This is a  staff list for Anchor Character Training Center in Fort Dodge, IA

(we are working to acquire the complete records for ALL years)




We advise current and/or former staff to report any abuses you may have witnessed while working at Anchor Character Training Center.  For information on your rights and how to take action, visit  If you were fired or forced to resign because you opposed any illegal and/or unethical practices at Anchor Character Training Center, you have the right to take action. 


If you were harmed (family or survivor) by Anchor Character Training Center, please contact if you remember the long-term employees and from which years.  This will help!   Also, if you recognize any of these staff as having worked at another program, please send in any information about their past or present employment at other facilities and/or cults. 


Please don’t place your loved one in Anchor Character Training Center and rescue them if they are there now.




Additional Information
Marvin E. Smith III Director Smith is not a licensed mental health professional in Iowa.  Source:  There is a Marvin E. Smith (no suffix) that has been a licensed educator in Iowa since before 1988.  This may be a different person.  The only licensed Marvin E. Smith is licensed to teach 7th & 8th Grade only and is NOT licensed to teach art, music, PE, Special Education, nor Reading in Iowa.  Source:
OTHER OTHER This program is a Roloff Home...It is on a list of affiliated programs that include:

Anchor Academy

Vanduser, MO (formerly in Havre, MT and an unknown location prior to that)

Dennis McElwrath (Superintendent)  --Formerly with confirmedly abusive and now closed Mountain Park Boarding Academy.

Calvary Boy’s Ranch, Boarding Academy, City of Refuge, Baptist Institute & Seminary
Calvary Baptist Church Ministries, PO Box 834, Eufaula, OK 74432
(918)689-9403, (918)689-4789 (Fax)
Pastor, Dr. Jerry McDonald
Haven of Hope Girls Academy - Opening Soon!
(Ministry of The Church of the Open Door, Westminster MD - Dr. Norris Belcher, Pastor
550 Baltimore Blvd, Westminster MD 21157
(410) 876-3838

Happiness Hill Home (girls through 19 yrs)
(affiliated with Roloff Ministries, Corpus Christi, TX), Rt. 5 Box 437, Union MS 39365
(601) 656-7714
Director, Dr. Jack High

Heritage Boys Academy
Director, Bro. Buddy Maynard
P.O. Box 10064
Panama City, FL  32404
(850) 913-1844

Hephzibah House (girls)
Believers Baptist Church, 508 School St. Winona Lake, IN 46590
Pastor, Don Williams, Director, Ron Williams

Hope Children’s Home (coed) 
(813) 961-1214, (813) 968-7686 (Fax)
11415 Hope International Dr., Tampa FL 33625


Hope Children’s Home (young girls)
(Ministry of Tabernacle Baptist Church, McDonaugh, GA)
Directors, Jimmy & Donna Prather
Rt. 1, Box 194, Duck Hill, MS 38925

 Joshua Scott Boarding School (boys)
(Ministry of Bible Baptist Church, Belva WV)
P.O. Box 67, State Rte. 39, Belva WV 26656-0266

Jubilee Home For Ladies (18 years old and over; For younger girls see Happiness Hill)
Peoples Baptist Church Ministries, Roloff Ministries
Pastor Charles Crummey
1355 FM 665, Corpus Christi, TX 78415 

Lighthouse Children’s Home (girls)
Lighthouse Baptist Church, West MS. Evangelist Larry Neff
PO Box 276, Kosciusko, MS 39090 

Pearls of Promise Girls Academy
Ministry of El-Bethel Baptist Church
8485 Highway 431 North
Roanoke, Alabama 36274


Reclamation Ranch (boys and girls12-17, young men 18-45)
Dr. Jack Patterson, Founder and Director
Ministry of Gloryland Baptist Church
P.O. Box 150
Empire, AL 35063

Shenandoah Boys Ranch
Shenandoah Girls Haven

Shenandoah Baptist Church
(423) 339-0103, (423) 339-0992, (423) 339-0117 (Fax)
Pastor Steve Grubbs

Shining Light School for Boys
Ministry of Walter’s Grove Baptist Church
Dr. Jeremy Simpson, Pastor
Bro. Roy Isenhart, Director
2620 Cid Road
Lexington, N.C. 27292

Victorious Valley Homes (coed)
Ministry of Victorious Valley Baptist Church
Pastor John McGill, Director
140 Victorious Valley Drive
Sunset, SC 29685
Contact: Jennifer Holobrooks

William Seth Rochester Home for Children
Ministry of Calvary Hill Baptist Church, Pacolet SC - Pastor Bill Pickel
Directors: Jason & Mandy Koepke

Willow Valley Boarding Academy and Camp (boys)
Ken Puckett, Director
P.O. Box 99
Vinton, OH 45686

