End Child Sexual Abuse

Thelma’s Deposition in 1997


Thelma Ford Deposition 7/21/1997 New Bethany VS Louisiana Case # 96-2065

Thelma Ford Deposition
7/21/1997
New Bethany VS Louisiana
Case # 96-2065

Thelma Ford’s Deposition in 1997

Thelma Deposition – 7/21/1997 – Pages 1-30

(Page 11)
Q. When the New Bethany Home For Girls was started, did you have any role in the home itself in terms of doing anything, or at that point, were you still a housewife and mother?

(Page 12)
A. I was — both of us lived in the dorm with the children. {Mack Ford NEVER lived in the dorm; Thelma did}
Q. So in other words, you were actively involved in the Horne itself?
A. Yes.
Q. This was not something that your husband — this was not just your husband’s calling? It was your calling as well?
A. Yes. And that was for eight years.
Q. Do you know if the New Bethany Horne For Girls was ever incorporated?
A. Yes.
Q. Do you remember when that was?
A. I sure don’t.
Q. And you participated in the incorporation, didn’t you?
A. Yes.
Q. Were you an officer or director of that corporation?
A. I was the assistant.
Q. In the initial start-up of the New Bethany Horne For Girls, besides you and your husband who else was involved in creating the New Bethany Home For Girls?
A. Let’s see. We had a mothering church.

(Page 13)
Q. A mothering church?
A. Uh-huh.
Q. And which church was that?
A. West Main Baptist Church in Henderson, Texas.
Q. West Main?
A. Uh-huh.
Q. And you said they were a mothering church. Could you describe that relationship between West Main Baptist Church and New Bethany Home For Girls?
A. They were just the — no, I can’t. No.
Q. But that was the mother church for your ministry?
A. Uh-huh, yeah.
Q. At that point, you in essence were a ministry of the West Main Baptist Church. Would that be fair?
A. Yes.
Q. And who at that time was the pastor of West Main Baptist Church?
A. Charles Kimble.
Q. Anyone else involved in the start-up or creation of the New Bethany Home For Girls?
A. I can’t remember.

(Page 14)
Q. I want to check out, see if there’s anybody else that was involved. In terms of the creation or start-up of the New Bethany Home For Girls, was a Reverend Lester Roloff involved?
A. No.
Q. Do you know who Reverend Roloff is?
A. Yes.
Q. Are you familiar with the ministries that Reverend Roloff had in Corpus Christi with regard to troubled youths? Are you aware that he had that?
A. Yes.
Q. A home for troubled youth in Corpus Christi?
A. Yes.
Q. Did you and your husband hope to model your ministry on that of Reverend Roloff?
A. No.
Q. What differences did you see between yours and Reverend Roloff’s?
A. The only difference I would know of is the food.
Q. And what difference is that?
A. They were vegetarians.
Q. But with regard to Biblical precepts or teachings, you believe that New Bethany would follow the same basic Biblical teachings as Reverend Roloff’s?

(Page 15)
Q. (By Mr. Bernstein) Are you familiar with the basic precepts of Reverend Roloff’s Home for Troubled Youth or Ministry?
A. No. [view Q & A on Page 13 -above]
Q. At any time, did Reverend Roloff participate in — and I’m talking at any time, not just in the formation stages — participate in any way with regard to leading or helping or assisting New Bethany Home For Girls?
A. No.
Q. How about Reverend W. N. Otwell from Texas? Have you ever heard of him?
A. Yes.
Q. Do you know who he is?
A. Yes .
Q. Has he, at any time, been involved with New Bethany Home For Girls?

(Page 16)
A. Yes.
Q. And what was his role?
A. Staff.
Q. He was on the staff. And could you give me roughly when Reverend W. N. Otwell was on the staff of New Bethany Home For Girls?
A. No.
Q. Do you know if your husband has ever had a ministry of this type, that is a home for troubled youths, anywhere other than Arcadia, Louisiana?
A. Yes.
Q. And where was that?
A. South Carolina, Alabama, here in Louisiana
Q. And where in South Carolina was the home there?
A. Walterboro, South Carolina.
Q. When was that home started?
A. I cannot tell you the date, the year.
Q. Would it have been after you all started New Bethany?
A. Oh, yes.
Q. In Arcadia?
A. Yes.

