This is a  staff list for The Joshua Home in Bertram, TX 

(formerly known as: Blessed Hope Boys Academy in AL and The Joshua Home in MO)

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

 

THIS PROGRAM IS CLOSED.

 

We advise current and/or former staff to report any abuses you may have witnessed while working at the Blessed Hope Boys Academy/The Joshua Home.  For information on your rights and how to take action, visit www.heal-online.org/blowthewhistle.htm.  If you were fired or forced to resign because you opposed any illegal and/or unethical practices at Blessed Hope Boys Academy/The Joshua Home, you have the right to take action. 

 

If you were harmed (family or survivor) by Blessed Hope Boys Academy/The Joshua Home, please contact info@heal-online.org 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.

 

 

HEAL is investigating...

 

Name

Unit/Position

Additional Information
Brother Gary Wiggins Director/Owner  
Mrs. Meaghan Wiggins Staff Meaghan is Gary's wife.
Levi Wiggins Staff Levi appears to be a small child.  If he is staff at this facility, it should be investigated and prosecuted for child labor violations.
Ella Wiggins Staff Ella appears to be a small child.  If she is staff at this facility, it should be investigated and prosecuted for child labor violations.
Elijah Wiggins Staff Elijah appears to be a small child.  If he is staff at this facility, it should be investigated and prosecuted for child labor violations.
Brother Rodney Pinkston Staff  
Mrs. Amanda Pinkston Staff  
Erin Pinkston Staff  
Brother Robert McWhirter Staff  
Mrs. Cindy McWhirter Staff  
Todd Fietkau Sr. Staff Reportedly no longer works for this program.
Valarie Fietkau Staff Reportedly no longer works for this program.
Earl Fietkau Staff Reportedly no longer works for this program.
Todd Fietkau Jr. Staff Reportedly no longer works for this program.
Margarette Fietkau Staff Reportedly no longer works for this program.
Charles Thulin Staff Reportedly no longer works for this program.
Zack Thulin Staff Reportedly no longer works for this program.
Addie Thulin Staff Reportedly no longer works for this program.
Faith Thulin Staff Reportedly no longer works for this program.
Rachel Thulin Staff Reportedly no longer works for this program.
Thom Bennet Staff Reportedly no longer works for this program.
Wendy Bennet Staff Reportedly no longer works for this program.
Wayne Allen Staff Reportedly no longer works for this program.
Clyde McDaniels Staff McDaniels reported that he still works at this facility on February, 2017.
Drew Patterson Staff Reportedly no longer works for this program.
Rustam Zambrowicz Staff Reportedly no longer works for this program.
     
*(Blessed Hope Boys Academy, 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.)
Blessed Hope Boys Academy utilizes the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) booklets as its sole educational service.  (Source: http://www.blessedhopeboysacademy.com/about-us.html).  ACE, doing business as Lighthouse Christian Academy and claiming to provide distance or correspondence learning services for home-schooled youth claims to be "fully accredited by Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA–CESS) and Accreditation International (Ai)"  Source:  https://www.aceministries.com/homeschool/  If you visit http://www.msa-cess.org/RelId/606553/ISvars/default/Search_Our_Members.htm, and search for Blessed Hope Boys Academy, Lighthouse Christian Academy, and Accelerated Christian Education, you will see that it is not listed as an accredited program nor as a member.  Accreditation International provides a link to "The Alliance" where individuals can search for institutions accredited by Accreditation International.  Source: http://www.aiaccredits.org/Home.html.  We did a search for Blessed Hope Boys Academy, Lighthouse Christian Academy, and Accelerated Christian Education at http://worldwideaccreditedschools.org/index.php.  Blessed Hope Boys Academy is not accredited.  There were eight listings for Lighthouse Christian Academy.  We found four programs named Lighthouse Christian Academy in Tennessee, two in Maryland, one in Florida, and one in California. 

