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Seymour man gets $900k in abuse claim
Connecticut Post (Bridgeport, CT)
December 14, 2006
Author: MATTHEW HIGBEE [email protected]
Estimated printed pages: 2

SEYMOUR - A town man sentenced to 20 years in a psychiatric hospital
for trying to kill his parents by burning down their house has won a
$900,000 judgement against a southern military academy for troubled
teenagers that he said tortured him. Joseph Gabriel Paolillo and his
father, Joseph Peter Paolillo, won the judgement Monday against the
Bethel Boys Academy, of Lucedale, Miss., in Mississippi federal court.
The elder Paolillo was awarded $59,709 in damages.
Routine beatings and mental abuse from a drill instructor with a pit
bull trained to bite in the crotch were alleged by the younger
Paolillo, who was 17 when he went to Bethel in 1998.

"They beat him viscously," his father said. "I feel relieved that some
satisfaction was given to my son, so he can seek professional
treatment and counseling."

Testifying from Whiting Forensic Institute in Middletown, the
25-year-old Paolillo described treatment at Bethel such as being made
to eat breakfast in 45 seconds and then roll around on the ground
until throwing up. A drill instructor, William Knotts, would sic a bit
bull on cadets given a head start to run across a field, Paolillo
testified. "I had bite marks on my groin," Paolillo said in his
testimony. "That's basically where the dog generally bit."

Paolillo was sent to Whiting after breaking into his parent's
residence on Julie Drive in Seymour on Dec. 16, 2003, with a 5-gallon
can of gasoline and setting the dining room floor afire.

Paolillo's attorney, George Yoder, said collecting on the judgement
would be difficult because the Bethel Academy has since closed and
apparently never had insurance.
Section: Local
(c) 2006 The Connecticut Post. All rights reserved. Reproduced with
the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.

Wanted to let you know we finally got our court date for the trial against Bethel Boys Academy.  Yes, we will all be dead from old age by then.  LOL

May 22, 2006.  Now that we have a trial date set on the first lawsuit, the law firm will be filing the next one.  Would be happy to send you a copy of this as soon as it is officially filed.

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Mom pulls twins from Eagle Point after riot
Saturday, April 16, 2005
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.

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 protected] or 9601)947-9933.

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? Couple arrested, charged in local burglaries

? Crime

? Dang pleads guilty in son's slaying

More Stories

2005 The Mississippi Press. Used with permission

March 8, 2005
Reforms don't stem allegations

Boys academy struggles to change image

By Julie Goodman
[email protected]


Greg Jenson/The Clarion-Ledger

Cadets at Eagle Point Christian Academy, formerly known as Bethel Boys Academy, fall into formation Thursday at lunch time. Fountain said Eagle Point is moving away from a military approach in favor of a boarding school environment by replacing uniforms and dropping the 'drill instructor' title for employees.

LUCEDALE ? Unhappy parents, troubled teens, torture allegations and lawsuits have all become an unenviable part of John Fountain's life since he took over Bethel Boys Academy from his father nearly two years ago.

The school for troubled teenagers ? now called Eagle Point Christian Academy ? has on one side assertive parents who continue to report abuse, explaining in graphic detail the wounds they detected on their children once they were removed from the school.

On the other side are Fountain's equally adamant denials. He points to what he says are litigious parents and children who were brought to the school ? sometimes against their will ? in part because of deception problems.
It's not clear exactly what happens at the academy when spectators are gone.

But the school's court-appointed monitor and the county sheriff's office have both made room for the possibility that some of the children making recent allegations could be lying.

"A lot of those kids have problems, and they'll make allegations just so they can get out of there," said Bill East, a former prosecutor who now inspects the school quarterly as the academy's monitor.

East's inspections are part of a 2003 Chancery Court consent decree that required the school to institute a range of changes from allowing restroom and water breaks during exercise to forbidding the use of electrical devices for discipline. The decree was issued while the school was directed by Fountain's father, Herman Fountain, and abuse allegations drew the attention of state officials who sought to close the academy.