(Page 17)
Q. And then where in Alabama?
A. Opelika.
Q. Did you ever go to the home in Walterboro?
A. Yes.
Q. Were your trips there just short visits, or were you ever on the staff there?
A. Short visits.
Q. And how about in Opelika?
A. No.
Q. And in Alabama, in Opelika, was it also called New Bethany, or was there another name?
A. I don’t recall.
Q. And then you said here in Louisiana. Do you know if your husband has had a home for troubled youths any place other than Arcadia?
A. Longstreet.
Q. Longstreet. And was Longstreet a home for boys or girls?
A. Boys.
Q. And did it go under the New Bethany name?
A. Yes.
Q. And did you function on the staff? Were you on the staff of the New Bethany Home For Boys in Longstreet?

(Page 18)
A. No.
Q. So you have been on the staff — I’ll rephrase the question. Since about 1970, the only place that you have fulfilled your calling to minister to troubled youths has been the New Bethany Home For Girls in Arcadia, Louisiana?
A. Yes.
Q. Have you ever heard of a home for troubled youths in Kansas City, Missouri called the Rebecca Home For Girls?
A. No.
Q. Have you ever heard of the Rebecca Home For Girls?
A. In Corpus Christi.
Q. In Corpus Christi. Do you know if at any point any girls from the Rebecca Home For Girls have been transferred to the New Bethany Home For Girls?
A. Not that I recall.
Q. But it could have happened?
A. (No verbal response)
Q. I mean, you’re saying you don’t recall which means you don’t have a memory of it, so I guess my question is: It could have happened but you don’t — are you saying it could have happened, but you don’t recall?

(Page 19)
A. No, none from Rebecca Home.
Q. Okay. In Corpus Christi?
A. Right.
Q. Now, my understanding is that at some point when the Rebecca Home For Girls in Corpus Christi closed, those youths were moved to Kansas City, Missouri, and that there was a Rebecca Home for Girls in Kansas City, Missouri. And then when that home was closed, a number of those girls wound up at New Bethany?
A. Yes. That’s correct.
Q. And so those girls were transferred to New Bethany from the Rebecca Home For Girls in Kansas City, Missouri?
A. Excuse me. May I clear that up?
Q. Sure.
A. But they were no part of us. We had nothing to do with them. They just used one of the buildings. Their staff was with them. I don’t know a thing about them.
Q. In other words, they just simply took over one of the buildings. Basically, [they] were a tenant of yours?
A. Yes.
Q. Over the years, from 1970 until today,

(Page 20)
… what roles have you had at the New Bethany Home For Girls? In other words, have you been — you told me that you lived in the dorm, so I guess, you would — how would you describe that? Dorm mother?
A. Supervisor.
Q. Supervisor. Okay. Besides being a supervisor, what else have you done at New Bethany? In other words, are you in charge of the kitchen? Do you do anything with the bookkeeping? That’s the kind of things I’m looking for.
A. I’m the bookkeeper. I’m the answerer of the telephone. But I oversee everything — kitchen, laundry, all of it.
Q. It sounds to me like you’re in charge of the New Bethany Home For Girls.
A. No, Sir. No.
Q. Who is in charge of the New Bethany Home For Girls?
A. Reverend Mack Ford.
Q. But you’re over everything?
A. I make no final decisions.
Q. Right. I understand. I understand that. I’m just trying to clarify though, you’re over everything in the sense of bookkeeping, kitchen, dormitory, school?

(Page 21)
A. Yes.
Q. And you’re the bookkeeper, so you keep a set of books?
A. Yes.
Q. And those books reflect donations or income received by New Bethany?
A. Yes, and I have a CPA.
Q. Who is your CPA?
A. Ms. Robinson. Frances Robinson.
Q. And where is she?
A. Jonesboro.
Q. Does Frances Robinson keep the physical books, or do they stay at New Bethany? In other words, the actual ledgers?
A. She keeps them.
Q. She keeps them?
A. Sorry? I don’t understand.
Q. I guess my question is: The actual books, are they at Arcadia, or are they in Jonesboro? The physical books that have the accounts that show, keep track of your expenses and revenue?
A. Ms. Robinson.
Q. What are the sources of support –as bookkeeper, I assume you’re familiar with the financial goings on of New Bethany Home For Girls. Is that true?

(Page 22)
A. Yes.
Q. And what are the sources of support for New Bethany Home For Girls?
A. Churches, individuals, donations.
Q. So churches and individuals that make donations?
A. Yes.
Q. When you say “individuals,” are these simply interested individuals, or are these families of youths that are there?
A. Sorry — didn’t understand.
Q. Well, you said “individuals,” and my question is: When you say “individuals,” are you talking about simply people that are interested in supporting your ministry, or are you talking about families of youths that are at the home or both?
A. Yes. People that are interested.
Q. Do families make any donations?
A. The only donations family would make is tuition to school.
Q. And what’s the tuition?
A. $350.
Q. $350 per?

