This week we’re going to look at New Bethany Home for Girls and start to unpack all the allegations of criminal misconduct against New Bethany founder Mack Ford. Ford was an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist pastor who founded a troubled teen home in Arcadia, Louisiana and resisted all attempts by the state of Louisiana to oversee, inspect or investigate the home. Even state Fire Marshals were turned away from the gates of New Bethany.
Why was Mack Ford so desperate to keep the state away from from New Bethany? There were allegations through the years that he sold the inmates of New Bethany into sexual slavery, acting as their pimp among other IFB pastors and collecting the fees. The state suspected he was selling the babies born to the girls at New Bethany into illegal adoptions and pocketing the money. Beatings and even children disappearing never to be seen again were also connected to New Bethany and Mack Ford.
Was Mack Ford and New Bethany connected to the disappearance, death and discovery of Carol Ann Cole? It cannot be conclusively ruled out, but it cannot be 100% confirmed either. Mack Ford was a known associate of Roloff Homes founder Lester Roloff. We showed a few weeks back that there is a solid link between Ron Jackson of the Texas Youth Commission and Roloff, that Jackson and others referred girls to the Rebekah Home and other Roloff facilities. New Bethany housed some of the girls from Rebekah Home were housed for awhile at New Bethany Home for Girls in the new dorm. There are many established links between Lester Roloff and Mack Ford.
Would it be so unthinkable to imagine that when Carol Ann left the Brownwood Reception Center that she might have been shipped to one of Lester Roloff’s troubled teen homes and from there been transferred to Mack Ford and New Bethany? We covered all the reasons kids are moved between troubled teen treatment homes.
New Bethany also took in girls from Maranatha Home in Denton, Texas, from West Main Baptist Church in Henderson, Texas and many other places. It’s entirely possible that Carol Ann was at New Bethany, even briefly before her disappearance. There are girls who remember Carol Ann at New Bethany and a number of photographs taken at the facility that have images that look very much like Carol Ann. More on the photographs in a later chapter. I’ll post the photographs and you can decide if it looks like her.
Life at New Bethany home and Rebekah Home was described as a living hell by those who were stashed there according to their many accounts online and articles like this one published by Mother Jones. The New Orleans newspaper Times-Picayune did have an excellent series of articles involving the abuse that many girls experienced at New Bethany that has suddenly been scrubbed from their nola.com archive.
Here’s what we do know of New Bethany at the time of Carol Ann Cole’s disappearance, what life would have been like for those put there. It’s not exactly pleasant.
- Tuition was $350 per month (in 1970/1980 dollars) for the length of the stay paid by the parents.
- Those at New Bethany without parents or who were wards of the state were paraded about on Mack Ford’s fundraising trips to churches as a reason why they should make a donation to New Bethany.
- Even as the parents were paying for the food, clothing and housing of their children the facility routinely fed the children from what foodstuffs were available from the local Food Bank.
- No dental care or doctors visits happened. All medical care was done onsite by untrained staff with very few supplies. This became apparent after the herpes outbreak at New Bethany around June 1985.
- There was no visitation with any family members or friends for the first calender year at New Bethany.
- Girls were allowed one ten minute phone call monthly and a staff member had to monitor that call.
- Parents had to provide an additional $25 per month for soap, shampoo, tampons, toiletries not covered in the tuition.
- Girls were allowed to write and receive no more than two letters per week and these were also monitored by New Bethany staff members.
- Corporal punishment was used at New Bethany and parents were supposed to be notified when their child was beaten.
- Upon arrival New Bethany required parents to sign a full power of attorney giving New Bethany all decision making powers and control over each child.
- Girls were told that if they ran away they would either be eaten by the alligators or murdered ritualistically by the local Satanic groups.
- Those that did run away were usually immediately returned to New Bethany by law enforcement. Law enforcement did not make much of an effort to investigate the allegations of abuse the runaways told them.
- Once back at New Bethany after running away they were punished by being forced to stand in the hallway all night long and deprived of sleep.
- Many girls at New Bethany stopped menstruating from the lack of food and tight control over the amounts they ate.
- Many girls were at New Bethany under false or assumed names to hide them from the state, from custody battles and from other family members. It was not uncommon.
- Girls were forced to prepare the facility any time a DHHS official was expected to hide the neglect and wholesale abuse going on in the facility.
- The girls were routinely beating for a long laundry list of offenses.
Next week we look at the thousands of legal documents in the state of Louisiana archives tracing the many investigations carried out against Mack Ford. Apparently Ford had some very powerful friends in the state of Louisiana leadership that protected him for a time. Might explain why law enforcement has been so eager to not look at New Bethany.
If anyone has any information on the murder of Carol Ann Cole or knows how Carol Ann got to Louisiana from Texas please contact the Bossier Parish Sheriffs Dept at 318.965.2203 Please give Carol Ann Cole’s family the peace that comes with closure. This is still an unsolved open case being investigated.
In the meantime if you wish to contact anyone at NLQ about what happened to Carol Ann Cole, or with your own story please drop me an email at SuzanneNLQ@.
Suzanne Titkemeyer is the admin at No Longer Quivering. She’s been out of the Quiverfull Evangelical world for nine years now and lives in the beautiful Piedmont section of Virginia with her retired husband and assorted creatures. She blogs at Every Breaking Wave and True Love Doesn’t Rape. She can be reached at SuzanneNLQ@