From the Author:
As a blogger that focuses on abuse within the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church system, it is becoming increasingly difficult for me, as a Mother, to control the array of emotions that I feel when I read stories such as this. I find it difficult to understand how the adults that were on this trip, outside of the Youth Leaders, could not “notice” the abuse on the faces of the victims. Didn’t they care about the boys that were beaten? Didn’t anyone, including Samuel’s Dad, feel concern about these boys enough to make some phone calls to parents stateside? Didn’t they care enough to pull these Youth Leaders aside and reprimand them for their abuse? Why weren’t these abusers turned in to authorities once they arrived back in the U.S.? Why wouldn’t the parents of these children, fifteen years later, wish for the abusers to be prosecuted? Abusers are protected in this sect and many of them use their positions as a cloak to mask their evil attitudes and behaviors. The tactics used against the three boys that were punished, and the group as a whole, stem from an attitude of control, power and very poor character. It is time for the abusers to be exposed for what they are – destructive and evil and in need of prosecution by secular authorities. This type of abuse would lead to prosecution and jail time for the abusers had the story been told to authorities. It saddens me that church leaders can get away with this and continue to serve “in the church” where they have access and ability to abuse other children.
The story of Tommy is not a dramatization. It is a true story that actually happened and that many were involved in. – Samuel Bain
Tommy, a few days after being beaten by the youth group. These young boys who did this were incited to violence by their Youth Pastors! (This picture is the property of one of the boys in the group who has given Samuel permission to use it.)
INCITED TO VIOLENCE AND ABUSE AGAINST CHILDREN
Samuel Bain’s account of what happened:
It’s been 15 years ago that this story of abuse took place. For many of us, it is an event that we want to forget. This event changed many of us in various ways. It left an indelible mark on the psyche of each individual that participated in the abuse and, an undying anger toward those who incited this small group of boys to do such a heinous crime.
The year was 1997, and I was only 13 or 14 at the time this took place. The leadership involved were the Youth Pastors: Jeff Voegtlin (The Pastor’s son), Don Whitecar (the Pastor’s Son-in-law), Steve Damron, and the Junior High Youth Pastor, Eric Ramos. The setting was Mexico where the youth group had traveled with church leadership for a summer mission trip. One must bear in mind that as children, we were under the guardianship of these church leaders. They were supposed to be our protectors while in Mexico. These were the very adults that we should have been able to trust to make sure that we were not hurt in any way, and if we were, would ensure that proper medical attention was received.
I remember that this was the first major mission trip that the youth group took after Jeff Voegtlin and Don Whitecar took over the youth group. I also remember that these youth leaders were very arrogant men with big “chips” on their shoulders. They always gave the impression to us young boys that they had something to prove. They seemed to derive some sense of satisfaction at delivering the most severe punishments for the smallest “infractions”. Many of these “infractions” were simply made up by these youth leaders in order to make sure that they maintained all the power and control in every way over the boys in the youth group. You couldn’t even go to the bathroom without permission! However, one would never know they were in “trouble” until the punishment was dished out. And to deny the “infraction” meant you were calling the Youth Leader a liar; this meant further and more severe punishment. So, really, for a young boy to stand up for himself and what was right meant being treated with malicious intent from the leadership, and, it also meant punishment from the other boys in the group that were incited against the poor boy that dared to speak up.
Sometimes, the punishment would be so severe for the “infraction” supposedly committed, that the other boys lived in constant fear of it happening to them. The Youth Leaders knew this and would use this fear of being punished to incite this anger in many of the boys toward those who were guilty of these minor “infractions” in order to have the punishment dished out by the group instead of them having to do it themselves. They used their positions as a cloak of righteousness to mask their evil ways.
Others that attended this mission trip also included my Dad, who was the bus driver, and R.L. Grant and Dean Leslie.
The mission group was comprised of a bunch of 7th Grade boys. We are talking about an age group of kids that certainly made their share of stupid mistakes, but many of them were hardly worth mentioning. However, Steve Damron felt it necessary to come down hard with an iron fist for every single infraction, no matter how insignificant and small.
