Sunday, November 4, 2012

Exposing the IFB: The Horrors of Hephzibah House

(Authors note: This is part of a continuing series of the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) movement, a group considered by it's former members and critics to be a cult (which is a label I feel is not undeserved). For more posts on this dangerous group, visit my page, Exposing the IFB. If you have a history of childhood abuse, proceed with caution when reading this post, it goes into explicit detail of some rather horrific abuse of minors.)

In 1971, a pastor and his wife named Ron and Patti Williams founded a homeless shelter for women in the town of Winona Lake, Indiana called Hephzibah House. Some of the residents were simply homeless, others were addicts. Ron Williams had gotten involved in social work due to his previous job with the US Public Health Service, and was familiar with the lives of addicts. Though this kind of charity may sound like a great place, Ron William's violent side started showing not long after.

During the days when Hephzibah House was still a shelter for adult women, as compared to the shelter for teen girls sent their by their families who were members of the IFB movement for "rebellion", there was still abuse going on. Women who violated the shelters rules were regularly beaten. This quote is from the site, Former Hezipbah Girls:

"In the early days, Hephzibah House (HH) took in adult women who were either homeless or had alcohol or drug addictions.  Ron had previously worked for the Health Department dealing with women with these same issues.  During this time, the women living at HH had often come there voluntarily.  In the article "Discipleship and Discipline at Hephzibah House", former Times Union staff writer Gina Smalley gives us the following information.  
Fomer residents also talk of the punishment. A 37 year old Warsaw woman who lived at the house briefly when she was 25, said she was given "eight whacks" by Williams on the buttocks for talking after a 10 p.m. curfew. The woman said her flesh was bleeding after the paddling and that she still has back pain. "I'll never forget it," she said."

That's right, a 25 year old women being beaten so severely, the injuries still affect her.

After Hephzibah House became a home for "wayward girls" in the late 1970's, it only became worse. The house stopped taking adult women in, and started only accepting girls from 12 to 18 years old (though some of the adult women stayed on as staff members). The abuse described by some of it's former residents sounds like something out of a POW camp.

Here's a few examples, the following are quote from the Former Hephzibah Girls site

The "Blue Room"

Beatings would literally take place every night at bed time:

" Once the girls were in bed for the night, it became a waiting game, as each girl waited for her name to be called, indicating her turn to be taken down to the Blue Room.  Each girl knew what was being done to the girl who was called down.  They knew from having experienced it themselves.  They also knew what was happening because they could hear the cries coming from the girl who was being beaten.  These girls were beaten to the point of having bloody, oozing wounds on their backsides (buttocks, legs, and backs).  These bloody wounds often had to be bandaged.  The proof of these bloody wounds was evident in the trash cans, as girls would see the dressings from another girl's wounds.  Several former students have recounted the story of one particular girl who got up from her folding chair to see that she had bled completely through her bandages and through her uniform onto the chair.  This girl was one of the few who was able to successfully run away from Hephzibah House."

Ten foot tall fence built to keep the girls from running, and guards to keep constant watch:

"Around 1984, the Hephzibah girls were moved to the new facility at 2277 East Pierceton Road, Warsaw, Indiana.  This new location was set up as part of a compound, which included a church, school, and staff houses.  Ron Williams and his family lived above the facility which housed the girls.  The backyard at this facility was completely fenced in to keep the girls contained.  In approximately 1989, a 2 foot extension was added to the top of the already 8 foot high fence.  This was done after another girl tried to run away.  In addition, when the girls were taken to school or church, the entire walk there was within the fenced in area.  There were also male staff members who "guarded" the gates and doorways when the girls were going from one building to another.  Girls were often taken away from schoolwork and homework to help out with building or cleaning projects." 

Staff would actually flee with the girls in the middle of the night sometimes to avoid legal prosecution or attention from local authorities: 

"There have been several instances when Ron Williams and staff have had to take the girls and flee.  They have literally loaded up the girls and taken them to neighboring states to hide in churches until things have calmed down.  At times the number of students at HH dipped very low as a result of investigations or allegations.  The number of students always rebounded though, as nothing ever happened to Ron or staff."

