Biblical Reform School Discipline: Tough Love or Abuse?


"We've been allegated on like most faith-based places and investigations have had no findings to the allegations," he said. "We have nothing to hide. We are up front and open and you are welcome to come to the property."

His lawyer Jay M. Kirksey later responded by email, saying the Maddox family were "bias[ed] and lacking credibility."

"There are unfortunately, disgruntled parents who address the school, instead of their children, in the private sector just as exists in the public school system," Kirksey wrote.

Shortly after Kelsey returned home, she moved away, but her mother said she calls and emails daily.

"This has been a living nightmare," Maddox, who subsequently called the attorney general with her consumer complaints about deceptive marketing.

"We have been trying to mediate (her) complaints," said Gonder, from the Missouri Attorney General Office. "The school has been cooperating in providing information, but their information is different from hers. Our efforts are ongoing."

Troubled teens often don't speak up for themselves, said another activist, Michele Ulriksen Tresler, who wrote a book, Reform at Victory Christian Academy," chronicling her own experience at the IFB school.

"They are called liars because they are labeled rebellious teenagers," said Tresler. "We had drug addicts, prostitutes and alcoholics among regular girls who didn't belong there, dabbling in regular teen rebellion. There were girls with some major issues who should have been in a place that helped them and giving them tools to have social skills. But when they go to the cops, no one believes them."

Tresler died of a drug overdose on March 17, just weeks after this interview. According to her ex- husband, Robert Ulricksen, "VCA was a demon that haunted her for many years."

Victory, run by Roloff disciple Mike Palmer, was shut down by California authorities after a student death in 1991. Palmer went on to run schools in Mexico and Florida that were also shut down.

As for Anne, she said she is now seeing a counselor and said she, too, has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress.

"She is doing terrible," said her mother. "She has no self-worth. They had her say a hundred times that she was the daughter of the devil with the tongue of the devil -- crazy destructive talk at New Beginnings. Now, I think she actually believes it."

Jeannie Marie has stopped going to the church she said "deceived" her.

"I did not lose my faith," she said. "But I know that many of these little girls will be terribly challenged to remember who God is, after this experience."

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