Darcel McCoy, one of the boys, did something stupid and silly in the shower but, was accused by Steve Damron of deliberately trying to urinate on someone’s toothbrush! Darcel did not urinate on anyone’s toothbrush. A boy named Caleb and a boy named Tommy (pictured above), were spotted on the opposite side of the road without permission. They had stopped to buy a coke or something. They did not do anything offensive or “sinful”. The next day, none of the boys were allowed to eat lunch or have anything to drink! (We were in Mexico in the heat of the Summer in 100+ degree temperatures in the shade.) All of us boys had no idea why we were not allowed to eat or drink. We spent the day knocking on doors and inviting people out to see a film at a mission church that we were there to help. It was nothing more than brick walls with a tin roof but as it got later, people began to show up at the church and the girls were allowed to sit down with them. All of us boys were sent upstairs under the tin roof in a room with no windows or ventilation. We sat up there and waited and waited for about 2-3 hours. We were hungry and thirsty, and by this time, pretty angry at how we were being treated. After the service finished, we got on the bus to head back to the compound that we were staying at and were told that no one was allowed to talk. We were wondering if they were going to feed us or at least tell us what was going on, however, when we arrived back at the gym where we slept, we were told to change and go to bed. Once again, no talking was allowed. It was at this point that many of us figured out that something was wrong and we all were being punished. We knew we would not be getting a good night’s sleep any time soon!
About thirty minutes after lights were out, the gym doors flew open and garbage cans went flying like an opening scene from Full Metal Jacket. In enters Carl Bain and the other youth leaders in all their glory yelling at us to square the deck away. Of course, most of the kids had no idea what that meant and just stood there. Finally, Carl got it across that he wanted the boys to clear out an area in the middle of the floor and form a circle. Once that was done, Carl and the other leaders then began to berate everyone in the gym. They told us, “You guys don’t take this serious! You wanna play games? Fine. We are going to play some games!” They called Darcel, Caleb and Tommy into the center of the circle and sat them down in chairs next to a fan and fed them steak fajitas and sandwiches and made sure they were nice and comfortable. Then, he made the rest of us boys do PT jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, bends and thrusts (ask someone who has been in the military what bends and thrusts are), and leg lifts while Steve Damron ran around the room stepping on each person’s stomach saying that if they were doing it right, they wouldn’t be able to feel him. All the while, we were told that we were being punished because of the three boys in the middle. This went on for about an hour and a half with no break. Finally, we were told to stand up. They pulled Darcel into the middle of the group and told us what he had done; rather, what they “thought” he had done, and began to force him to drink liquid. It started out with bottles of Arizona tea and then, 2 liters of coke and gallons of water. I literally watched his stomach swell up from the liquid he was trying to ingest. And as if this wasn’t enough, Jeff Voegtlin – and I am quoting him and dare him to dispute it – said, “Only a “Nigger” would do something like what you did butch! (Darcel is an African American, by the way.)” Then, they forced him to drink more water until he literally exploded and vomited and urinated all over himself and all over the floor. Then, they made him clean it up and we went back to doing more PT while they sat him back down with the other two boys.
The air conditioning in the gym had been shut off to make the gym very uncomfortable for us. It was part of the “punishment”. After about 45 minutes more of PT, they once again clarified they were punishing the whole group of boys due to the sins of the three boys that were set aside in the middle of the group. They also told all of us that when they left the room they trusted that we would take care of the problems (the three boys). As soon as they stepped out of the gym and shut the doors behind them, the whole group of boys jumped the three boys in the middle of the group. There were about 60-70 of us! Caleb was lucky because he was a bit stocky and no one wanted to mess with him. However, Darcel and Tommy got the brunt of the beating. I watched Tommy’s brother, Andy, beat the crap out of him; hitting him with his class ring and bouncing his head off the cement. All the while, he yelled that Tommy had sent some poor Mexicans to hell because of his playing around and not being serious. The next day, Tommy could not open his eyes because they were swollen shut. I honestly believe that he had one, if not several, concussions. Both he and Darcel would have been admitted to any emergency room here in the states, but those Jerks didn’t even have the thought to get them any medical attention! (Had they died or had they been paralyzed, this story would have taken a much different turn.) We were then told to go to sleep and not talk about any of this to the girls that next day.
