August 27, 2014 at 10:14 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
EXCLUSIVE: Gay Miss. man claims teacher raped him to ‘hate men’
Jeff White, gay news, Washington Blade

Jeff White (Photo courtesy of Brandiilyne Dear)

GULFPORT, Miss. — A gay Mississippi man says a male teacher at the Baptist school he attended in the 1990s raped him each week for three years as a way to force him to change his sexual orientation.

Jeff White told the Washington Blade during a July 14 interview at a restaurant near his home on the Mississippi Gulf Coast the teacher at Bethel Baptist School in Walls, Miss., who he identified as Steven Barnes, scheduled an “appointment” with him each Wednesday in his classroom or the office where he forced him to have oral and anal sex.

White, now 32, said the incidents took place at the school, which is in DeSoto County in northwestern Mississippi, between 1996-1999.

An embargoed press release the Blade obtained from the National Center for Lesbian Rights identifies Barnes, who is currently an associate pastor at Bethel Baptist Church, which operates Bethel Baptist School, as the teacher who allegedly raped White.

“He would rape me because I was gay and because it would make me hate men and make me change,” said White.

White told the Blade that his parents decided to send him to the school after he came out to them when he was 14 and in the seventh grade.

“They [the church’s pastors] looked at Southern Baptists like they were liberal faggots, like they would say from the pulpit,” he said.

The church’s website says Bethel Baptist School was founded in 1971 and is “staffed with an experienced, stable and caring staff.”

Tuition for the 2013-2014 academic year was $3,850 per student.

“Character and patriotism are taught in the classroom,” reads a description of the school on the Bethel Baptist Church’s website. “The curriculum is Bible based and every student is taught the truths of God’s word.”

The church’s website includes a section titled “God’s way to heaven” with a number of statements that include “agree that your sin must be paid for with death and hell” and “turn from your sin and trust Christ as your saviour.”

“In general it was a cult,” White told the Blade. “Aside from all of that other stuff going on, there was a thousand other things that they were doing.”

A woman who answered the phone at Bethel Baptist Church on Tuesday described White’s allegations to the Blade as “the biggest lie there ever was.”

Church representatives did not respond to further requests for comment before deadline.

The American Psychological Association and other medical, psychological and professional counseling organizations have said there is no evidence that so-called conversion therapy can change someone’s sexual orientation.

The U.S. Supreme Court in June declined to accept a case that challenged a California law that bans licensed mental health practitioners from performing so-called conversion therapy on minors. The anti-gay Liberty Counsel and the parents of a teenage son challenged a similar law that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed last August.

Lawmakers in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, New York and other states have sought to ban the controversial practice over the last year.

Samantha Ames, a staff attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which has worked with many survivors of so-called conversion therapy through its “Born Perfect” campaign, and White met with DeSoto County officials for several hours on Tuesday to discuss the allegations.

The DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department confirmed the meeting took place.

“A number of the stories that we have are very disturbing and violent, this is of course a unique one,” Ames said. “It never ceases to amaze me the lengths that some people will go to to change something that has nothing to do with them.”

White told the Blade he is still angry about the teacher who he said he raped him, but he has “gotten through it.”

White earlier this year co-founded the Mississippi Gulf Coast Rainbow Center, an LGBT support group based in Waveland.

“More of what I’m able to do now is to channel that anger into the work that I’m doing,” White told the Blade. “Honestly if I hadn’t had just gotten done with it [I’d be] pissed off. I would just be sitting there whining and complaining and making melodramatic Facebook posts.”

Ames said the National Center for Lesbian Rights is “incredibly proud to have” White as a client.

“I just can’t overemphasize how proud we are to represent someone this courageous,” she told the Blade. “He’s honestly one of the bravest, one of the most determined people I have ever met and he has a unique, first-hand understanding that these attempts to change sexual orientation and gender identity are linked to a culture of hostility to LGBT people and when you combine that kind of hatred and self-loathing with a position of power, whether it’s in a religious leader or a licensed therapist, people get hurt, sometimes irreparably.”