Lighthouse Christian Academy (the one providing distance learning to Blessed Hope Boys Academy) is located at 130 Maple Drive North Hendersonville, TN 37075 and has a mailing address of P.O. Box 508 Hendersonville, TN 37077-0508.  Source:  http://www.lcaed.com/?content=contact.  Lighthouse Christian Academy (Distance Learning) claims the following:

"Lighthouse Christian Academy (LCA) was awarded full accreditation status as a distance education provider by Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS), National Council for Private School Accreditation (NCPSA), and Accreditation International (Ai). Ai is a recognized member in good standing with the Council on Occupational Education (COE) and the International Council for Education."  Source: http://www.lcaed.com/?content=accreditation

As shown above MSA-CESS does not accredit Lighthouse Christian Academy.  Source:  http://www.msa-cess.org/RelId/606553/ISvars/default/Search_Our_Members.htm.  According to the Accreditation International institution search at http://worldwideaccreditedschools.org/index.php, Lighthouse Christian Academy is accredited by AI, NCPSA, and MSA-CESS.  But, the MSA-CESS does not show this program as being accredited.  Regardless, AI, NCPSA, and MSA-CESS appear to be nothing more than membership organizations which profit off of every enrollment for those enrolling in "distance learning" programs such as ACE/Lighthouse Christian Academy.  Source: http://www.aiaccredits.org/AIApplicationForm122909005ab-1.pdf 

Regardless, Blessed Hope Boys Academy is operating its program in Alabama.  Does Alabama recognize AI, NCPSA, and MSA-CESS as proper accrediting bodies for school credits/education?  Faith-based schools and programs are exempt from accreditation, licensing, registration, and approval requirements in Alabama.  Source: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oii/nonpublic/alabama.html.  "Students enrolled in a church school before their 16th birthday are exempt from the new (2009) compulsory attendance law and may withdraw at age 16. Code of Alabama 1975 §§16-28-3, 16-28-1, 16-28-7."  When applying to colleges in Alabama, do they accept diplomas from exempt schools and programs?   NO!

The University of Alabama Admissions Department wrote:

"Good morning Angela,   I hope your weekend went well. After checking with our Enrollment Management team, it looks like we would not be able to accept credit from this institution based on the accreditation concerns. If you have any further questions, please let me know, and I will do my best to answer them or get you in touch with someone who can.   Have a great day.   Hunter Denson The University of Alabama"

The potential for abuse in private religious boarding schools is extraordinarily high.  This is especially so in states like Alabama that exempt such schools from any licensing and regulatory requirements.  Based on our preliminary investigation we advise against enrollment at this program.  We also ask that you watch the following interview with Police Captain Charles Kennedy (Retired) who discusses in detail abuses occurring at another "ACE" school in Alabama and states that ACE is not a properly accredited educational service/programs.



