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The Troubled Teen Industry / Breaking News: Aspiro Group
« on: August 10, 2013, 11:55:56 PM »
Breaking News from Jilliestake regarding Aspiro Group. You must read the court complaint. Now we know the real reason Randy Oakley left Aspiro. Embezzlement, Fraud, Adultery, Blackmail/Bribe.... Reads like a trashy reality program. It's laughable!!


Salt Lake County, Utah -  August 10, 2013

On May 03, 2013, according to court records, Aspiro Group, Inc. filed a lawsuit (case # 130903097)against former President, CEO, board member, and co-owner Mr. Charles Randall Oakley.
Aspiro Group, Inc. owns Aspiro Adventure Wilderness, Vantage Point Wilderness, and their newest venture, Pure Life in Costa Rica.

The plaintiff, Aspiro Group, Inc. asked for relief  to recoup over $1,000,000.00 and treble damages… ... ts_10.html

Tuesday, July 2, 2013Pennsylvania - Prominent Special Needs Educational Consultant Pleads Nolo Contendere to Simple Assault on a Child in Plea Agreement
Thomas J. Croke
Early Saturday morning, Jilliestake received a disturbing email regarding a prominent U.S. Special Needs educational consultant, Thomas J. Croke, owner of Thomas J. Croke Associates, Inc. DBA as Family Light in Greensburg, Pennsylvania; which in turn alerted Jilliestake staff to a comment posted on Jilliestake. ??
Jilliestake removed the comment post, until further investigation would confirm or disprove the allegations leveled upon Mr.Croke in the comment post. In addition, it was understood and apparent that the post’s author might have had personal motivation for revealing the aspects of a recent criminal case brought by the State of Pennsylvania against Mr. Croke.

After careful consideration, independent consultation, reading of court documents (charges, plea, and adjudication), including discussions with officials knowledgeable of all information related to the case, confirmation was provided.  

Due to the nature and ramifications (known and unknown) of this criminal case, Jilliestake, a children’s rights advocacy driven blog, made the decision to publish the following as children’s rights and safety must come first - forever ensuring child advocates give voice to those children who cannot speak.                            

Posted by Anonymous to Jillie's Take! at June 29, 2013 at 1:13 AM :
"In June of 2012, the grandson of Thomas Crokes wife, alleged that he had been sexually abused by Mr Croke, the president of Family Light of Greensburg, PA. After subsequent investigation by the Pennsylvannia State Police, Mr Croke was charged. In April of this year Mr Croke plead guilty to assault against a minor with menacing intent. He was formally sentenced this month, June of 2013. He was required to undergo psychiatric evaluation and is on two years of supervised probation. He is not allowed during that time to be alone with a minor. You should take these facts into consideration with respect to any endorsements of Mr Croke that appear on your website."

No one should argue that due diligence and restraint is called for upon receiving this kind of information.  According to officials, this incident took place when the child (complainant) was 8 years old. The complainant is now in his 20’s.

Court documents attest to the following:  
Note: [M1] [M2] [M3] refers to the “Grading” of the indecent assault.

Mr. Croke was originally charged with two counts on April 23, 2013:
Count 1 - Ind. assault on a person less than 13 years of age - 18 § 3126 §§ A7
Count 2 - Corruption of Minors - 18 § 6301 §§ A1
On May 10, 2013 – Added by Information Count 3
Count 1 - Ind. assault on a person less than 13 years of age - 18 § 3126 §§ A7 - M1
Count 2 - Corruption of Minors - 18 § 6301 §§ A1 - M1
Count 3 - Simple Assault - 18 § 2701 §§ A3 - M2

On June 17, 2013 – Common Pleas Court of Westmoreland County PA
Counts 1 and 2 dismissed.

Mr. Croke plead Nolo Contendere to Count 3 (18 § 2701 §§ A3) which has the same immediate effect as a guilty plea. [Plea agreement to Count 3 “Simple Assault” Grade M2 – “(A3) attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.”]  [1]
The Court of Common Pleas Westmoreland County PA sentenced Mr. Croke.

Order - Sentence/Penalty Imposed

“Ct. 3 Supervision for a period of 2 yrs with County; Mental health eval; Actor to have no direct/indirect contact with victim or unsupervised contact with minors; Pleading Nolo Contrendere; Cts. 1 & 2 Dismissed; Defendant permitted to travel for business with prior permission from PO.” [2]  

Officials state that since there was no physical evidence, a lengthy time frame had lapsed, no prior offenses documented (the prosecution did not have knowledge of other cases as no other child, parent, or guardian came forward over the years), the plea agreement was accepted by the Court.