John Fountain's father was forced to relinquish all interests and control in the school, which admits about 100 students from all over the country. He says he has worked to reform the academy, parting with the ways of his father.

He fired three employees on the spot for what appeared to be abusive behavior.

Fountain has tried to press charges against the former staffers. George County sheriff's office said there is only one open case against a former employee.

East said he does not know of any pervasive abuse at the school and said the academy ? which has problems like any other school ? is trying to improve. "John Fountain is trying," he said. "He's got a zero tolerance of abuse now."

The school's residential adviser is implementing a reward and sanction system, which no longer uses exercise to punish all students for the bad behavior of one child.

Fountain said he is trying to arrange with the Boys and Girls Club so students can serve as companions for younger children, or be paired with mentors. He said he hopes to build a gym and a larger schoolhouse, while gravitating away from a military approach and toward a boarding school environment.

There are 38 cameras installed over the campus, except in the bathrooms.

In addition to shedding the school's name, Fountain also is dropping the "drill instructor" title for employees, calling them "team leaders" or "dorm leaders" instead. He has ordered khaki pants and colored tops for the boys to replace military fatigues. But the abuse allegations keep coming.

Parents say the cameras have been tampered with, and that John Fountain is inextricably linked to the problem that brought on the abuse in the first place: his father.

"John Fountain is, as far as I'm concerned, as bad as his dad," said Oscar Stilley of Fort Smith, Ark., attorney for parents of former cadets suing the academy in federal court.

Stilley said his office has taken steps to weed out plaintiffs making false allegations, including running criminal background checks and comparing accounts of the abuse for inconsistencies. He said the pattern of reports shows the students are telling the truth. "If everybody is saying there's terrible abuse going on, there's terrible abuse going on in my mind," he said.

But Stilley, whose suit names about two dozen plaintiffs, does not rule out the possibility that some of the plaintiffs could be lying.

Ruben Villa, 15, who was at the school on and off for more than a year until he ran away in November, said he was underfed, overworked, and once had his head slammed against a wall.

Students sleep on mattresses with urine stains and broken springs, and are forced to endure long hours of physical labor helping to build cabins on Herman Fountain's property, with little focus on schoolwork, said Villa, who lives outside Los Angeles. He and a group of friends finally ran away.

Parents say that children who have been removed from the school have no reason to lie about abuse, and that the Fountains manipulate parents by calling their children "bad." "I feel like they were playing on the parents' emotions," said Villa's mother, Alice Stroud, who is joining a lawsuit.

Fountain said if Ruben Villa's head had been slammed against the wall, it would have been caught on tape. He also accused the teen of stealing a car from the property, saying his credibility is in question.

Other students currently at the school dismissed allegations of abuse.

The school's staff said the students, some of whom have been in the juvenile detention system, are savvy and know how to bring heat on to the school. Fountain said he doesn't want to invalidate the concerns of families, but said by and large, he has been the victim of parents trying to make a buck.

"I've had parents come in there, drop their kids off, find out that there has been allegations against Bethel Academy, come pick up their kid and say, 'Oh my kid's been abused,' " he said.

"And then want their money."

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The Troubled Teen Industry / TeenAdvocatesUSA?????
« on: February 24, 2005, 06:56:00 PM »
Anyone know what happened to TeenAdvocatesUSA website?  Barbe Stamps I believe ran it.  It has been gone for a few days now.

The Troubled Teen Industry / Bethel Girls Academy - CLOSED
« on: February 18, 2005, 12:13:00 AM »
Bethel Shuts Down After Girls Flee
Feb 17, 2005, 02:59 PM MST  Email to a Friend  Printer Friendly Version    

The director of the Bethel Girls Academy says he voluntarily shut down his school after allegations of abuse on Wednesday.

Herman Fountain Jr. says he's released the school's 50 residents into the custody of the Department of Human Services while the academy remains temporarily closed.