The Ark Youth Shelter (boys)
Ministry of Trinity Baptist Church, Spartanburg, SC
Darrell Finch, Director
9261 Fairforest Rd.
Spartanburg, SC 29301

Article: Troubling Legacy: Anchor Character Training Center, a children's center, is unlicensed in Iowa (February 27th, 2009)
Facebook Page: Survivors of Various Independent Fundumental Baptist (IFB) Programs and Organizations (includes Anchor Character Training Center)
Troubling Legacy Anchor Character Training Center, a Children's Center, Is Unlicensed in Iowa By Abigail McWilliam The Messenger February 27, 2009 EDITOR'S NOTE: Messenger News Editor Abigail McWilliam began this package of stories when Michele Ulriksen contacted her to say Michael Palmer had returned to Fort Dodge. A 16-year-old sex offender is living at an unlicensed children's care facility operated by the Harvest Baptist Church of Fort Dodge. The facility, Anchor Character Training Center, 1940 225th St., is a coed home for troubled teens. Trevor James Fuhrman was convicted in 2005 of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct with a girl under the age of 13, according to the Iowa Sex Offender Registry. Fuhrman was convicted outside of the state. The Anchor Character Training Center, 1940 225th St., is a coed facility for troubled teens operated by the Harvest Baptist Church. The facility houses approximately 35 teenagers, one of whom is listed on the Iowa Sex Offender Registry. Photo by Abigail McWilliam Anchor Character Training Center has had 24 runaway juveniles, a child endangerment charge that involved a paddling incident and one case of criminal mischief in the past 10 years, according to Webster County Sheriff Brian Mickelson. No charges were filed in these cases. The facility houses about 35 teens, according to recent information submitted to The Messenger. Meanwhile, the facility, which has been in operation since 1996 at the former Webster County Home, does not have written certification to be a children's center in Iowa, according to Roger Munns, Iowa Department of Human Services spokesman. Iowa Code 237B.1 defines a children's center as a privately funded facility designed to serve seven or more children who are not under the custody or authority of the DHS, juvenile court or another governmental agency. Sgt. Luke Fleener, Webster County Sheriff's Department, said Fuhrman's placement at Anchor is court-ordered, and he is in the custody of Anchor. Fleener said he does not believe Fuhrman is in violation of the sex offender registry laws. However, the interpretation of the Iowa Sex Offender Registry law is determined by the applicable county attorney. "I prosecute these cases if it is brought to me, if there is a possible violation," said Webster County Attorney Tim Schott. "Right now that hasn't happened." Munns said certification or licensing standards had not been written because DHS wasn't aware that the facility existed until The Messenger informed it. "It hasn't risen to the top of the pile," Munns said. "It will be written soon. It has not been a high priority, but it is now." In establishing certification or licensing standards for a children's center, DHS is required to consult with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, Department of Education, Department of Public Heath, state fire marshal and community-based providers of services. Several of these departments have already been consulted and the certification should be written within the next few months, Munns said. "The law specifically prohibits us from making decisions on program content," Munns said. "What it will include is things like fire safety, medications properly stored, emergency numbers for parents, things that are very similar to regulations for child care facilities." Munns said the state has no idea how many of the children's centers exist in Iowa. "If people tell us about them, we become aware of them," he said. According to its Web site, Anchor Character Training Center does not charge for juveniles to come to the facility, but instead asks the parents to give what they can. The main goal of the facility is to "help young people get their lives disciplined to the ways of God according to the Bible." Marvin E. Smith, the pastor who runs the Harvest Baptist Church and the Anchor Character Training Center, returned a phone call for an interview, but then took another phone call before answering any questions. Smith did not call back by press time. Other unlicensed facilities The Messenger began investigating Anchor Character Training Center after learning that a man with a long history of running lockdown Christian boarding schools for troubled girls is living in Fort Dodge and has expressed interest in purchasing a church here. Fort Dodge native Michael Palmer, 69, and his wife, Patty, were banned from running any unlicensed facility in California in 1992 following an investigation into his school, Victory Christian Academy. Another facility, Genesis by the Sea, an all-girls Christian facility in Ensenada, Mexico, was reportedly owned by Palmer and ordered to close in 2004 after Mexican authorities found evidence of abuse and neglect. Palmer has also been the target of numerous allegations from former students that include child abuse, brainwashing and rape. Palmer declined to give a formal interview, but answered a few questions by phone. "So much has been said that is not true," he said. "We want to live our lives in peace." The Messenger was notified about Palmer by Michele Ulriksen, a former student of Palmer's, who has written a book "Reform at Victory" that gives her chilling account of a year spent at Palmer's facility in Ramona, Calif. The facility was closed in 1992 when officials determined the facility had health, fire and safety hazards. Another former student, Rebecca Ramirez, led a protest five years ago at Palmer's Victory Christian Academy in Jay, Fla. Ramirez said Palmer became obsessed with her, raped her and offered to buy her from her parents for $25,000. Following the protest in 2004, where she held up a sign that read "Mike Palmer rapist lives here," the school was renamed Lighthouse of North West Florida. Palmer said he had not been involved with the facility for five years. "We don't even go to Florida anymore," he said. Palmer's Fort Dodge home at 1604 Elmhurst Ave., as well as a large storage building at 8 S. 17th St., are owned by Good Samaritans of North West Florida Inc. The same corporation filed an article of incorporation for the business address of Victory Christian Academy in Jay, Fla., on Dec. 10, 2004, but was later incorporated by Genesis Ministries Inc. "It was not my call." Palmer said in reference to having his property listed with the corporation. Palmer said he looked at a church in Fort Dodge, but it was for some friends who wanted to convert it into a convalescent home for elderly people. Cindy Mulroney, an Iowa Realty agent, who has been showing a church building at 1633 N. 29th St., confirmed that Palmer looked at the building on May 29, 2008. "I had a Realtor's open house and he showed up at the end," Mulroney said. "He told me he was working with (another agent) and I know he's looked at it one more time since then." Mulroney said Palmer introduced himself as a pastor who had owned a church in Florida and said he was retired. "He said he was thinking about being a pastor again," she said. Mulroney declined to say which agent Palmer is now working with. Contact Abigail McWilliam at (515) 573-2141 or  Source:

