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Survivors Reveal Rampant Child Abuse At Amarillo Ranch For At-Risk Boys

Barbara Brannon/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Cal Farley's Boys Ranch

From Texas Standard.

There’s a city of sorts in the Texas Panhandle that really isn’t a regular city at all. It has a post office, a museum, and a church – but other than that, it’s mostly just homes, dorms, and school buildings. Boys Ranch, Texas is home to Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch, a residential community for at-risk children. It’s been serving this purpose for close to 80 years. But now, some former residents say it’s Boys Ranch itself that really put them at risk.

Jason Wilson writes in the Guardian about more than a decade’s worth of allegations of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch.

Wilson says Steve Smith lived at the ranch with his younger brother Rick Smith in the late 1950s through the 1960s.

“He detailed the most shocking abuse really,” Wilson says. “And as I talked to him, his brother, and the other men, it became clear that although there were sort of these spectacular incidents of violence – one man told me about running away and being chased back to the ranch by two men on horseback – there was also just the regular everyday physical punishment, discipline, and I guess emotional abuse or emotional neglect, that it seemed according to these men that was just part of the regular running of the place.”

Steve Smith says he had four dogs in succession killed as a means of disciplining him.

“That was emblematic, I think, of the kind of cruelty that seemed to happen there,” Wilson says.

The ranch isn’t denying that some terrible abuses went on there at that time, but survivors are still waiting on a public apology from the organization.

Written by Jen Rice.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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