Mr. Croke’s sentence satisfied the victim in this case. In addition, because the case was pleaded out to Count 3 above, Megan’s Law does not apply.[3]  Mr. Croke was able to avoid having to register as a child sex offender.

Officials appear surprised that Mr. Croke earns his livelihood as an educational consultant predominantly for Special Needs children and their families.  Often situations arise that require travel to various facilities/programs to address the needs and meet with children already attending programs. Unless Mr. Croke advises the various facilities and programs he calls upon of the restrictions the court has imposed on him regarding his probation, the facilities will not be aware of the fact that by order of the court, he cannot be alone with any child under the age of 18. Non-compliance of court-ordered restrictions could endanger children enrolled at the facility/program, and expose said facility to legal damages. One would assume Mr. Croke has restructured his consulting firm, as with Skype, and hired additional educational consultants for travel issues that may arise.

Many states require a program/facility to check arrest record histories of their staff. However, educational consultant’s arrest records are not a pre-requisite – placement of a child in a residential treatment program/facility and the generation of funds created by that placement is the primary incentive.

Jilliestake does not offer moral judgment on Mr.Croke, but does takes issue with the transparency obviously lacking on the Family Light website. It is understandable why Mr. Croke is less than forthcoming, but his rhetoric is cagey at best and dishonest at worst. Readers are encouraged to look at the Family Light website, read the reasoning offered by Mr. Croke for staff not wanting to be alone with minors, and reach their own conclusion. There is no reason given for policy changes at Family Light other than “in the current climate we are increasingly uncomfortable…”

Thomas J. Croke and Associates, Inc. DBA Family Light was a member of IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association) and utilizes facilities affiliated with trade organization NATSAP (National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs), which self-proclaims no oversight over their members (Miller Bill Congressional Hearings 2007 Director Jan Moss testimony). ... al-hearing .

On July 1, 2013, Jilliestake contacted Mr. Croke through a representative. Mr. Croke declined to comment or speak with Jilliestake regarding this expose’.
Please find pertinent information, references, footnotes, and links below.

Excerpts quoted from the Family Light website indicate policy changes. ... /index.htm

"While we greatly regret this, in the current climate we are increasingly uncomfortable with our consultant being an adult alone with a minor child riding in a car and otherwise being where a parent or other adult caregiver cannot observe. The vulnerability to false accusations has become an increasing concern. Therefore we need to modify this procedure when the client is a minor child. We are leaving a grace period for families already in dialog with us to proceed as we have promised, but as of June 1, 2013, we are requiring that at all times that our consultant is with your son or daughter under age 18, parent or other customary caregiver be in a location where interaction can be observed.”

"Please note: As of February 13, 2013, we are adding flexibility to our home visit procedure. In some cases, we might conduct similar meetings by Skype but not travel to your home. This adjustment is experimental and is subject to change. Not all of the information below reflects that change. What follows describes the in-person home visits accurately. Skype and phone "home visits" will follow these procedures as closely as the situation permits. We do not believe this will be as effective as actual in-person work but will consider this alternative in selective situations. "
"Due to our policy change requiring a parent or other customary caregiver to be where their son or daughter is visible at all times, this must be modified for those under 18, but for now we continue this for clients age 18 and up. This provides a relaxed setting to discuss the young person’s basic concerns and to see how the young person views his/her role in the solution.This is a flexible routine that can be adapted as needed."

"For those under 18, we ask parents to help us come as close to the traditional "lunch out" as we can while staying with the new policy (on and after June 1, 2013). We have several alternative approaches:

PA –  TITLE 18 - Crimes and Offenses ... /18/18.HTM
COUNT 1 – Ind. Assault of a person under 13 years of age Grade M1 18 § 3126 §§A7 ... 8-3126.pdf
COUNT 2 – Corruption of Minors Grade M1 18 § 6301 §§A1 ... /0069..PDF

[1] COUNT 3 - Simple Assault with menace Grade M2 18 § 2701 §§A3 ... 0.027..HTM

[2] PA Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Docket – Criminal - Public Record
    Docket Number: CP-65-CR-0001641-2013

[3] Megan’s Law -

Note: Grammatical errors left intact for authenticity.
More reading: "Educatinal Consultants for Dummies" : ... mmies.html
Copyright © 2013 Jilliestake -  All rights reserved.

Sweet Vindication!
For all those who would prefer the public think we were a couple of hysterical mothers... this one's for you!
GAO report summary of its investigation of HLA/Ridge Creek and the agencies that failed to listen or protect children in this program.
This industry has to radically change, or be brought done. If this level of abuse was happening at the "Cream of the Crop" program, what the hell is happening in the 100s of others?
Heads Up to the others! God willin', we'll be coming for you soon.