“What’s so extraordinary about Jeff is how long and hard he fought to turn that pain into something meaningful, this LGBT center that benefits every person in his state,” added Ames. “But today he’s not just helping out other people out of the darkness, he’s shining a light on it and he knows it very well.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

  • My name is being witheld

    I know Jeff and I went to that school with him. I was fondled by a member of the church staff also. I was also punched in the face by the Youth Director, Wayne Pittilo. The thing is we were made to feel like it was all out fault and if we said anything we’d be punished even more. If you went to the school, you were seriously screwed because you’d get in double the trouble. Hell, they let Ron Nichols work with school children while he was awaiting sentencing for…brace yourself…RAPING A TEENAGER at a different school. Bobby Ashmore got his own Sunday School class and worked in the children’s ministry after serving jail time for the same shit. I trusted Steven Barnes and I went to him when all these things happened to me and you know what he did?

    nothing.

    That’s the kind of place Bethel is. Also, their pastor Ron Westmoreland is criminal and has been embezzling money from his clueless congregation for decades. I mean, I could name more names if you want. Jack Schaap. Or how about Phil Kidd, the evangelist that says nigger and faggot and dyke from the pulpit on a regular basis. That entire place is a sham of a church.

    • Name Witheld

      To whomever is saying they were fondled also have you stepped up and said anything? Surely you are not just bashing everyone and not helping prevent this from happening again if it did?

  • My name is being witheld

    Bethel took us to a church camp called Triple S Christian Ranch. One year they had a guy named Kent Hoving come in and tell us all about dinosaurs and how they’re in the bible and were on the ark. Well, google that guy if you have a spare second. He’s been in prison for like 8 years for tax fraud/evasion. Yeah, real stand up people in the independent baptist church movement.

  • My name is being witheld

    Also. They lady you talked to on the phone was Mrs. Snyder probably. She’s been the church secretary for YEARS. Coincidentally, she is also the pastor’s mother in law. That’s right. The lady screening the calls has a dog in this fight and will try to save her ass. Let’s put the sexual assult stuff aside. I totally believe it. Here’s another fun fact. That church almost had a split in 2002 because they BAPTIZED A BLACK KID. True story. I was there. You want to hear some deeper, darker shit? I got pages or days. Why don’t you email Chris Crane about the baseball bat he kept in his dorm room and what it used to say on it? I bet you he lies about it. Well, I’ll tell you what it said. Written in black sharpie it said ‘Nigger Nocker’ on it. Yep. He’s an evangelist now too. You wanna call Chris Dallas and ask him about the time he told a teenager that was moving out of state to college that god was going to have a car wreck and die on the way because he was running from god? I was sitting in teen church when he said it.

    • unknown

      Obviously you don’t know what you are talking about. The church secretary is Mrs. Yancy and has been for several years now. Before you talk about someone make sure you have the correct names and info.

    • http://None Sam

      Mrs. Yancy is the school secretary; she isn’t the church secretary, and Mrs. Yancy is the sister-in-law of Steven Barnes. So, either secretary is related to the pastor or the associate pastor. These people aren’t too far off. Try again.

      • Eddie

        Mrs.Yancy? You mean Beverly? Yeah, Beverly McFarland-Yancy is Steven Barnes sister in law. And the school secretary. Funny, I thought it was Ashley? You know Ashley McFarland? Oh excuse me. I meant to say Ashley McFarland-Carlisle. Yeah, the Youth Director’s (Josh Carlisle) wife. The brother in law of the man being accused.

        If you don’t think for a second that they’re definitely protecting each other then you’re about as misguided as the rest of their congregation. Hmmm. Let’s see who else is related there? How about the head hancho’s (Ron Westmoreland’s) older brother Monty Westmoreland. The guy who literally built the church buildings out of the same stuff he built his house with. It’s all left over from his failed business, National Bank Builders. Yep. The man who’s been covering up all this, his brother failed at building banks so he got into the church building business. Oddly enough he only works for Ron.