(Page 23)
A. Child.
Q. For the entire child’s stay?
A. Yes.
Q. MR. HODGE: Over what period of time are we referring to?
Q. One year.
(By Mr. Bernstein) Well, that was what I was trying to get to. So the tuition is $350 per child per year?
A. Yes.

(Page 25)
Q. So in June of ’96, who was the supervisor in the school?
A. JoAnn Madden.

(Page 26)
Q. I guess what I’m trying to find out is: Do you have one set of books for New Bethany Church and its ministries, or is there one set of books for the church, one set of books for the Boys Home, and one set of books for the Girls Horne?
A. Yes.
A. I cannot answer that. I don’t know.
Q. The set of books that you keep, does that record expenses for the Girls Home?
A.
Q. Does it record expenses for the Boys Home?
A. Yes.
Q. I understand. And is there a separate
Q. And does it record the expenses of the church as well?
A. Yes. All of it is under the church.
1 set of books that have just the expenses of the Girls Home?
Q. And you indicated that there were monitors. before then, the people involved in the school would
Q. Who were the monitors in June of ’96?
A. Miss Chen.
Q. Could you spell her last name for me?
A. C-H-E-N. And Miss April Russell.
Q. Were there more than those two monitors?
A.  I’m sorry. I can’t remember. I have a tutor
Q. And who is the tutor?
A. Mr. Robert Brown.
Q. So roughly in June of ’96 or shortly have been the supervisor, JoAnn Madden; two monitors, Miss Chen and Miss April Russell; and then, the tutor was Robert Brown?
A. Yes.

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Thelma Deposition – Pages 31-60

(Page 34)
A. Yes.
Q. Did they have any other duties besides the school and being a hall monitor?
A. No.
Q. Now, on the boys side, besides being the supervisor in the school, did Ray[mond] Swan have any other responsibilities at New Bethany?
A. I don’t know about that side.
Q. So you would not know whether Mrs. Swan or Robert Brown had any responsibilities on that side?
A. I don’t know that.
Q. What other adults participated in the running of the New Bethany Home For Girls in 1996?
A. We’ve got people in the school. We’ve got the hall monitors.

(Page 35)
Q. Was there anybody cooking?
A. Frank and Julia Garcia, and Loraine Carter.
Q. Now, is Frank Garcia a minister?
A. Yes.
Q. He’s an ordained minister?
A. He’s not an ordained, no.
Q. No, he’s not ordained. And what was his role at the New Bethany Home For Girls?
A. Supervisor in a boys dorm.
Q. So Robert Brown was the supervisor on the boys side?
A. Yes.
Q. And he was a tutor on the girls side?
A. Uh-huh.
Q. Do you know who else was a part of the school on the boys side?
A. Ray Swan.
Q. And what role did he have in the school?
A. He was the school maybe he would have been the school supervisor.
Q. Is there some confusion about that?
A. No. No. He was there then, but he
Q. And so once again, we’re talking about

(Page 37)

Q. In the ’70s. Other than the connection to the West Main Baptist Church of Henderson, Texas, are there any other churches that have 
a –– I’m going to use the words formal relationship with New Bethany Church and New Bethany Home For Girls? And I guess, it’s probably not a good way to ask the question, but is there any church that you consider that you have a long-standing relationship with?
A. Yes. Like 1,000 – 1,300.

(Page 38)
A. Maranatha Baptist Church in Denton, Texas is one of our big supporting churches.

(Page 43)
Q. Have you ever had any reason to believe that a child at the New Bethany Home For Girls was mistreated? 
A. No.  {bold-faced denies knowledge of recorded statements taken by Thelma and Lorraine Carter in 1991}
Q. Have you ever had any occasion to believe that there was conduct between an adult and children at the New Bethany Home for Girls that would be contrary to the teachings of the King James Bible?
A. No.
Q. Have you ever been — were you aware of whether or not there were any problems at the New Bethany Home for Boys in Walterboro, South Carolina?  Was there any controversy around it, to your knowledge?
A. Not to I don’t know.
Q. How about with regard to the New Bethany Home for Boys in Longstreet? Were you aware of whether or not there was any controversy around the New Bethany Home for Boys in Longstreet?