Harkin needs to hear about restraint/seclusion of kids in the industry.

Share Your Restraint and Seclusion Stories with Senator Harkin

I think all of you will agree that this is important for all of us to do and share with our friends and relatives.  I will post it on my MindFreedom Alaska Facebook page and my website. Begin forwarded message: ... arkin.html
Share Your Restraint and Seclusion Stories with Senator Harkin
Last week, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act, S.2020, to protect students nationwide from dangerous restraint and seclusion. As the GAO (U.S. Government Accountability Office) has found, restraint/seclusion are dangerous, resulting in deaths, injuries, and trauma to children nationwide. WE ARE SEEKING LETTERS IN SUPPORT OF THE BILL FROM PARENTS THAT CAN BE SHARED WITH SENATOR HARKIN’S STAFF AND PERHAPS OTHER SENATE STAFF. WE ARE ALSO INTERESTED IN STORIES OF CHILDREN WHO WERE RESTRAINED OR SECLUDED AND WHO MIGHT HAVE BEEN HELPED IF THE BILL WAS LAW. You do not have to have a story to send a letter.

Please email Jessica Butler, [email protected] . For those on yahoo groups and other systems that cut off email addresses, my email address is jessica (at) jnba-dot-net

Thank you,

Jessica Butler
Congressional Affairs Coordinator
Autism National Committee
21 years of advocating for the rights of people with autism and related disabilities
email: [email protected].

The Troubled Teen Industry / "Educational Consultants for Dummies"
« on: January 31, 2012, 09:19:11 PM » ... mmies.html


6 ... 711_.shtml

This clearly proves that AdvancED (SACS) has no credibility. Why would they reaccredit RCS for 5 years with the record they have? Do they check with ORCC for violations? Did anyone at AdvancED watch the report? They need to receive a barrage of calls asking why they continue to accredit RC. What did AdvancED recommend for the violence and suicide attempts? How many violations/acts of violence before they refuse to accredit them?

RCS is admitting that they currently do not have “interdepartmental meetings”? A college prep school doesn’t have a “curriculum map to assist with guiding instruction”?  RC doesn’t “monitor the effectiveness of the ed program”? “Staff/student retention”? LOL I thought they had a plan, bonuses for doing whatever is necessary to retain students, even lying to parents? There's more, but that’s enough. They should already be doing all this stuff. They’re admitting they aren’t, but then go on to praise their effectiveness.

“This sense of ownership results in the students holding one another accountable.”  
Indeed they apparently do, with Fisticuffs.

Not one mention of DJJ kids? Does RCS speak to their parents or deal with DJJ? Certainly they do know these kids issues, and records. Or is RCS claiming that DJJ (parent) withholds information from RCS?

The report was biased??? How the hell do they figure that? They interviewed RCSs attorney, and no one wanted to go on the record, that was their prerogative, but they were given the opportunity. Why didn’t they come on and tell how wonderful the program is?  Easier to lie in print.

Hell of a lot of money for peer control with fisticuffs and community service.
They continue to mislead the public. Scumbags, all of them.

The Troubled Teen Industry / Rotenberg founder set to face charges
« on: May 27, 2011, 01:15:33 AM » ... e_charges/
Rotenberg founder set to face charges
Expected to quit over ’07 shock case

The founder of the controversial Judge Rotenberg Educational Center is scheduled to face criminal charges in Dedham today arising from a night in 2007 when two special needs teenagers at the center were wrongfully administered dozens of electrical shocks, according to the father of one of the victims and another person with knowledge about the case.

In a deal reached with the state attorney general’s office, Matthew Israel, 77, is expected to be spared prison time in return for stepping down from the Canton-based center that he founded 40 years ago and accepting a five-year probationary term, said Charles Dumas, the father of one of the two victims in the 2007 case who said he spoke yesterday with prosecutors. As part of the agreement, the school’s day-to-day activities will also be overseen by a court-approved monitor.

A court official who works at the Norfolk County Superior Court said that today’s schedule of cases lists a defendant named Matthew Israel facing two charges, misleading a grand jury and accessory after the fact to a crime.

The charges against Israel are believed to be related to the destruction of some of the center’s digital surveillance tapes that would have showed what occurred the night of Aug. 26, 2007, in one of the center’s residential group homes in Stoughton. That night, staffers received a prank phone call from someone posing as a supervisor, saying two teenagers, including Dumas’s son, should be administered electrical shocks as punishment for bad behavior earlier that day.

