Pictured is the Hephzibah House from across the road, at 2277 E. Pierceton Road. The 51-acre property is also the site of their ministry, Believers Baptist Church. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union.
Pictured is the Hephzibah House from across the road, at 2277 E. Pierceton Road. The 51-acre property is also the site of their ministry, Believers Baptist Church. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union.
Hephzibah House, the private Christian boarding school for troubled teenaged girls that has been marred for decades with accusations of abuse, is now permanently closed.

According to Assistant Director Pastor Dave Halyaman, the boarding school at 2277 E. Pierceton Road, right outside of Winona Lake, is closed. Halyaman, when asked about it on Saturday, wouldn’t say when the school permanently closed, or why.

A statement from founder and director of the house, Pastor Ron Williams, was released through Halyaman to the Times-Union on Saturday. It reads: “Hephzibah House has been based in the Winona Lake area for almost 49 years. The faith community has been prominent in our county since 1894, the beginning of the Winona Lake Bible Conference. Our ministry has been blessed to have been a small part of that Bible-based heritage. Through the decades, desperate parents have brought their troubled teen daughters from all 50 states and from some foreign countries, (daughters of American Missionaries) to our ministry. Some of these girls are now serving in full-time Christian ministry. Others went on to become Godly wives and mothers and productive members of society. Still, others went back to their old way of life.  The consecrated staff of Hephzibah House loved and cared for each of these troubled souls, and though we are now closed, we continue to love and pray that each of our former students would have a grand success of the Christian life, or as a responsible member of their community. We want to express our thanks and appreciation to so many county residents who have made us feel welcome, have donated to our work and have prayed for us and encouraged us over these many years. God bless each and every one of you. It has been a rich blessing to be a part of our wonderful area. We all have felt “at home” with such superb and encouraging neighbors.”

The boarding school was the topic of a two-part series on the Dr. Phil show Jan. 13 and 14. Dr. Phil interviewed former students who alleged that sexual abuse, corporal punishment, child labor and improper nutrition have been taking place, among many other things.

The Times-Union published a story Jan. 29 and interviewed Halyaman, who responded to those accusations. In that article, Halyaman mostly vehemently denied any abuse and said rather it was a Christian, private school and the children are sent there with their parents’ consent. He also said that Child Protective Services and Winona Lake Police showed up at Hephzibah House’s door the day after Dr. Phil aired and “found no complaints” from interviewing the girls, or the staff.

Halyaman also said the corporal punishment had been stopped, but it was legal at the time in Indiana when it went on. He also claimed the Kosciusko County Health Department inspects them on a regular basis and “they are always happy with us.” After the article ran, KCHD Inspector Nathan Burton contacted the Times-Union, speaking out and saying Halyaman’s claims are wrong and that the health department had recently dinged the school for five violations, three of which were critical. When asked by the Times-Union about the false statements he made, Halyaman brushed them off and blamed them on “learning curves.”

Social media chatter over the weekend claimed Hephzibah House was shut down because they lost their insurance. Whether or not that is true remains unknown, because Hephzibah representatives refuse to answer the question of why they closed.

It was also said on social media that the house closed down last week. The exact date that they closed also remains unknown, because Hephzibah representatives refuse to answer that question, as well.