Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Topics - wdtony

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 12
News Items / Dark Side of Bain
« on: July 20, 2012, 05:56:45 AM » ... singleton/

Dark side of a Bain success

WEDNESDAY, JUL 18, 2012 07:45 AM EDT

A for-profit health company bought by Bain -- that Romney profits from -- has exploded in size and tales of neglect


It seemed a world away from the executive suites of Bain Capital when Dana Blum, a recent widow living in Portland, Ore., made the fateful decision to send her son Brendan to Youth Care, a residential program for troubled teens located in the suburbs of Salt Lake City.

Brendan, a 14-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome, had been extremely aggressive for years; he was even arrested a few times after attacking members of his family. Local therapists hadn’t helped, and six months after her husband died, Dana was frantically casting about for solutions. A consultation with UCLA’s neuropsychiatric unit convinced her that Youth Care’s therapeutic and educational program would finally make a difference.

Four months into his stay there, Brendan had earned a reputation as a temper-prone student who tried to shirk his obligations. So on the afternoon of June 27, when he complained to medical staff that he felt very sick, as if something were “crawling around” in his stomach, his concerns were dismissed. After 11 p.m., he woke up, complaining of stomach pain, and defecated in his pants. The on-duty monitors took him to the Purple Room, a makeshift isolation room used to segregate misbehaving students. There, he suffered a long night of agony, howling in pain and repeatedly vomiting and soiling himself. According to court transcripts and police reports, the two poorly paid monitors on duty did little more than offer him water, Sprite and Pepto-Bismol. They never telephoned the on-call nurse and waited until nearly 2 a.m. to contact the on-call supervisor, only to leave a voicemail. There was little else they felt they could do — Youth Care’s protocol on emergency services meant they were too low on the totem pole to call 911 themselves.

“They didn’t trust our judgment in emergency situations,” explains Josh Randall, a former Youth Care residential monitor, who wasn’t on duty that night. “If you’re working for $9.50 an hour on the graveyard shift, you don’t want to buck the system.” At any rate, the monitors had little expertise in how to respond — it was an entry-level job requiring only a GED, plus a CPR and safety course overseen by Youth Care itself.

When the morning staff arrived at 7 a.m., they discovered Brendan facedown on the floor of the Purple Room, his body already stiff with rigor mortis. The state’s chief medical examiner later determined that Blum had died of a twisted-bowel infarction, which requires emergency surgical intervention.

“It made me very angry that they couldn’t provide better emergency services for my son,” Dana Blum told the online magazine Momlogic. “I feel like he was murdered” — although, in fact, no court has ever found Aspen or its staffers guilty of murder. Blum, who, with the help of insurance and school district aid, paid Youth Care $15,000 a month to care for her son, made those remarks in 2009; she can no longer speak publicly about Brendan’s death, according to the terms of a settlement she reached last year in a wrongful death lawsuit against Youth Care and its parent company, Aspen Education.

The failure at Youth Care was not due simply to the carelessness of a few workers — a point underscored when a Utah court found that the threshold needed to pursue criminal negligence charges against the two monitors in 2008 wasn’t met and the charges were dismissed. And it wasn’t the only example of alleged negligence or abuse at treatment centers for adult addicts and “troubled teens” that are owned by Aspen’s parent company, CRC Health Group, according to a Salon investigation based on government reports, court filings and official complaints by parents and employees, along with interviews with former clients and staff.

Our investigation found previously unreported allegations of abuse and neglect in at least 10 CRC residential drug and teen care facilities across the country, including three I visited undercover in Utah and California. With rare exceptions, such incidents have largely escaped notice because the programs are, thanks to lax state regulations, largely unaccountable.

Court documents and ex-staffers also allege that such incidents reflect, in part, a broader corporate culture at Aspen’s owner, CRC Health Group, a leading national chain of treatment centers. Lawsuits and critics have claimed that CRC prizes profits, and the avoidance of outside scrutiny, over the health and safety of its clients. (We sent specific questions on these basic allegations to CRC and owner Bain Capital. CRC would answer only general questions; Bain did not reply.)

And CRC’s corporate culture, in turn, reflects the attitudes and financial imperatives of Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney. (The Romney campaign also did not reply to written questions.) Bain is known for its relentless obsession with maximizing shareholder value and revenues. Indeed, this has become a talking point of late on the Romney campaign trail; he bragged to Fox in late May that “80 percent of them [Bain investments] grew their revenues.” CRC, a fast-growing company then in the lucrative field of drug treatment, was perhaps a natural fit when Bain acquired it for $720 million in 2006. In conversations with staff and patients who spent time at CRC facilities since the takeover, there are suggestions that the Bain approach has had its effects. “If you look at their daily profit numbers compared to what they charge,” Dana Blum said of CRC’s Aspen division in 2009, “it’s obscene.” That point, ironically enough, was underscored by the glowing reports in the trade press about its profitability.

The purchase of CRC came seven years after Romney publicly announced his retirement as CEO of Bain Capital, where he had been in charge since its founding in 1984. But at the time of his departure, Romney worked out an arrangement to continue to share in Bain’s profits as a limited partner in the firm. Today, he is still an investor in 48 Bain accounts. Though he has refused to disclose their underlying assets, some information about them can be gleaned. For example, he has reported at least  $300,000 to $1.2 million, if not more,  in fluctuating annual earnings from Bain Capital VIII, the convoluted $3.5 billion array of related funds that owns both name-brand companies such as Dunkin’ Donuts and the lesser-known CRC Health Group. Most of these funds were made more attractive to privileged investors by being registered in the Cayman Islands tax haven. And Romney’s connections to CRC run even deeper: Of the three Bain managing partners who sit on CRC’s board, two, John Connaughton and Steven Barnes (with his wife), gave a total of half a million dollars to Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Romney. They also each donated the $2,500 maximum directly to his campaign.

Bain takes over

When Bain purchased CRC, it looked like an investment masterstroke. The company, founded in the mid-’90s with a single California treatment facility, the Camp Recovery Center, had quickly grown into the largest chain of for-profit drug and alcohol treatment services in the country, with $230 million in annual revenue. Under Bain’s guidance, its revenue has nearly doubled, to more than $450 million. CRC now serves 30,000 clients daily — mostly opiate addicts — at 140 facilities across 25 states. In the first five years after its acquisition, Bain had already extracted nearly $20 million in management-related fees from the chain, although Bain investors haven’t cashed in yet through dividends or an IPO.  Bain’s purchase, a leveraged buyout, also saddled CRC with massive debt of well over $600 million.