        Good to see that Lee Sexton is still the principal of the school. Hmm? Where did he get his teaching degree from again? Hell, maybe he got it at the same place his brother David Sexton got his. Oh yeah. His brother David is married to Ron Westmoreland’s daughter Heather. One big ole happy, raping family. I bet you won’t ask Ron Westmoreland about the Schultz family at 4655 Apple Cove. You remember them? Drew Schultz. The kid that was abused and teased so much by his own step dad and step siblings (for being a step child, mind you) that he stabbed and killed Ben. And stabbed Emily too. Even though you were told that it was happening but you still let them live on the church property anyway and just looked the other way. I bet they don’t want to talk about the time Randall Allbright (staff member) was banging the piano player Janice Pittilo-Lumpkin. The youth director’s sister Janice was about ready to leave Jim for Randall until Randall almost killed her. Seriously, check this shit out. Before they could run away and get married they had to cleanse themselves by baptism so Randall baptized Janice. Over. And over. And over. He almost drowned her. That’s why Nancy left him. Janice had to not play piano for a few months and their men’s quartet made up of Steven Barnes, Randall Albright, John McFarland (the music director. yeah. Beverly, Ashley, and Sherry’s dad. Oh Sherry is Steven’s husband) had to disband.

        Yeah Ron Nichols too, yada yada yada. You can just pound his name into Google and find out that story. Got accused of raping a teenager so to prove his innocence he attempted suicide by washing down a punch of pills with Draino. Draino is a very thick liquid and it coated the pills and they didn’t dissolve fast enough. The idiot lived through it all. He’s a Bethel guy too. That place is as corrupt as the hard drive on Phil Kidd’s computer where he keeps all his interracial porn. Bethel is a cesspool. There are so many dirty secrets they don’t want to live up to. Pat Westmoreland (Monty’s wife) pulling a gun on Kenny Hodnett who was a legit scumbag but they had an affair, she wanted to break it off, Kenny didn’t. Guns were drawn. It’s goddamn Melrose Place around there but with drugs, sex and sex with minors.

        Also. Real quick. All the stuff above is easily accessible public police records.

        • Kris

          Dear Eddie,
          Although you were pretty articulate with airing out everyone’s dirty laundry but your own, you do have some of your names and stories mixed up. Just FYI. ;)

  • My name is being witheld

    What about the College they have? The NON ACCREDITED, make the check out directly to Ron Westmoreland College they have where they teach you to spare not and lift up your voice like a trumpet against the EVILS of fags, dykes, homo-sympathizers, and basically anyone who isn’t a white, southern, republican, independent baptist. Want me to keep going?

  • My name is being witheld

    how about that ridiculous Thanksgiving Offering bullshit they do every year where Ron Westmoreland challenges you to “switch places with god’. they promote what’s called a reverse tithe. YOU KEEP 10% of your income that week and you give ‘god’ 90%, that way you can see how hard it is for god and the church to make do with so little. except you have a few hundred people doing it and it all goes in to Ron Money Bags Westmoreland’s pocket.

  • My name is being witheld

    Also. Ron Westmoreland is a product of Hyles-Anderson University. That’s the school in Hammond, Indiana that JUST made national news because they guys running it (and incidentally one of the guys all of them told us we should grow up to be like) was just arrested for…you ready?…having an affair with a teenage girl that he was SUPPOSED TO BE HELPING. Not only was he banging her but he trafficked her across state lines into Michigan where he banged her more. All of those people are cut from the same cloth. Here. Take a look for yourself. This is one of their most PRIZED evangelists:

    http://drphilkidd.com/tv.htm

    This guy says faggot, nigger, and dyke from the pulpit every time he stands behind it. All of them are a cancer and they preach a message of intolerance and hate. They judge people and classify them based on race, sex, and orientation. If you’re a white man, you’ll be fine. But if you’re a black, gay, woman you’re fucked. Look up Jeff Owens if you get a chance. A ‘preacher’ who spoke at every youth conference Bethel ever went to. He said, from the pulpit, that we should ‘stop burning flags, and start burning fags’. That’s documented. Look it up. Hell, I bet my parents still have the tape. Look up that other mother fucker George Otis Johnson from Missouri. Another one of the independent baptist shits that got nailed with 17 counts of fucking with kids.

    What else you want? I got more.

  • My name is being witheld

    http://www.bethelbaptistwalls.com/staff/

    Here is their staff page. Josh Carlisle tried to make out with me at Afterglow one time. Afterglow was the little get together for teenagers they held once a month after church. He’s also a racist bigot and has NO credintials that would qualify him for ANY work with teenagers. That entire organization is a sham.

