. Becky Z.

    What is it going to take to shut these 'homes' down once and for all? Why isn't Mitch McConnell banging down the door at this very minute. Why aren't the towns people there storming the fences there and at the other homes where children and young adults are being battered and psychologically USED to do the evil work passed off as Godly.

    I'm ashamed to be in the same country as this kind of mistreatment to our children. It's the American Taliban in it's full glory.

    Thank you CNN for doing this courageous work that the Senate is too cowardly to tackle. What *do* these fundamentalists have on them?

    September 2, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  33. Andrew

    Anderson thanks for the investigation – this is criminal ! Why are these folks not brought up on charges?

    September 2, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  34. Tara

    Anderson, Thank you for bringing awareness to this issue. I am a survivor of a faith-based children's home known as New Bethany Home for Boys and Girls. There was physical, mental, sexual, and emotional abuse going on there for decades. And these people have never been held accountable for any of their actions, even though the state of Louisiana tries to close them down a few different times. There is a book of fellow survivors' stories that was just published, New Bethany by Roger Kisner at lulu.com. We would love to be involved in helping close these places down.

    September 2, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  35. Karen wynn

    I was listening last night to the story about homes with Brother Lester Roloff, I was a girl in that home from 1971 to 1973..I ran from the home taking some girls with me...but I was a rebellious girl who didn't like authority figures in my life...so many times I wished i had stayed and I know my life would have been better. Brother Roloff was the kindest most generous person I know of. He helped so many men , wemon , girls and boys through out the years it would be hard to name them all. He is dead and can not take up for himself, so I say this for Him, if it had not been for this man I would be dead today I believe. He was the best of men in my eyes and have never ever seen another minister that would give their all for others....I wish you would allow the people he has helped to give their side of the story....Karen wynn

    September 2, 2011 at 10:19 am |
  36. Lisa

    Bill Gothard's 'training' programs are also abusive. Not only are they abusive, they have members of our judicial system taking the courses ran by Gothard- so who will protect those children who are sent there to be locked in prayer closets for weeks or other spiritual/mental/physical abuse. We as a country need to be more outraged by what is being done to our children in the hands of so called religious hands.

    September 2, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  37. Joan

    I was saddened and appalled by the comparison of Brother Roloff and Rebekah Home for Girls with that of Hepzibah House and the allegations of abuse by the facilitators of that home, especially since brother Roloff was tried and never convicted of abusing any girls in his care. I also lived at Rebekah Home for 15 months and I NEVER saw any such abuse by Lester Roloff. He was a kind, caring and amazing man that I credit with saving my life. If the allegations of these girls are true, then the facilitators of Hepzibah should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. But there is no association between Brother dragging Brother Roloff into the story

    September 2, 2011 at 9:20 am |
  38. Sarah

    After watching the parking lot attempt at a interview it was quickly apparent by facial expressions and body language that more than likely this man was lying. A quick Google search brought up more history and previous complaints and research than I would have thought and I am completely sickened to think that this facility is less than 4 hours drive from my home.

    " No man is worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his well-being, to risk his body, to risk his life, in a great cause."
    Theodore Roosevelt

    Take initiative....make a difference.....and believe......that every positive action makes a difference. These people have a 40 year history of abuse and rely on the fact that most will do nothing even though it makes their stomachs tumble to watch the news cast. 40 years doesn't have to turn into 50. I pledge to spend time pursuing more information on this and acting on behalf of anything I see as unjust. Can you do the same? Join me, please.

    September 2, 2011 at 3:18 am |
  39. Cherrina

    This establishment & it's "practices" are repulsive and they need to be put out of business. Period.

    September 2, 2011 at 3:15 am |
  40. Eric

    Very shocking. I can't believe the government can't do something to protect these poor girls and put the creeps running this place in jail. Religion always seems to give criminals a free pass.

    September 2, 2011 at 3:02 am |
  41. Dan Mesmer

    These young women should know that they are not alone and that help is available for them. Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) has been identified as a type of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There is an article by Dr. Marlene Winell in the June 2011 issue of Cognitive Behavior Psychology Today that stresses that RTS is a very real condition. I think it would be great if Anderson Cooper 360 could obtain an interview with Dr. Winell. The young women deserve no less.