Humiliation and severe psychological abuse, including girls being denied basic activities like going to the bathroom:

"In addition to the physical beatings, there are many other instances of outright abuse that are far worse than that.  The humiliation, the forced vaginal exams, forced enemas, lack of any privacy even for time to use the bathroom.  The girls were oftentimes starved as a form of punishment, they were made to do extra work duties, write sentences, or be shadowed.  Shadowing was a very embarrassing punishment doled out by the staff ladies.  Once on shadow, a girl could not so much as look at any other girl.  She was to be a literal "shadow" of her assigned staff lady.  She could not speak, look at anyone, or participate in any type of activity.  She was to sit on the ground facing the wall at all times.  There were several girls who were on shadow for months on end, with absolutely no interaction whatsoever with the other girls.  "

"Girls were kept from using the bathroom, and then singled out and forced to wear diapers.  Girls were humiliated at every opportunity.  Whores, sluts, rebellious...these were all words that were thrown around as descriptions of why we were there in the first place.   On drugs, living in the streets, pregnant, or dead...this is what we were told would happen to us if we left Hephzibah House.  It was a daily battle that messed with our minds and has left long lasting scars.  The affects of this type of emotional and physical trauma carry on for years and years "

Believe it or not, there's more to the details of the abuse that went in  Hephzibah House, which is denied by Ron Williams, and bloggers within the world of the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement, despite many former residents coming forward with similar stories, read more in part 2, to be released Sunday night.

Until then, read more about the IFB movement, and it's cult like culture, and history of abuse of children from posts that I have written based on countless hours of research, and from the blogs of IFB survivors, who are passionately working to expose this dangerous group. Without some of those bloggers, this series would not be possible, I'm grateful to them for their work.

Later edit: (part 2 can be read right here).


  1. Another one of the reasons I hate religion.

    1. It's astounding what people get away with in the name of religion. This pastor has been investigated, but never prosecuted.

  2. It's also wretched that young people who were SO out of control their parents had to place them SOMEWHERE go on to create Blogs and Facebook pages dedicated to smearing these facilities.

    1. Did you read NOTHING about the practices of the school & its leaders?

    2. @Anonymous...You are obviously living in the shadow cast by these cults that call themselves IFB churches and groups. I was raised in the Jack Hyles and Jack Schaap era. So unless you have evidence disproving the HH and FBC of Hammond, I suggest you quit giving complete reverence and authority to your religious leaders and try the spirits. Whether they be of God or of man. Unless its easier to go blind as pigs to the slaughter. As you seem to behave. I pray you see thru the Word of God not thru a darkened glass as you portray yourself. Oh and you chose anonymous. My name is Adam from Omaha Nebraska. Formerly of the cult of Midwestern Baptist Church.

    3. These facilities are abusive. They should be closed down.

  3. Sounds like Ron Williams was a pervert, but then cult leaders usually are I guess.

  4. I was in a church where Ron Williams came to speak and this was after some of the allegations had already been made, so he says none of the women saying these things were ever even in his ministry and he doesn't know who they are, that its some kind of plot to discredit him. This church, who supports him with monthly contributions, is part of the IFB church movement. They are some of the most gossiping, heresay spreading people I've ever met, and they can be mean too. I figure where there is smoke there's fire. Too bad there can't be an official investigation.

  5. I personally know a student who went there and several of the staff and have met Ron Williams himself. Granted I have not been a student there myself, but from from what i have herd and seen from people that have been there this article seems far from reality.

    1. Yes, because the girls there are forbidden from discussing what goes on in the house to anyone, even their own families. Girls would have their phone conversations with relatives abruptly ended if they so much as started to confess the evils occuring in that place. You really think that an establishment dedicated to abuse and torture wouldn't know to cover up it's tracks?

  6. Jim Jones didn't die in Jonestown. He's been regularly "reincarnated" in many cults like these....

  7. This practice of religion becoming masters over 'troubled girls' in Ireland girls who were thought of as out of control, this could be not attending church, being seen with a male, or refusing to conform to church practices would be taken from their home, not by social workers, police but by Priests and nuns, they would be taken to a 'girls school' where they would be put to work, beaten if they answered back, or wasn't quick enough in doing a job given to them. A film was made about these girls 'Magdalene Sister' how girls were treated like slaves in a laundry which the 'school' would do all the local laundry for a fee which was kept by the church. Many of these girls would try and escape but if caught would be beaten sometimes until bones broke, quite a few of the girls committed suicide. Some of the girls came in pregnant and soon as the baby was born it would be taken away and given to a childless family, the real mother would never see that child again. The police, the Law Courts and Social Work would turn a blind eye and this carried on until the late 1970's and many of the girls are still alive and given a voice.
    God has a lot of people to sort out when they wait to be judged.


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