AMARILLO, Texas (KVII) — At the Center for Performing Arts on Saturday, March 2, a feature length film about Cal Farley's Boys Ranch premiered. The film, Edge of the World, is described as an inspiring family-friendly feature and earned numerous awards in 2018.
While the film drew in crowds of excited people, there was a group of not so excited people outside garnering attention too. The group, made up of people with ties to Cal Farley's Boys Ranch, were protesting the film. They feel the movie is a lie and another example of the facility trying to cover up decades of abuse.
Allan Votaw and his two brothers arrived at Cal Farley's Boys Ranch in 1957, but it wasn't what they were hoping for.
"We thought this was going to be a home, it turned into a torture chamber," said Votaw. "I was four-years-old, and for 10 years I was molested, beaten."
During the protest, Votaw held a sign with a picture on it. It was an ad for Boys Ranch back in the day and had his two brothers and three friends in it, but not him. He said he was left out because he was too black and blue from being beaten.
"I said no one would ever beat me again and no one ever beat me again," said Votaw. "It caused me problems in life, but I overcame them problems because I wasn't going to let them beat me down, it’s my turn to beat them down."
Votaw told ABC 7 News that the abuse still haunts him. He said the scars claimed the lives of his two brothers.
"It was after we left there, but it mentally messed with us, totally mentally messed with us," said an emotional Votaw.
Holding up a banner with Votaw was Cynthia Scott, an English teacher at Boys Ranch from 1984-1986.
"I'm here from a broken heart today," said Scott when asked why she was protesting.
She learned of the horrors some of her students endured about a year ago.
"Currently Boys Ranch on their website advertises that they offer hope to hurting children, but for most of their history they’ve provided hurt to hoping children," said Scott.
Former students told her they felt there was no way out.
"It was like a hunger games. A hunger games like existence out there for them. They thought who would believe us," said Scott.
Giving a voice to the numerous survivors dating from the 1950's through the 2010's is why Steve Smith, a survivor himself, was protesting.
"We are trying to help survivors, we got to help them," said Scott. "I hope everybody calls in and asks Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch to do the right thing."
Moving forward, survivors would like Cal Farley's Boys Ranch to be honest about the past and take abuse allegations seriously. They want to see that Boys Ranch has truly evolved, that kids are safe, and they want promises of help and assistance to be fulfilled.