According to company executives and independent analysts, hands-on oversight of subsidiary companies is a hallmark of both Bain and CRC. Romney’s campaign literature boasts about Bain taking exactly this sort of direct role in helping to turn around failing companies. “Over the life of an investment, they have a strong management team willing to participate,” Sheryl Skolnick, an analyst with CRT Capital, a leading institutional brokerage firm, says of Bain.

The CRC acquisition immediately made Bain owner of the largest collection of addiction treatment facilities in the nation. Unlike some Bain Capital acquisitions, which led to massive layoffs, the company’s approach with CRC was to boost revenues by gobbling up other treatment centers, raising fees, and expanding its client base through slick, aggressive marketing, while keeping staffing and other costs relatively low. But that rapid pace of acquisition couldn’t be sustained in the mostly small-scale drug treatment industry alone. So Bain Capital and CRC set their sights on an entirely new treatment arena: the multibillion-dollar “troubled teen” industry, a burgeoning field of mostly locally owned residential schools and wilderness programs then serving, nationwide, about 100,000 kids facing addiction or emotional or behavioral problems.

One of CRC’s first acquisitions under Bain ownership was the Aspen Education Group. Founded in 1998 with about six schools, Aspen Education had expanded to 30 troubled-teen and weight-loss programs by 2006, including Youth Care of Utah. With Bain’s backing, CRC purchased Aspen for nearly $300 million in the fall of 2006.

Less than a year later, Brendan Blum was dead.

At the time of the CRC acquisition, Aspen already had a history of abuse allegations, including at least three lawsuits, and two known patient deaths, one by suicide. Featured on “Dr. Phil,” it grew out of schools inspired by the “tough-love” behavior-modification approach of the discredited Synanon program,  which was eventually exposed as a cult. By 2006, Aspen was facing a wrongful death lawsuit, later settled, over an incident in 2004 in which a 14-year-old boy, Matthew Meyer, perished from heat stroke just eight days into his stay at its Lone Star Expeditions wilderness camp in Texas. Nevertheless, less than a year after Meyer died, NBC’s “Dateline” extolled Lone Star as part of a puff piece on Aspen’s success with overweight teens. As an Aspen press release boasted, the show told how a rebellious student who did a stint at Lone Star “returned a month later with a new outlook on life.”

In October 2006, just nine months before Brendan Blum died and as Bain’s deal to purchase Aspen Education was being finalized, CRC received a far less upbeat assessment of Aspen’s services. Following some phone conversations, family therapist Elisabeth Feldman walked into CRC’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters to see Dr. Thomas Brady, a psychiatrist then serving as CRC’s chief medical officer, in order to confront him about a host of issues at Youth Care. She had stumbled upon the problems while trying to help her son’s former girlfriend, a teenage girl who had suffered what Feldman called  “gross mistreatment” at Youth Care. Of particular concern to Feldman was a three-month delay before Youth Care hired a psychiatrist to assess the young woman’s deep depression and a failure to treat her Lyme disease. Feldman’s ultimately unsuccessful crusade to get the woman released had led her to seek the services of a Salt Lake City lawyer, Thomas Burton, who had settled two lawsuits against Aspen Education for fraud, neglect and abuse.

Feldman had been part of Brady’s professional referral network for years, but this visit wasn’t congenial. Feldman presented Brady with a 100-page sheaf of legal and corporate documents — including her affidavit describing “brutish punishment and isolation” at Youth Care — about Aspen Education programs in order to help support her charges of abusive treatment and neglect. These claims included reportedly covering up the alleged sexual assault of a female student by an Aspen employee at Turn-About Ranch in Utah; the girl was later duct-taped and restrained by staff, a former employee, Toni Thayer, told Feldman, after writing complaints about abusive staff conduct to management, state regulators and the Garfield County sheriff in 2004 — but no sanctions followed. (Subsequently, a lawsuit filed in June 2012 charged that staffers at the ranch engaged in the “torture” of a 15-year-old girl in 2005.) According to Feldman, Brady said he wasn’t aware of any problems at Youth Care or Aspen Education and sought to mollify her about Bain’s pending purchase of Aspen: “I have to trust that Bain did their due diligence,” she recalls him saying. Dr. Brady confirmed, by email, that he spoke on the phone and met with Feldman, but said he has “no recollection” of making those remarks. And he insists that the documents she brought didn’t support her claims of mistreatment. Even so, he says he took her concerns seriously and that CRC and Aspen conducted a thorough review. “I came to the conclusion,” he said, “there was no merit to the accusations.” He remained as CRC’s medical director until May 2009 and said that although he encountered a few “untoward event” cases at Aspen during his time there, he saw no “pattern” of unsafe care.

At any rate, Bain’s purchase of Aspen Education went ahead smoothly. When, months later, Feldman learned about Blum’s death, she was horrified to realize her warnings had had no effect. “For Bain and the big guys, nobody cared,” she says. “It was all about the money.”

Questionable deaths

When he died, Brendan Blum’s was the first publicly reported death due to apparent neglect in CRC’s 12-year history. But in the six years since Bain Capital acquired the company, there have been at least five more seemingly preventable deaths of patients at CRC’s residential programs. Since the Bain takeover, critics and former employees charge that corporate attitudes have too often emphasized cutting costs and limiting public scrutiny at the expense of safety and quality of care. These tendencies appear to have produced risky, potentially life-threatening practices — only a handful of which have drawn public attention.

Several lawsuits have been filed against CRC over mistreatment of its clients, but the company has never acknowledged any wrongdoing and has kept confidential any damage payments arising from legal settlements. CRC is a significant player in the scandal-prone, decentralized field of residential teen treatment that has more than 1,000 scattered facilities; the firm has nearly 36 therapeutic schools, wilderness sites and weight-loss programs catering to youth.

