Author Topic: Boot camp director arrested  (Read 8513 times)

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Offline Ursus

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Comments: ""Monrovia man, local boot camp leader..."
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2011, 01:46:20 PM »
Quote from: "John Huntsman"
I think this is a real shame. It's obvious this man's goal was only to help this child. This is the thanks we get when we try to help.
Curiously, Naomi Estolas chimes in right in line with John Huntsman's sentiments! :D

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A comment left for the above article, "Monrovia man, local boot camp leader known as 'Sarge,' arrested on suspicion of kidnapping minor" (06/07/2011, Pasadena Star-News):


Naomi Estolas · Monterey High · Thursday at 11:12am
    Sgt Mac. Is a great individual and is being wrongly accused. His Organization Fm1st has done many community events. Last year they fed over 4000 thousand people at a pasadena park. He has also helped many families with their kids.


Copyright ©2008 Los Angeles Newspaper group
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Offline heretik

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Re: Boot camp director arrested
« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2011, 01:57:32 PM »
Quote from: "Inculcated"
After  “false imprisonment, extortion, child abuse, unlawful use of a badge and kidnapping a 14-year-old girl”, Kelvin "Sarge" McFarland took her to her parents where he insisted she be enrolled in his boot camp, "(The family) paid him for the boot camp." "They thought they didn't have a choice."
He secured a hundred dollar fee from the parents who were under the impression he was a truancy officer. "(The father) went to the school to ask whether the schools were involved, believing it to be a truancy issue,". "The district determined that the parents should contact the Pasadena police."
The quotes from the article cited and linked in the 2nd post of this thread indicate Sarge was not acting at the behest of the caregivers. Sadly, there may have been others taken by this sham. “Police believe McFarland, who remains in custody on $285,000 bail, may have run the scam on other families in the city”

Thanks a bunch Inculcated. I had read this (I should have stated this in my previous post) but I still felt that it was a bit incredulous for me to believe the parents were this ignorant (I don't mean this as a insult either). I also entertained the possibility that the story was reported erroneously. My god this man packs a pair.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Oscar

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Re: Boot camp director arrested
« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2011, 03:23:51 PM »
Why is two of such program in the same town?

It makes me wonder how many of these local boot camps with "Sarge's in charge" there is.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Oscar

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Re: Boot camp director arrested
« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2011, 04:13:24 AM »
I noticed that the court is working in this case. I find that they are somewhat condemning towards the victim because she speak servant.

Victim fails to identify her alleged kidnapper (by Brian Charles, Pasadena Star News, June 13, 2011)

Quote
PASADENA - Two key witnesses in the Kelvin "Sgt. Mac" McFarland kidnapping case being failed to identify him during testimony at a preliminary hearing Monday in Pasadena Superior Court.
Both the 14-year-old victim - dubbed "Lady M" in court - and her aunt, Nelly Maldonado, could not pick McFarland out during their respective examination by the prosecution.

McFarland, who operates the Family First Growth Boot Camp, was seated less than 30 feet from both witnesses at the time.

In addition to kidnapping charges for the alleged abduction of Lady M, McFarland faces charges of false imprisonment, extortion, child abuse and unlawful use of a badge.

The charges stem from a May 16 incident where he allegedly handcuffed Lady M and took her to Maldonado's home; there he allegedly extorted $100 from the girl's father by insisting that she was truant from school and must be enrolled in McFarland's Family First Growth Camp to avoid being sent to a juvenile detention center.

McFarland's attorney, former Pasadena Councilman Bill Paparian, characterized both Lady M's and Maldonado's inability to identify McFarland in the courtroom as "bizarre."

"I think it's very unusual that both (witnesses) have come forward and say the person they are talking about is not in the courtroom," Paparian said.

L.A. County Deputy District Attorney Carolina Lugo introduced evidence showing that Lady M was able to pick McFarland out of a photographic lineup in May.
Lugo declined to comment on the case outside of court Monday.

Lady M testified that her memory of McFarland was much more vivid shortly after the May 16 incident.

Paparian pounced on the discrepancies in the testimony given by Lady M and Maldonado.

"You told her you were suspended from school," Paparian said, referring to the excuse Lady M gave to a friend's parent when she ditched school and showed up at the house on the day of the incident.

During Paparian's cross examination, the girl acknowledged that she lied to her friend's parent.

Paparian questioned Maldonado's claim that she held an extensive conversation with McFarland at her home on the day of the incident.

He asked how she was capable of speaking to McFarland in English and translating into Spanish for Lady M's father that day, but needed the help of a translator in court Monday.

"You were translating from Spanish into English," Paparian said. "Yet today you don't feel comfortable answering our questions without an interpreter."

In Spanish, Maldonado explained her need for a translator.

"I don't feel at ease because Spanish is my first language," she said through the translator.

However, much of Maldonado's and Lady M's testimony Monday corroborated information released by the Pasadena Police Department.

Both testified that McFarland extorted money from Lady M's father and both witnesses gave the same story of what he said would happen if her father did not fork up $100.

"He said he was going to take me to `juvie,"' Lady M said.

