LUCEDALE -- Christy Depasquale has her twin 17-year-old sons at home with her in Oklahoma after they spent more than a month at Eagle Point Christian Academy, formerly known as Bethel Boys Academy.
Motherís statement: "Here is a copy of the Federal Lawsuit filed against Bethel Boys Academy, Lucedale, MS. We will file another lawsuit every 30-60 days with 5-10 victims each suit. Some of the lawsuits will be involving the girl victims from Bethel Girls Academy. Eventually every child will get their day in court... This is now public record. Thanks for all you do to help stop these child abuse homes." See Federal Lawsuit filed against Bethel Boys Academy, Lucedale, MS
Depasquale was concerned for the boys' welfare after hearing of the riot that took place at Eagle Point last weekend. During the riot, windows were broken, bunks overturned and a barrack was trashed.
Seven students were transported to a hospital for treatment, and six others were taken into custody for disorderly conduct.
Depasquale said she followed her instincts and, escorted by a George County sheriff's deputy, arrived at Eagle Point around 2 a.m. on Friday to retrieve her sons.
Depasquale said her sons were "very relieved to be coming home."
"It's not a good place," she said of Eagle Point.
Repeated phone calls Friday to Eagle Point director John Fountain were not returned.
Depasquale's sons reportedly had "plenty of bruises and cuts and scrapes" when she picked them up. One of the boys reportedly has a bruise on his back where an Eagle Point staff member allegedly "grabbed him and slammed his fist in his back" because he was talking.
Depasquale said Eagle Point uses "hazing-type discipline tactics." The twins reportedly have scrapes on their knees from being made to kneel on a hardwood floor for long periods of time when they got into trouble.
The boys reported that the riot was really destructive and the "kids just went berserk."
Depasquale's sons were two of four boys that ran away from the home on Sunday after the riot. They were picked up and returned to the home the same day. "They were scared. They wanted to get out of there," Depasquale said.
The twins also told their mother that the kitchen of Eagle Point was infested with roaches and rats, and that if there was trouble during mealtime, the boys either couldn't finish eating or were given 30 seconds to finish their meal.
The boys also alleged that when the kids got into fights, the staff members would just ignore it and leave the room. One of Depasquale's sons was in a fight, and the brothers said the instructors just stood by and watched.
The boys also told their mother that mace was being used frequently at Eagle Point when anybody steps out of line.
Depasquale said she felt Eagle Point was misrepresented to parents. She said they didn't provide a 100 percent safe and secure environment, there's a lack of supervision, and the education is not what it should be.
Depasquale said their family representative, Ada Gunter was a wonderful person. "I really felt she did care," she said.
An improvement plan for Eagle Point was established at a hearing in George County Youth Court on Thursday. The court adopted a plan of improvement recommended by the state and by Eagle Point.
The documents from the hearing are sealed, but one step in the plan has already been implemented by Eagle Point with the hiring of the Mississippi Security Police, a private firm, to provide security services for the academy. The Mississippi Security Police were called after the riot and have been present at the facility since last weekend.
"I hope the actions that were taken will prevent future problems," District Attorney Tony Lawrence said.
Lawrence said he had certain concerns he wanted to see addressed including kids escaping and kids being injured.
"The hiring of a security firm will certainly go a long way to alleviating a lot of problems we've seen in the past," he said.
Lawrence said he could not confirm case-by-case allegations against Eagle Point, but allegations made to him will be investigated. "Any matter alleged to be of criminal activity will be investigated and presented to a grand jury," he said.
George County Youth Court Prosecutor Mark Maples said the recommendation of the court were to "ensure the safety and security of the students as well as the community."
Officials agreed that the issue of security needed reconsidered, Maples said.
George County Sheriff Garry Welford said he felt the plan "would be good for the security of the kids and for the community."
Reporter Mollie Reeves can be reached at email@example.com or 9601)947-9933.
HISTORY -- Before Bethel Boys Academy became Eagle Point Christian AcademyA parent comments: "This past summer of 2003 my husband and I placed our son at Bethel Boys Academy in Lucedale Mississippi. It is owned and run by Herman Fountain and his son John Fountain. My son was only there for a few days when I had changed my mind and returned to Miss. to claim him. Doing those few days he was beaten, tortured and deprived of food, sleep, water and bathroom privaleges. He was covered head to toe in bruises. We took our son to the Attorney General's office in Jackson, MS. They sent an investigator to get my son's deposition and also to try and take pictures of the bruises. Within the next month another 16 boys would be removed from that torture chamber. All with stories of abuse, beatings for no reasons, torture including electrical shock. Being locked in a foot locker for the whole day. Forced exercise for hours straight with no breaks and no water. The Attorney General's office had 13 of those boys testify before a judge asking to close the place down. Mike Moore publicly announced his intention to do just that in all the newspapers down in MS. We were all to appear in court on August 26th, 2003 to testify and show proof of the abuse the boys suffered at the hands of the Fountains and their evil Drill Instructors. Two days before court Mike Moore, the Attorney General made yet another deal with Bethel Boys Academy to allow them to remain open. I guess his political adgenda (possibly running for U.S. Senator) was more important to him than saving all those abused children's lives. The new decree with Bethel admits guilt right and left. It basically says they will no longer use electrical shock on the children. They will give them water to drink. I couldn't believe that the State of MS. knows about this abuse as this particular home has been in the news every year since they opened. The State even shut them down before only to have them reopen a few years later to continue with the abuse. We treat our P.O.W.'s better than that. These are innocent children. Herman and John Fountain love to blast their mouths in the paper that this is a last resort school. Only the bad children come there. My son wasn't bad, just getting off the right path. He wasn't in trouble with the law, never has been. My son was in there with children who thought Bethel was a private Christian Military Academy. They don't advertise as a teen boot camp where your child can be abused and tortured for a whopping $25,000 a year. The Fountains are liars and child abusers. The State of Miss. and Mike Moore are weak and too concerned about their own political agenda to do that right thing - which is to stop legalized child abuse."
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