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Messages - Oscar

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1
Long after Escuela Caribe and New Horizon Academy collapse and new owners had to take over the horror camp in the Dominican Republic, a strange spin-off has been discovered.

Some years ago a book called "A Rock and a Hard Place: One Boy's Triumphant Story" made as a memoir by a boy exposed to abuse became a best-seller. At some point journalists found it interesting to interview the boy who wrote the book.

He has never been found!

It seems that the therapist working at New Horizon Academy - Marc Allen Zackheim- ghostwrote the book together with his female partner - Vicki Johnson.

Both has since died but not after two criminal investigations into his past which in one case put him in prison.

So the tale of New Horizon Ministries ends up with a mystery and possible fraud.

Where all the money went earned by exposing numerous children to abuse since 1970 has not been revealed. How such a person became therapist and how he was allowed to work all these years also remain a mystery.

How runs the campus which used to be Escuela Caribe today? Are children been abuse? Can anyone put names of some of the abusers beside the therapist?

Sources:

2
Feed Your Head / Denmark is not like the country, the democrats talk about
« on: February 26, 2020, 03:00:19 AM »
The Democrats often mention Denmark where I live as a perfect example when it comes to healthcare.

However, this is not the case when we are talking mental illnesses at children. Then there is no free tax-paid treatment. Mental illnesses are in many cases seen as embarassing and shameful even by people in the official healthcare system.

There is a historical reason for that.

Remember all the nazi death camps and the effort to build the perfect strong race.

In Denmark we did not go so far as putting people in camps and kill them. Instead we isolated mentally or morally wrong challenged people on remote islands and operated on them so they could not reproduce. If they spoke out too clearly or otherwise protested they got lobotomized.

It was healthcare minister Karl Kristian Steincke who in in the 1920's got the parliament to make laws which aimed at improved euginetics. For the next 40 years men and women were sent to two islands where they lived genderseparated and only were allowed to leave when it was ensured that they could not produce children.

Even today the present system continues to build on the present legislation as it is important for Denmark to be seen as the country in the world who has the happiest people as citizens.

So if a child do suffer from depression, the parents are punished. According to law 498 from 2011 and the appeal boards desicion 158-12, parents are required to pay for the treatment of their children in grouphomes when it comes to certain handicaps or mental illnesses. The reason is the many handicaps can be discovered during the pregnancy which then can be brought to an end before the child enters the world.

Secondary what if one of the parents themselves have suffered from depression? Can they infect the children? The present opinion is YES among social care workers and they are backed by the appeal boards.

One family in Egedal near Copenhagen lost 186,000 DKK (about 27,000 dollars) - their entire saving as result of illness among their children. Remember that Danes pay more than half their income in taxes and pay interest for having money in the bank (strange system but true), so saving up is hard.

The doctors at the hospital even warned again splitting up the daughter from the mother but system ignored them and as result the child now suffers from no less than 4 illnesses: Schizoaffective disorder, depression, PTSD and symptoms of Asbergers.

So the family did not only get a sick daughter thanks to the makings of the social care workers but also they got bankrupted.

This is the real Denmark.

This is not the Denmark, the democrats are talking about.

Do they know better or are they just ill informed?


Sources:

3
The Troubled Teen Industry / New Bethel Boys Academy documentary
« on: February 10, 2020, 01:39:16 AM »
Link to the website of the documentary

The Bethel movie

5
Found another review on Google:

Quote
you know im going to have to be honest here. I am a camper here right now as of 8/14/19. So far i dont like it obviously. But i have to deal with it. There is lot of things i disagree with and i cant lie. Like me having to mow 14 acres of land it gets boring after a while. But it teaches life skills. I have learned alot here. But i still disagree with a lot of things. He should put God into the picture. I had to spend the night there my first weekend i went there. On Sunday he said to go to church and, we did. But something was not right. I felt like Major Dankowski wasn't there. He says hes a man of God. But he dosent act like it. In my Bible theres a page in there that says 100 things real men dont do. Half of those things he dose. Especially the first one "Real Men dont grumble and complain". I see this alot in him. Now im not saying thats all he dose and hes a bad guy. I just think he dosent under stand what he is doing especially the way he talks to me and other kids. I have made friends there but i always was shut down saying we cant bond or interact with each other which made me upset. I made friends with this kid named Jason he was pretty cool we worked together. But i do under stand why Dankaoski split us because we would get distracted. But i really think Dankaski should really put God into the picture. Another one in my bible says, "wanting to be rich or want money all the time". Thats another problem he has. Now lately he has ben nice a little for than he has since im by my self(which sucks im bored all the time no one to talk to really). But its not a bad place. I mean hey you know i dont like Dankawski at all. But he helps. I'v seen improvement in myself. This is really all i have to say. This is whats in my heart about Dankaski and his program.