Maldonado also said McFarland threatened to take the girl to the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar.

"He told (me) it was like when you take the car away ... someone needed to get the car," Maldonado said through a translator. "If (the girl's father) could pay him right there, like $100, then he could take her" home.

McFarland also allegedly drove around with Lady M handcuffed in his car for more than an hour, something both the she and her aunt testified to in court.

McFarland picked up the girl at about 12:30 p.m. and didn't arrive at Maldonado's home until after 2 p.m., according to both witnesses.

The girl's testimony is set to resume at 8:30 a.m. at Pasadena Superior Court.

Of course they have the ordinary mob hanging around the court house. Get tough on kids seem to be the word in this strange town.

Alleged Victim Testifies in Youth Boot Camp Instructor Kidnapping Case (By Dan Abendschein, AltaDena Patch, June 13, 2011)

Quote
A local 14-year-old girl testified in court Monday that she as frightened as she was handcuffed and hauled away by a local youth boot camp instructor who was charged with kidnapping her and extorting money from her parents.

The youth instructor, Kelvin McFarland, 41, of Monrovia, was arrested on May 27 on charges of kidnapping, false imprisonment, child abuse, extortion and unlawful use of a badge.

McFarland, who also goes by the nickname "Sgt. Mac,"runs the Family 1st Growth Camp, which has an Altadena address for its office, according to several online directories.

McFarland's lawyer, former Pasadena Mayor Bill Paparian, was quick to contest the alleged victim's testimony, and accused her of lying both during the hearing and afterwards to reporters.

"She has not been truthful with her parents or with police officers," Paparian said.

Monday was the first day of the preliminary hearing, and witnesses were ordered to return on Tuesday, when the hearing will likely be completed.  Assuming the charges are not dismissed by the judge in the case, then the next step will be a new arraignment and setting a date for a full trial.

Testimony

The alleged victim testified Monday that she skipped school on May 16, the day that the events went down.  She testified that a man who identified himself as "Sgt. Mac" found her on Orange Grove Boulevard while driving by, and pulled over, asking her which school she went to and how to contact her parents.

The girl admitted in court to not telling Sgt. Mac which school she attended, and Paparian suggested the girl deliberately misled him about how to contact her parents and attempted to stop him from getting in touch with them on the phone.

Paparian also denied the contention of both the girl and her aunt, who also testified, that McFarland told them he represented the Pasadena Police Department.  The alleged victim told the court she went with him because she believed he worked for the department.

One of the key contested issues was the $100 that the girl's parents paid to McFarland.  The girl's aunt, Nelly Maldonado, testified that McFarland had suggested the money would be necessary as a kind of bail, and likened the process to getting a car out of an impound lot.

Paparian, on the other hand, said that the victim's parents had paid out the money as a down payment for enrolling in McFarland's youth program and did so voluntarily.

Oddly, neither the girl nor her aunt was able to identify McFarland in court as the person who introduced himself as Sgt. Mac on May 16.  However, Paparian did not indicate that he intended to deny that McFarland was the one who picked her up, and referred to the events of May 16 while using his client's name.

The girl's last name was withheld at court, and Altadena Patch will also withhold her first name out of an abundance of caution.

Supporters

Supporters and detractors of McFarland also had strong words to say about him at Monday's hearing.

At least 25 parents, students, and other supporters in McFarland's program showed up to protest his arrest, chanting "Free Sgt. Mac" outside the court room (for video and more from his supporters, check out our article here).

The court room was also packed with program members dressed in dark red and yellow sweatshirts.  When McFarland was brought into the court room after spending more than two weeks in county jail, he immediately broke out a huge smile after seeing the room full of his program members.

But McFarland supporters were not the only ones to show up to the courthouse on Monday.

New Claim

An Eagle Rock resident, Ray Travis, told reporters following the court hearing that his daughter was physically abused by McFarland after Travis's wife called him to her home in January.  Travis, who is separated from his wife and shared custody at the time, was not present when it happened.

He said that his daughter told him that McFarland came to their home and pulled her off her bed by force and threatened to slam her head into a wall.  He said McFarland then drove her to the Rose Bowl and forced her to do intense levels of exercise.  He said his daughter had to be hospitalized the next day.

When asked why he has not filed a police claim over such serious allegations, Travis said that he is now in the process of doing so, and has spoken with Pasadena detectives about the complaint.

His daughter Carolyn also spoke to reporters about the incident, and said she was "happy" that McFarland was on trial and said she "hopes he goes to jail."

Sgt. Mac's Approach

Travis and the 14-year-old girl both talked about his methods, highlighting similar habits of yelling at minors and confronting them about their choices.  Travis's daughter Carolyn also talked about exercising to exhaustion and feeling unable to stop for fear of being yelled at.

Supporters of McFarland also described a similar approach though in a much more positive way.  Brent Ramos, spoke with Altadena Patch on video, about having to do high numbers of push-ups, jumping jacks, and other hard physical exercise after making a mistake of some sort.