The latest lawsuit over CRC’s current practices was filed in January against CRC’s prestigious $40,000-a-month Sierra Tucson drug treatment center in Arizona, for the allegedly poor monitoring and treatment of what the lawsuit says was an obviously suicidal 71-year-old patient, Dr. Edward Litwack; the center’s own staff had assessed him as a “high” risk for suicide, requiring one-on-one supervision. He was reported missing last August, but it took two weeks for the staff to find his corpse on the grounds. Last October, after an investigation by Arizona regulators following Litwack’s disappearance found 42 major violations, the center was put on one-year probation. The regulators found that ill-trained monitors spent too much time patrolling on golf carts rather than actually interacting with patients. CRC had purchased Sierra Tucson in 2005 for $130 million as its “crown jewel” shortly before plans to sell CRC to Bain were announced. “Then the business side started controlling admissions,” says a former employee, who worked at Sierra Tucson before and after the CRC acquisition. “It doesn’t take a brain scientist to realize that if you reduce staff [in key programs] and add sicker patients, there’s going to be trouble.” With the addition of a new 44-bed lodge in 2007, staff at Sierra Tucson was stretched thin, former staffers say; by 2009, a state licensing office fined the facility for having insufficient staff to prevent high-risk patients from wandering off.

Other incidents suggest a corporate culture that often downplayed safety and quality of care. In 2010, at least two drug treatment patients died at the overcrowded New Life Lodge in Burns, Tenn., according to wrongful death lawsuits and an investigative series in the Tennessean. According to an account in the Tennessean, based on public records and interviews with people at New Life Lodge, one of the patients, a 29-year-old mother named Lindsey Poteet, had come down with pneumonia and was drifting into unconsciousness when she was driven in a private van to a Nashville hospital 30 miles away. The journey was undertaken on orders of the facility’s medical director, although another hospital lay just eight miles down the road. Poteet stopped breathing en route and died the next day in Nashville. The other, Patrick Bryant, died on his 20th birthday just four days after being admitted to New Life; his mother alleges that he’d been misprescribed several medications and had been unresponsive for hours before being discovered by staff.

A third patient, 18-year-old Savon Kinney, died last October just days after leaving New Life in a state of disorientation, his sister told the newspaper; his death sparked a state investigation.

After the Tennessean series appeared last summer and fall, the state’s Department of Mental Health froze all new admissions to the facility. (It was finally allowed to admit a smaller number of new patients in early April.) One former patient, Malea Fox, who had befriended Poteet at New Life, told me that she called state Medicaid (also known as TennCare), the facility’s primary funder, to complain that the facility was far too overcrowded for personalized care. “All they [New Life] care about is making money,” she said.

In 2009, the state of Oregon forced the closing of two teen programs run by Aspen Education. State investigators found nine cases of abuse and neglect at Mount Bachelor Academy in central Oregon, including incidents of “sexualized role play,” in which young patients were allegedly forced to do lap dances during therapy sessions. After Mount Bachelor and its director threatened costly lawsuits, the state’s Department of Human Services softened the language of the report; CRC claims the allegations were false (while also fighting $37 million in abuse lawsuits over the school’s pre-CRC practices). Even so, DHS “stands by our findings,” a spokesman says of the 2009 report. That same year, at SageWalk Wilderness School in Hampton, Ore., 16-year-old Sergey Blashchishen died of heatstroke on his very first school hike, in an incident eerily reminiscent of Matthew Meyer’s 2004 death in Texas. One morning in August, Blashchishen suited up in an 80-pound backpack; by afternoon, the heat had topped 80 degrees, and he was soon staggering, drifting off the trail, and complaining of dizziness and exhaustion. Staffers contended he was faking his symptoms and failed to call 911 until his pulse had stopped; that death is the focus of a negligent homicide investigation.

To CRC officials, the lawsuits, criminal investigations and state sanctions all come in response to isolated events, aren’t “systemic,” and shouldn’t reflect on the dedication and quality of a large company serving 30,000 trouble-prone teens and substance abusers each day. The company declined to respond to a memo outlining allegations made by alumni, parents and former employees about questionable practices at specific programs, citing a legal requirement to protect patient confidentiality. But a public relations consultant, Robert Weiner, who works closely with CRC and its most prominent board member, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, President Bill Clinton’s drug czar, did respond in general terms in a phone interview: “The people you cited can whine all they want, but that’s just a bunch of specifics we can’t talk about compared to 30,000 people a day we’re making better lives for.”

“In a human-run company there will be human errors in some cases,” he added. “But in other cases, it’s garbage.”

In a December 2011 press release in response to the Tennessean series, CRC vice president Jonathan Ciampi disputed criticism of CRC over the reported deaths, citing positive surveys of parents and clients, and certification by government regulators and accrediting agencies. “Safety and quality are our highest priorities.” And in a conference call last fall for investors, CRC’s new CEO, Andrew Eckert, discounted the developments in Tennessee as merely “unwelcomed bumps in the road.” In fact, later in the call he claimed that “CRC is in the process of staking its ground as the definitive leader in clinical excellence.”

Camp recovery: More patients, more revenue

Such claims of excellence do not seem to have pierced the canopy of the Santa Cruz redwoods, home to Camp Recovery, the first drug treatment facility CRC purchased in the mid-’90s. Nestled on 25 hilly acres in Scotts Valley, Calif., Camp Recovery is an idyllic setting for recovery for as many as 70 adults and teens at a time. Yet after Bain purchased CRC in 2006, according to former employees, safety and quality eroded,  while  state agencies periodically reported increasingly more troublesome findings after 2006 regarding conditions at the camp. “It got progressively worse,” says Tom Corral, a counselor who was employed there before CRC bought Camp Recovery and worked there on occasion after the Bain takeover. Meanwhile, prices were steadily jacked up from about $6,000 a month to as high as $18,000. Under Bain ownership, Corral says, “they’ve been under a lot of pressure to cut costs, and they’ve been squeezed for profit.”

What most alarmed Corral and other former employees was that ever sicker and more mentally disturbed patients kept being admitted. The governing view, Corral recalls, was, “You’ve got to keep them at all costs.”

Camp Recovery is registered with the state as a nonmedical facility, and so patients needing intensive medical or psychiatric care should be referred elsewhere. But such restrictions soon collapsed, say former staffers, in a drive for profits. “Certified nurses were reprimanded when we complained to the intake office,” says one former nurse. “When I didn’t want to admit a person who was falling down drunk, they wrote me up.” Former staffers say that Camp Recovery’s business staff even began to pressure nurses to knowingly admit patients with potentially deadly MRSA infections, which, the CDC warns, may require treatment by an infectious disease specialist. Shawn Bottoroff, a former clinical technician who left Camp Recovery last year, said that when she started in 2007, nurses were primarily responsible for determining who was stable enough for admission. But they were soon overridden by camp administrators seeking to rope in more clients, Bottoroff and other former workers say.