The attorney general’s office declined comment on the case yesterday, as did Ernest Corrigan, a longtime spokesman for Israel and the center. On May 2, Corrigan had issued a press release announcing Israel’s retirement, effective June 1. In the release, which made no mention of a pending criminal case, Israel is quoted as saying, “I am now almost 78 years old, and it is time for me to move over and let others take the reins.’’

The case marks a dramatic turn in the career of the Harvard-trained psychologist, though it does not appear to end the center’s unorthodox practices that have generated national controversy: the use of skin-shock treatments to discipline behaviorally troubled children.

His tactics have been condemned as barbaric and savage by many top medical and mental health professionals. But despite some injuries and even deaths at the facility, the center has continued to get state approval to operate as a special-needs school serving some 200 students with serious emotional and behavioral problems, including autism and intellectual disabilities.

Its most effective backers have been the parents of some of these troubled students who say Israel’s center accepted their child when no other school would. Israel has said his methods work and have virtually eliminated the use of psychotropic drugs at his center.

In the press release announcing Israel’s departure earlier this month, one of the center’s board members, Margaret Vaughan, a retired professor of psychology at Salem State University, described Israel as a “heroic figure’’ to thousands of families. She said he helped the families who saw the center as “their last thread of hope’’ for their children.

The center has launched a national search for a successor to Israel. The center is being run on an interim basis by assistant executive director Glenda Crookes.

The case against Israel allegedly centers on the tapes that captured the wrongful shocks delivered in 2007, said people familiar with the case.

The center has a policy of monitoring students’ behavior with help from remote surveillance cameras. Those monitoring the tapes had the option of ordering skin-shock treatments via telephone if they witnessed inappropriate actions, even hours after they occurred.

Based on the phone call, staffers woke up Dumas’s son and he was given 77 skin-shock treatments over three hours while being restrained on a flat surface. Another teenager was given about two dozen shocks.
The center acknowledged mistakes made by staff that night, and vowed to change many of its policies, particularly the issuance of shock treatment orders via telephone. Charles Dumas said his son remained at the Rotenberg center for another year, but was moved to a different group home and taken off the skin-shock treatments. He said his son, now 22, is now living on his own and working two jobs.

Dumas said he was told by the attorney general’s office to keep secret the news of Israel’s criminal charges, but he wanted to speak out when approached yesterday by the Globe about the case. “I don’t want to do anything to protect Matthew Israel,’’ he said.

Patricia Wen can be reached at [email protected].  
© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.

Posted: February 21
Updated: Today at 12:22 PM
Anguished mom talks to CNN - VIDEO
Sandy Fonzo speaks about confronting ex-judge after his corruption trial verdict.
By Jerry Lynott ... -2011.html

"Cats in the Cradle" would be a nice accompaniment playing in the background.

Lot of widsom shared in this commentary.
As to his opinion that Loughner’s parents should have taken him for a psych eval… I think he needs to think more about that, because it is contradictory to his whole thesis. We shouldn't give our children and elders to strangers, and we shouldn't give our distressed family members to strangers either.

That aside and IF Psych treatment were useful, What “abusive” parents have the motivation or where-with-all to take their child for a “psych eval”? Their parents didn’t “invest” in them, how could they invest in Loughner? Where will That buck stop?

Wrong thinking isn’t cured with drugs. Only a skilled counselor might have a chance of helping someone reevaluate the misinformation they’re operating with and helping to heal the wounds of old hurts and injustice. Loughner's parents may not be in much better condition than he is.

There are nearly 6 million children in the United States between the ages of 6 and 18 taking mind-altering drugs.
Let Them Pick Their Own Labels ... r_embedded

Texas shuts down treatment center for kids
Daystar loses license after teen's death is ruled a homicide
Jan. 8, 2011, 9:09AM
Nick de la Torre Chronicle
No new children had been placed at Daystar Residential Inc. since July, when officials began investigating the facility.

State child welfare officials on Friday shut down Daystar Residential Inc., a home for troubled youth, one day after a foster child's recent restraint death was ruled a homicide.

"Today, we have revoked Daystar's license to operate, effective immediately. The DFPS investigation found that this facility is just not safe for children," said Anne Heiligenstein, commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

The closure, which can be appealed, was precipitated by the death of Michael Keith Owens, 16, whose death in November was ruled a homicide on Thursday.

All Texas foster care children had been removed from Daystar, a facility once licensed to care for as many as 141 children, by Thursday. Five other children placed at Daystar by California authorities were moved elsewhere Friday.