On Wednesday 11 girls ran away from the school, claiming they'd been abused.

Sources say all 50 girls spent last night in sleeping bags at the Forrest County DHS office. DHS will not confirm that a state investigation is underway, saying only that the department does respond to all complaints about state-inspected facilities.

Officials say when there are allegations of abuse, the state health department, DHS, the attorney general's office, and local law enforcement are required to work together.

Sources say the 11 girls who ran away have gone back to their homes, while the remaining residents wait at the DHS office to be picked up by their parents.

The Troubled Teen Industry / Sexual Abuse @ Bethel Girls Academy
« on: February 16, 2005, 08:01:00 PM »
Very reliable sources have told me the girls are being sexually abused at Bethel Girls Academy, Petal, Miss. ... ll/article?

Students flee Bethel school; allege abuse

Law enforcement officers were at a Petal school for troubled
teenagers Wednesday morning investigating allegations of abuse and
reports that several of the girls there had run away.

According to Forrest County Sheriff's Department deputies, 11 girls
fled the Bethel Girls Academy, although the school's director, Herman
Fountain Jr., said only seven girls were missing. He couldn't
immediately explain the discrepancy.

Four girls were being sought by authorities this morning. Others had
returned to the school. It was unclear how many staff members were on
duty at the time the girls ran away.

"Some of the girls had an uprising and sort of took over the place,"
Fountain said. "They just ran away."

One of the girls, Angenika McNeil, 16, said her arm was broken after
she was restrained. Fountain said she may have injured her arm when
she punched a wall.

Another girls was treated in an ambulance for a cut to the head this
morning. Fountain said she fell.

Fountain said he was not at the school at the time of the incident.
The school has had a history of problems with state authorities. The
Department of Human Services removed 38 girls from the facility last
spring after receiving complaints of mistreatment from the girls
about physical and verbal abuse.

No charges were filed in connection with the incident, and the school
continued to accept students.

The school mixes Biblical teaching with military-style discipline. It
takes in girls with behavioral problems from around the country.

Nikki Rich, hired about a month ago as a drill instructor, said she
was quitting.

"This is ridiculous, I'm not going to stay here," she said.

Rich said the girls were providing notes outlining their issues with
the school to employees. Rich said she had several of the notes and
planned to give them to DHS officials.

Deputies said DHS has been called. The agency has not arrived as of 1

Originally published February 16, 2005

The Troubled Teen Industry / More ABUSE @ Bethel Girls Academy
« on: February 15, 2005, 08:25:00 PM »
News 7
New Abuse Claim Against Bethel
 Email to a Friend  Printer Friendly Version    

Another allegation of physical abuse at Bethel Girls Academy has an angry parent taking action.

"I got a call at 11:30 at night telling me they're taking my child to the emergency room because my child's wrist is swollen and they think it's broken, so when I get a call back they're telling me it's broken," says Angela Roberts.

Last Saturday, Roberts says, she received some shocking news. Officials at Bethel told her that her 16-year-old daughter Angenika injured herself after she slammed her fingers in a door and punched a wall. But Roberts says she's not buying it. She claims the school's director Herman Fountain is responsible.

"My daughter says Mr. Fountain grabbed her and took his knees and put it in my daughter's pelvis area and grabbed her wrist and pushed it all the way back until it popped," she says. "That is ridiculous."

Angenika McNeil, the alleged victim, says: "He just jacked me up and he slung me into the door and that's how I got this cut on my eye and when I got into his office he put his knee into my stomach and started bending my hand back and then I jerked it away from him."

Roberts has filed a complaint with the Forrest County Sheriff's Office against Bethel Academy.

But Fountain gives a different account of what happened. He says it was last Thursday, and he tried to restrain Angenika after she lashed out.

"She bit my arm right here. I've got a bruise right here," he says. "She kicked me in the chest and in the legs and I just held her down until she calmed down."

