On Monday, lawyers representing eight men filed a federal lawsuit alleging they were the victims of repeated sexual abuse of children at The Lord’s Ranch, a residential treatment facility in Arkansas. The lawyers said this is the first of several suits they will file on behalf of the more than 30 clients. Named in the suit is The Lord Ranch’s owner, Ted Suhl.
The suit says the camp’s director of social services, Emmett Presley, engaged in “innumerable” incidents of fondling of genitals and oral rape.” and added that “Men and women who owned, operated, and staffed the facility preyed on and abused the children housed on the remote facility in Warm Springs, AR. routinely and systematically.”
It also claims that Camp leaders, including Suhl, were aware the licensed counselor “habitually raped and sexually molested minor male residents.”
The complaint includes several counts of negligent supervision and retention, sexual battery, and Title IX violations. And, because some residents were picked up from their home state and driven to The Lord’s Ranch by staff who likely knew they were going to be abused, the plaintiffs are suing under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.
The press conference
In a press conference on Tuesday, Josh Gillispie, an attorney for the victims, said that residents who reported the abuse faced threats and intimidation to keep them silent, and the “pattern of abuse went on unabated” for years as staff covered it up.
“Every single time that one of these victims reported that they were being literally raped by this man, nothing was done. Not one staff member, not one member of the Suhl family ever once lifted a finger, did a single thing to stop the abuse, and it always continued afterwards, sometimes for years.”
In a recorded statement, an unnamed plaintiff said he recalls living “in a state of constant fear and subjection to the abuse” and feeling “a great deal of shame and anger.” He described how a therapist who was supposed to help him instead targeted him for sexual abuse because he had already been sexually abused.
“As a young boy, I was targeted by my pedophile psychiatrist based upon my history of sexual abuse experiences as a child, and these experiences were used against me as a tool by him to sexually victimize me further.”
Suhl’s history, the Trump pardon, and Huckabee’s assist
This is not the first time Suhl has been in legal jeopardy. In 2016, he was convicted of paying up to $20,000 in cash bribes over four years to a state health official to increase Medicaid payments to his facility. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.
In 2019, he was released after Trump commuted his sentence to time served — after ex-Governor and current Christofascist Mike Huckabee lobbied on Suhl’s behalf. This is not the first time Huckabee has been closely associated with child molesters. In 2016, prominent Christian author John Perry, who co-wrote Huckabee’s book “Character Makes a Difference,” was accused of child molestation in two separate lawsuits.
To fill out his dance card, Perry also co-authored a book with Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, “So Help Me God.” Moore was also accused of sexual abuse of minors, by four women. Yet in 2018, he received Trump’s endorsement in his losing campaign for Senate.
Many religious people live moral lives. And for millennia, the propaganda arm of the Abrahamic faiths has maintained that morality arises from God. But that myth is shattered by the overwhelming evidence that God has done little to stop bad people from doing bad things. And by the fact that the loudest to proclaim their faith have hitched their wagon to the most morally corrupt President in the nation’s history.
A vast number of people who live lives without a God are decent human beings. And there is zero reason to believe that good people who believe in God would stop being good people if they ceased to believe in God.
If God does exist, he needs to clean up his fan club.