The Manvel-based Daystar, in operation since 1995, has made millions of dollars over the years caring for some of the most troubled and mentally disabled foster care children in the state, many of whom were housed in trailers about 25 miles south of Houston.

It was one of 80 residential treatment centers, known as RTCs, across the state licensed to care for such children, who number about 1,600. Since 2006, RTCs have received more than $300 million to care for these emotionally disturbed or disabled foster care children.

History of problems
But Daystar's 15-year history has been problematic, particularly over the last year. In June, the agency confirmed that a 16-year-old mentally ill girl had been sexually abused by a Daystar staffer the previous January.

That same month, the Houston Chronicle and the Texas Tribune reported that Daystar staffers had urged developmentally disabled foster care girls to fight one another for a snack in 2008. It was one of 250 confirmed abuse incidents that occurred at Daystar and the other 79 residential treatment centers.

As a result, no new children had been placed at Daystar since July while DFPS investigated the home. The agency quickly hired Jeffrey Enzinna as a state monitor to report on Daystar practices. Once there, Enzinna found lax record-keeping and a one-size-fits-all type of treatment for children.

"From reviewing incoming documentation, my impression is that there was a frequent use of emergency personal restraint and emergency medications," Enzinna wrote last fall. "There also appeared to be no program-wide systems of analyzing the use of restraints or emergency medications."

On Nov. 1, after Enzinna left Daystar, the agency decided to place the facility on probation because of the confirmed sexual abuse allegation from the previous June.

Boy was holding pen cap
Four days later, the 16-year-old Owens, who had been diagnosed with a mood disorder, died after a Daystar staffer physically restrained him in a bedroom closet. Owens had refused to show the staffer what he was holding in his hand, which turned out to be the cap of a pen.

Ruled a homicide by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, the case has been sent to a Brazoria County grand jury.

In December, the Chronicle reported that information on restraints used on children at RTCs was paltry at best. At least 54 of the 79 RTCs provided DFPS with only partial information, and 17 of those had failed to submit any documentation at all.

This potentially dangerous technique has been used at least 44,720 times on Texas children living at RTCs from January 2008 through August 2010.

DFPS' letter to Daystar, which notified the home it was to close, cited the restraint issue as one of the key reasons, saying Daystar officials failed to monitor and apply physical restraints that "minimized the risk of harm to the child."

Phone messages left for Daystar administrator Cal Salls and the company's attorney, John Carsey, were not immediately returned. There was no answer at the home of Daystar owner Clay Hill.

3 other restraint deaths
Owens' death was the fourth restraint fatality to occur at Daystar or its sister agencies in Manvel and owned by Hill, of Sugar Land.

In 1993, 16-year-old Dawn Perry died of an apparent restraint applied at Behavior Training Research, a facility that voluntarily relinquished its residential license to DFPS in 1998.

In 2001, Stephanie Duffield, also 16, died at Shiloh Residential Treatment Center after restraints were applied. Today, that facility is still open in Manvel, owned by Daystar's owner, but does not house Texas foster care children.

In 2002, 15-year-old Latasha Bush died at Daystar after restraints were applied. ... 71020.html

The Fun Never Ends

Students charged with assault, robbery of teacher
By Matt Aiken
Wednesday, December 1, 2010 9:29 AM EST
A pair of Ridge Creek Academy students will face charges of aggravated assault and armed robbery after they allegedly attacked a counselor, stole her car and fled from deputies in an early morning escape attempt from the Camp Wahsega Road therapeutic boarding school last week.

Officials from the Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office said Sydney Vaughn and Lucrezia Albegiani, both 17 years old, developed a detailed plan to overpower their night-time counselor Debra Page and then flee to Atlanta early Friday morning.

“They were conspiring to leave campus and steal one of the staff member's vehicles after assaulting her,” said Investigator Ellis Childress. “They did so.”

It was a few hours after midnight when the two girls reportedly rose from bed and began to strike up a conversation with their counselor. When Page turned her back, Vaughn reportedly grabbed a nearby lamp and struck her on the head with it, said officials.

Albegiani then allegedly put her counselor in a choke hold.

Page, who was still conscious, reportedly told the students to take what they wanted from her.

“They took her keys, her radio and her purse and left,” Childress said.

The pair then reportedly jumped into Page's Toyota 4-Runner and drove away with Vaughn at the wheel.

Page then alerted a nighttime counselor at the boys' dorm who called 911 and reported the incident as a runaway juvenile and stolen vehicle.

By the time the suspects had traveled the eight miles to the Highway 19 Bypass two LCSO patrol cars were turning onto Camp Wahsega Road.

