A Not So Pleasant Graduation at Pinehaven Christian Children's Ranch

The following is the experience of Ms. Brittany Bingham, daughter of former Pinehaven Christian Children’s Ranch house parents Dave and Denise Bingham. Ms. Bingham lived on the ranch full time for three of the five years her parents worked at Pinehaven. Several months ago, Ms. Bingham made the decision to attend the Pinehaven School Graduation on June 5th, 2011 because two of her house brothers, who she loves dearly, were graduating and she had promised them that she would be there.

As Ms. Bingham drove up Pistol Creek Road towards the Pinehaven entrance, she noticed a car in front of her was being stopped and inspected by a Pinehaven staff member named Adam Houghton (former Louisville, KY SWAT member and instructor). Trying to stay hidden behind some trees, she sensed that there was imminent trouble ahead. As she approached the gate, the vehicle in front of her continued to move forward, so Ms. Bingham sped up, deciding she was not going to be stopped, despite the beckoning commands of Mr. Houghton. Driving ahead, up the hill, into Pinehaven she saw Mr. Houghton rush to his truck nearby to notify the staff administration of her arrival.
Ms. Bingham proceeded up the Pinehaven School building where she was met by Mitch Camp (Ranch Foreman) who told her, “I need to talk to you.” She replied, “Nope,” and quickly made her way up the stairs towards the gymnasium where the graduation was to take place. At the top of the stairs, before entering the gymnasium, she was blocked and sequestered by Mitch Camp, Rick Bondy (Ranch Laborer), and Bob Larsson (Director of Pinehaven). Mitch addressed her again asking, “Do you have an invitation?” to which she responded that she was there to see her house brothers graduate. One of the trio blocking her path sharply replied, “You don’t have any siblings here. Who are you talking about?” By this time, the three large men had surrounded her so tightly, in order to prevent anybody within the crowded gymnasium from seeing or hearing her that she began to feel suffocated. For no reason at all, Mitch Camp grabbed Ms. Bingham’s arm, to which she responded by screaming, “I just want to see my brothers, let me go!” Breaking free from Mr. Camp’s grasp, she moved forward to the top of the staircase, where she slipped and fell, looking upwards to see dozens of spectators staring down at her from the gymnasium.
...Mitch Camp grabbed Ms. Bingham's arm...
Ms. Bingham picked herself up and ran toward the library where historically, graduates would prepare for the ceremony. Finding this door to be locked, she looked ahead and saw a group of people assembled in the northeast classroom used by Kaatje Camp (Mitch Camp’s wife and schoolteacher). Running in she saw her house brother Troy, who she approached and warmly wrapped her arms around, hugging him, letting him know that she had kept her word and had come to see him.
Mitch Camp and Bob Larsson, who had followed her into this room proceeded to tell Troy that, “she was making a scene”, to which she responded by telling Troy that, “They were lying.” In an effort to censor the other graduates from this confrontational moment, the other nine graduates were shuffled to the other side of the room. Bob Larsson approached Ms. Bingham even closer, getting in her face and said, “I’m going to have you arrested for trespassing, you can’t be here.” Looking him in the eye, she said, “I dare you, but be careful, they’re listening to everything you’re saying,” as she gestured to her shirt insinuating that she was wired (although she was not). Mitch Camp approached her again and asked if she had an invitation, to which she informed them that both Izaak and Troy (two graduating students) had previously asked her to be there for their graduation. Mitch Camp attempted to justify his aggressive actions by telling Ms. Bingham, “You’ve said so many bad things about Pinehaven, to which she responded, “it was all true.”  In response to Ms. Bingham’s comments, Kaatje Camp grabbed Izaak and shuffled him over to her and said, “Here is Izaak, give him a hug and go!” Izaak looked at Ms. Bingham and fearfully told her that, “it was better if you go”, but she looked him in the eye and assured him by saying, “I’m going to go sit down.” At this time, she proceeded to the gymnasium, followed by Mitch Camp who sat down behind her and answered a phone call by informing the caller that, “she had settled down and said she didn’t want to cause problems” followed by a response to an unheard question of “we’ll see what happens.”
Ms. Bingham sat through the graduation ceremony and following the procession visited each of the graduate’s gift tables where she put greeting cards in each of their bags. She approached Mitch Camp and asked him, “where are my house sisters Tifany and Amanda, I would like to give them a hug.” Mitch Camp informed her that Tifany had been picked up earlier that day, and then assisted her in finding Amanda. Ms. Bingham had prepared a gift bag of candy and makeup for Amanda, in addition to a greeting card from her parents, Dave and Denise Bingham (former Pinehaven parents). When she met with Amanda, she hugged her and handed her the gift bag and whispered to her, “Amanda, open this right now, it’s a card from Mom and Dad, hurry before they take it away, because they will.” Amanda quickly opened the card and Ms. Bingham told her that she was loved. Additionally, she made a promise to Amanda that she would be there next year for her graduation as long as Pinehaven would allow it.
Returning to the congratulatory line-up of graduates to give her house brothers another hug, she was approached by Mitch Camp who said to her, “No hard feelings, just know I love ya.” Ms. Bingham told Mitch Camp to “leave her alone.” Moments later, she was approached yet again by Bob Larsson who said that he was sorry that things went this way, to which she replied that “he was the one causing problems. Bob told Ms. Bingham that, “she was spreading lies”, to which she replied, “They are all true” and that “he had turned a blind eye to the abuse”. Bob fired back saying, “What abuse? I haven’t seen any and neither have you!” Ms. Bingham ignored his comments, moved forward in the line, gave her house brothers hugs and decided that it was time for her to leave.
As she exited the Pinehaven School building  she saw a Lake County, MT Sheriff’s Office vehicle parked in outside where a Sheriff Deputy** watched her move across the lot and get into her car. She then left Pinehaven Christian Children’s Ranch.
** By means of a phone call to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office at 2:08pm MST on June 6th, 2011, we were able to confirm that a Sheriff Deputy was requested by Pinehaven Christian Children’s Ranch. Further details regarding the nature of the request are still unverified.

