The Campbell Lodge Boys’ Home in Kentucky was closed after reports of physical abuse of the at-risk youth surfaced – repeatedly. Alexandria police officer Mark Branham who also served as a Campbell County School resource officer, became a voice for the boys who had no one left to speak for them, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Branham claims the students at Campbell Lodge Boys’ Home were being beaten, choked and bruised by staff. Branham admits to crying on his way home from the Kentucky boys’ home for two weeks as he prayed for guidance on how to help the boys after his reports were dismissed as unsubstantiated.
Officer Branham maintains that some of the children at the Campbell Lodges Boys’ Home confided in him that the had been violently punished by staffers. One boy told Branham he and other children at the lodge were used as punching bags while a Campbell Lodge Boys’ Home employee used them as punching bags. Another child from the boys’ home told officer Branham that a male staffer forcibly attempted to make him kiss another male student.
“It weighed on my mind. All this bad stuff was happening to them, but because they were labeled bad kids, no one was listening. Some of these kids have nobody. They needed a voice, so I became their voice,” Branham told The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Discouraged but not defeated by the alleged lack of investigation by Campbell County authorities, Branham made plans to speak with the Kentucky State Police about the incidents he considered abusive at the Campbell Lodge Boys’ Home. Before the state police were informed, inspectors visiting the lodge on a separate complaint from several female workers at the home for at-risk youth ordered the lodge closed, according to Northern Kentucky News.
The report Branham filed notes that a child claims a Campbell Lodge Boys’ Home staffer “grabbed him around the neck” in a head lock and “dragged him through a hallway.” The boy told Branham he had written grievances to the Kentucky boys’ home administrator about the incidents but staff ripped the papers up in front of him and then poured coffee on them.
“My reporting of the incident just made it 10 times worse on the kid. I know it did. In my heart, I know it did,” Branham, who is also a father, told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The at-risk boys’ home director Barry Jones, who told Campbell County police officers that boys were not choked at the Kentucky facility, has been fired. Jones had previously told the officers he would send the allegations the staff hurting students at the Campbell Lodge Boys’ Home to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, but no such report was ever filed. All the children were removed from the home and sent to other care facilities, one at least 216 mile away in Bowling Green.