A parent wrote:
Quote
get motivated boot camp is the worst place to send your kids because my son when there for two weeks and they charge us five thousand dollars and they threaten us by putting cps on us for my sons ROOM NOT BEING CLEAN. Bottom line dont go to this boot camp or else your kids will become worse

Another parent wrote:
Quote
I wish i would have beleived the reviews on how bad of a place this is to bring ur kids.   I was wrong for not listening.  They r crooks.  All they care about is ur money.   And if they get u to sighn those bootcamp papers.  Then at that point they have ur money whether u leave or stay the minimum time required.  So therefore they could care less about u and ur kids.  As long as they get u threw them doors.  And if u think ur not goin pay them think again they will sue u.   This has been the worst decision i could have ever made for my family.  I hope no one has to go threw this b.s.    we as parents always want better for r kids and sometimes we look for help anywhere.  Because at times where vulnerable.  I made a decision i regret because i was vulnerable.   Please dont make the same mistake.     God bless u and ur family. 

A student wrote:
Quote
Does your teen have self esteem issues? does your teen have issues forming relationships with his/her parents? If so, then send them to Get Motivated Boot Camp, because then, their last hopes and dreams will be eternally crushed. Any bit of self respect that he/she holds will be eviscerated by this Boot Camp's insane and totalitarian program. Have you ever wanted to see an insane, ruthless, maniacal, sociopathic dictator in action? Then get your hopes because Mr. Dankowski is the closest thing to an actual dictator.

6
It is located in Aubrey, Texas

The owner seems to have taken a military title without ever earning it in the military:

Here is a parents review:
Monica M. wrote in 2014:
Quote
I contacted this group to help me get control of my teenage daughter. The programs seems great but as I got further into it, I feel they are unorganized. I expressed my feelings of being unorganized and "The Major took it as a personal attack rather than the truth. The "Major" gave me information to report my daughter as a runaway even though I knew where she was. I read other reviews that said he has not even served in the military, but  demands the title as "Major" .  I decided to take intervention into my own hands. I was able to get her home.  I did have to call the police for assistance, but they told me that I would be in trouble if I reported her as a runaway because I did indeed know where she was. No, no, no: That's not what " The Major"  told me. There was another situation, which we got into a big disagreement about, but I will just leave it as they don't have all there ducks in a row. I can't trust  them, so I can't trust my  family going there. The day I got her home was hell, but the days since then have been a work in progress. Things are looking up for us.......

Koda S. wrote in 2018:
Quote
Get Motivated is the worst decision you can make for your kid and or kids. I attended this place because my grandpa had run across Major Dankowski during a family battle to "take me down" they fooled me into getting there, I slept all the way there just to have 3 men in military uniforms pull me out of a car and make me take almost everything off. The "projection" method is just another word for them to use to make you think they don't actually yell at you but that is the biggest bullshit lie ever. Major Dan can and will forever rot in hell for the things he does to kids.

Ethan P. wrote in 2015:
Quote
This place is hell on earth for your children. Do not take them here. This place promotes abuse and instills unnecessary and extreme fear into children. Do not go here. If you are having issues with your child, there are many other viable and more helpful options to help you and your child.

7
The Troubled Teen Industry / Camp Consequence in Florida
« on: February 02, 2020, 03:04:19 PM »
The Camp was a part of a TV-show called "Extreme Brat Camp"

Here is a review found on Google:

Matt G wrote:
Quote
I was forced into this program at a young age because my parents were desperate for an easy fix to a problem that was built over years, listen to my story before you send your child here. I'm in my 20s now, and here's my take on this place: Its a huge waste of money and time.

Taking your children to a culty christian boot camp run by two of the most arrogant people I've ever met in my life won't fix your children, you're the problem. A problem you can't throw money at. Break the habits that got you to this point in your life, no amount of money or child programs will help you, sheer will and a mind set of "I want both myself and my children to be decent people". If you want an easy fix and you think "2 days and that's it, my kids will be perfect", you're not caring enough and don't want to see your children change. Teach your children the freedom of choice when it comes to religion, teach them morals, values and instill respect at an early age, have them work at 15 years old to instill a value of money, limit their screen time and push them to do their best as school. Teach them that there are consequences for everything and don't hold their hand for everything. Teach them to be a better person, not so they can go to w/e after life your religion promises good people but so they can be good people.

