The managers of Restoration Youth Academy
and Saving Youth Foundation
has been sentenced to 20 years.
Leaders of religious Alabama boot camp get 20 years in prison for child abuse (By Prescotte Stokes III, Al.com, February 22 - 2017)
All three leaders of the religious Alabama boot camp Saving Youth Foundation for troubled teens were given 20 year prison sentences for their role in the child abuse incurred on children under their care.
Mobile Circuit Court Judge Charles Graddick issued the sentences in front of a filled to capacity courtroom on Wednesday morning.
The leader of the church, Pastor John David Young, 55, received a 20 year sentence to be served concurrently for each of the five counts of aggravated child abuse he faced.
The other school leaders, boys' instructor William Knott, 48, and girls' instructor Aleshia Moffett, 42, both received 20 year sentences to be served concurrently for each of the three counts of aggravated child abuse imposed by state prosecutors.
Assistant District Attorney Keith Blackwood recommended a 20 year sentence before Judge Graddick gave his ruling. He said that he feels justice has been served for the teens whose lives were forever changed by the treatment at the church.
"Whatever their intentions were when they started turned into something completely reprehensible and these children were horribly abused and a 20 year sentence is appropriate in this case," said Blackwood.
During the sentencing, Judge Graddick said that if the defendants had taken the initial 10-year sentence offered by the district attorney's office he may have considered their lawyers recommendations for probation or a diversion program. But, after hearing the horrific testimony about the treatment from several teens that were part of the program he felt differently.
"I can't imagine being a child and being taken from my home in the middle of the night, shackled and transported across the country and being forced to work," said Graddick. "Some of the testimony seemed more in line with the treatment we've heard done to inmates in Guantanamo Bay."
Family members and parishioners of the church stormed out of the courtroom after the ruling.
"No, I don't want to talk to you all now," said one woman to reporters in tears. "All the time we were trying to do something good for those children you all never came."
HEAL Alabama, Coordinator, Capt. Charles Kennedy was present for the trial and sentencing. He was one of the first to witness the treatment of the teens after a parent brought the issue to his office in June of 2011.
"As an Alabamian this insulted me," said Kennedy. "We can't say anything about third world countries when we are allowing this kind of thing to happen here everyday."
The defense attorneys for each defendant told Judge Graddick they plan to file a written notice of appeal for today's ruling.