December 4, 2007
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) ordered the Child Welfare Agency to give a contract to a fundamentalist-oriented home for troubled youngsters called The Lord's Ranch, despite the organization's reluctance to accept government oversight in the past.
Staffers at The Lord's Ranch, based in Warm Springs, blocked state inspectors from interviewing children about suspected abuse in 1994, reported the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. That same day, the Randolph County sheriff's office reported that Ted Suhl, director of the ranch, had purchased two AR-15 assault rifles, two shotguns and several handguns. (Suhl claims he bought just one handgun and did not keep it at the ranch.) A 1996 report by state officials noted further compliance problems at the ranch. Nevertheless, Huckabee appointed Suhl to the Child Welfare Agency Licensing Board and approved the facility for $140,490 in state funds, to be used for psychological treatment of children and jumped up to about $8.5 million in fiscal 2006, according to DHHS spokeswoman Julie Munsell.
Alleged abuse at he Lords Ranch.
“[She] said that one punishment was to put them on the floor and a staff member to sit on them,” the excerpt of the email said. “She also mentioned being put in a straight jacket. And also having her arms pulled back behind her back to the point that it was very painful. She also said something about having to stand all day for a punishment. Also they used pressure points on her, I think around her neck.” Suhl said the ranch uses approved “therapeutic holds” when a child attacks a staff member.