The alleged victim testified that the issues went beyond intimidation- she said that even after McFarland had handcuffed her, brought her home, and gotten $100 from parents, he then took her to a friend's home and told her to end their friendship, suggesting she was a bad influence on the girl. She also testified that he threatened to put her in a juvenile facility in Sylmar.

Paparian, while talking to reporters, dismissed any concerns about his approach and claimed that judges at the Pasadena Superior Court have referred juvenile suspects to McFarland's program.

He described McFarland as a veteran of the Gulf War and said that until four years ago he was a homeless veteran on the streets, who then got his life together and now just wants to help others.

And he said he is confident he will be able to demonstrate Tuesday why McFarland's actions were not criminal.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Oscar

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Re: Boot camp director arrested
« Reply #19 on: June 15, 2011, 12:26:53 AM »
The judge ordered him to stand trial.

Pasadena judge orders 'Sgt. Mac' to stand trial on kidnapping charge, by Brian Charles, Pasadena Star News, June 14, 2011

Quote
PASADENA - After listening to explosive testimony, a judge Tuesday ruled that the operator of a tough-love bootcamp for at-risk teens must stand trial on kidnapping, child abuse and other charges.

Pasadena Court Judge Stan Blumenfeld dismissed a motion by Kelvin "Sergeant Mac" McFarland's attorney, former Pasadena Mayor Bill Paparian, to dismiss the charges, which along with kidnapping and child abuse include false imprisonment, extortion and unlawful use of a badge.

On May 16, McFarland allegedly handcuffed a 14-year-old girl, identified in court as "Lady M" because she is a minor. He then allegedly took Lady M to a relative's home.

He also is accused of extorting $100 from the girl's father, insisting his daughter was truant from school and must be enrolled in McFarland's Family First Growth Camp to avoid juvenile hall.

Before ordering McFarland to trial, Blumenfeld heard evidence from prosecutors that McFarland has a previous misdemeanor conviction for prostitution.

In addition, two witnesses testified that McFarland regularly used handcuffs as a disciplinary tactic.

Blumenfeld said it appeared the defendant ignored the law and any social boundaries.

"Mr. McFarland acted as an interloper, one that was not invited by (the victim's father)," the judge said. "However, he became aware of Lady M...he acted to set her straight. He decided to cuff her and transport her like a law-enforcement officer."

McFarland is due back in court June 29 for an arraignment.

It was the second day of testimony in the McFarland preliminary hearing. The courtroom was not nearly as packed as it was Monday, when supporters of McFarland converged there.

But the hearing disclosed McFarland's past offences.

Arguing against reducing McFarland's bail, Deputy District Attorney Carolina Lugo disclosed a 2005 misdemeanor conviction for prostitution.

She also pointed out other blemishes on McFarland's criminal record, including a 2000 arrest and plea of no contest to misdemeanor battery; a 2005 conviction for driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license; a 2009 arrest and plea of no contest to driving with a suspended license; and a June 3 plea of no contest for driving with a suspended license.

Paparian said he has no plans to seek a plea agreement.

"This is not a case that is going to be negotiated," Paparian said.

He described McFarland as an example of a comeback story, a Desert Storm veteran who was homeless but in four years had built a successful community organization.

On the day of incident, McFarland was just protecting a child, Parparian argued, after spotting an adult in a black pickup truck approach the 14-year-old victim.

McFarland, according to Paparian, swooped in to protect the girl.

But a former cadet in McFarland's boot camp testified that he often used handcuffs as a punitive measure in his training.

The witness, whose name is being withheld because she is a minor, said McFarland took her from her bed by force, handcuffed her and pressed her into strenuous physical activity during one of his Saturday boot camp training sessions.

Another alleged victim came forward Tuesday. Outside the courthouse, Eagle Rock parent Ray Travis, who was watched the hearing, said his 16-year-old daughter also was handcuffed and dragged out of bed by McFarland in January 2010.

The girl was later hospitalized for exhaustion, according to Travis, who said the episode rattled his daughter.

"My daughter is still traumatized," Travis said. "The way he runs the boot camp, he has no regard for children."

Pasadena Police have contacted Travis and will begin an investigation, according to Lt. Tracey Ibarra of the Pasadena Police Department.

I hope that this trial could be the end of all these small private boot camps in this city. What kind of parents do allow another person into the room of their children to drag them out to exercise only to complain about that the exercise was too much? Once thing is to order them to participate in a program. Another is allowing the staff members into your home. As a parent you should be able to wake your child, feed your child and take your child to a boot camp and wait at the boot camp until it is over as any other parent would do if it was a soccer game. I think that CPS should pay all the families participating in these programs in Pasadena a visit and start talking to them about parental responsibility,
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Oscar

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Re: Boot camp director arrested
« Reply #20 on: June 16, 2011, 02:28:02 AM »
Additional update: The boot camp director has posted bail and will be free until the trial.

Here is another article:

Prosecutor Shows Monrovia Boot Camp Instructor Had Pattern of Handcuffing Youth, By Dan Abendschein, Monrovia Patch, June 15, 2011

Quote
Kelvin "Sgt. Mac" McFarland--who has been charged with kidnapping, child abuse, extortion and more--had his motion to dismiss the charges denied.