To Denise Murphy, a former director of the camp’s adolescent unit, the decline became especially noticeable in 2008, when a new executive director took over, Bobby Stearns, hand-picked by CRC, who was determined, according to complaints to the NLRB, to crush a unionization drive and keep down costs. “It was so dangerous there, they’re lucky they didn’t get sued,” Murphy says. According to complaints made by staff at the time to the now-reorganized California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, CRC cut back on everything from drug-testing kits to staffing levels. In a 2009 interview, Stearns said any staff cuts were due to declining patient numbers. But eventually, the Department of Social Services, which has oversight over the facility’s 17-bed adolescent unit, confirmed that caseloads had soared and kids ran wild at night. The agency demanded corrective actions — improvements that former employees say were in large part ultimately abandoned.

Equally troubling, former staffers report a pattern that echoes the events surrounding the deaths of Brendan Blum and Lindsey Poteet at other CRC facilities: When patients face a medical crisis, ambulances are usually not summoned. Instead, “techs,” whose emergency training, the former employees say, is generally limited to a two-hour CPR course, are ordered by supervisors to use a van lacking medical equipment to drive patients to the emergency room in nearby Santa Cruz. The tactic, say former employees, helps prevent the facility from being flagged in the 911 system, risking unwelcome attention from state or local officials.

The administrative resistance to calling 911 was so pronounced that when one overmedicated, mentally disturbed patient fled the facility in hysterics one summer day in 2008, she was left to lie on the road outside the gate, screaming for help before collapsing into convulsions. One camp executive told staff on duty at the time, “Leave her alone. We don’t want to make a scene,” according to Bottoroff and other former staffers. It was left to neighbors to call 911. Nevertheless, the camp still makes more emergency calls than any comparable facility in the Santa Cruz area, according to addiction and ER doctors who reviewed 911 log data we obtained — perhaps a measure of just how ill many of the patients are at this nonmedical facility. That log showed 158 calls between January 2008 and August 2011. “That’s a lot of calls,” a local government official says. “It ought to be investigated.” Logged 911 calls represent only a small portion of total ER visits, the official observes, because it doesn’t account for people who arrive by other means.

Camp Recovery’s drive for secrecy was especially pronounced when it came to potential instances of sexual misconduct, violence or drug use among the adolescents in treatment, former staffers say. “There were several situations in which we were told by the director of the adolescent unit, per [current executive director] James Bailey, not to call 911,” says Bottoroff. Former staffers speak of wild nighttime teen assaults on weaker youth or even staff, and recount hushed-up incidents of underage girls having sex with adult male patients at their cabins. “They were trading favors for cigarettes and alcohol,” Bottoroff says of one such incident she encountered. In almost all such cases of on-site crime, according to an employee complaint to state regulators, the orders handed down from Stearns, the former executive director, in 2009 were clear: “We don’t contact the police.”

State investigators were rarely able confirm the most serious employee allegations on the few occasions when they bothered to investigate, a review of state reports shows. But this could be due to efforts by managers to cover their tracks. Trevor Bottoroff, a former Camp Recovery counselor and Shawn’s husband, says that sometimes managers would rewrite log sheets to make them seem more benign. At other times, supervisors would simply remove them. Murphy, the camp’s former adolescent director, came to see CRC as “the slumlords of treatment.” Other evasions are commonplace at Camp Recovery. The camp openly advertises that it offers prescription-based medical detox, though it is not licensed as a medical facility to do so.

A failure of oversight

But such complaints against CRC have rarely led to consequences for either their drug treatment or youth programs. The troubled teen industry in particular is a regulatory Wild West, with some states lacking any licensing system at all for these residential programs. Even some states that do license, such as Utah, appear unable to guarantee patient safety: about 10 young people are known to have died since 1990 while attending Utah residential and wilderness programs. Regulators often shield the teen care industry from genuine scrutiny, according to investigations by the GAO, congressional hearings in 2007 and 2008, and reports by such mental health advocates as the Bazelon Center and Mental Health America.

In California, regulation of drug treatment facilities appears especially ineffective. California’s Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, for example, has never investigated the deaths of nearly 200 patients over five years at CRC’s 12 outpatient methadone clinics. Mostly likely, addiction experts say, the clients’ rampant substance abuse is the culprit, not sloppy practices at CRC, but that supposition has not been rigorously tested. In fact, Pennsylvania regulators cited two of CRC’s methadone clinics for failing to properly screen patients for drugs or narcotic use, a potentially deadly oversight. Weiner, the CRC spokesperson, said that CRC itself would doubtless look into any client deaths: “At least somebody’s going to wonder why they didn’t come in for their treatment the next day.”

“The programs have experienced the reality that there are no consequences if anyone dies,” says a knowledgeable ex-government official about California’s drug programs, including CRC’s methadone clinics, which have become the chain’s cash cow. With nearly 27,000 daily clients nationwide at  54 outpatient clinics, CRC founder Barry Karlin was dubbed by Treatment magazine “America’s Methadone King.”

Loose oversight seems to have been critical in enabling CRC to flourish. It’s hard to imagine, in particular, that without the scandalously weak monitoring of the teen treatment industry CRC’s Aspen division would be able to continue its harshly regimented, unproven behavior-modification methods and dicey emergency protocols. “Without regulations and enforcement, this profitable industry will continue to have actors that present unacceptable risks to the children they serve,” U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., said last year when introducing a federal oversight bill.

A culture of abuse and neglect?

This apparent lack of oversight in the teen industry, combined with a widespread view by providers that their charges are manipulative troublemakers, has allowed a toxic culture of psychological abuse and medical neglect to prevail, according to parents, alumni and federal officials. As Greg Kutz, a GAO investigator, said in testimony about the industry in general before Congress, “It seemed that the only way program managers would believe they [the students] were not faking it is if they stopped breathing or did not have a pulse.” That culture is visible even at Aspen’s most upscale residential programs, such as Island View in suburban Syracuse, Utah. One former student there, Colleen Davidson, now 20, who graduated from the program in 2009, recalls her alarm when she coughed up blood one morning as she stood at the bathroom sink. She says she was never allowed to see a doctor because by the time the nurse wandered by a few hours later, another student had rinsed the blood from the sink. “They assume you’re lying,” she says.

For months, CRC denied me press access to any of its facilities, so I visited Island View last August posing as a father of a troubled girl. During that visit, director Laura Burt confirmed this skeptical stance toward potential medical emergencies. She said the nursing staff would see my daughter immediately in case of a medical crisis but would monitor her if they suspected fakery: “We’re not going to rush her to the hospital if she’s just saying that and there is nothing that says it.”

