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'Glenn Homers' share stories of abuse while visiting old campus

Alice Whalen-Barrett said she lived through years of abuse while living at home for kids, in Vigo County, but she says she was far from the only victim. News 10 found others who have their own terrifying stories of abuse.

Posted: May 16, 2019 7:09 PM
Updated: May 20, 2019 11:51 AM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Alice Whalen-Barrett said she lived through years of abuse while living at home for kids, in Vigo County, but she says she was far from the only victim. News 10 found others who have their own terrifying stories of abuse.

Many of them met at the site of the former Glenn Home on Vigo County's east side. The group had reconnected recently through social media. They were taken to the home with hopes of having a better life. They told News 10, plenty of it was better.

The kids, now fully grown, took us on a tour of their old stomping grounds. They relived memories of horse riding, ball games, and causing mischief.

LINK | FORMER VIGO COUNTY WELFARE DIRECTOR SPEAKS ON DECADES OLD ABUSE CLAIMS

They showed off where they slept, where they ate and where they played, and some of them showed us where they cried.

Whalen-Barrett, Connie Higgins, Rhonda Stewart, Emma Bowser, and others lived here while Ival Lane was in charge. They all said Lane abused them.

Before this tour, they met with us over the course of several months sharing their stories for the first time. Emma Bowser was only a small child when she went to Glenn Home.

"In my book, he was the devil. He was the devil. He was horrifying," Bowser said.

Within months, she said lane continued a cycle of sexual abuse in her life.

"That's when he threw me down, hit me, beat me up and raped me, I didn't really know if I wanted to live anymore, felt like I wanted to die," Bowser said.

Bowser said she still has trouble dealing with the past.

LINK | ABUSE CLAIMS SURFACE AGAINST FORMER REVEREND, CHILDREN'S HOME LEADER

She's not the only one. Rhonda Stewart also continues to live with painful memories.

News 10 found records showing she had a heart condition. One procedure required doctors going through her groin. She told us of a time lane demonstrated on her how it would work.

She was no more than 6 years old.

"He kind of you know put his hands where it was supposed to be and everything and..."
Rondrell: How did you feel?
"Well, I felt kind of weird because I've already been through this 3,4 four times. I could have told him more than what he could have told me," Stewart said.

Back on the tour, a trip to the gym unblocked tough memories of an incident Connie Higgins said she had with Lane.

"I spent hours cleaning the bleachers. He (Lane) said you did a rotten job. He said I've got to show you something, and he put me up and he took me in there and he locked me in!" Higgins said.

Higgins had to go to the home after she said her father sexually molested her. While there, she claims Lane was emotionally, physically, and mentally abusive..

"There's other things that are hidden in the back of my head that I can't remember. It's so hard after all these years. If I had to do over again, I would have probably stayed in my home and took the abuse," Higgins said.

LINK | 'THEY SWEPT THE DIRT UNDER THE RUG' WOMAN SAYS CHURCH, COUNTY OFFICIALS HID ABUSE

As they wrapped up the tour, Whalen-Barrett said she saw something that unlocked her deepest pain.

"That's where he would lock me whenever I was being bad," Whalen-Barrett said it was sometimes for hours on end.

It was in the main building, where Lane had his office. We asked her how employees could let a screaming child be locked in a room for hours, but she said the staff was small, and Lane had convinced others she was screaming for attention.

"I was hated by everyone. Everyone thought I was this 'special Whalen.' "

It's a claim other Glenn Homers who didn't want to go on camera confirmed to us.

We searched for other employees who could vouch for these claims, but Sheila Priester with the current Vigo County Homes for Children told us the records of employees who were there at the time are gone.

Still, it was an emotional culmination for the group.

"I'd be sleeping and I could feel his breath on me in the middle of the night, and his hands were on my throat and he would put a pillow over my face and choke me. why? You talked to your sisters today," Whalen-Barrett said.

For those willing to share their stories, it was perhaps the biggest step they could take.

"We shut a lot of things out here and there. That's why coming back here brings back memories that I haven't thought of in a long time, but that's part of the healing process," Whalen Barrett said.

They were the forgotten kids of Glenn Home. They've grown. Many have married. Some have moved away, gotten degrees and counsel children just like they were.

They all share a bond they lived there.

News 10 asked why they are telling their stories now. We got several answers with the same theme.

"If you're being abused, don't stop. Tell everybody," Higgins said.

Ival Lane died in 2008. News 10 reached out to his children. His oldest daughter Janita was the only one to return our calls. She denied any wrong-doing of her father, but did say to us "if he did it, he's paying for it now."

A few other family members who asked not to be identified contacted News 10. They said they were appalled hearing the allegations. After hearing the women's personal accounts to us, they believed them.

If you know of any abuse that happened at the Glenn Home or anywhere else, please submit your story to the link on this page.

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