Think long and hard about your kid, who prob sits in his/her room all day playing minecraft and ask yourself "What am I doing wrong?" Maybe the constant fighting you do with your wife/husband or the terrible way you handle things makes him/her not even want to deal with you. Shame on you if you think sending your kid to a problem camp will fix them over night. The fix is only there at camp and if the problems that are generated over years at home aren't fixed now they won't be fixed if you send your kid here for 1-30 days. If you think an instant lifestyle change will fix your childs issues without you changing your ways then you need this place for sure. Someone much older than you will basically force you to live by their lifestyle to raise your kids, have fun.

Also on conductdisorders.com the situation got worse after a stay in the camp: She was angry at us and she grabbed a knife (gory details, be warned)

8
When you are old enough to give consent, the therapists can groom you and have other types of sexual encounters in Montana. That must be the conclusion of the investigation against Chaffin Pullan.

It is properly not what the parents hoped for when they sent their daughters to treatment in Montana but it is what they got.

Quote
Rape conviction in Utah underscores risks at programs for troubled teens in Montana
by Seaborn Larson,Montana Standard, February 14 - 2019

A former therapist at a private teen treatment program near Kalispell was convicted in 2018 of repeatedly raping a 16-year-old girl he was caring for in one-on-one sessions at a program in Utah.

Jason Calder pleaded guilty in Utah District Court to four felonies, including rape, object rape, forcible sexual abuse and obstructing justice. As part of the plea agreement, 12 sexual assault-related charges were dismissed, the Salt Lake Tribune reported in January 2018.

Authorities opened the case after the girl disclosed the abuses to another therapist.

Calder worked seven years as a therapist at Summit Preparatory School near Kalispell, and only worked with boys, Rick Johnson, founder and director of development at Summit told the Missoulian on Thursday. He said no complaints were ever leveled against Calder in Montana; his background check came back clean and no previous employers raised any flags in reference calls before he began working there in 2007. Calder left the school in 2014 for a job with a higher position at a program in Utah, Johnson said.

“We were actually very surprised, very appalled, and I was just saddened by all the clients that he worked with that maybe he had been inappropriate with,” Johnson said in a phone interview.

Had the abuses happened in Montana, the 16-year-old girl's allegations may not have led to prosecution.

Since October, a private teen treatment program near Thompson Falls has been sued three times by families alleging program administrators at Reflections Academy failed to protect their daughters from grooming and subsequent sexual relationships with an employee there. Sanders County prosecutors told the Missoulian in December they declined to press charges against Chaffin Pullan because the girls' ages were above the age of consent.

Johnson said Monday that, while he hasn't seen the details of the proposal, he supports a bill currently moving through the Legislature to make it a crime for therapists, licensed or unlicensed, to engage in sexual relationships with residents at private residential treatment programs in Montana.

“Certainly any therapist that has sex with a client should be held criminally responsible for that behavior,” he said. “That almost has the flavor of incest. It makes you sick to your stomach to think about it.”

The bill, HB 282, carried by Rep. Denley Loge, R-St. Regis, has passed approval of the House and will next be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Johnson said Summit employs training with all employees to eliminate any potentially suggestive behavior, completes reference checks and conducts background checks for all employees.


9
It has turned out to be the end for Northwest Academy - previously known as Horizon Academy. The owners and one teacher were arrested on various charges related to endangering the lives of the students.

Quote
Nevada closes school for at-risk teens after owners' arrests
by Associated Press, February 16 - 2019

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada officials have shut down a boarding school for at-risk teens after its owners were accused of forcing students to drink tainted tap water.

State health department spokeswoman Chrystal Main said Friday that Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley has closed.

A telephone message to the facility about 90 miles west of Las Vegas was not immediately answered.


Defense attorney Malcolm LaVergne and Nye County sheriff's officials say owners Marcel and Patricia Chappuis (shap-WEE') posted bail to be freed from jail pending a March 18 court appearance.

They're accused of endangering 43 students by failing to provide enough bottled water for drinking, washing and cooking to replace tap water contaminated with arsenic.

Patricia Chappuis also faces two felony child abuse counts.

LaVergne says they'll plead not guilty and fight the charges.

Midwest Academy closed, now Northwest Academy closed, Red River Academy closed. Time for looking into the next school to close. We have been working on a new version of the Egedal SEO system created because the social services in a small town in Denmark took some money, they shouldn't have. Just point to the target and all negative articles ever been put online about a certain place will pop up as some of the first pages on various search engines and the authorities will be worried enough to start an investigation.