The director of a local youth program who has been arrested for kidnapping, child abuse and more, had his motion to dismiss the charges denied at the second day of his preliminary hearing on Tuesday.

Kelvin McFarland, 41, of Monrovia, known to his students as "Sgt. Mac," runs a program in Southern California called Family 1st Growth Camp that focuses on intense exercise as a punishment for misbehavior. He was arrested on May 27 for allegedly handcuffing a 14-year-old girl who was skipping school and then attempting to extort money from her parents after bringing her home.

Tuesday's hearing further highlighted vastly differing perceptions of McFarland, with supporters talking about how important the program was to their children and testimony against McFarland painting him as controlling and somewhat frightening.

The alleged victim testified that Sgt. Mac threatened to lock her up at a juvenile facility, repeatedly "screamed" at her after bringing her to her parent's home and insisted on driving her to a friend's home to end their friendship.

But others who testified Tuesday described him as a man trying to help improve the lives of teenagers through tough love tactics.

Handcuffing Pattern

Testimony in the hearing on Tuesday argued that the 14-year-old girl, identified in court only by her first name of Lady, was not the only youth McFarland handcuffed as part of his program.

A friend of the 14-year-old victim testified at Tuesday's hearing that when she was in Sgt. Mac's program, she also had been handcuffed and taken from her home to go participate in intense exercise meant to help correct misbehavior.

Still, while the girl (who was identified only by her first name of Stephanie) told the court that McFarland handcuffed her, she also described him as "a really nice man," and said it was fine with her when he handcuffed her.

The prosecutor in the case, Carolina Lugo, also told the court that at least one other person has come forward with similar complaints against McFarland and said she believes there could be more charges filed against him.

"We anticipate more people will be coming forward," Lupo said.

Another parent told Patch and other reporters on Monday that McFarland entered his daughter's room at his ex-wife's request and forcibly dragged her off her bed before hauling her off to the Rose Bowl for intense physical workouts.

Others at the hearing told reporters a much different story: As on Monday, a crowd of parents and children enrolled in the program showed up to support Sgt. Mac.  One teen told Patch on Monday that Sgt. Mac was always there to help her out when she was in trouble. In addition, McFarland's lawyer said that judges in the county superior court system have recommended at-risk youth cases to his program.

Charges Upheld

After a hearing of more than six hours over two days, Judge Stan Blumenfeld denied McFarland's request to dismiss all charges and held him to answer for the charges of kidnapping, child abuse, false imprisonment, extortion and unlawful use of a badge.

Blumenfeld did reduce McFarland's bail by $100,000 and said that while the evidence presented to him so far suggested that McFarland did kidnap Lady, it appears to have done with "a benign intent."

In fact, Blumenfeld initially suggested he would reduce McFarland's bail by almost $200,000 until Lugo brought up McFarland's past criminal record, which includes DUIs and a misdemeanor prostitute solicitation charge. She also told the judge she believes there are additional victims who have been mistreated by McFarland.

Differing Accounts

Testimony over the two-day hearing showed different accounts of what exactly transpired between McFarland and his alleged victim.

The prosecution's witnesses generally supported the notion that both Lady and her father believed McFarland was a law enforcement officer and gave him $100 believing that they owed bail of some sort based on her being picked up after skipping school.

The defense witnesses supported the idea that McFarland never represented himself as a police officer and was paid the $100 because Lady's father, Roberto Muniz, wanted to enroll her in McFarland's program.

McFarland's wife also testified that she spoke to Muniz about the program and gave him information on when to bring Lady in to start the program. She said he never showed up to the orientation session that he paid the $100 for to attend.

Witnesses differed on what kind of badge McFarland showed that represented himself as a law enforcement officer. McFarland's lawyer, Bill Paparian, acknowledged the prosecutor's contention that McFarland wore a small honorary Pasadena Police Department badge that is available to the public.

That badge was small enough that Pasadena Police Department Detective Monica Cuellar described it as "tiny, small, and pin-like."

However, Cuellar also testified that Muniz told her McFarland showed him a larger badge, while Paparaian contended that he did not.

Credibility of Witnesses

As in Monday's hearing, where he accused the alleged victim of lying, Paparian  questioned the credibility of the prosecution's witnesses. On Tuesday, he brought up Muniz's criminal past during testimony; the alleged victim's father has a past conviction for sex acts with an underage girl and was also sued for child support, according to records provided by Paparian.