IN PROGRESS INVESTIGATION....
25 boys removed from private group home in Baldwin County By Grace Tennyson Wednesday, December 7th 2016 S BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WEAR) — More than two dozen boys were removed from a private Christian-based group home in Baldwin County over the weekend. The Alabama Department of Human Resources did not say why the 25 boys were taken from the Blessed Hope Boys Academy, but they do investigate allegations of abuse or neglect. The sheriff's office has a meeting with the department later this week. Source: http://weartv.com/news/local/25-boys-removed-from-group-home
DHR removes boys from Baldwin County boarding school By Andrea Ramey Wednesday, December 7th 2016  ELSANOR, Ala. (WPMI) — A private, Christian boarding school for troubled kids may be in trouble itself. DHR confirms 25 boys were removed over the weekend from Blessed Hope Boys Academy and housed at Baldwin County EMA as their out-of-state parents were contacted. DHR will not provide details of what it is investigating, only saying that it investigates allegations of abuse or neglect. Local 15 News spoke with a neighbor who says she is the one who called authorities. "They were terrified when they came to my door," said Tina Boyington. Boyington lives down the road from Blessed Hope Boys Academy. Friday night, she says two 16-year-old boys came to her for help, saying staff was abusive and they couldn't take it anymore." "They said boys over there had been punished by being restrained. There had been one young man hit in the face. There had been one young kid locked in a closet, and if they were punished, sometimes they would take away their food," said Boyington. On the Blessed Hope Boys Academy website, it says a year stay is required. TV, cells phones and internet are not allowed, and the boys are home schooled. "Troubled teens that the families kind of at the end of the rope need some help, that have been in trouble and the parents don't know what to do but put them in a Christ-centered learning environment," said attorney Jeremiah Giles. The director of the facility is Brother Gary Wiggins, a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. Wiggins says on the website God called him to this ministry. His attorney says there was no wrong doing, and DHR's action effectively shuts down the school. "I've got clients that feel like they're doing the Lords work but they don't have any work," said Giles. The Baldwin County Sheriff's Office says it will meet with DHR this week.  Source: http://local15tv.com/news/local/dhr-removes-boys-from-baldwin-county-boarding-school
Religious boarding school raided in Alabama reopens in Missouri Updated 12:19 PM; Posted 5:30 AM In this 2016 photo, Gary Wiggins speaks to a group of students at the Blessed Hope Boys Academy in Seminole, Ala. All students at the school were removed by authorities in December 2016 after two students claimed they were abused there. Wiggins then closed the school and opened a new one in Missouri. (Courtesy of Thomas Cox) By Anna Claire Vollers avollers@al.com Deputies raided Pastor Gary Wiggins' religious boarding school in rural Alabama after two boys escaped to a neighbor's house and said they were victims of abuse. Wiggins - known as Bro. Gary to those at the school - ran the Blessed Hope Boys Academy in Seminole, Ala. The private school was billed as a place where parents could send troubled teens for hard work and a Christian education. It operated without government regulation or inspection, thanks to an exemption in state law for schools that consider themselves part of a church ministry. Five months after the police raid, Alabama passed a law that would allow the state to inspect schools like his. Wiggins shuttered the Blessed Hope Boys Academy. But he soon reopened in a remote area of Missouri where there are no such regulations, no prying eyes from the state. Red flags Last week, the McDonald County Sheriff's Department in southwest Missouri began getting calls. One of those calls came from Carol Greer of Georgia. She told them she was concerned about the welfare of her 14-year-old great nephew, who she said is a student at Wiggins' school, now called the Joshua Home. On its website, the Joshua Home bills itself as "a home for young men that are struggling in life, whether it be with drugs, alcohol, a rebellious spirit, school, etc." Greer said she began researching Wiggins soon after the boy's mother sent him to the camp and she was not able to get in touch with him. She didn't like what she found. "(Wiggins) has a pattern where he establishes these schools in remote areas, and is hiding under the cloak of the First Amendment for religious activities," she said. "There are no checks and balances." Missouri law is much like Alabama's was before it changed last year. Missouri state law exempts faith-based schools from regulation or inspection by the state department of education. The Department of Social Services and law enforcement can only step in when there are credible allegations of abuse or neglect. When Wiggins operated Blessed Hope, he filed for nonprofit status. Records show the school's revenue grew from $232,524 in 2013 to $289,655 in 2014. The National Center for Charitable Statistics listed the school's 2015 total revenue at $430,159. In December 2016, after the two boys escaped, Baldwin County Sheriff's Department and the Alabama Department of Human Resources removed all 22 boys from the school. They ranged in age from 8 to 