When the deputies signaled from them to pull over Vaughn reportedly sped up to about 70 miles per hour, ran right through the intersection and drove the vehicle into the side of Dahlonega Automotive.

“They hit a propane tank damaging the tank and the well cap,” Childress said.

The volatile liquid leaked into the parking lot but did not ignite. The students were then taken to Chestatee Regional Hospital for precautionary purposes.

Since the incident was not reported as an attack it was only after talking to the suspects that investigators discovered what had taken place at the boarding school, said Childress.

“They said they weren't going to kill her. They were just going to hurt her real bad and they were going to take her car and go down to Atlanta,” he said.

Instead Vaughn and Albegiani were taken to Lumpkin County Detention Center.

Albegiani, of Lemont, Ill., has since been charged with aggravated assault, armed robbery, second degree criminal damage to property and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and armed robbery.

Vaughn, of State College, Pa., faces the same charges as well as a slew of traffic related offenses.

On Monday, Sheriff Stacy Jarrard said the LCSO is occasionally called to the boarding school, formerly known as Hidden Lake Academy, to assist with runaway juveniles but the incidents usually aren't of this level of violence.

“I don't know of anything since I've been sheriff that has been this bad,” he said. “ ... I'm just glad the the officers that were responding made contact with the victim's vehicle and got them stopped, not only for the welfare of the victim but also for the welfare of the two girls.”

Ridge Creek Academy founder Len Buccellato said he had no comment on the incident. ... ssault.txt

The Troubled Teen Industry / Daystar Restraint Death 5 Nov 2010
« on: November 16, 2010, 03:25:40 PM »
Brazoria County has not sent children to Daystar since '04
DA noted home's deadly history of restraints, decided risk too great
Nov. 9, 2010, 10:53PM
DAYSTAR DEATHS: Four restraint-related deaths have occurred at Daystar Residential Inc. since 1993.

• 1993: Dawn Perry, 16, dies of an apparent restraint applied at what was then called Behavior Training Research.

• 2001: Stephanie Duffield, 16, dies at Shiloh Residential Treatment Center after restraints are applied.

• 2002: Latasha Bush, 15, dies at Daystar after restraints are applied.

• June 2002: Daystar placed on probation.

• June 2010: Houston Chronicle/The Texas Tribune report that Daystar staffers encouraged girls to fight one another for a snack.

• Nov. 1, 2010: State notifies Daystar officials they again will be placed on probation.

• Nov. 5, 2010: Michael Keith Owens, 16, dies after restraint is applied at Daystar.

Source: Houston Chronicle research and news reports
The history of restraint deaths at Daystar Residential Inc. so troubled Brazoria County District Attorney Jeri Yenne that she would not allow troubled children to be placed at the Manvel home — and hasn't since at least 2004.

"I won't take the risk," Yenne told the Houston Chronicle on Tuesday, a day after law enforcement revealed that Michael Keith Owens, 16, died Friday while a restraint was applied by a Daystar staffer.

Owens' death on Nov. 5, inside a closet of a bedroom he shared with an autistic teen, is the fourth restraint death to occur at Daystar or its sister facilities at the same address in Manvel since 16-year-old Dawn Perry died in 1993.

Stephanie Duffield, 16, died in 2001. Her family settled with Daystar for an undisclosed amount.

Latasha Bush, 15, died in 2002. Her death, which was ruled a homicide, resulted in a court settlement with Daystar.

Owens' death came four days after the facility was notified it was to be placed on probation by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, following a state-appointed monitor's report and the agency's own recent findings.

A preliminary investigation reveals Owens died of asphyxiation, although an autopsy has not been completed.

But it was the last two girls' deaths, nearly a decade ago, that forced Yenne to take a stand, she said.

"We have a great concern about restraint holds as they have occurred in the past," Yenne wrote in a July 7, 2004, notice to Brazoria, Harris and Galveston counties' court personnel. "This has fallen on deaf ears but we are not going to be a party to a future disaster. Any orders of transfer to our county, we will not handle in this regard because this situation is that severe."

Her office, which handles both criminal juvenile matters and placements of abused children who may need the intense supervision Daystar offers, put the state on notice years ago, she said.

Staff training a concern
DFPS had no comment on Yenne's policy regarding Daystar, one of 80 residential treatment facilities that house some of the most troubled children in state foster care, outside of a psychiatric hospital.

Since September 2006, Daystar has received about $15.3 million in taxpayer funds, including $321,000 since Sept. 1.