10
A mother tried to alienate her son from his father and that resulted in a lawsuit against both the wilderness program but also the transport firm - in this case Right Direction Crisis Intervention. The father and the son lost the case due to technicalities but none can question the abuse the son went through.

DECTER v. SECOND NATURE THERAPEUTIC PROGRAM, LLC

Quote from the lawsuit:

Quote
A. Factual Background
The following facts are taken from the Amended Complaint ("AC"), including documents incorporated by reference therein (such as the Judgment of Divorce and Stipulation of Settlement regarding custody and visitation), and they are not findings of fact by the Court. The Court assumes these facts to be true for the purpose of deciding this motion and construes them in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, the non-moving parties. For purposes of the summary judgment motion, the Court has also considered the Power of Attorney executed between Ellyn and Second Nature, and the Declaration of Authority granted by Ellyn to Right Direction, which are not disputed by the plaintiffs.1

Plaintiffs are a father and his minor son. (AC ¶¶ 10-11.) In 2002, Kenneth divorced Andrew's mother, Ellyn, who received "sole legal and physical custody" of Andrew, while Kenneth was granted visitation
[42 F.Supp.3d 454]
twice per week and daily telephone contact. (Id. ¶¶ 12, 41; Ex. C2 to Pl. Mot. to Amend at 3, 30.)

In the summer of 2012, Andrew was between his junior and senior years of high school and living with his mother in Manhasset, New York. (AC ¶ 14.) In the early morning of June 20, 2012, Andrew awoke at approximately 5:00 a.m. with three large men in his bedroom, two of whom were standing over him while the third blocked the door. (Id. ¶ 15.) The men displayed handcuffs, and "[a] struggle ensued as . . . Andrew tried desperately to escape." (Id. ¶¶ 15, 17.) The men told Andrew that they were taking him to Utah, and that they would stop any attempt by him to escape. (Id. ¶¶ 17-18.) Andrew asked to speak with his father, or with a friend or attorney, but the men refused. (Id. ¶¶ 20-21.) Andrew briefly attempted to flee, but to no avail. (Id. ¶ 22.)

The men in Andrew's room were employees or agents of defendant Skezics, (id. ¶ 16), who Ellyn hired to take Andrew to Second Nature's wilderness camp in Utah. Skezics is a Utah corporation, and the AC describes defendant Brian Shepherd as a Utah resident and "a principal of Skezics and/or Right Direction." (Id. ¶¶ 6-9, 117.) Defendant Second Nature is also a Utah corporation, and runs the wilderness camp in Utah to which Andrew was taken. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 23-27.) On May 30, 2012, Ellyn executed a power of attorney "in order that Second Nature may, if necessary, in its judgment, authorize or provide care and treatment to [Andrew]" and "to delegate to Second Nature while [Andrew] is in Second Nature's custody, any of the powers of the parent or guardian with respect to [Andrew] regarding his care and custody." (Second Nature 56.1 ¶ 6.) Likewise, Ellyn executed a separate Declaration of Authority authorizing Andrew's transport to Second Nature. (Ex. C to Skezics Mot.)3

Once he arrived at Second Nature, Andrew was forced to wear an orange jumpsuit, hike several miles through difficult terrain with a backpack, eat freeze-dried food, and bathe from a bag of water. (AC ¶¶ 28-37.) His boots were taken from him each night, and he lost 25 pounds. (Id. ¶¶ 31-32.) He repeatedly asked to speak with his father or an attorney, but defendants refused his requests until July 17, 2012, when he was released from Second Nature and first able to speak with his father by phone. (Id. ¶¶ 36-37, 50.)

Kenneth did not know that Andrew was going to Second Nature, and became alarmed when he did not speak to Andrew on June 20, 2012. (Id. ¶ 42.) Prior to that date, he and Andrew spoke on the phone at least once a day and spent at least two days each week together, as was provided
[42 F.Supp.3d 455]
for in Kenneth's Judgment of Divorce and the Stipulation of Settlement he reached with Ellyn. (Id. ¶¶ 38-41; Ex. C. to Pl. Mot. to Amend, at 3, 30.) When Kenneth learned that Andrew went to Second Nature, he called Second Nature and demanded to know whether Andrew was there, but the Second Nature employee who answered would neither confirm nor deny Andrew's presence. (Id. ¶ 44.) Kenneth's attorney made similar inquiries, which were also refused. (Id. ¶ 45.) The AC states that defendants prevented Kenneth from speaking to his son despite their knowledge of his right to daily telephone contact and weekly visitation, as outline in the divorce judgment and the Stipulation of Settlement, although at some point they allowed Kenneth to speak with a therapist, who told him that Andrew was "fine." (Id. ¶¶ 46, 49.) Kenneth eventually spoke to Andrew on July 17, 2012, when he was released from Second Nature. (Id. ¶¶ 50, 53.)