  • US LEGAL SYSTEM

    Well it seems like all of these comments are from the same person. Jeff maybe? Also if you read the article you might notice something. Lack of proof. It’s a he said he said. Way to try the case in the court of public opinion. Produce your proof, and call your witnesses 15 years later. Men that do things like this don’t just victimize 1 person. If it’s true there would be others. Not just wack jobs coming out of the woodwork to make a false claim I mean other kids just as involved in the church as jeff to say it happened to them too. Unless This guy only had eyes for Jeff.. Unlikley.

  • Noname

    Sounds like Jeff is as big a liar as he is queer. Steven Barnes is the nicest and most caring person that you will ever meet. These are all fabricated lies.

    • unknown

      Yes, thank you! Finally someone with some sense. All of those are lies. Esp the one saying the woman secretary was related to the paster. No the secretary is Mrs. Yancy and has NO RELATION to the pastor.

    • http://None Sam

      Mr. Steven Barnes isn’t the nicest person that you will ever meet. He has A LOT of hate inside of him when he should be practicing LOVE.

    • KW

      I’ve been pretty quiet about all this but Noname’s statement says a lot about the kind of people who will defend that “church”. He said that Jeff is a big a liar as he is a queer. On what planet is that acceptable? What verse of the bible says that dehumanizing an individual with horrid labels like fag or queer is completely acceptable? I don’t know if Steve actually did and it’s honestly none of my business. I haven’t been around in a looooooong time and it’s really not up to me to decide who is a liar and who isn’t. However, I will say a lot of what is mentioned above is abundantly true and it only takes an elementary understanding of the internet and public records to read it for yourself.

      Also if you Bethel folks could stop asking my family for money, it’d be appreciated.

  • Donna S.

    I don’t understand why you would do this Jeff? Yeah, they preached against homosexuality and that it is sin. But you know, God knows, and Barnes knows that this never happened. Tell me, were you sitting around one day chatting with others about how “conversion therapy” doesn’t work and your lie rolled out and it snow balled into this? The people who have known Barnes and the Church know that this is a lie. It’s sad that you would do this, but something tells me that the people who truly know you, who have known you for years… They know the type of person you really are… my warning, lies fall apart, light brings out the truth and your story will fall apart before your eyes and before you know it, you won’t be fast enough to keep up with the story you’ve told. You will stumble and It will catch up with you and the people you are talking to and the people who are representing you are no fools. Before you know it they will see right through the smoke screen you are putting up. The question is, will they put a stop to it? Or will you? Regardless, the damage has been done and something tells me that the retraction to the headline news will be in small print at the back of the paper when it’s all said and done. But we all know, one day… everything will be made known… and that’s all that matters.

  • Jack

    I don’t think Mr.My Name Is Being Witheld is saying that Steven Barnes is necessarily guilty but it more that Bethel is just a bad place in general. Sounds like the staff is under educated and ill equipped. Can’t say if Mr.White is telling the truth but I do know for a fact that at their core, the IFB have some really skewed opinions on issues concerning race, sexual orientation, and education. I know of this Phil Kidd guy and to say he’s a racist is an understatement and he is on Bethel’s calendar and I’ve even heard a podcast where the discussed and played the audio of Jeff Owens saying inflammatory remarks about gay people. I’m more interested in Bethel’s private records (i.e. financial history, school criteria, college affiliation). From the information on their websites their school is run on the ACE program which is basically home schooling. Those programs are flawed and only teach pseudo-science and creationism which, or course, is ludicrous. Their ‘college’ is unaccredited so it’s difficult to say if they even have real classes with qualified, state certified educators. Do the junior high and high-schools also employee these ‘teachers’? What about this Ron Westmoreland guy? I looked him up and he seems a little sketchy. He graduated from Hyles Anderson College in Hammond, Indiana. The same church/school that was just in the news because their pastor and school president (Jack Schaap) was committing the same kinds of sexual crimes with a minor (including trafficking). Are these people all the same? Are they training predators or pastors? They definitely look like mega church pastors (i.e. Joel Osteen and the like) to me and we all know those guys are among the most corrupt in the world, especially when it comes to finances. Joel Osteen was just in the news over a money issue actually. I also looked up this Ron Nichols guy, another product of Bethel, who just served a prison sentence for child molestation in two different states (Tennessee and Mississippi). From the outside looking in, the place looks like a breeding ground for child predators and it would be hard to believe that anyone would make up something as horrible as being raped considering the church’s track record of sexual predators and issues regarding sexual orientation and race. Don’t know if he’s guilty but I wouldn’t be surprised.

