STARKEY — Officials are being tight-lipped, but it appears a longtime ministry and home in Yates County for troubled teens has been closed.
According to media reports, Freedom Village USA closed earlier this month after a possible partnership with a Christian organization to open a South Carolina campus fell through. That came after a community meeting was organized by people who attended Freedom Village and opposed the new campus.
Freedom Village, an intensive care home for troubled teens, was created in 1981 by Pastor Fletcher Brothers, a fundamentalist preacher and author from Rochester. The campus was on the grounds of the old Lakemont Academy off Route 14, a secular boys boarding school.
Two voicemails left by the Times on Freedom Village’s toll-free number were not returned. An email was returned to the Times as undeliverable.
Monica Mahaffey, assistant commissioner of communications for the state Office of Children and Family Services, said there currently are no youth at Freedom Village.
“They have all returned to their homes,” she wrote in an email.
Yates County Legislator Bill Holgate, whose district includes the town of Starkey and Freedom Village, said he believes the site is closed. He declined to comment on the closure.
Candace Iszard, Starkey’s town clerk, said the town has not received official written notification of closure or impending closure for Freedom Village.
According to media reports, Freedom Village has a long history of financial woes and allegations of mistreatment by former residents.