FOX10 News Investigates: Part 3: Saving Youth Foundation - FOX10 News | WALA

FOX10 News Investigates: Part 3: Saving Youth Foundation

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The sleeping quarters of children in the Saving Youth Foundation. Three people affiliated with the facility have been charged with aggravated abuse. The sleeping quarters of children in the Saving Youth Foundation. Three people affiliated with the facility have been charged with aggravated abuse.
MOBILE, AL (WALA) -

FOX10 News continues our investigation into a teen residential facility and its owners now accused of abuse. The allegations that led to the indictments and arrest of three people in Mobile this year are similar to allegations that have been brought against other institutions over the years.   Some of those closest to the issue are trying to get lawmakers to take notice. 

The recent indictments and arrests of three people in Mobile charged with abuse at a church run residential facility for troubled teens is being followed by a group on the other side of the country.

Jodi Hobbs started the organization, Survivors of Institutional Abuse.  She says it's something she knows about personally.

"I myself was sent to a reform school that was raided and shut down by the FBI in 1991," Hobbs said.

Hobbs calls institutional abuse a nationwide problem.

"They're not qualified nor trained, don't have a degree, nor license to use this behavior modification method, and a lot of times it's misused and it turns into to severe trauma and psychological abuse," she said.

Saving Youth Foundation which was formerly Restoration Youth Academy was shut down in March amid allegations of abuse.  Not everyone believes the charges.

"All of this will soon blow over, and I believe that God already has it worked out," Marquis Jacobs said.

But, some teens were making allegations against the facility long before its owners were arrested.

This is what two teenagers told Miami television reporter Bob Norman in 2013.

"I was terrified at this point, and I said no I won't,  and then he hit me in the head," William Vargas said
"I witnessed a boy being beaten by William," another teen said.  

Former Prichard Police Captain Charles Kennedy said he's been trying to expose the facility for years.  

"To me this is more important to me than my pension. Because this had to do with the lives and safety of children," Kennedy said.

Kennedy said he's not against all residential youth facilities.

"I have no ax to grind against boot camps, church run operations, or church run residential schools if they are run under supervision.   If we know who is there, who is operating it?"

Legislation was introduced in congress this summer to address the issue.  Hobbs wants citizens to contact their representatives to voice their support. 

"It would require them to have licensure.  It would require them to have skilled staff, an educated staff, it would require them to have a therapist, a licensed therapist present," Hobbs said.

But, Alabama Congressman Bradley Byrne doesn't believe it's an issue for Congress.

"I think that we already have laws on the books at the state level to make sure that if somebody abuses a young person that they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, so I would expect us to enforce existing state law, I don't know that this is an area where the federal government should get involved," Byrne said.

Byrne said similar legislation has failed in the past.  

When SYF was shut down earlier this year owner John Young denied allegations of abuse, and defended his co-owners including William Knott. 

"He used to be a marine drill sergeant and he has a way of trying to get boys minds back in line...People can make allegations but if it's true and charges were brought against him, he would go to jail," Young said.

Young, Knott and Aleshia Moffett are all now charged with aggravated abuse, and they've all pleaded not guilty.

The three defendants are scheduled to go on trial in February 2016. 

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