I was eighteen years old the first time a man kissed me.
At 14, the West Chicago girl had been arrested two times. She was skipping school, had run away from home and was using drugs. Her dad thought she might try to kill herself. The girls would refer to the director, Herman Fountain Jr. But what Jayme Bahrenburg found at Bethel was a world where girls were physically and mentally abused, where medical needs were ignored and tactics Derek bentley case essay on torture were used in an attempt to reprogram them, Mississippi child welfare officials say.
In May, Mississippi officials confronted the school and removed 38 girls — including at least four other Chicago-area girls — because of conditions there.
According to interviews conducted by the Mississippi Department of Human Services, it was not unusual for girls to be forced to exercise — sometimes in a sewage pond — for up to five hours or until they vomited. In at least one instance, a girl was forced to sit alone in a room from 5 a.
Lashuay sent his oldest daughter to Bethel after she started shoplifting and drinking, he said. She came back a different person.
So when he feared a younger daughter was heading down a similarly bad path, he sent her to Bethel as well. Brittany, who was among the girls removed May 19, told her father some of the same stories reported by investigators. Since the girls were removed, Bethel has continued to operate.
As of late June, two girls were enrolled. Fountain, whose family also runs a nearby academy for boys that has been shut down in the past because of abuse, denies any wrongdoing. He also says he is looking forward to having the school filled to capacity once again.
Though Jayme was at Bethel for only about days, the harm was irreparable, Laura says. Jayme had just been released from Linden Oaks at Edward Hospital in Naperville, where she had spent time for depression after running away for a week with her then-boyfriend. She would be issued a uniform — a used skirt and shirt for school and church, and used shorts and T-shirts for physical training.
It took about 16 hours to arrive at the rural school about miles north of New Orleans.
Jayme was angry the whole way. After she arrived at Bethel and was sitting down to talk with Fountain about the rules, she lost it. She said he explained to her that at Bethel everyone got up by 5 a.
She would have no phone privileges for the first month and just one, four-minute shower each day. They would have devotions and Bible memorization sessions every day and attend church three days a week.
He told her everything would be OK, that she would come to love God and appreciate her life. But first, he said, they would have to dye her hair.
Jayme had colored her hair jet black.
It matched the black clothes and dark lipstick and nail polish she liked. Fountain said it was too sinister, so he instructed a staff member to dye it blonde. It took three applications before the black color was covered up.
By then, Jayme said, her hair was like straw. It fell out in clumps. They also must learn basic kitchen duties and household chores and learn to cultivate, plant and grow their own gardens. Once that level is complete, girls may move up the ladder, through each of three levels named after women from the Bible.
At the Hannah level, the girls get uncensored phone calls and more frequent visits with family. Bethel uses a Christian-based curriculum, so virtually everything was related to religion, Jayme said.
Classes were also much easier than at West Chicago High School. For example, in Bible reading class, girls would fill in blank words missing from Bible verses. In history class, they learned about Christopher Columbus — a lesson Jayme said she studied sometime around fourth grade.
The school had one computer, which each girl used for 15 minutes per week to practice typing. Almost immediately, Jayme began writing letters home, begging her mom to come and get her. She gave the letters to Bethel staff to mail; Laura says she never got them.The Parish's Library, named in honour of Pope John Paul II, was opened by the then Monsignor Mark Davies V.G.
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