The next hearing for McFarland will be an arraignment hearing on June 29. He will remain in custody unless he is able to come up with reduced bail amount of $185,000.
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Offline none-ya

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Re: Boot camp director arrested
« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2011, 08:22:07 AM »
Anybody notice? All this guy seems to target,is girls? Bedroom? Middle of the night? Handcuffs? This is not just some guy trying to fill up a program,I guarntee this guy is a perv. He gets off on terrorizing young girls. There has to be a lot more victims here than we'll know.Hasn't "sgt. mac" been on daytime tv dragging kids off to his boot camp? Or was that some other asshole and this guys just a wanna' be? I wonder how the "sarge" will do in jail,the first time he tries to call revely.
I hope he gets his ask kicked daily.
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Offline Inculcated

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Re: Boot camp director arrested
« Reply #22 on: June 16, 2011, 01:39:09 PM »
Quote from: "Oscar"
...What kind of parents do allow another person into the room of their children to drag them out ...I think that CPS should pay all the families participating in these programs in Pasadena a visit and start talking to them about parental responsibility.
Right on, I just can’t get my mind around how on the one hand we’ve got Mcgruff the crime dog to warn kids of the existence of evil and that they can and should scream and run and tell someone if anyone crosses their boundaries, but here we have opportunists creating this relatively nuevo money maker of snatching kids out of their bedrooms—in order to instill…what…integrity? It blows my aching mind.

If the parents or facility aren’t capable of peaceably transporting a child that—in and of itself – is indicative of a hell of a lot of problems with both parents and facilities who contract with them. If there is actual cause to forcibly transport a person (for their own protection NOT these forced compliance measures) than let it be deemed by law which would involve court appointed advocates were they to be further detained where there is at least still some semblance of the reasonable expectation of due process. Having these particular boot camps make it a standard or at least common practice of their program is disgusting and to second your other sentiment:
Quote from: "Oscar"
I hope that this trial could be the end of all these small private boot camps in this city.
I too hope these boot camps get shut down over the attention this abduction has drawn and that someone at least enlightens those of the parents who did permit this to the probably less costly and certainly less destructively invasive options of signing their child up with a structured fitness activity and if needed some individual counseling to recover from the "Sarge" inflicted PTSD.
Quote from: "none-ya"
Anybody notice? All this guy seems to target,is girls? Bedroom? Middle of the night? Handcuffs? This is not just some guy trying to fill up a program,I guarntee this guy is a perv. He gets off on terrorizing young girls. There has to be a lot more victims here than we'll know...
Noticed it. And now (like other predatory offenders I can think of) his behavior (typical to their tendencies) has escalated to abducting a random girl off the street and driving around with her handcuffed in the car for over an hour. Creepy doesn’t begin to cover it.
Quote from: "none-ya"
I wonder how the "sarge" will do in jail,the first time he tries to call revely.
I hope he gets his ass kicked daily.
:seg:
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Offline DannyB II

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Re: Boot camp director arrested/When tough love turns danger
« Reply #23 on: June 28, 2011, 06:22:54 PM »
Follow up to this story by a Staff Writer w/ Pasadena Star-News- Pasadena, CA

Read more: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci ... z1QbxfeZaQ
Most boot camps operate with little oversight
By Brian Charles, Staff Writer
Posted: 06/26/2011 07:02:58 AM PDT

 
Keith "Sarge" Gibbs, center, of Sarges Community Base in Pasadena, directs youth during his Commit II Achieve boot camp youth program at Firestone Boy Scout Reservation in Brea Saturday, June 25, 2011. Parents, mostly single mothers, commit their children to the year long program that includes discipline based monthly camp outs and a parenting workshop. (SGVN/Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz)
 
(excerpt from the story)
Seems many parents are backing Sarge and his brand of treatment

"The parents who have crowded a Pasadena courtroom to support Kelvin "Sgt. Mac" McFarland claim the man accused in the kidnapping of a 14-year-old girl has saved their children's lives.

The dedicated group of parents and teens proudly wear Family First Growth Camp T-shirt and tell stories about redemption that learned by teenagers through sweat and tears.

Elpidio Estolaf, a parent of a Family First Growth cadet and a member of the organization's board of directors, called McFarland a "life saver."

"He has changed the lives of so many of these kids," Estolaf said. "He has saved them from the streets and gangs."
« Last Edit: June 29, 2011, 08:49:09 PM by DannyB II »
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Offline Ursus

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When tough love turns dangerous
« Reply #24 on: October 27, 2011, 06:47:36 PM »
Here's the full article before it disappears into the pay-per-view archives...

-------------- • -------------- • --------------

Pasadena Star-News
When tough love turns dangerous

Most boot camps operate with little oversight

By Brian Charles, Staff Writer
Posted: 06/26/2011 07:02:58 AM PDT



Keith "Sarge" Gibbs, center, of Sarges Community Base in Pasadena, directs youth during his Commit II Achieve boot camp youth program at Firestone Boy Scout Reservation in Brea Saturday, June 25, 2011. Parents, mostly single mothers, commit their children to the year long program that includes discipline based monthly camp outs and a parenting workshop. (SGVN/Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz)

PASADENA – The parents who have crowded a Pasadena courtroom to support Kelvin "Sgt. Mac" McFarland claim the man accused in the kidnapping of a 14-year-old girl has saved their children's lives.

The dedicated group of parents and teens proudly wear Family First Growth Camp T-shirt and tell stories about redemption that learned by teenagers through sweat and tears.

Elpidio Estolaf, a parent of a Family First Growth cadet and a member of the organization's board of directors, called McFarland a "life saver."

"He has changed the lives of so many of these kids," Estolaf said. "He has saved them from the streets and gangs."