** Further interviews indicate that the Lake County Sheriff Deputy who responded to the call from Pinehaven arrived either before or during the graduation ceremony, and stood in the back (north side) of the gymnasium during the ceremony.

4 comments:

  1. Wow this is such a shame as a graduation for any child should be a joyous time especially in this day and age, my hart aches for the kids that had to witness all this but in the same respect they have the right to see the truth in the way we as past Pinehaven kids are really treated, and forgotten, all that seems to matter is the all-mighty dollar, what a shame

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  2. A comment was posted here from a graduate who did not agree with me on this issue, and attempted to justify the use of physical restraint on a graduation attendee. I respect all comments, whether I agree with them or not, however, I also require that you stand behind your comments and do not allow anonymous postings. For this reason, I have not posted their comment. If you wish to recomment, identifying yourself, and are willing to stand behind your words, I will approve any comment you post, whether I personally like it or not.

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  3. Ali - FKA - Alison YoungJune 9, 2011 at 10:16 AM

    Well this is not the first time a scene has been made at graduation. Unfortunately my sister had a similar encounter at my graduation with a few familiar PH staffers - Rick Bondy & Andy Larsson, according to them she is the "Spawn Of Satan" Wow I must have missed that chapter and verse in the bible where it taught that kind of behavior. It disgusts me the amount of power and control they still have and it appears to be getting worse. I wish I could help those still there, PARENTS READ THIS STUFF, THIS IS REAL!!!!!!!!!! TAKE YOUR KIDS HOME WHERE THEY BELONG!!! How many more kids have to suffer??

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  4. I graduated last year from Pinehaven and I believe every word Brittany said. Absolutely none of that is so far out there that it is unbelievable. I still wake up with night mares, and I usually end up crying myself back to sleep. Take it from somewhere who even though it was a year ago, is sooo impressioned by this place, that it is still hard to sleep. I cringe every time I see a van because I automatically think it is a house parent coming to yell at me.

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