Lighthouse Ministries of North West Florida

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Information
Current status Closed
Checked March 4, 2013
Close.gif Closed 2013

Lighthouse Ministries of North West Florida formerly Victory Christian Academy - was a behavior modification facility marketed as a Christian boarding school. It was located south of Jay, Florida [1]

History

The previous owner of the facility, Brother Michael Palmer, was a long-time associate of Lester Roloff - the founder of the Roloff Homes.

The facility was founded in California under the name Victory Christian Academy. Palmer and his wife moved the facility to Florida after a California judge ordered the facility to close and banned Palmer and his wife Patty from EVER working at another unlicensed facility in the state [2].

Palmer also owned Genesis by the Sea, located in Mexico, which was closed down after a raid by the Mexican authorities on September 10, 2004 where they found evidence of abuse, neglect and a "punishment cell."

In 2005 Palmer sold his part in the facility to Pastor Russell Cookston and slowly retired while setting up his new businees - an escort firm named Guardian Placement Services.

Program structure

An example of a weekly schedule is stated to be:

Weekdays Saturday Sunday

wake up around 5:30
breakfast
morning devotion
school
P.E.
lunch
free time
mid-afternoon devotions
Bible reading
free time
dinner
free time

night chapel or church
on Wednesdays and Sundays
going to bed around 9:30

Friday all is the same
except we have Friday night-
which is a fun night thing
where we watch movies and play
games and stuff

wake up at 8
breakfast
clean the school up
P.E.
then afternoon activities

wake up at 8
church 3 times on Sundays

CNN Anderson Cooper covered some Christian Schools. A Video response was made on Youtube <youtube v="vLDTM95xceg" />

The detained girl are assigned to a number of jobs such as everything-helper, laundry helper, kitchen helper, dinning hall helper, chapel helper and dorm helper.

Education

The facility uses the Accelerated Christian Education (A.C.E.) workbook curriculum provided by School of Tomorrow [3]. School of Tomorrow requries that just one person in an entire school be "certified" to use the curriculum. This certification is NOT from any state agency. It is issued by School of Tomorrow. This enables schools to use the curriculum without having any certified teachers by the State. Some states don't accept these credits from this school.

Consequences

A girl can be put in detention where she has to write lines. A number of lines has been mentioned, the staff member has the power to reduce such sentences. Detention can last for months [4].

As of 2005 detention also involved the use of a "get-right" room a form for solitary confinement [5]

Consequences like starring at a corner wall or sitting in the "Get-right" room and listen to preaching while being observed by detained girls with a higher level of seniority are also used.

Communication

The detained girls are ordered to write there parents every Sunday and Wednesday!

Outgoing letters are reviewed with the dorm supervisor. If the contents is not what the staff expects they ask the detained girl to rewrite it. If it doesn't happen, they put a sticker on the letter to let the parents know that the contents of this letter should not be trusted.

After three months parent can either visit or phone with the detainee once a month. Visits can range from 3 days to 2 weeks, but overnights are not allowed. After 9 months the detained girls can be allowed to stay at home for 3 days.

Visits are not monitored. But phone calls may be monitored on occasion and are limited to 30 minutes

Misc.

A number of rules also exist regarding:

  • touching anyone
  • no cussing
  • cant take the Lords name in vain
  • etc.

In the news

Independent News brough an article about a small protest performed outside the facility due to an act of abuse committed in 1992 [6]

A girl named Carey Dunn" died while doing some construction work during her detention at former California location [7] [8].

A book made by a survivor of the program has been published [9][10].

The organization SIA (Survivors of Institutional Abuse) held a reunion in August 2010 at the former campus in California. A video was made at the event [11]

2013 is was reported that the owners had decided to close the facility. All girls had been returned to their families and the property is about to be sold [12]

See Also

External Links

Info pages

Commnunity groups

Message boards

References

  1. The facilities on Google maps
  2. International Survivor Action Committee on the facility
  3. Accelerated Christian Education
  4. The Good Things, salvation testimonies, experiences, anything good!!, a thread on Fornits Webforum
  5. Internation Survivor Action Committee about Victory Christian Academy - See 2005.
  6. Secrets in the Schoolhouse, by Duwayne Escobedo, Independent News, December 2 - 2004
  7. program deaths, thread on the myspace group called "End Institutionalized Child Abuse"
  8. Falling Lumber Kills Hesperia Girl at Academy, The Los Angeles Times, September 25 - 1988 (Reprint from International Survivor Action Committee)
  9. ORM AT VICTORY - a survivor's story, Christian School Confidential blog
  10. Reform At Victory: A Survivor's Story, by Michele Ulriksen, Pizan Media; First edition (October 15, 2008), ISBN-10: 0615222536
    Reform at Victory homepage
  11. They Didn't Forget, causes.com
  12. Christian girls' reform home closes after Times investigation, by Alexandra Zayas, Tampa Bay Times, February 13, 2013