Darcel McCoy’s Side of the Story:
I was one of the boys in the middle of the group that the Youth leaders wanted punished. I remember that what “they said” I did was not the truth of what happened. I did not do anything sinful or wrong. I remember the doors in the shower were broken and I couldn’t get out. I was 13 years old and had to pee! So, I went in the shower. Since I told them “I couldn’t hold it”, I was forced to drink gallons of water and coke and tea until I had to pee. The result was that they made me urinate on myself. Again, this is after puking several times all over myself because of all the liquids being forced down. (tea, coke, dirty water)
Here is the video of the 20/20 Story where Darcel speaks of this abuse – CNN – Ungodly Discipline (Fairhaven Baptist) Chesterton Indiana – YouTube
Michael’s Side of the Story:
I would like to add some details if I may to Samuel’s Story. Samuel has stated things accurately. I remember this day like it was yesterday. Many of the facts of this event came to my attention years after the incident. But, I do remember the following:
It was early in the day when the group of boys were sent out to invite people to church. Word started to spread around that the “staff” was upset and people were going to be in trouble. So, some people do what survival instincts prompt them to do; which was to save their own skin and tell on others. So, Don Whitecar stood up and said if anyone had any information about people breaking the rules, they needed to come forward and speak up or everyone would be punished. They compiled a list of about 25 people that had “done wrong”. Since they were experts at making mountains out of mole hills, they said it was a widespread problem and needed to be dealt with. This is when Sam’s story comes into play. We also had gone to Mexico with a missions group that was not affiliated with our group and took their buses and people into Chihuahua. So, they put us down to bed until the other group of boys that came with us and the “Bearing Precious Seeds” people went to bed, leaving us alone in the gym. As Samuel stated, the three boys were placed in the middle of our group. While the Youth Leaders made them eat, they pulled out the list and called each boy’s name one by one telling them to step into the middle of the circle where Jeff Voegtlin was standing with a paddle. They were saying he was the executioner and would be administering swats. After your name had been called out, they read the charges against you and decided on how many swats you were to receive. They even had an algorithm to compute swats for some. For example, they would tell us to take the number of charges, multiply it times 3 and divide by two. If it was an odd number that you divided by, then they would ask what butt cheek you wanted half the swat on. Some were told to go butt naked for their swats. After this was done, they focused on Darcel and made the kid, “whose tooth brush was allegedly peed on”, get his toothbrush for Darcel to brush his teeth with. At the same time, they told all the seniors to get their nice clothes and put them at the feed of Darcel so that he would wet himself and the senior’s clothes so they would be upset. Now, I want to point out that Fairhaven’s Church Staff had always been very good at prompting others to do their physical abuse for them. When Darcel drank so much that he peed himself and the senior’s clothes, they got in his face, calling him names and shouting at him. They then walked out telling everyone they hoped the problem would be solved when they go back. It was not Andy who beat up Tom, but I will not say who it was. People need to understand that we had so much animosity, hatred and emotions stuck inside of us for so long, that when the opportunity for an outlet came, it came out with a vengeance. We would take our frustrations about “staff” out on others. After the beating, they made Darcel clean the bathrooms with the toothbrush and was not allowed to pee or sleep that night.
This story of abuse took place about 15 years ago. Yet, there are many of the boys that were in the “group” that are finally willing to tell their accounts of this event in recent years. Many of us were afraid to tell our parents out of “fear”. We all were told by the Youth Leaders to not tell a single soul about what took place. After all, our parents had signed a “Consent Form” that allowed these youth leaders to be “responsible” for us. The staff learned not too long ago Caleb Stockman had a similar picture of Tommy after he had been beaten. They came to Caleb and requested he destroy the evidence in front of them.
My father was and is the Head of the Deacon Board at Fairhaven Baptist Church. I have already been threatened by leadership there that if I tell this story and get it out in the news, that all ties will be officially severed. This is a common tactic among many of my friends. It’s called “shunning” and is used against those who do not do what leadership wants them to do. It is also used on those who speak out against the abuse they see or experience. And, it is used against those who disagree with the church or Dr. Voegtlin. Many have had their parents pressured into “disowning” them and forbidding their other children from speaking to them. I want to make it clear that I do not hate the church as much as I hate the 40+ years of abuse and the ruined lives, broken families, and broken relationships it has produced.
– Samuel Bain