In March 2008, Duane Bernard rescued his son Matthew, then 16, from another Aspen program, Adirondack Leadership Expedition in Saranac Lake, N.Y., after gleaning from one of his son’s monitored letters the brutal conditions he was enduring. Matthew, who was sent to Adirondack by his mother during a custody dispute, later told his father of food deprivation, neglect of serious medical complaints, and cruel taunting by instructors, including an incident when field staff  pressured one kid to lick clean a urine-soaked cup. Medical neglect, Duane Bernard says, was ingrained in Adirondack’s get-tough “wilderness therapy.” Father and son say that during Matthew’s monthlong stay, he was required to go camping in subfreezing weather with too-thin clothing and sleeping gear, and he soon developed severe numbness and frostbite in his right foot. But he wasn’t taken to an urgent care facility until shortly before his release and required eight months of medical treatment afterward.

Duane Bernard wrote in April 2008 to state officials alleging child abuse, enclosing Matthew’s written descriptions of his alleged maltreatment, but the state’s child protection agency said it had no jurisdiction over Adirondack. “They blew us off,” Bernard says.

I heard Matthew’s experience echoed in conversation after conversation with Aspen alums, many of whom suffer nightmares and PTSD-like symptoms. Hannah Sangillo of Bethesda, Md., now 19,  ended up at SUWS of the Carolinas, Aspen’s showcase wilderness program in North Carolina’s breathtaking Pisgah National Forest, in 2010. She now considers her 49-day summer stay “child abuse.” She recounts one of several instances of heat exhaustion she experienced during hours-long hikes designed to promote self-reliance and personal growth. Even on scorching, humid days, when temperatures soared into the mid-90s, groups of girls were saddled with 60-pound-plus packs, exceeding Girl Scout safety guidelines. “I was not able to walk straight,” she says of one incident. “I was stumbling and sweating profusely. I kept telling people I needed to stop and they said: ‘No, we can’t stop yet.’” She temporarily blacked out, only to be dragged to her feet by fellow campers and prodded along the trail at the urging of what SUWS calls its “highly trained” field instructors. By the end of the summer ordeal, nearly half of her small team of girls had collapsed during hikes, she says, without receiving any medical attention.

Throughout their time there, neither Sangillo nor Hannah Spungen, a 2007 SUWS graduate, ever saw a single staffer actually help young residents with medical problems. These included everything from heroin withdrawal to all-night vomiting caused by drinking from fecal-contaminated streams during their daily hikes.

Before I interviewed the two alumni, I met with Shawn Farrell, executive director of SUWS of the Carolinas, who insisted to me that emergency care is a top priority. (Subsequently, CRC declined to answer any questions about allegations of medical neglect at this SUWS program. Shawn Farrell, the executive director of SUWS of the Carolinas, insisted to me that emergency care is a top priority. He says field staff are instructed to radio in symptoms of any injuries or illness immediately to the base camp’s field medic and, if needed, arrange transport to a hospital only eight miles away. “We want the doctors to do the diagnosis,” not the outdoors staff, he says. But this policy appears to falls apart in the execution. In Spungen’s experience, “There’s no protocol in place to make sure it’s safe for you.”

These incidents seem to illuminate an institutional culture that allowed Sergey Blashchishen to die in 2009 before ever receiving emergency medical aid. As one government investigator told me about the field instructors at SageWalk, where Blashchishen died, “They were highly trained, but the culture overrode that.” The SageWalk Field Instructor Manual — like other Aspen manuals, vetted by CRC, according to a former CRC official — requires staff to go through a rigid “chain of command” before emergency help can be summoned. “There are inherent delays in a system like this,” the investigator observed. CRC spokesman Weiner defended those procedures: “If there’s a [medical] issue they should go to the top supervisors,” he said. “I don’t see how that’s wrong to make sure you’re doing the right thing. That’s why they’re not the boss.”

Yet Weiner also insisted that CRC is “aware of complaints and problems at Aspen and wants to make sure it has the best practices possible.” To that end, he pointed to a recent initiative by CRC to ensure that all its teen programs are certified by two leading accrediting agencies, CARF (the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) and a body known as the Joint Commission, a 60-year-old industry-funded nonprofit that accredits thousands of health care programs in the United States. This is perhaps of scant comfort, given that members of Congress harshly criticized the Joint Commission in the wake of revelations of medical negligence at Walter Reed and other Joint Commission–accredited hospitals. Moreover, many facilities in one of the most notorious chains in the teen treatment field, Straight Inc., were approved by accrediting agencies, including the Joint Commission, until they shut down in the wake of lawsuits and state action. Some maintained their high ratings even after Straight Inc. and several of its spinoffs were hit by state investigations and at least 90 lawsuits alleging abuse.

No turnaround from the turnaround experts

Despite the accumulating lawsuits, state investigations and even criminal inquiries, Bain Capital has yet to force a major shake-up in the culture or leadership of CRC. Aspen co-founder Elliot Sainer and CRC CEO Barry Karlin remained in their executive posts until they retired in 2007 and 2010, respectively. Both now serve on the CRC board of directors. Trina Packard, the executive in charge at Youth Care when Brendan Blum died, remains in her post to this day.

Rather than instituting reforms, CRC seems to have responded to the series of lawsuits, in part, by requiring parents to sign elaborate contracts that feature sweeping “hold harmless” clauses even in the case of death. “This is a business-driven model: caveat emptor,” one Utah Education Department official conceded on background. The contracts leave parents like Julie Scheule, a Wisconsin mom, with little recourse when they suspect deception or abuse. In 2007, she sent her daughter, then 15, to an Aspen facility in Utah, since closed, called Aspen Ranch. Aspen, she now charges, “abused parental trust, abused our bank account, and abused the kids in their care.” She had a change of heart when she realized she was being hit with thousands of dollars in extra costs and flew to the ranch to remove her daughter. She recalls her daughter hugging her, trembling, and saying, “Please mama, take me out of here.”

Aspen uses what the teen treatment industry calls a “levels” model that grants more privileges and freedoms as students follow the rules, but imposes sanctions of varying severity on those who slip up or disobey.

Punishments were more often psychological than physical. According to former students, emotionally brutal isolation punishments and peer-driven encounter “therapies” were commonly employed to break down resistance, especially at Island View. For Colleen Davidson, the former student there who coughed up blood, the worst part was when students were prodded to confront each other about real or fabricated transgressions in harsh encounter sessions. (In fact, she says, they were very similar to the group therapies cited in the June “torture” lawsuit against Turn-About Ranch.) The sessions were so terrifying that girls resorted to desperate measures to avoid attending, according to Davidson. She recalls that some girls choked themselves to induce fainting; one rubbed feces in her own eyes to cause an infection.