Many of McFarland's cadets attend San Gabriel Valley continuation schools, the last chance for students whose behavior has forced them off traditional high school campuses.

The students themselves call McFarland "a trusted friend" and "a mentor."

"He showed me how to have respect for myself and for my parents," said Fabiola Serna, a 16-year-old cadet from Montebello.

Like many of his charges Serna claims her grades and her attitude has changed since joining McFarland's boot camp.

But as parents and students rally around McFarland and the tactics used in his boot camp, lawmakers are looking for stiffer regulations of juvenile boot camps. Those lawmakers are pointing to a report that shows a history of child abuse and in some cases deaths as evidence that the camps need to be regulated.

"Parents send their kids to these facilities when they have exhausted all options," said Melissa Salmanowitz, spokeswoman for Rep. George Miller, D-Richmond, who sponsored bills in 2008 and 2009 to regulate boot camps. "They trust these facilities and what the Government Accountability Office found out is that these facilities were often abusing kids and in some cases kids were killed."

A GAO report studying boot camps was produced in 2007. According to the report, more than 1,600 cases of child abuse were reported and 10 teens have died in juvenile boot camp programs since 1990.

Many of the incidents are eerily similar.

For example, in September 2000, a 15-year-old boy died from internal bleeding after being restrained by a boot camp employee who held the boy's face down in the dirt for 45 minutes, according to the GAO report.

The boy died of a severed artery in the neck. The death was ruled a homicide, the GAO report stated.

The GAO report points to untrained staff members bent on discipline, and convinced that the children are "faking" injuries, who push children past their physical breaking points day-after-day. Injuries occur, go untreated and the children who often die slowly, the report said.

The report adds that its count of child abuse incidents was hampered by a lack of oversight from either the government or professional organizations. Such oversight could illuminate more incidents of child abuse.

Officials at Miller's office said the lawmaker was pressed to act after reading the GAO report.

In 2008 and 2009, he introduced bills to regulate the camps.

The bill calls for the Department of Health and Human Services to set minimum standards for operating a boot camp, establish a hot line for reporting abuse, train staff in conducting a boot camp and help staff identify abuse.

Both bills passed the House of Representatives with bi-partisan support. Both bills died in the Senate.

Miller has plans to reintroduce a bill calling for regulation of boot camps, but has not set a timetable.

Forced into handcuffs

As Miller continues to call for regulation of juvenile camps, Pasadena boot camp operator "Sgt. Mac" McFarland will to court June 29 to be arraigned on charges of kidnapping, extortion, child abuse, false imprisonment and unlawful use of a badge.

The charges stem from a May 16 incident where McFarland allegedly handcuffed a 14-year-old girl and reportedly extorted $100 from the victim's family.

McFarland declined to comment for this story. His attorney former Pasadena Mayor Bill Paparian said McFarland is innocent.

Since the kidnapping allegations surfaced, other girls have come forward with claims that McFarland pulled them out of bed and used handcuffs to restrain them as part of a training exercise.

In January Ray Travis' daughter was allegedly snatched from her bed, cuffed and forced to train.

Travis was not his daughter's custodial parent at the time of the incident and he did not approve of the tactic.

"Mr. McFarland takes the law into his own hands," Travis said. "He runs around acting like he is a cop."

The incident is under investigation by the Pasadena Police Department, according to Lt. Tracey Ibarra.

A 16-year-old Pasadena girl, identified as Stephanie H., who testified at McFarland's preliminary hearing June 14, said the boot camp operator took her from her bed by force. She alleged she was handcuffed and forced to engage in strenuous physical activity during one of McFarland's Saturday boot camp training sessions.

Parents defend the tactics as "shock treatment" necessary to scare the children straight.

During her testimony in the preliminary hearing, Stephanie H. said she didn't have a problem with the physical treatment.

Seeking a level field

But as parents and children continue to defend McFarland's tactics, local boot camp leader Keith "Sarge" Gibbs, who operates Community Based Training, said the descriptions emerging from court appear to show a heavy-handed operation.

"You can't just have a program that threatens and disciplines kids," he said. "You have to have a program that empowers."


Brandis Tovar, 15, of Covina, goes through the low crawl in an obstacle course during Commit II Achieve boot camp youth program at Firestone Boy Scout Reservation Saturday, June 25, 2011 in Brea. Tovar, who has been in the program five months, says the program is turning her life around after running the streets and using drugs. Parents, mostly single mothers, commit their children to the year long program run by Keith "Sarge" Gibbs, of Sarges Community Base in Pasadena, that includes discipline based monthly camp outs and a parenting workshop. (SGVN/Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz)

Gibbs also wants the boot camp industry cleaned up and echoed Miller's call for rules.

"I think (regulation) would be helpful because everyone would be consistent and on the same playing field," Gibbs said.

Oversight for Gibbs Community Based Training comes from the Boy Scouts of America. His program works as a Boy Scout Post and undergoes annual audits from the BSA, which includes a site visit. All of his staff must be certified through the BSA, a process which includes a battery of test for staff members, Gibbs said.

Beyond the BSA certification, oversight of juvenile boot camps has been an informal process where groups look to a loose knit set of organizations for certification, Gibbs said.