We have received the application, contract, and initial guidelines for this facility.  We have found multiple red flags beyond the fact that it is an IFB program with a history of abuse complaints that remains unlicensed and unregulated in Iowa.

On our watch-list, we provide a list of 5 issues that we believe mark a fraudulent and abusive facility.  Those five are:

1.  Is the program unlicensed?  Yes, Anchor Character Training Academy operates without a license and outside of any regulatory standards.  (Source:

2. Does ACTC use physical restraint, physical punishment, or other abusive tactics?  Yes, this has been reported to HEAL by multiple victims of ACTC and is also reported in the above article by Abigail McWilliam which has been cited in #1 above and the previous post.

3. Does ACTC use solitary confinement or isolation?  Yes, based on reports and HEAL's understanding of ACTC's claimed "demerit system", placing youth in isolation and cutting them off of contact with others is a punishment incurred when someone reaches 21 or more demerits.  (Source: ACTC application/contract/program description at (page 17).)

4. Does ACTC hold youth incommunicado?  Yes, they even deny contact between youth and their parents and pastors during the first month or more (dependent on making "levels").  (Source: ACTC application/contract/program description at (page 12).)

5.  Does ACTC engage in fraud and false advertising?  In ACTC's documentation, they admit they are not an accredited school and are operating solely under the authority of the Harvest Baptist Church.  So, if parents are under the impression that it is a private Christian boarding school that provides accredited education that includes Christian principles, that is not accurate and they should read through the application and all associated documents so they understand that when they choose ACTC they are choosing to enroll their child in a discipleship cult looking to turn youth into "Crusaders and Victors" by forcing them to memorize scripture to advance in the program with that being the only purpose of the program beyond providing free labor and maintenance to program staff, directors, and Harvest Baptist Church.  While they appear to have no deception in their current application process, we have not reviewed all online ads or available marketing materials to determine of any are misleading at this time.  However, if parents understand this program to be anything other than a discipleship cult and are paying the program $2100+ per month to have their child held incommunicado and brainwashed by ACTC staff under some misunderstanding regarding what ACTC is that is a result of a representation made by ACTC, then fraud may be involved.  Often when we contact the authorities in these situations, including Child Protective Services, they tell us parents need to be careful where they send their children. 

Parents may assume that residential youth programs and boarding schools can't operate without licensing, accreditation, and oversight.  But, that is a false assumption and shows the parents are ignorant regarding this industry and willing to blindly trust and assume the safety of their child when left with strangers far from home.  But, that is an unreasonable assumption and one that puts both youth and their families in harm's way.  HEAL heartily recommends against enrolling anyone in ACTC and suggest that if you don't want to take the time to investigate, inspect, and regularly monitor a facility, before and during any enrollment of your child, that you keep your child at home for their safety and to avoid being defrauded or losing thousands of dollars just to be worse off than before the enrollment.