17 and all of them were from out of state. Wiggins vehemently denied any abuse had occurred. Charges were never filed. Checking in Deputy Becky Ernest of the McDonald County Sheriff's Department said she was not aware the Joshua Home was operating in the county until Greer called, asking for a wellbeing check on her nephew. Ernest said the department's juvenile office and the local Department of Family Services office had never heard of the school when she called them to ask about it. Ernest went out to the Joshua Home, located in a rural area outside of Pineville, Mo. She eventually located Greer's nephew at the school building, a single-wide trailer down the highway from the student housing building. "Typically, if I go up and knock on somebody's door, if they're an adult they don't have to talk to me," said Ernest. "But a child - they have to produce that child and let me talk to them." She said Wiggins let her talk to the boy alone, and the boy seemed fine. He told her he felt safe. Kicked out of Alabama A month after law enforcement descended on Blessed Hope Boys Academy in Alabama in December 2016, three leaders of another unrelated religious boot camp in nearby Mobile were convicted on multiple counts of aggravated child abuse. Their school had been raided in 2015, when 36 children and teens were removed after officials learned students had been handcuffed to beds, locked in solitary confinement for weeks at a time, and forced to fight each other. In May 2016, the Alabama legislature passed a law that regulates these kinds of private youth facilities, requiring them to perform background checks on staff and banning the use of certain punishments. The law further says schools have to register with the Alabama Department of Human Resources, which must inspect the schools at least four times a year to make sure they're following regulations. A spokesperson for Alabama DHR confirmed that no religious residential schools have been licensed since the law went into effect. If any are still operating in Alabama, they're doing so illegally, said Barry Spear, public information manager for DHR. Religious freedom groups protested language in the bill that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation or using sexual orientation change efforts on students. Lawmakers took out those parts of the bill before it passed. In 2017, ABC News' 20/20 program profiled Lucas Greenfield, a former Blessed Hope student who said Wiggins had mistreated him and attempted some forms of conversion therapy on gay students. (Further reading: Former students share harrowing stories of life inside Alabama's worst private school) Wiggins calls himself a born-again Christian, according to the Blessed Hope Boys Academy website in 2017. He said he is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who felt called to open a Christian boarding school for troubled teens. He and his wife, Meghann, ran a boys' school in Missouri before moving to Alabama to open Blessed Hope. On the wall Thomas Cox, a Pennsylvania teenager, said he was one of the two boys who escaped from Blessed Hope in 2016 and led to the school's temporary shutdown. "Being there for two years, your anger kind of builds up," said Cox, who said he was sent to Blessed Hope when he was 15 years old. "It was very cultish. They try to force religious stuff down your throat. If you didn't submit to what they wanted, it was automatic restraint and on the wall." Restraint, he said, was a disciplinary measure involving five people pinning down the student at pressure points, for about 15 minutes at a time. "On the wall" meant standing facing a wall, without talking or moving, for several hours a day with minimal food. "You get 10 demerits and you're on the wall," he said. "I'd end up with 100 demerits for talking, not memorizing Bible verses. That's usually what people were on the wall for." Cox said the students' phone calls were monitored by staff and they were not allowed to take prescribed medication for mental or emotional disorders. He said one of Wiggins' favorite phrases was "You're wicked." The school, according to its website, used the ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) Curriculum, a self-instructional, Bible-based program that does not lead to a diploma that is recognized by most colleges and universities.  Home in Missouri It's hard to know how many religious camps or schools for troubled teens still operate in Alabama because they were never originally required to report to the state. The same is true in Missouri. But a few of the camps that have been in the news in recent years are located in the same rural, sparsely-populated southwestern corner of Missouri where Wiggins set up the Joshua Home. A lawsuit filed last year alleges that boys at the Lives Under Construction Camp in the southwest Missouri town of Lampe were sexually assaulted in 2009 and 2010. Two teens who ran away from that same camp in 2013 pled guilty to killing an elderly couple. In 2011, a former student at the New Beginnings Girls Academy in La Russell, also in the southwest part of the state, told ABC News she was ridiculed, deprived of adequate food, and subjected to harsh physical punishment. Wiggins did not respond to email requests for comment on his school. Cox said most days he tries not to think about the years he spent at Blessed Hope. He recently got his diploma and has joined the military. He is trying to move on. "There should be laws to protect kids (in places) like that," he said. His advice for students at the new camp was to "Shut up and don't say anything." "If you never, ever say anything except your Bible verses, mind your business, play the game, then you can be all right," he said. "But that's no way to live."  Source: https://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2018/05/alabama_religious_school_misso.html
