Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer has filed a lawsuit against two unlicensed Christian mission homes for effectively torturing mentally disabled people if they refused to attend religious services, and forcing them to live in filthy conditions.
According to KNBC, Agape Mission House and Agape Home Church are facing a civil enforcement action for subjecting mentally disabled residents to deplorable living conditions.
“One toilet and one shower for over 50 individuals and filth, dirt, overcrowding, severe overcrowding,” Asst. LA City Attorney Jose Egurbide told the station.
“You sleep on a mattresses that are paper thin,” Feuer said. “The kind of conditions in which you or I would never want one of our loved ones to live in. And yet these are the conditions that we allege the people at this facility had been enduring for months and sometimes for years.”
Feuer alleged that the mentally disabled residents who failed to attend religious services twice a day were subjected to torturous punishments that included standing by a tree for four hours and translating Bible verses for an entire day.
Other residents were locked inside the facility for a full day or forced to sleep outside without access to the kitchen and pantry. Staff also reportedly seized county or federal benefit cards.
“I sat (by the tree) for two hours and after I went to go speak to pastor and he decreased my punishment to absolute nothing,” resident James Calixte recalled, adding that he was satisfied with the Christian home because he had no other options.
“He’s Korean, I’m Haitian. I’m from Haiti you know? And he had welcomed me into his home. So I’m happy. I was homeless on Skid Row, you know? Sleeping outside in the cold,” Calixte explained.
The City Attorney’s Office said that the facilities could be fined between $2,500 and $7,500 for each violation.
Watch the video below from KNBC, broadcast Feb. 19, 2014.
(h/t: Friendly Atheist)