All segregated congregate care providers, including those on our watch-list, are welcome to contact us to correct any information or provide additional data that may assist with delivering the whole truth to the public.  We've found in many cases where this offer has been abused or resulted in revealing additional basis for our concerns. For some examples see: and  Now, we are willing to look at the facts and may have questions or require documentation backing up any claims.  We do verify licensing, academic backgrounds, and other qualifications when investigating and researching programs on our watch-list to assist consumers seeking additional information on such programs or victims requiring assistance with getting corroborating evidence of their claims.  We do that in order to make sure the information we provide is accurate and verified and cite our sources.  In the event any information we've posted is in error, we're happy to make a correction.  And, for information on how such requests are handled and have been resolved historically, see:

HEAL does not support segregated congregate care for many reasons which include that many such facilities are abusive, exploitative, fraudulent, and lack effective oversight often as a result of fraudulent misrepresentation coupled with the ignorance of those seeking to enroll loved ones in such facilities, programs, schools, or centers without a valid court order and involuntarily.  In the United States such involuntary placements done without a court order are apparently illegal as they either violate the Americans with Disabilities Act community integration requirement or due process rights of those involuntarily placed.  Now, in regards to parents, in the United States parents have the right to waive their own rights, but, not the rights of their minor children.  See for more information.  Now, most facilities on our watch list include waivers, indemnity clauses, and sworn statements parents must sign assuring the program that the parents have the right to make the placement involuntarily and without due process in a segregated congregate care environment, however, California and federal prosecutors as well as settled law appears to suggest that is not the case.  In fact, in the David Taylor case found at, Taylor sued Provo Canyon School and his mother as co-defendants.  His mother was found liable for 75% of the damages awarded to Taylor as a result of multiple complaints including false imprisonment, while the program was found only 25% liable because the mother owed a duty of due diligence to investigate anyone to which she would entrust care of her child and she failed to do so. 

Now, HEAL opposes segregated congregate care and we find most placements are happening illegally in the USA which if the youth understood their rights would result in unfortunate outcomes for the parents, particularly when they don't exercise good judgment and support the fraud and abuse rather than their own children when they need remedy and justice.  And, HEAL supports all victims of fraud and abuse in seeking remedies at law for any crimes or torts committed against them.  And, that's true whether or not the program or victims are in the USA. 

HEAL has a 5 point argument against segregated congregate care we'd like you to consider:

a.  Segregated care is unconstitutional and a civil rights violation.  It is only permissible if a person is unable to survive independent of an institutional environment.  For more on this, watch the HEAL Report at  Or, see:  which includes in part:    "United States v. Florida – 1:12-cv-60460 – (S.D. Fla.) – On April 7, 2016, the United States filed an Opposition to the State of Florida’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment.  In the Motion, the State had asked the Court to rule, on a variety of grounds, that the United States could not recover damages for unnecessarily institutionalized children to whom the State had been deliberately indifferent."

b.  Institutionalization is always dehumanizing and coercive.  Institutionalization always harms the institutionalized and deprives them of protected civil rights.  Dr. David Straker, Psychiatry Professor at Columbia University's School of Medicine (Ivy League) explains this in detail at  "Many institutions, from prisons to monasteries to asylums, deliberately want to control and manage their inmates such that they conform and do not cause problems. Even in less harsh environments, many of the institutionalization methods may be found, albeit in more moderated form (although the psychological effect can be equally devastating)."  (See website linked in this paragraph for more info.)

c.  Institutionalization is not in the best interest of children.  Institutions are not ever better for a child than living with a loving family.  Source:       

d.  Reform schools, residential treatment programs, and other segregated congregate care settings have been shown to be ineffective and harmful.  Best source on this currently is:

e. Boarding Schools, even the "good ones", result in a form of social death, isolation, and cause both anxiety and depression.  Therefore, it is clearly not in the best interest of the youth subjected to those environments.  Sources: and

Beyond the above arguments against segregated congregate care, we have reports from the NIH, Surgeon General, Yale University Studies, and much more showing the methodologies of behavior modification are damaging, harmful, and ineffective.  You can request these documents via e-mail.  In addition, for such programs offering academic services or claiming to offer diplomas, certifications, or the like, it is important to check to see if it is a diploma mill with no accredited academic services.  Please see article: "Avoiding Scams: What You Need To Know"  for important information on how to avoid education/training scams.

If you'd like to see what HEAL suggests rather than segregated congregate care (i.e. committing a crime or tort against your child if done against their will without a court order), please see articles: "Fix Your Family, Help Your Teen" and "How Would You Handle My Out of Control Teen?".

If you have a complaint against any facility, please file a complaint with the appropriate law enforcement agency or your home state's attorney general.  For reporting resources see:  (Reporting guide is for USA only at this time.)

 *(Anchor Character Training Center, like many other programs in this industry, keeps a "tight lid" on any specific information regarding their staff, qualifications, and practices.  Please contact us with the names of any staff of which you have firsthand knowledge or experience.  Thank you for your help.)

 Last Updated: January 15th, 2020

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