Bethel Operators Defend Themselves - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

06/06/03

Bethel Operators Defend Themselves

A little more than a week ago 13 cadets testified at a closed hearing in the George County Courthouse. The boys told judges, county prosecuting attorneys, and state agencies they were physically abused during their time at the Bethel Boys Academy. Representatives for the academy say no abuse occured.

"To the best of my knowledge no abuse has taken place and if it had we have a zero tolerance for abuse of any children by a staff member," said Richard Brown a counselor at the home. Brown says the school's program is military in nature and requires instructors to be strict with students. " Representatives of the Bethel Boys Academy say no abuse has taken place at the home. "We use a military type bootcamp, a military style bootcamp program on the front end to get them familiar with uniform standards and able to respond to specific directions in a specific way."

Brown says the school supervises instructors and cadets twenty-four seven and that the cadets injure each other. Instructors are allowed to use corporal punishment but only if a witness is present. Academy administrators said if the boys' claims were found to be factual the school would deal with those in violation of the school's zero tolerance policy on abuse.

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