3 convicted for child abuse at religious Alabama private school
By Anna Claire Vollers January 24, 2017
In the end, three leaders of a religious Alabama bootcamp for troubled teens were convicted on multiple counts of aggravated child abuse for what they did to the children in their care.
The convictions were thanks in large part to the testimony of five former students, who told the court about the physical and mental abuse they suffered at the school.
Despite multiple investigations by the Mobile County DA's office, local law enforcement and the Alabama Department of Human Resources, it took officials five years to close down the school and another seven months to arrest the employees accused of the worst of the abuse.
On Jan. 13, 55-year-old pastor John David Young was convicted on five counts of aggravated child abuse at the Saving Youth Foundation, a bootcamp-style residential school in Mobile for troubled teens that was associated with Young's Solid Rock Ministries church.
Two other school leaders, boys' instructor William Knott, 48, and girls' instructor Aleshia Moffett, 42, were convicted on three counts each of aggravated child abuse. None of the attorneys for Young, Knott or Moffett have returned AL.com's calls or emails asking for comment.
Punishment and abuse
The prosecution built its case around specific instances of abuse involving isolation, handcuffs, and excessive exercise.
"We were able to put in front of the jury a lot of good testimony and evidence about what these people were doing to these teenagers at the Saving Youth Foundation," said Blackwood.
"The jury got to hear about the isolation chambers, kids being put in restraints for punishment and transport, and the excessive physical training over several hours with no breaks."....
Students talked about being locked in isolation cells for weeks at a time, with little or no clothing, a single bulb burning overhead day and night.
They shared stories of other students being handcuffed to beds as punishment, and being forced to exercise outdoors in the south Alabama heat for hours....