The program and the transport firm denied the father his court-ordered right to talk directly to his son without it having legal consequences.  The wilderness program is known for such abuse already. What is known about this so-called crisis intervention firm.

11
Quote
Vermont school shooting plot suspect recently left Maine treatment center
By Patty Wight, Maine Public • February 21, 2018

A student who was recently enrolled at York County Community College was arrested in his home state of Vermont last week after threatening a mass shooting at his former high school.

According to Vermont police, 18-year-old Jack Sawyer also attended a residential school near Belfast for troubled teens. York County Community College officials say they have no indication that anyone was at risk while Sawyer was a student.

Last Wednesday the Fair Haven Police Department in Vermont was notified that Sawyer was making threats against Fair Haven Union High School, where he had been a student, but Chief William Humphries says it was a follow-up tip from a friend that led to his arrest. The two had spent time together at Ironwood, a residential treatment school in Maine for teens with emotional and behavioral disorders. Sawyer had texted the friend about the school shooting in Florida.

“He had told her that he had been plotting to do the same for the last two years at Fair Haven High School, he said that he had no problem doing it, that he wouldn’t really have any remorse, that had no problem with ending it early,” says Humphries.

Sawyer had also purchased a gun. During an arraignment in court last week, Sawyer pleaded not guilty to several charges, including attempted murder. He’s currently being held without bail.

Until recently, Sawyer was taking a class at York County Community College. President Barbara Finkelstein says he withdrew earlier this month. After the news of his arrest, Finkelstein sent a letter to the school community, saying there was no indication anyone was ever at risk while Sawyer was a student, and emphasizing that safety and security are on ongoing priority.

“We’ve always been very vigilant,” says Finkelstein. “We have an active emergency response team that does practice drills all the time at the college. We have a number of security protocols in place at the college.”

Both Finkelstein and Vermont police credit the tips from Sawyer’s friends for averting violence, and say it’s a good reminder that if you see something suspicious, say something.

12
It is closed. They tried to rename it but the former students saw to that they could not escape their legacy. Unfortunately not even the closure could bring peace to many students who continued to suffer as result of the ordeal they had to go through, which became the basis for the article. Too many has died.

13
From 1923 to 1961 Danish teenage women were sent to the Island of Sprogoe where they were confined until they were sterilized or lobotomized so they could fit into the Danish society again. A crime could be too many boyfriends.

Some died, some escaped with help from local fishermen (the price was becoming their wives). Other ended up institutionalized for the rest of their lives.

Here is a link to the trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBoQFNSb1kQ

14
CEDU / Brown Schools and derivatives / clones / Northwest Academy closing
« on: September 22, 2018, 03:37:14 PM »
Quote from: The Sandpoint Reader
Northwest Academy closing after 24 years
By Lyndsie Kiebert, AUGUST 30 - 2018

Northwest Academy, a therapeutic boarding school in Bonners Ferry for 16-18 year olds, is closing according to an announcement from the school last week.

Director of Admissions Julia Andrick wrote on strugglingteens.com that after 24 years, Northwest Academy will close on Sept. 26 due to low enrollment.

“While we believe strongly in our mission to serve the specific needs of older adolescents, we are no longer able to attract a sufficient number of students in today’s treatment landscape who would benefit from this approach,” she said. “Our staff will work closely with Educational Consultants and parents to provide arrangements for our current students who will need further support in other programs, services or communities.”

Andrick, who is also the Admissions Liaison for Boulder Creek Academy in Bonners Ferry, said Boulder Creek — Northwest’s “sister school” — will remain open.

15
Quote from: The New York Times
‘It’s Like, Who’s Next?’: A Troubled School’s Alarming Death Rate
By Michael Wilson, Sept. 2 - 2018
When four former students from the same school died within months of one another in 2015, it seemed random, a morbid coincidence. Then the number kept growing. At least seven more died the next year.

Their fellow alumni, feeling more anxious with each death, started to keep count. By the time a classmate in Ohio died of a heroin overdose in October, the toll had reached at least 87.

