Andy Kopsa

Off The Record: On Religion, Politics & Equality

No Meaningful Conviction: Jack Patterson & my talk with D.A. Rountree

“Sorry we didn’t get a meaningful conviction,” is how my conversation with Blount County, Alabama District Attorney Tommy Rountree ended this morning.

We had been discussing  the child abuse case against Jack Patterson, founder of Christian boarding school Reclamation Ranch, that I have been writing about and his office had been prosecuting.

Rountree told the Birmingham News at the time of Patterson’s arrest in 2008:  “The search by law enforcement and the questioning of involved minors yielded corroboration of the original allegations of abuse and evidence of other instances of mistreatment.”  There were also handcuffs, shackles and firearms found in the initial search of Reclamation Ranch.

I called to ask Mr. Rountree  how an apparently clear-cut felony case could result in the paltry harassment plea agreement for Jack Patterson, finalized on March 1.

“Lack of evidence,” he said, “gone, the police mishandled it.”  I asked him what on Earth happened, what kind of incompetence on the part of law enforcement lead to Jack Patterson walking.

Rountree said he has a  “general overview” of the case.  Chief Prosecutor, Larry Waites, however has in-depth knowledge.  Rountree said Mr. Waites would be happy to give me a call next week to discuss it further.

Though Rountree admitted  having only a bird’s-eye view of the case, he was certainly no stranger to Jack Patterson and the long line of child abusers he comes from.  He supposed I might not be familiar with a Lester Roloff.  I told him I was acutely aware the notorious evangelical Christian leader Roloff, and, Jack Patterson’s allegiance to him.

Rountree made no bones about his feelings toward Roloff, calling him “an evil man” and a “demon”

He went on to say had Roloff not died – in the crash of a plane he was piloting – he could have faced both federal and state charges in Texas.   We talked more about Roloff’s history of abuse in Texas and the terrible legacy, carried out by his followers, of beating kids in the name of God that exists today.

After the 2008 arrest, the students of Reclamation Ranch were sent home, and Jack Patterson left the state.   The boy’s home at Reclamation Ranch never reopened.  Patterson still operates a girl’s school in neighboring Walker county, just shy of Rountree’s jurisdiction.

I asked  where Patterson went.

Covering the phone, I could hear Mr. Rountree holler, “hey, where’d big Jack go?  New Jersey?” He couldn’t confirm, but the office consensus was that “Big Jack” is seeking to re-open his home somewhere in the Garden State.  New Jersey would make the fourth state Reclamation Ranch has called home, preceded by Indiana, Washington and Alabama.  Rountree said an in-depth investigation of Patterson uncovered the previous moves were necessitated by similar allegations of abuse.

Though Rountree expressed regret in not getting a “meaningful conviction” in this case, he was thrilled to have run Jack Patterson out of town.  I said to him that I understood that sentiment but Big Jack is now just someone else’s problem, and with a mere four states down, he has 46 left to go.

7 comments on “No Meaningful Conviction: Jack Patterson & my talk with D.A. Rountree

  1. Teresa
    March 7, 2010

    This sounds EXACTLY like what happened in Walterboro, SC back in 1984 with the New Bethany Boy’s Home and Olen King. I have had a few in-depth telephone conversations with Emory Rush (the now retired investigator of the New Bethany case) and Randolph Murdaugh (the former solicitor of Colleton Co., SC) who both disclosed that the “mishandling of evidence”, and “law enforcement botching the case” led to King getting by with all the horrible things he did. And just like King (who simply ran across the state line into Danbury, NC and opened, as well as CONTINUES OPERATING “Second Chance Ranch”), Patterson and his minions are just gonna jaunt right up to NJ and start all over again. Sickening……

  2. Jessica
    March 7, 2010

    That is not unlike school districts getting rid of their “problem” teachers by having them move on to another district…it’s just wrong on so many levels. One thing I don’t understand is why parents don’t do some checking before dumping their kids off at facilities such as this. Hopefully your blog and those of others will provide much needed information, and law enforcement/DHS in New Jersey will keep a close eye on this crazy man.

    • akopsa
      March 8, 2010

      Hi Jessica: I wish it were that easy – about the parent thing. In one of my previous posts, these places portray themselves as pure and actually Christian. They use fake testimony, trained students performing in choirs that travel from church to church, and they move so often is is hard to keep up. What really needs to happen is that either the government needs to get involved in regulating these schools or the religious community needs to start policing itself and get these people out of there.

  3. BelindaK
    March 8, 2010

    I have been delving into this issue since Teresa posted some information on Baby Love Child. I am absolutely horrified at what has happened to these kids. The fact that it is still happening in this day and age is mind blowing. I fail to understand why the states aren’t forcing these homes to submit to regulation. There is more than enough substantial evidence that serious abuse is happening in many different homes across the country. Those in power, who have turned a blind eye to the suffering of these children, have blood on their hands. I spent several days reading the blog of the New Bethany Survivors. It just ate at my soul to read the stories of those who have suffered so very much. Their strength and courage is nothing short of a miracle. Thank you for keeping us up-to-date on this critically important issue.

  4. Pingback: HR 911 – moving in the right direction to end Christian school abuse « Lettuce Spray

  5. Todd Allen
    September 23, 2011

    You people should be ashamed of your self commenting negatively about JACK PATTERSON & RECLAMATION RANCH like you are doing, not knowing what is and was going on. I’ve know JACK PATTERSON for 19 years now and been involved with him and the ranch since 1995. Believe me if you had a child or children that were or are as rebellious as I HAVE SEEN with my 2 eyes that he took in and LOVED & tried to help you would have a different outlook about him and his ministery(KJV). Take a good look in the mirror and remember that on day you will have to answer to GOD, you reap what you sow. TODD ALLEN

  6. Tony
    September 23, 2012

    I just spotted Jack Patterson in Newport, Kentucky today (9-23-2012) at 3:15pm at Bob Evans. He was sporting his suspenders/white shirt combo and speaking with another man. He was driving a white JEEP Cherokee suv with Alabama plates ( BB79335) and scripture phrases as bumper stickers. This is just across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio. I don’t know if he is just passing through or possibly “setting up shop” somewhere nearby.At any rate, he is not in New Jersey today.

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