This summer, the Chronicle and Texas Tribune revealed that Daystar staffers forced developmentally disabled girls to fight one another for a snack in 2008. It was one of 250 confirmed abuse incidents that occurred at residential treatment centers.

A state monitor, assigned to live at the facility for 90 days, left in September but not before reporting to the state that the reliance on restraints at Daystar was problematic.

Yenne concedes that the children placed at Daystar are difficult, but she is concerned about how well the home's staff is trained to handle the most difficult situations.

"I really worry about how they're being trained," the district attorney said.

Sheriff wants to see video
Brazoria County Sheriff's Investigator Ronnie Falks said his office has asked for video taken from cameras inside Owens' living quarters to be subpoenaed. There are no cameras inside children's bedrooms, but there are cameras in the hallways or common areas, he said.

Falks said Owens, a large teen at 5-foot-6 and 230 pounds, was diagnosed with a mood disorder and lived in a room with an autistic teen. His bedroom was located in a double-wide trailer, where he lived with six other children, some with mental deficiencies, and two adults.

On Tuesday, the Chronicle reached Daystar Executive Director Call Salls, who referred questions to the facility's attorney, John Carsey.

"I don't have any comment for you," Salls said before taking a message for Carsey, who was in Manvel at the facility .

Salls, who did not fully hang up the phone, then told Carsey, who was in the same room, that the news organization had called and wanted him to call back. They did not appear to realize the Chronicle was still waiting on the phone.

Crisis response defended
The conversation between Salls and Carsey then switched to a discussion of the videotape of Owens' final and fatal struggle with a Daystar employee.

"I think we've determined what the video shows. It is now a good video. It shows things happening as they should be," Carsey told Salls.

But Carsey acknowledges the limitation of the video camera, which, according to Brazoria County investigators, is in the hallway of the double-wide trailer Owens and six other Daystar residents called home.

"We're never, ever going to see what happened in the room," Carsey told Salls.

Late Wednesday, Carsey elaborated in an e-mail about what he meant.

"My statement about the video is based on the fact that it shows very professional and responsible actions by the Daystar staffers in a crisis situation," he wrote. "The incident was reported as soon as it happened and emergency personnel were on the scene within 10 minutes. The hallway camera just shows the staff and emergency workers entering and exiting the room at varying times."

[email protected]

The Troubled Teen Industry / Federal Player of the Week: Greg Kutz
« on: September 27, 2010, 09:58:05 PM »
Federal Player of the Week
Greg Kutz: Uncovering child abuse and neglect at residential, public and private schools
Greg Kutz
Enlarge Photo    
Network News
Meet the Federal Player of the Week:Greg Kutz

Position: Managing Director, Forensic Audits and Special Investigations, Government Accountability Office
Age: 48
Residence: Washington, D.C.
Education: Pennsylvania State University, B.S. accounting
Awards: Distinguished Service, Meritorious Service; Client Service Awards at GAO; 2010 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal Finalist
Hobbies: Exercising and any activity with his daughter