Three weeks later, another fatal overdose in New Jersey: 88. Three more weeks saw another, a schoolteacher in the Bronx found dead in the faculty restroom. Ten days later, No. 90, in Minnesota.

“Damn,” a friend of the last victim wrote on Facebook. “This is outta control.”

All of the dead were alumni of the Family Foundation School, a small boarding academy in rural Hancock, N.Y. Since its opening in the 1980s, the school was an option of last resort for parents who sought help for their teenagers troubled by drug and alcohol abuse or behavioral issues. The students ate and bunked together, were dressed down and punished together. Some attempted to escape together, dashing through the woods to the nearest town and hiding in a McDonald’s bathroom.

And now, alone and back at their respective homes, they were dying, largely of drug overdoses and suicide, their names joining classmates on the list. Again, together.

The school closed in 2014 after a drop in enrollment that followed a self-described truth campaign by alumni telling of abuses there: solitary confinement, so-called “blackouts” of silence and isolation from others, the restraining of unruly students by wrapping them in rugs and duct tape. There were reports of physical abuse in complaints to state officials and the police.

In 2015, a year after the school closed, at least four former students died. The next year, there were at least seven. In a recent Facebook post, a man remembered hanging out with two friends from the school in 2016, following the funeral of another. Both those friends have since died.

Former students sought to find someone to blame, their first target being the school, only to come to terms with a more likely truth, that their dead classmates had been overcome by the sources of despair and addiction that took seed in their youth and brought them to the school in the first place.

It is unclear how many students attended the Family Foundation School over its roughly 30 years in business. A 1986 newspaper article about the school puts its student population at 34. The next decade, a 1998 yearbook — roughly the halfway point in the school’s existence — refers to that year’s graduating class of 30 as its largest ever. The school grew some in the years to come, alumni said.

Emmanuel Argiros, the son of the school’s founders and its former president, declined to comment on the school’s history. “I’m trying to move on,” he said. He has had many conversations with angry former students, he said. “It’s painful to go through it over and over and over again.”

There is no clearinghouse for data regarding mortality rates among secondary schools. Robert M. Friedman, formerly with the Alliance for the Safe, Therapeutic and Appropriate use of Residential Treatment, said he was familiar with the Family Foundation School and the push by alumni to close it down. He said the deaths of graduates are not typically tracked.

“Nobody knows how these kids have done, over all,” he said.

In recent months, many of the school’s former students have pivoted to a sort of social media suicide watch, urging alumni on Facebook to look out for one another. The effort is led by Elizabeth Ianelli, 39, an alumna of the school and a former police instructor, who has tallied the death count — now up to 101, all under the age of 50 and the vast majority under 40.

Ms. Ianelli, whose username is Survivor993 for the number of days she spent at the school, created a Facebook community page called ISeeYouSurvivor, and separately posted a video that she made in her home office in Carmel, N.Y.

“What I want you to know is that I see you,” she said, visibly shaken as she spoke. “I see you. I know what you go though and I’ve been there.” She added later, “Our best revenge is living a good life.”

School of Last Resort

Parents who were struggling with troubled teenage children sent them to the Family Foundation School, near Binghamton, where they were promised their sons and daughters would receive a quality education as well as counseling and tough-love discipline.

A special-education teacher, Lillian Becker, heard about a job opening at the school in 1998 and went for an interview. It was her first time on the campus, where she saw a schoolhouse, trailers and a red barn arranged on a hill that sloped gently down to a pond.

“It looked wonderful,” Ms. Becker said in a recent interview. “Very professional, very clean, very neat and orderly and everybody was very friendly. They had a student give me a tour. She just seemed so happy to be there.”

Ms. Becker got the job. On her first day, she saw something strange. She was asked to monitor a timeout room for 20 minutes until a staff member arrived to take over. “A storage room, probably like 6 feet wide by 12 feet long,” she recalled. “On the floor was this student wrapped in a blanket with duct tape to hold the blanket shut. Just the head was sticking out.”

She was told the student was at risk of hurting others or himself.

She settled into her job as a de facto nurse, making outside medical and dental appointments for students and tending to their aches and pains. She saw other practices that, looking back, she wonders why she didn’t openly question.

The school was arranged in “families,” with staff members designated as “Mom” and “Dad” and their “children,” the students, eating meals together before retiring to bunk beds in trailers, separate for boys and girls. A regular occurrence during meals were “table topics,” when students would stand and accuse, or “bring up,” another classmate over some infraction, Ms. Becker and former students said.