Missouri school run by controversial Alabama pastor suddenly vanishes, report states Updated Jun 14, 9:13 PM; Posted Jun 14, 8:37 PM 135 shares By Anna Beahm abeahm@al.com A religious boarding school that moved from Alabama to Missouri after authorities removed boys from the school on abuse allegations suddenly vanishes, reports state.  The school, known as the Joshua Home in McDonald County, Missouri, vanished after police began investigating the well being of a child, according to local news reports.  Lawmen began investigating after they received several calls requesting police check on the kids. Officials reported things seemed normal and the kids living there "seemed happy."  However, residents at the home reported all the doors on the bottom floor of the home -- where the boys stayed -- had the locks on the outside of all the doors.  McDonald County Sheriff Mike Hall told a local news organization he hopes this incident will encourage the Missouri legislature to create better regulation for organizations such as this, so this doesn't continue to happen.  The religious boarding school group is now said to be in a rural area of central Texas.  AL.com journalist Anna Claire Vollers reported the school was known as Blessed Hope Boys Academy while it operated in Seminole, Ala. The school was run by Pastor Gary Wiggins. The school was billed as a place where parents could send troubled teens for "hard work and a Christian education." Former students share harrowing stories of life inside Alabama's worst religious private school "A lot of us didn't make it to freedom." Twenty-two boys between the ages of 8 to 17 were removed from the school in December 2016 after two boys escaped to a neighbor's house and said they were victims of abuse.  Wiggins vehemently denied any abuse had occurred. Charges were never filed. The Blessed Hope Boys Academy operated as a license-exempt school, outside of state regulation or oversight, claiming religious exemption under state law because it operates as a church ministry.  In May 2017, the Alabama legislature passed a law that regulates these kinds of private youth facilities, requiring them to perform background checks on staff and banning the use of certain punishments. Wiggins shuttered the Blessed Hope Boys Academy. In May, Vollers reported the school was operating under a new name in Missouri -- the Joshua Home.  "(Wiggins) has a pattern where he establishes these schools in remote areas, and is hiding under the cloak of the First Amendment for religious activities," Carol Greer of Georgia told Vollers in a previous story. "There are no checks and balances."
Texas couple who ran ex-gay camp for ‘troubled boys’ arrested, accused of trafficking children - New York Daily News Texas couple who ran ex-gay camp for ‘troubled boys’ arrested, accused of trafficking children By Muri Assunçăo New York Daily News | Aug 20, 2019 | 4:56 PM Mehgann and Gary Wiggins (Burnet County Sheriff's Office) A couple who ran a religious boarding school for “troubled boys” in Burnet County, Texas, has been arrested, authorities said. In a statement released Monday, the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office said that 49-year-old Gary Dwayne Wiggins and 34-year-old Meghann Shereen Wiggins were in police custody, after being indicted by a grand jury. Advertisement Pastor Gary Wiggins, sometimes referred to as Brother Gary, and his wife ran Joshua Home, a facility that operated in Bertram, a city located 44 miles northwest of Austin. The school was a place where parents could send their troubled teens to be straightened out through hard work and Christian education. In July, 2018 eight boys, ages 10 to 17, were removed from the facility, after investigations of abuse surfaced. [More News] Jeffrey Epstein’s former cellmate claims jail guards have warned him to ‘shut up’ » Local and state agencies looked into allegations that included neglect, labor violations, fraud, licensing violations, and human trafficking. After performing a search warrant, they gathered evidence that led to the immediate shut down of the facility, the Dallas Morning News reported. Investigators were concerned that the boys’ work at a moving company and a lawn care company operated by The Joshua Home Ministries could constitute abuse and human trafficking, Sheriff Calvin Boyd said at a news conference. That wasn’t the first instance that Wiggins got in trouble with the law. He ran similar facilities in Alabama and Missouri, where he got permission from parents to “discipline” their sons through hard work.The Kansas City Star reported that in Joshua’s Home’s now-defunct website, an uncredited parent credited the couple “with turning their sons' lives around through Christian study, prayer and love.” In Alabama, where Wiggins ran a similar facility before relocating to Missouri, the Blessed Hope Boys Academy, several boys who ran away accused him and other staff members to put them through hair-raising punishments such as placing the boys in solitary confinement or refusing to give them food. In 2017, former recruit Lucas Greenfield, whose mother sent him there because he was