Red Cross certified Gibbs' organization in CPR and a separates entity certifies the staff members in professional assault crisis training, which is similar to who work in foster care facility staffers.

But Salmanowitz said the hodge podge of certifying bodies is incapable of keeping up with all the boot camp operators and is rendered ineffective at setting industry norms.

"It's a weak patchwork of standards," Salmanowitz said. "There is not a minimum standard for this type of facility."

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Offline Ursus

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Re: "When tough love turns dangerous"
« Reply #25 on: October 27, 2011, 07:01:24 PM »
Fourteen-pic slide show for the above article, "When tough love turns dangerous"... Like the pics in the article, these all seem to be advertising Family First Growth Camp's rival, the "less abusive" Commit II Achieve boot camp youth program at Firestone Boy Scout Reservation in Brea run by Keith "Sarge" Gibbs:

    Youth Boot Camp
    Date: 6/25/2011 Album ID: 1275270
    Photos by Sarah Reingewirtz[/list]
    « Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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    Offline Ursus

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    Comments: "When tough love turns dangerous"
    « Reply #26 on: October 29, 2011, 12:32:51 AM »
    Comments left for the above article, "When tough love turns dangerous" (by Brian Charles, 06/26/2011, Pasadena Star-News):


    Mario J. Navarro · University of Phoenix · June 29 at 7:05pm
      When anybody is afraid of telling any minor or adult anything correct! "out of human respect" we are afraid to discipline because we do not care and are afraid of the human society. Raising disciplined citizen's which are minors, to grow up respecting themselve and others is fear and must be done with out the worry to rock boat. Showing you are afraid is knowing you do not care! The poorest children suffer the most from tough love! I loved the correct discipline!!! Having money is the worse discipline!
    Dorrie Grace Kowalski · Los Angeles, California · June 27 at 2:34pm
      Often our free spirited, "hard to handle" kids are independent artists that haven't found their art. Art or sports is an excellent way to release a fierce and independent spirit. To awaken the creativity within our children is the answer- never abuse.
      Rigoberto Schwartz · June 27 at 6:11pm
        Yeah, but these kids don't have any emotional maturity to 'find their art'. They are nearly adults, but have no perspective outside of their own survival. These kids don't understand basic empathy, individuality, and respect of others, the kinds of things most 7-year-olds have learned. They are violent and unstable, and need a profound re-training that today's school system refuses to provide.
      Reddit TroubledTeens · June 28 at 8:45am
        This is a misconception many people have. Kids are reflection of their parents, if a teen is 'troubled', it's almost always due to problems in the home. Until the parents are fixed, the teens are not going to be fixed. Most of the kids sent to boot camp are normal kids who happen to have controlling parents.
      Rigoberto Schwartz · June 28 at 10:59am
        Problems in the home? Definitely. But "controlling"? In my experience, I see the opposite. I see overwhelmed parents with a lack of control and discipline in their own lives. Some are substance abusers, or have mental health problems of their own. Many don't spend the time they need to spend in order to pay the rent and buy food. The effect is the same: kids don't learn self-control, or self-respect. It's childlike behavior, except the temper tantrums can put others in the hospital.
      Reddit TroubledTeens · June 28 at 1:50pm
        I'm working with a lot of survivors of abusive boot camps. Almost all of them have a parent that is not ready to cut the apron strings. The kid starts forming their own opinions, maybe their grades are slipping, they hanging around the 'wrong' friends, exploring other religions, or just learning to speak up for themselves.

        These places are expensive ($450/day), neglectful parents don't often sign their kids up. Sometimes courts send kids to these types of places as an alternative to jail, those kids may have been neglected, but more abuse is not the answer.

        In all fairness to parents, they are being mislead by these places. Many people, even in these comments, have no idea what kind of unspeakable abuse happens. Their websites and brochures make them look like fantastic places to send little Johnny. They don't say the kid will be traumatized for life.

        Take a look around here and see some of the horrors that have happened to kids:
      search.php?st=0&sk=t&sd=d&sr=posts&keywords=boot+camp&start=45[/list]
      Carol Gorius · Los Angeles City College · July 13 at 3:47pm
        first of all some of us parents need the extra help
      [/list]
      Meleselisa Brown · Works at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) · June 27 at 10:44am
        just FYI this is my son in this photo he's apart of the program, please read the entire article.
        Meleselisa Brown · Works at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) · June 27 at 10:47am
          not this photo hahah, if you open the article you'll see it, thanks!
        Reddit TroubledTeens · June 28 at 8:51am
          I hope you have read the entire article and seen how dangerous and harmful these places can be. What is going on in your house that your son had to get sent away? Have you gotten therapy for yourself, did you try family counseling first? I dare you to try one day at his bootcamp, I guarantee you would pull him out instantly. Remember, he will be choosing your nursing home.
        Dorrie Grace Kowalski · Los Angeles, California · July 13 at 5:45pm
          Do you like the program? It sounds awful to me.
        [/list]


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        Offline Ursus

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        McFarland enters not guilty plea in kidnapping case
        « Reply #27 on: October 29, 2011, 12:36:04 AM »
        Pasadena Star-News
        McFarland enters not guilty plea in kidnapping case

        By Brian Charles, Staff Writer
        Posted: 06/29/2011 06:35:25 PM PDT


        PASADENA - Backed by more than a dozen supporters and family members, Kelvin "Sgt. Mac" McFarland pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, child abuse, false imprisonment, extortion and unlawful use of badge Wednesday.