    September 2, 2011 at 2:52 am |
  42. Nelson

    These places need to be shut down immediately.

    September 2, 2011 at 1:12 am |
  43. William Nelson

    I was sent to a wilderness camp called Pathways in Enterprise Alabama when I was 13 years old(1988) by DCFS, I was forced to live and sleep in handcuffs and shackles, I was absolutely dominated by these people. Last year I contacted the owners, a husband and wife, I expressed to them the damage they caused me, but they just don't get it. The wife mentioned Coercive Restraint Therapy, after some research I found that it is also called Holding Therapy or Attatchment Therapy. I am willing to tell anyone and everyone that will listen, we need to speak for those children that are suffering from this maltreatment, laws need to be made and enforced to protect the most vulnerable in our society. Please check out a group on Facebook called Attatchment Therapy Is Wrong.

    September 2, 2011 at 1:00 am |
  44. Joey at Purdue

    Thank you for your report regarding the alleged child molesters & abusers protected by Ind. Code § 31-27-2 from AC360 tonight. Sent it to Marlin Stutzman for Congress (from the same district as Hephzibah House), Representative Todd Rokita (my congressman), Gov Mitch Daniels, Mayor Greg Ballard Campaign (Mayor of Indianapolis), Kennedy For Indianapolis (running for Mayor of Indianapolis), every investigative jornalist in Indy I could think of, & messaged it to Atty Gen Greg Zoeller, among others. I have a Professor who's a Judge at a Superior Court in this state, so I'll e-mail him about Ind. Code § 31-27-2 in the AM.

    September 2, 2011 at 12:24 am |
  45. Tony

    The victims of Hephzibah House have shown enormous restraint and have peacefully made several attempts to stop child abuse and those who perpetuate it in this teen program. No action has been taken by authorities. If there are no laws to protect the children of this country or of this state, I see little value in our justice system.

    Child Protective Services require a current complaint from someone in this home, yet the only way this could occur is if one of these girls were to run away AND believe that the police wouldn't drag her back AND expect to be believed.

    I would like to express my gratitude to Anderson Cooper and CNN for their decision to explore this issue. Bringing this issue to the attention of the public is a necessity. Thank You.

    September 2, 2011 at 12:21 am |
  46. Abigail B.

    Thank you so much for covering this story. I was sent to Hephzibah House at 13 years of age and was there for two and a half years. I have witnessed and experienced many different kinds of abuse at the hands of the Williams' business. Can't wait to see you expose this school and others like it tomorrow.

    September 1, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  47. Melissa Gronau

    My experience at New Horizon's Youth Ministries was being brainwashed in a sense and had the fear of God placed in you. The girls likely will not speak openly about what is really going on unless they are sure they will not have to return. I am a clinical social worker and what I experienced as a student a NHYM and what I witnessed was abuse, mind control, and manipulation by the staff to parents. These schools prey on vulnerable hurting families that may be experiencing family problems that could be more appropriately resolved with family therapy. NHYM charges up to 6000 a month with the end result being relationships between parents and child damaged long term. Something needs to be done to rescue these children.

    September 1, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
  48. lyle

    the girls school should be investigated by the building code or health dept for not enough toilets . this could lead to investigations by DHS

    September 1, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
  49. Melissa Gronau

    A similar program also in Indiana that needs investigated is New Horizons Youth Ministries. They take things a step further and have campus' outside of the US were the majority of the abuse took place. A book has also been written about the abuse at this school. http://nhym-alumni.org

    September 1, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • Mouhamad A. Naboulsi

      Campus outside the U.S. to evade U.S. laws? A Guantanamo for children. How pathetic

      September 3, 2011 at 3:57 am |
  50. Kristin

    What can be done to stop those Hepzibah House sickos! I am repulsed by this story...Anderson, please do everything you can to expose these abusive bastards and bring them to justice.

    September 1, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
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