“They break you down, but they don’t really build you back up,” she says of the Island View approach. “I have nightmares from it, and the memories are really awful.”

The no-data zone

CRC declined to address any program-specific allegations. A company spokesperson, Kristen Hayes, instead summed up the company’s approach in a written statement: “Our mission is to bring best practices to our industry in clinical excellence and quality patient care,” she wrote by email. “Our comprehensive risk and compliance protocols help to ensure the delivery of the safest, proven treatment processes.”

CRC has said that its teen care programs are based on recognized and evidence-based programs, including one called contingency management. But critics suggest that the approach as actually applied by Aspen is inconsistent with contingency management — which emphasizes primarily positive reinforcement — while alumni and lawsuits filed over the years by parents of former teen patients describe instead a distorted atmosphere of terror and punishment that undercuts their possible utility.

But there are virtually no independent, well-designed, peer-reviewed studies showing that any residential programs for troubled teens actually work — and none at all for the behavior-modification approaches employed by Aspen. Research funded by the Department of Justice and a literature review by the NIH both found, in the context of youth violence and crime prevention, that get-tough, discipline-based approaches generally do more harm than good.

Shy of evidence, CRC’s PR machine offers up testimonials from pleased parents and CRC-funded surveys of parents and students that report positive outcomes. Hayes put me in touch with one of these parents, the mother of a self-destructive, drug-abusing 15-year-old son whom she sent to Island View, the Aspen program Colleen Davidson attended, after other treatments had failed. “I didn’t want to stand around and wait for my child to die,” she says bluntly. Enrolling him in Aspen, she says, was the turning point. “I wish all kids were as lucky as my son,” she says.

And what can’t be washed away by good PR can always be described as an unavoidable tragedy. At Youth Care of Utah, admissions counselor Claire Roberts offered up this sort of soft-focus gloss when she told me about the death of Brendan Blum. “It was very traumatizing for us,” she said. Then she added philosophically, “These things happen.”

No plausible deniability

Mitt Romney may not know the details of Brendan Blum’s death, but it is difficult to imagine he wouldn’t be aware of the troubles facing CRC and the residential teen-treatment industry as a whole. Not only are two of his major campaign donors, Connaughton and Barnes, on CRC’s board, but two of his key advisors, Robert Lichfield and Mel Sembler, faced firestorms after allegations of abuse emerged regarding their own residential treatment chains.

Meanwhile, Ann Romney has said that she would make helping troubled teens a top priority as first lady. And CRC is roaring ahead with an expanded sales force; Eckert, the CEO, told investors in May, “We now have [sales] coverage in every major metropolitan area in the United States.”

The Romney campaign did not respond to queries about his investment in CRC. But candidate Romney has been outspoken about his belief that for-profit health care companies can flourish only without onerous regulations. “I had the occasion of actually acquiring and trying to build health care businesses,” he said during a primary debate last year. “I know something about it, and I believe markets work. And what’s wrong with our health care system in America is that government is playing too heavy a role.”

Crystal Manganaro likely has a different view. She is the mother of Matthew Meyer, the 14-year-old who died at Aspen’s Lone Star program in 2004, and has forcefully advocated for a federal crackdown on teen residential programs, including those run by Aspen. “For those of you who have not lived through losing a child due to negligence, you just cannot imagine what it feels like unless you have walked through it and deal with it every day of your life,” she said in 2009. “My son is dead and there is nothing I can do about that, but I’ll be damned if my son died in vain.”

News Items / Sky View Christian Academy - Lawsuit
« on: May 20, 2012, 04:04:05 PM »

Teen Claims Abuse at Christian Academy


Thursday, May 17, 2012

   LAS VEGAS (CN) - A Mexican teenager's brief stint in a Nevada boarding school was marked by plates full of cigarette butts and other abuse, the student and his mother claim in court.

     The Sky View Christian Academy in Hawthorn, Nev., covered up the abuse by screening mail between students and their parents, according to the complaint.

     Anthony Vaca entered the academy, located 134 miles southeast of Reno, in May 2007. Shortly after his arrival, the 15-year-old boy "began receiving physical and mental abuse from the defendants and the defendants' employees and agents," according to the complaint.

     Now 19, Vaca says a school employee forced him to fight a student two years older and much larger than him.
     Employees also allegedly forced other students to watch the doors and windows to shield what was happening.
     When Vaca was predictably injured from the fight, school officials denied him medical treatment, and "a fellow student with no medical training or expertise" helped "set his nose without the benefit of any anesthesia or pain killers," according to the suit.

     Vaca, who is Mexican, says an employee pushed him, threatened him and used racist names and epithets while speaking to him.

     Vaca "would often find cigarette butts and ashes from cigarettes in the food served to him by Sky View Academy," the lawsuit states. "At times, Mr. Vaca would only have an apple or other small piece of fruit to eat for many days at a time because the food was so bad."

     Defendants also "forced Mr. Vaca to submit to screening of his mail, both incoming and outgoing, in order to control his mental state and thoughts, to convince him his mother knew of and approved of what was happening to him when she in fact did not," according to the complaint.

     The lawsuit also says Vaca was forced to sleep on the floor, and that Sky View employees brought drugs into the school for students.

     Cynthia Shepherd says removed Vaca, her son, from the school after just five months because it had refused to let her see students' living conditions.

     She and Vaca claim that the school failed to disclose that it was under investigation by state officials for physical and sexual assaults on children.

     Nevada suspended Sky View Academy's license Sept. 28, 2007, according to the complaint.

     Shepherd and Vaca seek damages for assault, battery, false imprisonment, negligence and fraud. They name as defendants the academy; Sky View manager Orval Hagerman; the academy's parent, World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools; and its sister company, Lifeline Family Services

     They are represented by E. Robert Spear.

Straight, Inc. and Derivatives / KHK Self Descriptions/History
« on: May 07, 2012, 04:38:38 AM »
Some info data-mined from KHK's old website pages.......