  • Trev

    Whatever happened to ‘innocent until proven guilty?’ The story provides no evidence that this repeated 4 year long rape actually took place. I see a paucity of details in the story about the actual crime. What does the school tuition, the church’s attitude toward Southern Baptists, and “God’s Way to Heaven” have to do with the rape allegations against Mr. Barnes?

    The sketchiness of Mr. White’s allegations is seen in the glaring lack of substance in his story. He talks of “stuff” and “things”, and the pastor using the word “fagot” when referring to Southern Baptists. What about actual events of the story?

    “Aside from all of that other stuff going on, there was a thousand other things that they were doing.” -This statement from Mr. White tells us absolutely nothing.

    If this is the substance of White’s allegations I predict that the investigators will easily find massive holes in his story. Meanwhile, websites like this have no qualms about destroying a man’s good name with a presumption of guilt as long as it suits their political cause.

    Do you people realize the gravity of the accusations being made by Mr. White? Should we be so quick in rushing to judgement? If I was Mr. Barnes (presuming he is innocent) I would get the best lawyer money can buy and sue Mr. White for defamation.

  • Allison

    I am from the Horn Lake area and I saw a story on channel 5 about this. When the church responded they only had somebody from the staff, who definitely had a deer in headlights look btw, read a statement. Funny enough the guy reading the statement had a hard time reading it and it almost seemed like he could barely read at all. His name was not Steven Barnes. Why didn’t Steven Barnes face the press straight away? If he’s got nothing to hide then couldn’t he have just come out and said so. I think all these baptists churches are hiding something. It just doesn’t make any sense that someone would make that kind of stuff up especially with the record they have of child abuse. I think it’s pretty brave of him to stand up like this.

    • NO Name

      Because Allison,
      When you are having allegations thrown at you, lies tossed your way, and being accused of something, you don’t say anything and get a lawyer! If you don’t know the staff and church, maybe you should come visit and then just maybe everyone on here will not believe the lies! TO GOD BE THE GLORY WHEN ALL THIS MESS IS THROUGH!

      • Allison

        Sorry. I have been to your church and I got scolded for wearing pants. You can stick that up your ass. Sounds like Steven Barnes still has no spine. Instead you gave us someone who can barely read? Thanks. No thanks.

  • Alex

    If bethel has nothing to hide then why did they delete all of their free preaching from their website. They used to have all their sermons on there now nothing. Seems like they don’t want people hearing the terrible things they say from the pulpit.

    • NO Name

      The haven’t had that on there in years!

      • Alex

        Uh. No. I made my bf listen to a chapel message just last week. I wanted to show him what I listened to all the time. I went to the school. We didn’t want to believe it at first but it’s not really a surprise. Everyone there sucks.

  • Leigh

    I went to this church for 3 and 1/2 years. I had to leave because they were trying to be in my business. They are very controlling and judgmental. I also could not stand to listen to the gay bashing from the pulpit. They even try to tell you God wants you to vote Republican. And someone mentioned Phil Kidd, saw that guy once, and never again.

    But I also want to say, there are some people I met there that I believe have pure hearts. I am sure there is a great amount of anxiety over this. I can just imagine the sermon this morning and tonight.

    Did you know that they tape every sermon and sell them?

    • NO Name

      Really? hmmm…..lies

      • Leigh

        You don’t know my experience. My whole post is not negative, I made a positive statement, so that’s a lie too? Just like a religious freak, all contradiction and no real point. I find it difficult to believe S Barnes is evil, but this church is full of judgement and hypocrisy, at least that is how I found it to be after 3 1/2 years. You can’t speak for me, so don’t. The only thing I miss about Bethel, is the music, the music is awesome.
        i do not miss Dr Westmoreland saying “at the corner of 301 and 302, a queer is still a queer.”
        in his sermons.
        They reel you in by telling you all you have to do to get to Heaven is believe that Christ died for our sins, then they start telling you how to dress and where you should work, etc.
        If you need that kins of suffocating guidance, that’s you. They were a little too much for me, and that’s not a lie.

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