Carey Roberts
Bethany House of Virginia, an abuse shelter out of control
By Carey Roberts
March 3, 2009

Bethany House of Northern Virginia is an abuse shelter that provides "warmth and shelter" to persons suffering from domestic violence — at least that's what the group claims. But now a former shelter worker, client, husband, and a sitting judge have all come forward to reveal a sordid tale of unethical and illegal conduct.

The first bombshell hit in 2004 when a former shelter volunteer filed a three-page letter of complaint. Alleging the staff was "enraged with a bottomless pit of anger at men," she charged the shelter admitted women who had never suffered physical abuse, indoctrinated them into feminist ideology, and then bribed them to commit perjury against their husbands.

"I have spoken with several wives at BHNV who have deeply regretted having contacted BHNV," the shelter worker concludes. The women "deeply regret destroying their marriage, family, husband, and their children's future." Her full complaint can be seen here:

Then in 2007 a shelter client, Maria, charged she had been subjected to sexual advances by a shelter attorney. One day he showed up on her doorstep demanding money or sex for his pro bono work. In response, Bethany House issued a statement distancing itself from the whole affair — ahem, matter.

But the shelter then made this startling admission: "Our records do indicate allegations of abuse against social workers and volunteers who served the Bethany House since 1980." And then the bell-ringer: "Ms. Veronica and Ms. Liang were let go as house managers because of misconduct, misappropriation of Bethany House Funds, and complaints of inappropriate sexual advances against the shelter residents." (insert editorial exclamation mark here)

So who was Maria's alleged perp? Robert B. Machen.

Machen has a lengthy rap sheet, including three counts of obstruction of justice that landed him in jail for a year. Later he incurred a reprimand by the Virginia State Bar. And more:

The saddest story of all, though, involved a mentally-unstable woman named Valeria Jagannathan. In 2002 she went to Bethany House claiming to be a victim of physical violence at the hands of her husband Ron. A few months later the case went to court, with the judge ruling she in fact had not been abused. Noting her unfavorable living situation, the judge granted custody of their two daughters to the father.

Naturally the Bethany House staff were outraged — after all, women never lie about domestic violence. So over the next six years, the shelter provided the woman with a blank check to pursue her claim. And guess who her attorney was? If you guessed his initials are "RBM," you are correct!

First they debated the tactical value of a child sex abuse accusation. On August 18, 2002, a staff member faxed a clandestine instruction to Machen marked CONFIDENTIAL: "I am very sure Mrs. J is not interesting in bringing any sexual abuse of children allegations. She did not sound comfortable with such allegations. She has not followed your advice." So "I suggest you go to court with neglect and abuse charges," the employee urged.

Apparently that idea didn't pan out, so three weeks later shelter staff devised a new ploy: "Creating diversions might get Mr. Jagannathan to concede custody. A FBI or a police investigation might get his green card revoked," according to a September 8 secret communication to Machen.

And what "diversions" did they settle on? Well, why not accuse Jagannathan, a quiet-spoken defense contractor, of loading binders of secret government documents into a van and whisking them off to India! The claim proved so preposterous that a psychologist opined that she was likely having hallucinations suggestive of a severe psychiatric disorder.

When that charge fell apart, the shelter ginned up even more accusations. Eventually word spread to local judges who had no desire to see their courtrooms turned into a forum to spread a wild concoction of bizarre and lewd accusations.

So on January 8, 2009, Judge Charles Maxfield of Fairfax, Va. issued his ruling. The judge decried how the woman had filed a "diatribe of complaints about the integrity of Mr. Jagannathan," an action he termed "malicious." On the witness stand, "she perjured herself in this court" on three separate occasions. And the woman had even sued the psychologist for stating her behavior was consistent with "having paranoid delusions."

Commenting that Mr. Jagannathan had been subjected to "Kafkaesque litigation," the judge wagged the judicial finger at the woman's attorney, ruling the parents "be enjoined from allowing the children to have any contact with Robert Machen."

That was two months ago. But the shelter has yet to issue a statement of apology or remorse for the damage it caused to Mr. Jagannathan, his two daughters, or to Mrs. Jagannathan who needed to see a psychiatrist, not an abuse enabler.

The problems at Bethany House stretch back to the 1980s, and still there's no sign of progress. Maybe the Bethany House of Northern Virginia needs to hear from concerned citizens demanding these long-standing abuses come to a halt.

Telephone: 703-658-9500
Fax: 703-658-9522

© Carey Roberts


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Carey Roberts

Carey Roberts is an analyst and commentator on political correctness. His best-known work was an exposé on Marxism and radical feminism... (more)

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