Check out the vague way they describe where the program originated from. ... gkids.html

In the late seventies, early eighties, there were no beds in the Cincinnati area designated for treatment of chemically dependent adolescents. Drugs, however, had sifted down into the high schools and junior highs. Parents were beginning to see the behavioral symptoms that accompany adolescent poly substance abuse. A Psychologist who was working for a therapeutic community for adolescents in Florida did a presentation in a Northern Kentucky School Auditorium. It was well attended by parents who were having problems with their children. One Cincinnati couple enrolled their son in the Florida Program. Then another. Through word of mouth, several families found their way to that program. They became convinced that Cincinnati needed a program such as it. Those parents organized as a 501 (C) 3 private, non-profit corporation , wrote Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws and did lots of fund raising. In July, 1981, eleven teens were transferred from the LIFE Program in Florida to Kids Helping Kids which was then located in a leased facility in Northern Kentucky. By 1984, there were several other programs for adolescents. These programs were located in hospitals and modeled after the treatment programs for adult alcoholics. Teens first went into detox for several days, then spent most of the day with a teacher doing school work. These models usually allowed for one group a day to deal with therapeutic issues and the clients often left the facility in the evening to go toAA meetings where they could connect with other teens. After 28 days they were discharged. . For the most part, these programs were expensive and ineffective. There was almost no outcome research done. Businesses and insurance companies took a close look at the services and became very controlling about what they would pay for. Almost all those program have subsequently closed. While Kids Helping Kids was modeled after the Florida Program, KHK is completely independent and has changed and grown into the program it is today without collaboration with any other program. Kids Helping Kid's model is effective for adolescents for a number of reasons ... apart.html

Length of time: It takes time for kids to become chemically dependent and, when they do, their lives become consumed with their drug use. Their activities revolve around obtaining and using drugs. They socialize with other kids who use. Achieving in school, playing sports and/or participating in other extra circular are no longer meaningful. For a long time, they have been telling themselves that drugs are NOT the problem. Their parents are the problem. Their school is the problem. Other kids are the problem. The police are the problem. They have suppressed their feelings for so long that they have become totally out of touch with them. When people are out of touch with feelings, rather than expressing them appropriately, they act on them. An angry person can go into a rage at the slightest provocation; someone with low self-esteem can become seriously self-destructive. People who blame their problems on others, and behave without insight into why, can be said to be victims, unable to act in their best interest; always reacting to their erroneous perceptions of the world. Recovery must include the development of awareness that their drug use is the problem and, if treatment is to be successful, it must fill the voids left when drugs are removed. Kids must learn to talk honestly about their feelings. Underlying emotional problems must be addressed and kids must learn coping skills to be able to deal with life's ups and downs without reverting to drug use. Developing this awareness takes months and should be done in a setting in which the person is isolated from people who feel threatened by their newly found independence. Intellectual learning can be fairly fast but internalizing any new skills takes time. The process is usually two steps forward, one back, until internalization has been achieved. Host Homes: The host parents provide an emotionally warm, home-like setting for new clients. Newcomers observe as the upper phase clients (oldcomers) interact with their family members in an appropriate manner using the skills learned in treatment. Through interacting with host parents, even those kids who were the most out of control, ... tment.html

In day treatment, kids help kids learn to apply a set of principles that will enable them to better manage their emotional and behavioral responses to life's situations. Most teens who abuse chemicals use a kaleidoscope of drugs in their attempts to get high. While not usually physically addicted to any one drug, the child develops a very intense belief system that supports drug and/or alcohol use. A variety of harmful effects can be observed in their young lives - deterioration of school performance, disruption of family relationships, arrests, depression, and withdrawal. Removing teenagers temporarily from access to drugs will not change their usage when they return to their regular environment.

KHK incorporates a number of features that have been found to foster comprehensive and lasting behavioral changes. First, treatment makes use of positive peer influence through group discussions that challenge the clients' past beliefs and behavior with respect to drugs. These groups are primarily led by peer counselors - teens who have completed KHK treatment and have been trained as peer staff. All aspects of treatment are under the direct and continuous supervision of clinically trained professional staff.

Though the major emphasis is group therapy, individual attention is given to each teenager. When a teen enters treatment, he/she is called a newcomer and is assigned to an oldcomer, someone who is further along in treatment and who takes responsibility for talking individually with that teen and teaching him/her about treatment. Each teen is also assigned a primary peer counselor, a professional case manager, and an individual treatment plan is written.

Treatment is divided into five phases. During First Phase, the teen is in treatment for 10.5 hours per day and lives at night in a temporary home with an oldcomer and his/her family. ... pense.html

The treatment fee is $19,500 for in-town families and $22,500 for out-of-town families. A $1000 nonrefundable assessment fee is included in the treatment fee. Treatment fees are $2,750 per month until paid in full. Food and host home fees are in addition to the treatment fees. Total treatment fees should be paid within 7 months for in-town families and 8 months for out-of-town families. Treatment fee payment arrangements may be made to compensate for insurance reimbursement. Treatment fee scholarships are available based on financial need. The $1000 assessment fee and food and host home fees for one month are due at intake.

Food Fee

A monthly food fee is charged to cover meals and snacks your child eats at the program. The fee is payable at the beginning of each month. The monthly food fee schedule is based on a daily charge of $6.00.
Host Home Fee

A monthly host home fee is charged when your child is in the home of another child. This fee is paid to the family who is providing the home during the first phase of treatment or at any time a home is provided. The host home fee schedule is based on a daily charge of $5.00.
Interest of 1 and 1/2% per month will be charged on any late program fees.

We at Kids Helping Kids are extremely eager to help you make optimal use of your health insurance. However, with ... sment.html

Is your child’s behavior out of control?
Are family and school relationships deteriorating?
Do you wonder if it’s alcohol or drugs causing the problems?
You may notice physical and emotional characteristics in an adolescent that signal involvement with drugs and alcohol. Although some characteristics may appear in any teenager as part of normal puberty, consistent and extreme examples should not be overlooked, especially if a pattern develops. Should you suspect that your teen is using drugs and alcohol, find out for sure. Get a substance abuse assessment. We'll give you the answers you need.
Assessment Process:
- A KHK counselor meets with the parent(s) and the teen.
- Parents and teen are interviewed separately.
- Teen completes objective computer tests regarding his/her drug use and related issues parent views a video on adolescent addiction.
- Teen has a drug screen (urinalysis).
- Preliminary results are shared and a follow-up visit is scheduled within 10 days for final results.
A written report and referral options are provided at that time.Cost may be covered by insurance.

