Saturday, July 5, 2008

Arrest at Camp Tracey

From North Florida News Daily: Group sex, abuse investigations lead to arrests at Camp Tracey

From Florida Times Union: Sex case at camp leads to 2 arrests.

From 2003: Man sues church, alleges abuse - Harvest Baptist's Camp Tracey cited.

Official Camp Tracey webpage: Camp Tracey.

Camp Tracey, in Baker County, Florida, has been the subject of investigation for physical and sexual abuse by camp workers and older residents for at least twenty years, states the above article, from The Florida Times Union. An arrest has been made. The first arrest on a charge of child abuse in twenty years.

According to Camp Tracey's official webpage at,, it is run by Gary Byram and Dr. Wilford McCormick.

McCormick is pastor of the Harvest Baptist Church, the church associated with Camp Tracey. He has been the pastor since 1972 and founded Camp Tracey in 1981. Byram was the pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Bradenton, Florida. He resigned from his church in 2004 to become staff evangelist and national representative of Camp Tracey Ministries.

Harvest Baptist Church was sued by Kirk Griffin in 2003 stating he was abused by two camp counsellors. He claimed he was forced to engage in sex acts with two camp counsellors and 'spiritual advisors'. Alas, 'repressed memory' played it's ugly role and he didn't remember anything until 2003, which happened to be the year his lawyer, Joel Magolnic, initiated the lawsuit.

Griffen says there are other victims.

Harvest was represented by the Christian Law Association, the same organization that gave legal advice to Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida.

A Baker Grand Jury convened on Camp Tracey back in 1987. They issued a presentment 'criticizing the camp for excessive corporal punishment and the use of ropes and handcuffs to restrain children at the camp'.

The Grand Jury's recommendation? In light of the ropes and handcuffs on children?

Give 'em another chance!

According to the 2003 article, 'jurors also criticized education and health care at the camp and said it would consider criminal charges if changes weren't made.'

They let them go with a slap on the wrist.

The state of Florida generally gives a free pass to teen homes when it comes to physical abuse. Obviously, that is my opinion based on my personal involvement in the case involving Mike Palmer's Victory Home for Girls in Southern California. I videotaped a former student's testimony, the tape was sent to the Department of Children's Services, and the home was shut down.

The wonderful state of Florida welcomed Mike Palmer with open arms and now he enjoys nearly total immunity in the panhandle.

Nobody seems to care about child abuse unless sex is involved, and that's the case with the current arrest. It appears boys played with themselves and a counsellor who, although he might have anger control problems, does not seem to have been involved. Nevertheless, he appears to be taking the blame for the independent activities of sexually curious teens.

The other arrest is of an 18 year old boy who, although slightly older than the other boys (14 years,4 years difference), may now face up to fifteen years in prison. I've always been opposed to arresting 18 year olds for engaging in sex with those slightly younger than themselves.

Considering how skittish we are in this country to discuss sexual matters, it makes sense that this boy was not told the finer points regarding statutory rape. In my opinion, those laws should be used to protect children from adults, not used to punish 18 year olds because adults are too scared to talk to them about the birds and the bees (beyond 'don't do it!').

It appears this latest case takes advantage of the boy's ignorance in order to bolster the state's case against Camp Tracey.

Physical abuse, and sexual abuse by adults and camp counsellors, is serious and should be investigated then punished to the fullest extant of the law.

I'm not seeing that in this case.

The camp worker was released on his own recognizance, but the teen is still in jail.

It appears the past investigations and lawsuits failed (settled 'out of court'), and now officials are banking on punishing this young boy in order to bolster their case against Camp Tracey.

Does it take one type of state sanctioned abuse in order to expose other abuses?

I notice Larry Brown and Johnny Pope, two preachers who have been associated with Trinity Baptist Church (preaching at Trinity's youth camp) will be at Tracey's 'Camp Jubilee 2009'. Camp Tracey has had former graduates of Trinity Christian Academy, and former members of Trinity Baptist Church, on their staff.

Trinity Baptist Church and Camp Tracey are not connected.

I'll be following this one.

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