Former residents of a Texas ranch for “vulnerable boys” stepped forward with allegations of severe abuse that reportedly span back to the 1950s and lasted until the 1990s.
The Guardian reports that several previous residents of the Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch near Amarillo claim that not only were they abused during their stay at the ranch as children, but that hundreds of others also endured abuse while staff members who witnessed the incidents turned a blind eye.
According to 68-year-old Steve Smith, staff members constantly beat him, then turned the abuse onto his younger brother. Smith said he felt helpless and couldn’t do anything to stop the beatings, reportedly doled out by several staff members.
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“I cried probably more than any boy that I know that came out [of] there, just homesick, and I didn’t take it very well,” Smith said, who arrived at the ranch in 1959.
Along with beatings that lasted over a decade, Smith said he witnessed his pets being killed, his brother being sexually assaulted, and children overworked to the point of exhaustion in horrible conditions.
Further, other former ranch boys said they witnessed the wife of a staff member having sex with several minor boys on different occasions, while some of the ranch boys raped other, weaker boys. If anyone spoke out or got out of line, they were beaten and whipped mercilessly.
Lamont Waldrip, a superintendent at the ranch, according to Smith, was one of the worst abusers of them all. Waldrip, who passed away in 2016, was apparently never held accountable for the abuse he handed down. According to his obituary, the ranch “meant everything” to Waldrip, who was considered a “legendary figure” at Cal Farley’s.
The ranch allegedly started out with good intentions by its founder, Cal Farley, and received generous financial support from the public. Yet, the ranch faced closure without support of the public, and Farley feared that after a 1950 incident in which students overpowered the superintendent and threw him in a river, the public would abandon support. Farley, who had little to no training in handling troubled boys, recruited a professional wrestler to help him on the ranch.
The wrestler, Dorrance Funk, brought violence as a means of discipline to the ranch, and on surface, it seemed to be working, which led to monstrous abuse at the hands of staffers in the years to come.
Another former ranch boy, Ed Cargill, calls the ranch a “a paradise for adult abusers” that he tried to escape from on numerous occasions. Each time he was caught, he received severe corporal punishment, with vivid images of Waldrip still fresh in his mind decades later.
According to Cargill, after one failed escape attempt, Waldrip and some of the staff members forced him to run 10 miles back to the ranch with charging horses behind him. If he stopped, the horses ran him over while Waldrip or a staff member hit him with a rope.
Cargill was one of the boys who had sex with a staff member’s wife. He said at the time he didn’t see it as abuse, but as an adult he realized how the incident affected him.
“I didn’t realize how bad it was f****** me up. And, she was committing a f****** felony.”
A man who only wants to be known by the pseudonym Martin said that he was sent to the ranch during the 1980s after his own father raped and mutilated him. The first night he was there, an older student pulled him out of bed and forced oral sex on him. Later, when he broke a minor rule, he said a female staff member stuck him upside down in a trash can in freezing weather and forced him to scrub it clean.
The Cal Farley's family is deeply saddened by the passing of Lamont Waldrip. Mr. Waldrip first began work at Boys Ranch…
“When you put a little kid who’s been tortured inside a trash can, upside down, and make it like a little prison cell and have him scrub … You know, you got these tiny little holes at the top just to let a little light in, you’re scared, you’re freezing, you know?”
Bill Varnado, another former ranch boy, added in that you didn’t have to do anything wrong to get beaten mercilessly. Varnado, who was there around the time Smith was at the ranch, said the beatings were constant and encouraged.
The Star-Telegram reports that the current CEO and president of the ranch, Dan Adams, apologized on behalf of the organization when he heard the horror stories from former residents.
“For those who left Boys Ranch having experienced abuse of any form, I am truly sorry, both as the leader of this organization and as a man. It is for these reasons that regulatory oversight and strength-based models of care in this field evolved, and Cal Farley’s strives to be a leader in observing both.”
When Adams took over the ranch in 1996, he phased out corporal punishment. The ranch is currently licensed as a “general residential operation providing child care and transitional living,” and is in good standing with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Yet, despite the positive change, the years of torture that many boys suffered through is something that will likely never leave the victims’ minds.
“I want somebody to grow a pair of balls, stand up and say, ‘Hey, I’m frickin’ sorry,'” Cargill said.
“It’s not gonna happen,” Smith replied.
“Because they are committed to the hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank. They’re committed to that.”
[Feature Photo: Billy Hathorn/Wikipedia]