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Thelma Deposition – Pages 61-89

(Page 61)
Q. And besides the application, what else is in the file?
A. That’s all.
Q. How about records of school performance?
A. That comes in the application.
Q. I’m talking at New Bethany. In other words, is there a record kept of — let me go back and ask: Under the accelerated Christian education, is there any testing in that program, in that pace program, to determine a child’s progress?
A. Yes.
Q. In terms of a child’s progress, how is that ranked? I mean, do they get promoted from grade to grade, or how do you measure how a child is doing academically?
A. They’re tested when they come in and put into the grade level that they test out to be. They should do one year’s work in the one year they’re there which is 72 paces.
Q. There’s 72 what?
A. Paces.
Q. And what is a pace?
A. Pace. That’s a subject. It has to be 24 there’s 12 paces in each subject to get a credit.
Q. So in other words, there would be 12

(Page 67)
Q. Now, we’ve been talking about children that were placed there by parents, and you said that children also come there by juvenile officers?
A. Correct.
Q. And how do children come there in connection with juvenile officers?
A. They call. And the juvenile officers, the probation officers, call and want to place a child. And I send them an application. And they get the child ready. And they deliver the child. And also, the Child Protection Agency sends some.
Q. And do you know what jurisdictions have placed children at New Bethany? For instance, in 1996, were there children at New Bethany placed there by the Caddo Parish Juvenile Court?
A. No.
Q. Were there children at New Bethany placed there by the courts in Bossier or Webster Parishes?
A. No.
Q. How about placed there by the courts in Bienville, Jackson, or Claiborne Parishes?
A. No.

(Page 68)
Q. Have any of the courts that I’ve described ever placed children there?
A. Courts?
Q. Yes.
A. Yes.
Q. Okay. Which courts?
A. Shreveport.
Q. Shreveport. The Caddo Parish Juvenile Court placed them there?
A. Yes.
Q. But the courts in Bossier and Webster have not?
A. In Bossier, also.
Q. In Bossier, also. How about Webster to your recollection?
MR. HODGE: Are we talking about 1996 or whenever?
THE WITNESS: Yeah. Are we talking about ’96 or years?
MR. BERNSTEIN: Well, let’s distinguish the two.
Q. (By Mr. Bernstein) We’ll go through it this way: In 1996, did you have any children that had been placed there by the court in Shreveport, the Caddo Parish Juvenile Court?

(Page 69)
A. No.
Q. Have you ever had any children placed with you by the Caddo Parish Juvenile Court?
A. Yes.
Q. Do you recall when that was? Did you have any children…
A. Late ’70s or early ’80s.
Q. In 1996, did you have any children placed with you by the court in either Bossier or Webster Parishes?
A. No.
Q. Have you ever had any children placed with you by the courts in Bossier or Webster Parishes?
A. In Bossier.
Q. And do you recall when that was?
A. No.
Q. How about in 1996, did you have any children placed with you by the courts in Bienville, Jackson, or Claiborne Parishes?
A. No.
Q. Have you ever had any children placed with you by the courts in Bienville, Jackson, or Claiborne Parishes?
A. No.

(Page 70)
Q. In 1996, did have any children placed with you by the courts in either Lincoln or Union Parishes?
A. No.
Q. Have you ever had any children placed with you by the courts in Lincoln or Union Parishes?
A. Not that I recall.
Q. In 1996, did you have any children that had been placed with you by the courts in Ouachita or Morehouse Parishes?
A. No.
Q. Have you ever had any children that from Morehouse or Ouachita Parishes?
A. No.
Q. Bastrop or Monroe? The answer is no?
A. No.
Q. In 1996, did you have any children that had been placed with you by a court in Louisiana?
A. No.
Q. Besides the courts that I’ve described to you, have you ever had any children placed with you by a court in Louisiana that you recall? Do you recall another parish, another court that placed children with you?
A. In the 27 years, yes.

(Page 71)
Q. Where else in Louisiana did children come from that were placed with you by court?
A. I don’t know what parish that is. It’s .. from down close to Many. I don’t know what parish that is.
Q. Do you remember when that was?
A. No.
Q. Have you ever had
Q. In 1996, did you have any children that were placed with you by a court outside Louisiana?
A. Yes.
Q. Okay. Where was that court located?
A. In East Texas.
Q. Could you help me with a little more specific?
A. Well, I can give you one of them: Gregg County.
Q. Any others?
A. Yeah, but I can’t recall.
Q. But there were others in East Texas?
A. Yes.
Q. Other than East Texas, in 1996, did you get any court placements?
A. East Texas, in 1996, Gregg County.
Q. In 1996, did you have any children that had been placed with you by the courts in Ouachita or Morehouse Parishes?
Q. Have you ever had
Q. In 1996, did you have any children that were placed with you by a court outside Louisiana?

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Thelma Deposition-pgs 91-120

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Thelma Deposition – Pages 121-150

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Thelma Deposition – Pages 151-180

No Consequences for Running Away

No Consequences for Running Away

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Thelma Deposition – pgs 182-212

 

TF - 1997 - p 198 - line15-24

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  1. Could you please fix the link for Thelma Fords deposition pages 182-212?

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