The Partnership for Public Service
Monday, September 27, 2010; 5:04 PM
In Arizona, a teen with asthma and complaining of chest pains was forced by counselors at a residential boot camp to do pushups and carry cinder blocks for not having completed an assignment. The youngster subsequently died, with an autopsy finding more than 70 physical injuries.
In West Virginia, a four-year-old autistic girl with cerebral palsy was tied to a chair, badly bruised and traumatized. In Utah, a 16-year-old boy in a wilderness therapy program collapsed and died after counselors ignored signs of physical distress for three weeks, including severe weight loss, severe abdominal pain and loss of bodily functions.
These shocking and heartbreaking stories are among thousands of cases chronicled by Gregory Kutz, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) managing director, who led a nationwide investigation that documented widespread abuse, torture, neglect and death of troubled and disabled children in residential programs and in public and private schools across the United States.
Dedicated to curbing these abhorrent abuses, Kutz' investigation has led to legislation approved by the House of Representatives and pending in the Senate that establishes new federal health and safety standards to protect teenagers in residential programs.
The probe also prompted legislation approved by the House of Representatives earlier this year and pending in the Senate that is designed to prevent and reduce harmful seclusion and restraint of children in all schools. In addition, the inquiry provoked reactions from the Department of Education and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The results of the investigation were disclosed at three dramatic hearings before the House Education and Labor Committee in 2007, 2008 and 2009. They included tales of severe beatings of children by residential program staff; the withholding of essential food, water, clothing, shelter and medical care; abusive seclusion and restraint of children with disabilities; and deceptive marketing by programs targeting vulnerable parents of troubled children.
The inquiry highlighted the lack of federal laws to protect young people in residential programs, and exposed the weak and inconsistent laws and oversight by states regarding issues of seclusion and physical restraint.
"His findings have brought attention to rampant abuses and attracted the attention of the press and Congress," said Sally Anne Harper, GAO's chief administrative officer. "He has taken this work personally, and saw it as his duty to look out for vulnerable children."
Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he was "deeply troubled" by the disclosures, and he sent a strong letter to all state chief school officers requesting they review policies and guidelines regarding the use of restraints and seclusion in schools to ensure every student is safe and protected.
The FTC responded with a guide for parents to use before enrolling their children in residential troubled teen programs. The FTC warned that these programs, such as those for drug and alcohol treatment, confidence building, military-style boot camps and psychological counseling, are not regulated by the federal government, and many are not subject to state licensing or monitoring.
As father to a five-year-old girl, Kutz said he found the use of seclusion and restraint of young, developmentally challenged children especially revolting.
"Doing this kind of work¿speaking to parents of children who died in these facilities and reviewing autopsy reports¿is never an easy task, but it's all the more heartbreaking when the surviving victims are some of the most vulnerable members of our society who are unable to speak for themselves," he said.
The findings resulted from extensive outreach to state and local law enforcement authorities, parents, attorneys and advocacy groups across the country to document cases going back almost two decades.
There were undercover calls to residential programs where GAO investigators, including Kutz, posed as vulnerable parents looking for programs to help their troubled children. The GAO also conducted extensive analysis of federal and state regulations and court records.
Harper of the GAO said the child abuse investigation exemplifies the type of work Kutz has done throughout his career. "He personally conducts investigations which shine a light on places that are dark," Harper said.
This article was jointly prepared by the Partnership for Public Service, a group seeking to enhance the performance of the federal government, and Visit for more about the organization's work to recognize the men and women who serve our nation. ... 04652.html

The Troubled Teen Industry / Abuse at Aukland RTC
« on: August 10, 2010, 05:23:55 PM »
Sex offender put kids 'through hell' in time-out room
By Clio Francis, Sunday Star Times, August 8, 2010

The conviction of a sex offender who preyed on troubled children at an Auckland residential school has prompted the government to create a special helpline amid fears more students may have been abused.

Last week, former child social worker Graeme McCardle, 58, was found guilty on 15 out of 24 sexual and physical abuse charges he faced at a re-trial at the High Court at Auckland.

Two of his alleged victims told the Sunday Star-Times they have no doubt there are other former students from Waimokoia Residential School who have never come forward about the sexual and physical abuse they suffered.

The school in Bucklands Beach, Auckland, opened in 1980 and was deemed a "last resort" for children with severe behavioural and emotional problems. Education Minister Anne Tolley closed it last year.

Two women and a man had alleged in court that McCardle subjected them to gross abuse when they were children. He denied all the charges, which stemmed from the 1980s when he worked at the school.

The charges on which he was convicted included forcing a 12-year- old girl to perform sex acts on him in the school lounge while he watched pornographic movies, and indecently assaulting a nine-year-old boy in the school's concrete, windowless "timeout" room.

A Sunday Star-Times investigation into the school has revealed at least two other former staff members have also gone to trial for allegedly abusing students in their care.

The charges related to 20 complainants covering a time span from the 1980s to 2007. One defendant was acquitted and one died before a court case could be finalised. One of McCardle's victims, a 36-year-old man living in Auckland, said he believes there are many more victims.

"I just want to say if there are any others out there, don't be scared to come forward. It's their time to get some of their own back because they're adults now."

Rape Prevention Education survivor advocate Louise Nicholas, who supported one of the complainants during last week's trial, described McCardle's offending as "horrific". Louise Nicholas: "Accountability – It's not just on the offender; it's on the education system as a whole."  

"It's about accountability. It's not just on the offender; it's on the education system as a whole. The Ministry of Education needs to actually step up and do something about it, and if they have, good on them.

"These kids have gone through hell and it's deeply impacted their lives. They just want to move on, but to do that they need some help."

Six questions put to Tolley about abuse allegations at Waimokoia were answered with six one-word answers: yes and no. The minister said she was aware of the multiple police prosecutions into alleged sexual and physical abuse at Waimokoia but denied this was the reason the school was closed.

She said she knew that as late as last year students were being placed in the timeout room - a concrete block shed with no natural light.

When asked whether she was satisfied staff had maintained their duty of care to the students, she replied simply: "No".

A helpline - 0800 100 311 - has been set up for former students who may want to talk to someone about their time at Waimokoia.

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