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The Idaho Statesman, Boise, 2 May 1992
Attorney blasts church camp 'raid'
Boisean charges Owyhee County took boys illegally
By Angel Hernandez and Jana Pewitt
The president of a remote, church-affiliated school for troubled boys on Thursday accused Owyhee County authorities of conducting a "Gestapo raid" when deputies arrested a teacher and took 14 boys from the school into protective custody on Wednesday.
Robert Aldridge, a Boise attorney and president of Deliverance Ranch Academy, charged that a 3rd District Court order issued Tuesday that called for the boys to be removed was legally "deficient".
Aldridge said he was confident it would be dismissed at a hearing today in Murphy to determine whether the youths should remain in protective custody.
After a scuffle, 14 youths attending the school were taken from the campus Wednesday morning by Owyhee County sheriff's deputies, who had received reports of abuse at the school.
Aldridge accused Sheriff Tom Nettleton and Prosecutor Clayton Andersen of harassing officials of the school, located at Indian Meadows, 26 miles southeast of Jordan Valley, Ore.
"This is America. That was a Gestapo raid," Aldridge said Thursday at a news conference held in his Boise law office at 1209 N. 8th St.
He also said that the school was considering filing a civil rights suit against Andersen, Nettleton and the state Health and Welfare Department in connection with the incident.
"The (student's) parents are very much behind that kind of a suit," he said.
Meanwhile, Andersen said Thursday that additional criminal charges could be filed against school officials.
Teacher Jeffrey Hammerand was arrested on a charge of misdemeanor injury to children. Hammerand, 28, pleaded innocent on Wednesday in Owyhee County Magistrates Court. He was released on $1,000 bond.
The charge stems from an incident in which a 16-year-old boy was chained to a bed with handcuffs, Andersen said.
That incident occurred April 11, Andersen said. But several youths were involved and more than one incident occurred, he said, noting that the investigation was continuing.
Nettleton said 3rd District Magistrate Charles Jurries on Tuesday ordered him to remove from the school all juveniles not related to school workers. The 14 out-of-state youths, ranging from 11 to 17 years old, were driven Wednesday to Canyon County, where they were placed in H&W's custody.
Officials have said the boarding school was closed because of an H&W petition to 3rd District Court stating that the school was being operated without a license. A license was denied because the school did not meet state health and medical requirements.
The school has fought with state officials for two years because of those requirements. School officials have charged that license requirements violated the school's constitutional rights as a church-affiliated ministry. The school is affiliated with independent Baptist churches.
Sheriff's deputies found two wooden paddles and handcuffs at the school. One paddle was inscribed with quotations from Proverbs on each side. One read, "He that spareth his rod hateth his son;" the other, "Withhold not correction from the child."
"I would have no objection to it hanging on the wall," Nettleton said, pointing to the paddle. "Even using it once or twice a year would be OK. It's the excess of it that I don't like."
Chief Deputy Gary Aman said youths at the school told him the paddle was used as punishment for such things as failing tests, listening to rock music or running away.
Nettleton said it wouldn't take many changes to bring the school up to standard.
"The access problem in and out has to be guaranteed better," Nettleton said. "There needs to be better medical training of people on staff. They need at least someone with training of an EMT (emergency medical technician.)"
Nettleton said if the school was going to be run year round, the boys would need more space and more privacy.
Aldridge said Thursday that the school is willing and has tried to meet H&W requirements regarding building codes, food and health, but charged that state officials want to exert absolute control over the school.
He said parents of the school's boys visit the camp before sending children there and that the boarders have regular contact with their parents. Aldridge said students are only placed in the school after referral from local ministers.
He said the school has arranged for access to medical facilities in case of an emergency and provided medical training to employees. But sheriff's deputies on Wednesday could only reach the remote camp by helicopter.
Although the school owns an airplane and has a landing strip, Nettleton said the landing strip is accessible just five months of the year.
Aldridge said academy students are disciplined by spanking, but only in limited amounts at a predetermined period on Fridays. Aldridge said the Bible allows such corporal punishment.
School workers, Aldridge said, have only used handcuffs on one occasion, in April, after one runaway student was recovered after a search. He said the school staff was exhausted after the search in the cold night, and one staff worker handcuffed the student, who had a history of running away, to a long chain to prevent the student from leaving again that night. Aldridge said the handcuffs were removed the next morning.
Todd Hall, 18, Seattle, who boards at the academy, said at the news conference: "I learned discipline and respect for my elders" at Deliverance. "They just taught me the Bible."
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