Fountain says Angenika was not injured during Thursday's incident, but instead had to be taken to the e-room Saturday after she injured herself.

"Mr. Fountain needs to pay for his actions," Roberts insists. "He needs to be put in jail for his actions. It makes no sense for a man to do those types of things to these children. I don't care what type of children they are."

The Troubled Teen Industry / Eagle Point Christian Academy ABUSE
« on: February 14, 2005, 02:07:00 PM »
Seems that the new Eagle Point Christian Academy is also Bethel Boys Academy.  John Fountain the owner/operator and abuser of Bethel Boys Academy, Lucedale, MS. states he changed the name to run from the all the lawsuits, allegations of abuse, torture and inhumane treatment.

Posted on Thu, Feb. 10, 2005

Lucedale's Bethel Home gets new name, education plan, organizer says

LUCEDALE - John Fountain, the director of the newly named Eagle Point Christian Academy, previously known as Bethel Boys Academy, said Thursday the school is entering a new era for working with troubled youth.

"Our goal is still to turn around lives," he said. "We have new staff members and we are going to make our program work better."

Fountain said he and his attorney Trey Bobinger came up with the new name and still haven't finished all the legal wording. "I hope to put a new face on it."

He said the program, which has 105 young men enrolled, gets away from the "boot camp" mentality.

"I don't believe in corporal punishment," he said. "It doesn't work for the kids now days."

He said it could be more difficult to maintain discipline, but that he and his staff would work through that.

Fountain said local educator Bobby Walker is principal of the academy.

"We will be getting a library and adding computers," he said. "We must do that so the youngsters can get into the new technology."

Fountain said the academy would abide by all state rules and regulations. "If we expect the youngsters to go by the rules, we certainly have to do it ourselves."

He would not talk about suits alleging mistreatment of youth which he said came during the past administration. "Our attorney is handling that."

The name change is not unprecedented with the academy, which was founded by Fountain's father, Herman.

It was called the Bethel Home for Children in 1988 when it was raided by state welfare officials who removed 72 abused and neglected children. A judge shut it down in 1990 and Herman Fountain reopened it as the Bethel Boys Academy four years later.

"Life's a learning experience, I've learned a lot from the mistakes my father has made and still learning everyday and wanting to make a change," Fountain said.

Fountain called the abuse allegations "hog wash."

"Some of them are so far fetched, it's almost funny," he said.

George County authorities cleared the academy of abuse allegations last year, but parents continued to complain of visible signs of injury to their children.

Fort Smith, Ark. attorney Oscar Stilley, who is representing parents of former cadets suing the academy in federal court, said the case is heading to trial and at least two similar lawsuits are to come.

Bobinger said even though the abuse allegations, which are two years old, are still the subject of a lawsuit, there are no pending legal issues with the state.

The school admits about 100 students, ages 11 to 17, whose stays range from eight to 12 months, Fountain said.

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The Troubled Teen Industry / Another child abuse compound CLOSED
« on: November 14, 2004, 12:51:00 PM »
Another child abuse compound closes.  This appears to be run by the State of Maryland. ... 002/NEWS17

New Info / Bethel sued by parents
« on: November 03, 2004, 02:34:00 PM »
The first lawsuit has been filed.  Every 30-60 days they will be hit with another one. ... 30359/1002

The Troubled Teen Industry / Bethel receives a busload of victims
« on: November 02, 2004, 11:06:00 PM »
Since Bethel Academy has now joined up with WWASP (hey they are the pros in abusing and torturing kids) Bethel received a busload of victims from the two WWASP schools that were recently raided and closed by the Mexican government.  How can parents be soooo ignorant????  When they were sitting there and got a phone call that the school "THEY" had sent them to was CLOSED FOR ABUSE.  Why was their first thought "what other abusive school can I send them to"?  Bethel was the answer.  Bethel had been running only 50-60 boy victims and only around 10 girl victims (since the girl school was raided and all victims removed over the summer).  Now they are full to capacity with victims and money overflowing.  How nice.