gay, told ABC’s 20/20 that Wiggins would beat the boys, and tell them "I'm going to get the demon out of you and make you straight." [More News] Three more women sue Epstein estate over alleged sex trafficking and a forced marriage » The Wigginsed were arrested without incident in Escambia County, Ala., after the Burnet County grand jury indicted the couple on Aug. 6. They waived extradition and were transported back to Texas to fight the charges. Their attorney, Austin Shell, plans to take the case to trial. “Before anyone jumps to conclusions they ought to wait to see what evidence the District Attorney has,” Shell told CBS Austin. Gary and Meghann Wiggins were were indicted on one count each of human trafficking charges. A bond amount of $100,000 has been set for each. Source:  http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/ny-joshua-home-ex-gay-gary-mehgann-wiggins-arrested-lgbtq-torture-20190820-i5sicfgch5crlkjyiign5tii5u-story.html
Couple who ran religious boarding school in Alabama arrested for human trafficking - al.com Couple who ran religious boarding school in Alabama arrested for human trafficking Gary Wiggins and his wife Meghann were arrested on human trafficking charges in August 2019. In this 2016 photo, Gary Wiggins speaks to a group of students at the Blessed Hope Boys Academy in Seminole, Ala. All students at the school were removed by authorities in December 2016 after two students claimed they were abused there. Wiggins then closed the school and opened a new one in Missouri. (Courtesy of Thomas Cox) By Anna Claire Vollers | avollers@al.com The owners of a religious boarding school that was once raided in Alabama have been arrested in Baldwin County and transported to Texas to face human trafficking charges. Gary Dwayne Wiggins, 49, and wife Meghann Shereen Wiggins, 34, were arrested in Alabama shortly after a Texas grand jury indicted them Aug. 6 on one count each of human trafficking, according to the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office in Texas. The couple are accused of forcing four underage boys to work for a lawn care company they owned, according to court documents. Gary Wiggins was arrested in Alabama and taken to Texas in August 2019 to face one count of human trafficking related to the religious boarding school he ran with his wife. The charges stem from a year-long investigation into allegations of abuse, neglect, labor violations, fraud and human trafficking at the Joshua Home and other businesses owned by Gary Wiggins. In July 2018, Texas authorities got a search warrant for the Joshua Home, Joshua Home Lawn Care and Joshua Home Moving. Authorities later removed eight boys ages 10 to 17 from the Joshua Home, according to local news outlets. All the boys were from out of state and were later returned to their parents or guardians. Meghann Wiggins was arrested in Alabama and taken to Texas in August 2019 to face one count of human trafficking related to the religious boarding school she ran with her husband, Gary Wiggins. Before their arrest, the Wigginses were well-known to Alabama and Missouri authorities for the schools they operated in those states. Three years ago, the Wigginses ran Blessed Hope Boys Academy in a rural community in Baldwin County called Seminole. Blessed Hope was billed as a private boarding school where parents could send troubled teens for hard work and a Christian education. It opened around 2013. But in December 2016, authorities raided Blessed Hope after some of the boys escaped to a nearby neighbor’s house, saying they were victims of abuse. They told authorities that Gary Wiggins – known as Brother Gary – punished students by locking them in a closet, withholding food and forcing them to exercise for hours. Alabama’s Department of Human Resources removed 22 boys ages 8 to 17, all from out of state, and eventually sent them back to their parents or guardians. Blessed Hope had operated in Alabama without state regulation or oversight because of a loophole in state law at that time which exempted schools that operate as church ministry from state inspection. Alabama removes 22 boys from religious boarding school amid allegations of abuse The school was designed to help troubled teens. Five months after the raid, the Alabama legislature passed a law requiring such schools to be regulated and inspected by the state. No Alabama charges were ever brought against Gary or Meghann Wiggins related to Blessed Hope. In 2017, ABC News’ 20/20 program profiled Lucas Greenfield, a former Blessed Hope student in Alabama who said Gary Wiggins had mistreated him and attempted conversion therapy on gay students. Harrowing stories of life inside Alabama's worst religious private school "A lot of us didn't make it to freedom." By May 2018, the Wigginses had reopened their school as the Joshua Home in a remote area of southwest Missouri, where there was no law requiring state oversight. They billed the new school as “a home for young men that are struggling in life.” Within weeks, the McDonald County Sheriff’s Department in Missouri began getting calls from concerned family members. After a sheriff’s deputy went out to do a well-child check on one of the students, the Wigginses packed up again and headed for Texas in June 2018. Hearings on the human trafficking charges scheduled for Gary and Meghann Wigginses in September. Source: https://www.al.com/news/2019/08/couple-who-ran-religious-boarding-school-in-alabama-arrested-for-human-trafficking.html
THE TRUTH:

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: http://www.heal-online.org/tcfl.htm http://www.heal-online.org/bolthouse.htm and http://www.heal-online.org/abundant2.htm.  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: http://www.heal-online.org/requests.htm

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 http://www.heal-online.org/legalarguments.htm 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 http://www.heal-online.org/provocases.htm, 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  https://youtu.be/C4NzhZc4P0A.  Or, see:   http://www.ada.gov/olmstead/  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 http://changingminds.org/disciplines/sociology/articles/institutionalization.htm.  "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:   http://www.unicef.org/cambodia/12681_23295.html       

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:     https://www.acgov.org/probation/documents/EndoftheReformSchoolbyVinny.doc

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: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jun/08/boarding-school-syndrome-joy-schaverien-review and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/secondaryeducation/11662001/The-truth-about-boarding-school-syndrome.html

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: http://www.heal-online.org/report.htm.  (Reporting guide is for USA only at this time.)
Owners of Burnet County home for troubled boys arrested, accused of trafficking children by Melanie Barden Monday, August 19th 2019 Over a year after eight juvenile males were removed from a home for "troubled boys" in Burnet County while state and local agencies conducted an investigation into allegations of abuse, neglect, labor violations, fraud, licensing violations, and human trafficking, the owners have been arrested. Gary Wiggins and Meghann Wiggins are both in Burnet County jail facing human trafficking charges. Court documents accuse the Wiggins of forcing four underage boys to work for a lawn care company they owned. Last July, a search warrant was granted for Joshua Home, which is affiliated with The Joshua Home Ministries, by the 33rd District Court of Burnet County, in July of 2018. The warrant specifies a search of lawn care equipment and any banking transactions from businesses owned by Gary Wiggins, including: Joshua Home, Joshua Home Moving, and Joshua Home Lawn Care, or Lawn Mowing service. Evidence and information uncovered during the search led to emergency orders to remove the eight boys, ages 10 to 17, from the Joshua Home and place them into temporary CPS custody. "I can't go into exactly what was going on," Burnet County Sheriff Calvin Boyd told CBS Austin Monday. The boys, all from out of state, were eventually reunited with their families and Joshua Home in Bertram was closed down. After a lengthy investigation involving multiple state agencies, the Wiggins were indicted on August 6, 2019 and arrested in Alabama days later. This week, they were extradited to Burnet County Jail. Their attorney, Austin Shell, tells CBS Austin Gary and Meghann Wiggins both waived their extradition hearing in order to come back to Texas to fight the charges. "Before anyone jumps to conclusions they ought to wait to see what evidence the District Attorney has," says Shell. Shell says he plans to take the case to trial. CBS Austin reached out to the Burnet County District Attorney but did not hear back. This is not the home's first run-in with the law. Investigators said this home was most recently being investigated in Missouri, before moving to Bertram in Burnet County. Gary and Meghann Wiggins are each being held on $100,000 bonds. As this investigation proceeds, the investigators ask that anyone with additional information about the Joshua Home, Joshua Home Ministries, Joshua Home Lawn Care, Joshua Home Movers, or JJW Home Services to contact the investigations division of the Burnet County Sheriff's Office at 512-756-8080 or by email to cidadmin@burnetsheriff.com.  Source: https://cbsaustin.com/news/local/owners-of-burnet-county-home-for-troubled-boys-arrested-accused-of-trafficking-children

 

 

 Last Updated: February 23rd, 2020

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