“Susie would get up and say, ‘I want to bring up John,’” Ms. Becker said. “John had to stand up. Now it’s time to basically break this kid down. ‘I saw him flirting,’ something like that.” What regularly followed was a tirade of mocking and scolding from other students and adults, she said. “The staff would chop this kid up.”

Sanctions varied, some involving food — a diet of tuna fish on a dry English muffin was a common punishment — or menial labor, with students burying rocks in the dirt one day, only to be ordered to dig them up the next. Others were social in nature, called “blackouts.”''

“If you were on house blackout, you were not allowed to talk to anyone outside of the family you were in,” said Emily Valentine, a student in 2001 and 2002. The most extreme blackout was called exile, leaving the student to sit in a corner, alone, at meals. “You weren’t allowed to talk to anyone or look anyone in the eye,” said Wesley Good, an alumnus from 2009. “You were a ghost.”

Some students reacted physically. “I flipped out and punched my counselor,” said Elizabeth Boysick, who entered the school in 2000. Ms. Boysick said she was placed in a janitor’s closet for the infraction. “Rugs in there, rugs on the wall. Nobody was to talk to you.”

Steve Sullivan attended the school from 1999 until 2002, and went on to serve time in prison years later for burglary and robbery. He said he would fight others at every opportunity, beginning on his first day, when he lashed out at staff members who were trying to search him for contraband. “I was thrown in an 8-by-8 isolation room,” he said. “Lunch and dinner were both tuna. I’d spend days in there on end.” Once, he kicked the door off its hinges.

Former students could remember who watched them while they were bound or locked up: other students, effectively deputized by staff members to serve as jailers.

Some of those accounts are corroborated by the reports of state officials who, after receiving complaints, conducted surprise inspections over the years.

In 2010, inspectors noted “a previous culture of harsh treatment at the facility,” adding, in a letter to the school, “The Family Foundation School has been working to change this culture,” according to documents released by the state’s Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs.

In a written response to the inspectors, Mr. Argiros, the president, denied that the school acknowledged its past as harsh, and said it has always been open to outside agencies and new protocols for “dealing with often incorrigible and oppositional adolescents who have failed to thrive before coming to our school.”

Ms. Becker, the de facto nurse, enrolled her own son, Lee Grivas, at the school. He did well, earning good grades and going go on to study photography. He eventually dated the actress Christina Applegate and moved to California. In 2008, he died of a drug overdose.

Escape by Any Means

Students ran away from the school. Mr. Sullivan fled one day in the winter of 2002, unprepared for the eight-mile journey to Hancock, N.Y.

“I get to town, and I’m frozen,” he said. “I ended up sleeping in a doghouse. I woke up frozen stiff and I couldn’t move.” He walked to a police station. “I tried to turn myself in. There’s no cop there.”

Mr. Good, the 2009 alumnus, was initially brought to the school by force; he said men in a van grabbed him off the street at his parents’ request — an occurrence known as “gooning.” One day, he hurt his elbow and was sent home on a 24-hour pass. Knowing his parents planned to send him back, he ran away from home and hid in a friend’s basement until his 18th birthday some days later, when he was free to leave the school on his own.

He wrote his parents a note, “Hey, I love you guys, but you don’t understand.”

Other students, desperate, saw another means of escape.

“I tried to commit suicide one night in my bunk,” said Walter Huff, now 27 and living in Chicago. “I thought it was the only way out. I took a belt and put it around my neck and put it on the top bunk, and woke up the next morning with the belt. It had broken.”

In 2007, a 17-year-old student died after jumping from an upper floor of the school. Ms. Becker, the former nurse, remembers treating students who she believed had attempted to take their lives.

“A young lady, it was winter, but the pond had a slight freeze,” she recalled. “The girl had threatened suicide and went out and jumped in the pond.” Others brought the student to Ms. Becker, who treated her for hypothermia.

Ms. Ianelli, who calls herself the “crypt keeper” of the alumni, believes that the school left some students more damaged than they were when they arrived.

“We call ourselves an endangered species,” she said in an interview.

Ms. Ianelli said she was repeatedly groped by an employee of the school and then reprimanded when she tried to report the behavior. The experience left her so distraught that she grabbed a plastic jug marked “bleach” and entered a walk-in cooler. She gulped the liquid.

“I was so excited to die,” she said.

Nothing happened. She looked at the jug again and saw another word written on the other side: “vinegar.”

‘Will You Do It With Me?’