The Troubled Teen Industry / Bethel Boys Academy raided AGAIN
« on: November 02, 2004, 08:13:00 PM »
The state raided Bethel again. Amazingly enough they found no
evidence of any physical abuse, neglect or medical neglect. On Sunday
a Mom rescued her boy who had been abused and medically neglected.
Another family from Texas rescued their child, filed criminal charges
and returned home. Then on Tuesday a Mom rescued her child and
immediately took him to the hospital where he was admitted. I guess
since the state had that many complaining parents in less than a week
they felt the need to "check the place out". J.W. Watkins (Personal
Integrity Division) sent a police officer to the Bethel compounds to
view the video monitors. SURPRISE - they weren't working. Then when
this Mom went to the George County Sheriff's office to file criminal
charges she was told by Ronnie Lambert that the Attorney General's
office was responsible for overseeing Bethel's criminal activities.
Yet J.W. Watkins told this Mom that it was the George County
Sheriff's Dept. In the end, Sue Perry of the Attorney General's
office admitted that NO ONE HAS BEEN monitoring this hell hole.
Oh, the first civil suit has been filed. It will make the newspapers
tomm. ... 052793.htm

New Info / Calvary Baptist SHUT DOWN!!!!!
« on: October 06, 2004, 11:18:00 AM »
Another Teen Torture camp SHUT DOWN.

Found these articles in St. Louis and Kansas City newspapers.

For the second time in five months, a controversial teen reform
ministry in Missouri is closing following abuse allegations.

Thanks to Calvary Baptist Church and Boarding Academy, near
Waynesville, Mo., is expected to send home all remaining students by
the end of the week, said the school's lawyer, Al W. Johnson.

The closing comes a year after the school's founder, Nathan Day, was
charged with four counts of felony child abuse. He is accused of
using excessive discipline against an Illinois teen. No trial date
has been set.

Enrollment has dropped since those charges were filed, Johnson said.
Day declined to comment, directing all questions to his attorney.
Thanks to Calvary is among several teen reform ministries that have
opened in the state due, in part, to a lack of regulation. The
programs share a similar adherence to corporal punishment and intense
religious instruction.

Hundreds of teens have been sent to the programs by parents who are
seeking a cure for drug use, gang activity and violent behavior. The
ministries have generally thrived but have also had to fight critics
who say they excessively discipline students.

In May, Mountain Park Baptist Boarding School, near Patterson, Mo.,
closed following lagging enrollment and a $20,000 jury award to a
teen who claimed mistreatment. Day had worked at Mountain Park before
opening Thanks to Calvary.

Johnson said the closing of Thanks to Calvary was part of an attack
on the teen ministries by state child-abuse investigators. He said
that the criminal charges against Day were unfounded but that the
media attention had made recruiting students difficult.

"I think it's another case of the state targeting unlicensed and
unregulated facilities," Johnson said.

Another teen reform ministry, Heartland Christian Academy, has
successfully fought off allegations of abuse, with charges against
the school's employees either being dropped or dismissed by juries. A
judge recently awarded $800,000 to Heartland, saying that a raid by
abuse investigators was unjustified.

At Thanks to Calvary, Day is accused of paddling Christopher Jensen
of Marseilles, Ill., until he developed deep bruises on his legs and

A civil suit filed by his mother, Deborah Stedman, claimed that the
punishment placed the boy in a catatonic state and that he has
required hospitalization.

Stedman's attorney, Tyce Smith of Waynesville, said he had dropped
the suit to await the criminal trial but planned to refile it.

Enrollment at Thanks to Calvary reached nearly 70 students two years
ago, and at the time, Day was expanding buildings. Day, a former
Marine, opened the school six years ago, basing his approach both on
military-style discipline and Bible teaching.

An auction of the school's property is scheduled for Saturday at the
school site in Devil's Elbow, Mo.

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