Tonight, ABC News’ 20/20 will investigate Lucas Greenfield, a 16-year-old boy who was sent by his mother to Christian-run youth camps in Alabama to undergo a practice known as “gay conversion therapy.” During his time at these camps, Lucas was locked in solitary confinement, deprived of food, and beaten. Tonight, he will speak with 20/20 about his traumatic experiences.
Read on to learn more about Lucas Greenfield.
1. He Spent Two Months in an 8×8-Foot Isolation Room
Greenfield was attending Restoration Youth Academy, a “Christian boot-camp style school for troubled youth”, when he attempted to escape, according to AL.com.
He tried to scale the barbed wire fence when another student informed an instructor of what he was doing. His punishment? Two months in isolation– wearing only underwear, he was locked in an 8×8 room and let out only twice a day to use a bathroom. Greenfield, who was just 14 at the time, tells AL.com, “When you’re inside a tiny room where all you can see is four walls, you start – I won’t say hallucinating, but you start going crazy.”
It took five years to close down Restoration Youth Academy despite complaints of abuse from students. After police raided the school in March 2015 (after it had been moved to Mobile and renamed the Saving Youth Foundation and Solid Rock Ministries), the school’s owner and Pastor John David Young and instructor William Knott were arrested on multiple accounts of aggravated child abuse.
Tonight, ABC’s 20/20 will track down and attempt to speak with Knott. Click here to see photos of what the isolation rooms at Solid Rock Ministries looked like, provided by Al.com.
2. He Was Adopted at Age 3
According to a preview released by ABC that you can watch here, Lucas was adopted by a Christian family at age 3, and moved with them to Naples, Florida.
He says that as he grew older, he began to realize he had feelings for other boys, but his mother didn’t approve. “She wanted me to change into more of like what she wanted me to be, which was very Christian, very religious. Almost like, a perfect kid.”
3. His Mother Says She Was Only ‘Trying to Do What Was Best’ for Him
Lucas’ mother did not agree to appear on the 20/20 episode, but during a phone interview, she said that she was only trying to “help” her son by sending him to these schools.
4. A Student Who Attended School With Lucas Says Gay Students Were Subject to Whipping and Beating With a Belt
Tonight, 20/20 will speak with Galen Wheeler, a non-gay teen who attended the Restoration Youth Academy with Lucas. Speaking to ABC, Galen reveals how Lucas and other gay students were treated at the school. “They would try to preach to them… if that didn’t work, they would resort to ‘alternative’ methods– isolation, beating, getting whipped with a belt.”
5. The Leaders of The School Lucas Attended Were Given 20-Year Prison Sentences
Pastor John David Young, 55, was sentenced to 20-years in prison for five counts of aggravated child abuse, according to AL.com. William Knott, 48, and Aleshia Moffett, 42, each received 20-year sentences as well, for three counts of aggravated child abuse.
In trial, Assistant District Attorney Keith Blackwood said, “Whatever their intentions were when they started turned into something completely reprehensible and these children were horribly abused and a 20 year sentence is appropriate in this case.”
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