James Clemente, 61, of Trumbull, Conn., sent his son Mark to the Family Foundation School in 2002 when the boy was 17; he described it as a last-ditch effort to treat Mark’s heroin addiction.

“I thought it was a great school,” Mr. Clemente said. “He was getting an education, not just going to rehab.”

Mark Clemente left Family Foundation School when he turned 18 and moved to Manhattan, where he lived on the streets for more than a decade, a fixture in Union Square and the East Village until his death in 2017.CreditAndrew Burton/Getty Images
“They had all the tools he needed to use,” Mr. Clemente said of the school. “He just didn’t use them.”

Anne Moss Rogers sent her son, Charles, to the school in 2012 in hopes of treating his depression and anxiety. He left the school in 2014 and killed himself a year later while suffering from withdrawal from heroin.

“When Charles died, there was one before him and one right after. A girl overdosed, then he died, then a child died due to alcohol, a car accident.” She believes the school actually prolonged Charles’ life: “He would have been dead at 17.”

Ms. Rogers, who became a speaker and mental health advocate after losing her son, said the list of dead classmates should be placed in a larger perspective. “These are high-risk kids,” she said. “We’re in an opioid epidemic and a suicide epidemic.”

Jon Martin-Crawford, an alumnus, achieved notoriety among his peers when he testified about the school before a congressional hearing regarding treatment programs for teens in 2008.

“The nightmares and psychological scars of being dragged from your home to a place in the middle of nowhere; restrained in blankets and Duct tape; assaulted, verbally and physically — those scars and that trauma never go away,” Mr. Martin-Crawford, then 28, testified. “For my friends who have since died from suicide because of the nightmares or those who still suffer the nightmares, our time and our voice will not be in vain.”

Seven years later, he hanged himself.

“It’s like, who’s next?” a former student, Sara McGrath Brathwaite, said when contacted by a reporter earlier this year. “Why?”

Thirteen former students died in 2017, among them a nurse anesthetist in Colorado, Suzanne Leffler, who took her life with drugs through an IV from her job. Ms. Leffler and another teen, Lauren Durnin, met at the school in the 1990s and remained friends. “She was always trying to make you laugh,” Ms. Durnin said. “She just seemed like she had it all together.”

In August, the police went to Ms. Leffler’s house and found her on her bed. “She had put herself to sleep,” Ms. Durnin said.

Ms. Durnin said she found herself contemplating her own death.

“All I could think to myself is, ‘You could have called me and I would have been there for you,’” she said. “And at the time, after she died, I thought if she had said, ‘Will you do it with me?’ I would have.”

Tree of Lost Souls

Today, a sports camp stands where the school once did, the buildings on the property under new ownership. Roads once dirt are paved now, but off-season at the camp, they are quiet. There is the pond where the girl dropped through the ice. There is the old barn.

Ms. Boysick, the former student who described the room with rugs on the walls, said she was repeatedly sexually abused in the barn by a teacher. She recently went to the police, after almost two decades, to press charges. The statute of limitations had passed, she was told. Nothing could be done.

A white pickup drove past the property one evening in April. Behind the wheel was Randy Whiting, 64, whose family has owned the property for many years, and who used to work in maintenance at the school. He was an insider and an outsider at the same time, his front-row seat unrelated to education or the school’s cause. News of recent deaths among alumni has found him, too.

“You know some of them, and you hear it,” Mr. Whiting said. He believes the school did a lot of good for a lot of teenagers. “They’re the ones you don’t hear much about,” he said. “There were some of the kids you just can’t reach.”

Some of those apparently beyond reach make their appearances on Ms. Ianelli’s Facebook page, alongside victims of tragic accidents.

In January, an alumnus crossing a busy road in Moonachie, N.J., was struck and killed in a hit-and-run collision. He became No. 94.

In April, reports of more deaths arrived back-to-back-to-back. A 27-year-old man was killed in a scooter accident in Florida. In Saratoga Springs, N.Y., a 35-year-old graduate and medical equipment salesman, Kyle Nelson, learned that his stepfather had died overnight. When he left to go to his grieving mother’s home the next morning, he dropped dead of a heart attack. In July, when some past deaths were added, the list reached, and then passed, 100.

Last year, Ms. Ianelli and others from the school planted a tree near the property in Hancock, beside a Catholic church in Long Eddy. They placed a plaque before it and named it the Lost Souls Tree.

Up close, markings can be read on rocks, remembering dead friends, but in the winter, the tree is bare and slight, easily missed when passing by.


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