        McFarland is due back in court July 12 for a pre-trial hearing on evidence in the case.

        The charges stem from a May 16 incident where McFarland allegedly handcuffed a 14-year-old, drove her to a home belonging to the victim's relative and allegedly extorted money from the victim's father. McFarland allegedly threatened to take the girl to a juvenile detention center for being truant if the family failed to pay him $100 as a deposit for enrollment into his Family First Growth Camp, a Pasadena-based juvenile boot camp the money.

        According to testimony in the preliminary hearing, the father paid the money but the girl - called Lady M in court - was never enrolled in the boot camp.

        Conversation over discovery items and the investigation dominated Wednesday's proceeding as McFarland's lawyer, former Pasadena Mayor Bill Paparian, told the court that he still awaited vital evidence in the case.

        Paparian issued a subpoena for Lady M's attendance and truancy record. The Pasadena Unified School District is willing to release the information but had not turned over the records as of Wednesday, Paparian said.

        He plans to use those records to call into question Lady M's credibility.

        "The issues raised at the preliminary hearing as to what was really going on that day are relevant in this case," Paparian said.

        Inconsistencies emerged during Lady M's preliminary hearing testimony. She testified to having gone to school and left before the beginning of her first period class. She also admitted to telling several people that she had been suspended from school on the day of the incident, which was not true, according to preliminary hearing testimony.

        Lady M also failed to identify McFarland in court on first day of the preliminary hearing.

        While Paparian plans to press Lady M on issues of credibility, he said he doesn't plan to put the girl's school record on trial, noting that he hasn't "asked for academic or discipline records."

        Paparian has also requested copies of notes taken during a meeting between Lady M, her father Roberto Muniz and the PUSD. It was at this meeting, that the father was advised to contact the police about the May 16 incident, according to court testimony.

        "I put in a request for this information June 2," Paparian said. "I have a right to this evidence."

        Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Carolina Lugo agreed to share the evidence with Paparian, but balked at returning personal property seized in a police search of McFarland's Monrovia home.

        Pasadena Police are still in possession of photo albums, blank checks for the business and DVDs of a Christmas party. Paparian claimed the items are common in "any American family's home."

        But prosecutors pleaded for more time to examine the items.

        "There is still an investigation ongoing," Lugo said.

        The Pasadena Police Department is investigating at least one additional claim made by a 16-year-old girl against McFarland. Lugo said she was unsure whether additional charges would be filed in the case and when the Pasadena Police would conclude the investigation.

        She did agree to share the evidence gleaned from the seized items with Paparian.

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        Offline Inculcated

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        Re: Boot camp director arrested
        « Reply #28 on: October 29, 2011, 03:17:53 AM »
        Well still another thread on this topic bodes well for an investigation resulting of the relatively recently made public video of Sarge McFarland abusing other minors. Pasadena boot camp abuse getting national coverage
        It’s absolutely wonderful that an investigation into the crimes of child abuse that took place on the videos is being launched and the national attention that comes with such an investigation will prove to be an opportunity to give parent’s reason they can connect to about reconsidering the risks of placing their kids in programs in favor of less perilous options.
         
        It would also be so nice if the D.A. prosecuting the kidnapping and abuse of the minor and extortion attempt made on her family by Kevin McFarland could somehow manage to get these videos into evidence and recognized for what they are—a prior documented history of the defendant’s abuse of minors…especially considering the kidnapping charge with that case carries the potential of some hefty consequences.  Sure *Sarge* is probably well familiar with throwing the word consequences around, but it’s been long in coming that he be dealt some.
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        Offline heretik

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        Re: Boot camp director arrested
        « Reply #29 on: October 30, 2011, 12:03:20 AM »
        Quote from: Inculcated
        Well still another thread on this topic bodes well for an investigation resulting of the relatively recently made public video of Sarge McFarland abusing other minors. Pasadena boot camp abuse getting national coverage
        It’s absolutely wonderful that an investigation into the crimes of child abuse that took place on the videos is being launched and the national attention that comes with such an investigation will prove to be an opportunity to give parent’s reason they can connect to about reconsidering the risks of placing their kids in programs in favor of less perilous options.
         
        It would also be so nice if the D.A. prosecuting the kidnapping and abuse of the minor and extortion attempt made on her family by Kevin McFarland could somehow manage to get these videos into evidence and recognized for what they are—a prior documented history of the defendant’s abuse of minors…especially considering the kidnapping charge with that case carries the potential of some hefty consequences.  Sure *Sarge* is probably well familiar with throwing the word consequences around, but it’s been long in coming that he be dealt some.[/quote]


        You have got that right.  :tup:
        Watching those video's made my skin crawl.
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