Shortly before he was sentenced to 20 years in jail on three counts of aggravated child abuse, ‘pastor’ William Knott, above, of the Saving Youth Foundation in Alabama, had a heated exchange with a reporter from ABC News.
His hostile reaction to the reporter was shown by ABC News’ 20/20 last night in a special investigative report on “gay cure” camps operating in the US.
The report said that “hundred” of these camp are run by pastors and preachers who use “the Bible and sometimes the belt” to try to change children from being homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual.
Despite the practice being emotionally damaging and dangerous, despite being opposed by every major medical organization in the country, and linked to self-harm and suicide, Christian parents are still sending their children away to these torture camps.
One, The Blessed Hope Boys Academy, is run by a Christian pastor who charges $21,000 a year:
To deal with teenagers who consider themselves gay.
The pastor claims that parents give written consent for their children to be hit if they “act up.” The pastor on hidden camera says:
It’s going against the word of God. It is not biblically right.
Susan Cottrell of Freedhearts told viewers:
It was reported here that earlier this year, ‘bishop’ John David Young was convicted on five counts of aggravated child abuse at the Saving Youth Foundation – formerly known as the Restoration Youth Academy.
For every camp like this there are a hundred more that nobody knows about.
He was given a 20-year prison sentence to be served concurrently for the five counts of abuse.
Young’s cohorts, William Knott, the boys’ instructor at the facility, and Aleshia Moffett, the girls’ instructor, both received 20-year prison sentences, as well, for three counts of aggravated child abuse.
At the trial, five former students spoke out about the mental and physical abuse they received at the facility. The abuse involved everything from isolation and handcuffs to forced nudity and excessive exercise.
In March 2015, two former inmates of the Restoration Youth Academy – Madison Litsky and William Vargas – spoke to ABC Local 10 News about their personal experiences at Young’s camp.
Litsky said that once she heard that Knott and Young had been arrested, she was brought to tears.
I was overwhelmed by what happened … while I was there, and how it affected my life and it still affects my life today.
Two years prior, in 2013, Vargas and Litsky had claimed they were being abused at the school. Vargas, just 16 at the time, said that he was choked, punched, and “stomped on” by Knott.
He picked me up from the floor and started choking me. After he choked me, he punched me on the side of my head. He started stomping on my back. I still have nightmares about it.
Knott, however, denied the claims, saying:
I’ve never had a cause to stomp him or to punch him or anything else… That’s just not true.
Litsky said she had been punched by Young when she was initially transported to the camp. The young adult now works as a lifeguard at Fort Lauderdale Beach, and is training to become an EMT. After Young’s arrest, she told ABC News Local 10 she was relieved the teenagers had been rescued from the camp.