News Items / Restoration Ranch - Investigation abuse
« on: May 06, 2012, 05:09:40 AM » ... eUn1A.cspx

DHR Investigates Restoration Youth Academy After Allegations of Abuse

Published: 5/02 7:27 pm
Updated: 5/02 7:31 pm

(PRICHARD, Ala.) - The mother of a former student at a Mobile County reform school said kids are being physically abused while under the school's care.

Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich said her office, as well as the Alabama Department of Human Resources, is investigating the Restoration Youth Academy in Prichard, but there is no credible evidence of any physical abuse.

The mother told Local 15 News she did not want her identity, as well as her daughter's identity, revealed because she fears for their safety.

The claims come after Prichard Police said six students broke out of the Restoration Youth Academy Saturday night. The six were found by authorities in Florida after stealing a van from the academy and driving it to Lee County before they ran out of gas.

"I asked them," Academy Director John Young said, "I said, 'What were you all going to do?' 'Well, we were just going to go down to Tampa, and just hang out.' I said, 'What we're you going to do for food?' One of the kids said, 'I was going to rob me somebody.' "

Young said the kids were safely returned to the school by authorities, but were not charged for stealing the van. The anonymous parent claims the academy is above the law.

"They are terrified to make arrests there because, and I've personally witnesses this, John Young and Will Knott told them, 'Go ahead and make an arrest. I'll put the cuffs on for you, and, tomorrow, I'll have your badge," the mother said.

The woman, whose daughter has since returned home from the school, claims police have copied her on reports sent to state representatives regarding physical and sexual abuse at the school. She said the kids are sometimes put in solitary confinement.

"Naked, and locked them in there with hoods on their head for days at a time with no food or no water," she said. "They will beat the kids, thirty lashes, with leather belts for fidgeting in church, and they've admitted this to police officers, but, you know, nobody thinks that that's abuse."

Academy Director John Young said they have welcomed investigations into the claims.

"They talked to every kid," Young said about the county investigators, "and the kid admitted to them, 'I just want to go home, so I lied on them so hopefully they'll close this place down so I can go home."

Young said the allegations of abuse are false, maintaining critics are attacking the school in an attempt to shut it down.

"We have found no credible evidence to support any claims of any physical abuse," District Attorney Ashley Rich said.

Rich said she has reviewed the complaints thoroughly, and said her investigation is still open.

"We still do have an ongoing investigation as to what laws govern the administration of the school and the academy itself," Rich said.


Carol Grant

SVP - Strategic Planning and Implementation at Guthrie Health System

Ithaca, New York Area Marketing and Advertising

SVP - Strategic Planning and Implementation
Guthrie Health System
Nonprofit; 1001-5000 employees; Hospital & Health Care industry
January 2010 – Present (2 years 4 months)

Responsible for strategic planning, physician relations, business development,market research, public relations and marketing of a nationally renown nonprofit health system comprised of 3 hospitals and 23 clinics, serving Pennsylvania and New York.

Board Member
2006 – 2010 (4 years)

VP Planning and Marketing
Carle Clinic
April 2005 – March 2010 (5 years)

Responsible to CAO and Board of Governors for marketing , strategic planning , market research, public and government affairs of Carle Clinic Association, one of the nation’s largest physician-owned multi-specialty group practices. Planning and marketing services support 350+ physicians, in over 50 specialties at ten regional clinics throughout central Illinois as well as research needs for physician owned tri-state health plan and Carle Foundation Hospital.

Manager, Marketing
Greenville Hospital System
Nonprofit; 5001-10,000 employees; Hospital & Health Care industry
July 2000 – April 2005 (4 years 10 months)

Reported to the Vice-President of Marketing and Planning Services to develop and implement marketing strategies that advance the organization’s business objectives. Managed all marketing initiatives and identifies growth opportunities for this 1100 bed tertiary teaching hospital and largest integrated health system in South Carolina, including four hospitals, system service lines, affiliate organizations and practices.

General Manager
The Voyageur Inn and Conference Center
June 1994 – July 2000 (6 years 2 months)

During this six-year period, I returned home to care for an ailing parent and help manage several family-owned businesses including retail, service, hospitality and sales.
Responsible for seventy two-room full service hotel with convention facilities to 750, and on site restaurant and health club. Secured sales contracts and licensing with state and local regulatory agencies. Responsible for all sales and marketing initiatives. Managed 60+ employees. Responsible for all crisis communications, management and financial performance of business.

Key Responsibilities and Accomplishments:
Increased occupancy by 19% in highly competitive market.
Partnered with Chamber of Commerce and City Council, and increased tourism by 20% utilizing media and targeted marketing programs.
Increased revenue by 11% over three-year period.
Reduced staff turnover by 35%.

Assistant Marketing Director
Charter Behavioral Health System
November 1992 – June 1994 (1 year 8 months)

Responsible for marketing and outreach activities for entire Washington DC metropolitan area for this national multi-hospital system. Managed referral development efforts targeted to physicians, private mental health practitioners, and corporations. Developed clinical protocols designed to assess patient needs. Managed physician relations, and media and community relations for the region. Provided community education programs, clinical evaluations, group counseling and crisis intervention to physician practices and community. Coordinated all internal communications.

Key Responsibilities and Accomplishments:
Created clinical evaluation systems for day treatment centers.
Developed a triage system for patient care resulting in 20% increase in referral activity.
Increased admissions in region by 15%.

State Director
Pressley Ridge Schools
March 1991 – November 1992 (1 year 9 months)

State Director for this $16M non-profit agency offering community-based alternative treatment services. Responsible for new program start up and development, including communications and marketing to state referral and licensing agencies. Created policies and procedures and staff training programs in two states. Coordinated marketing efforts statewide including referral development, public relations, marketing communications and recruitment. Worked jointly with Department of Human Services, state regulatory bodies, and the community at large to design strategic plans and specific treatment programs based on identified need.

Key Responsibilities and Accomplishments:
Obtained state licensing for Ohio and reinstated revoked West Virginia license.
Designed training presentations and marketing plans to introduce new program to Ohio state agencies.
Responsible for corporate/employee communications and referral development.

Straight, Inc.

November 1984 – March 1991 (6 years 5 months)

Coordinated all state licensing, JCAHO accreditation and marketing with regulatory agencies and referring service providers for this national drug rehabilitation program. Responsible for new business development. Managed media relations including crisis management. Significantly increased revenue at two of the company's major metropolitan locations

Key Responsibilities and Accomplishments:
Assumed lead role in renewal of revoked state license. Developed corresponding training, policy and communication plan.
Developed aggressive marketing campaign resulting in 60% increase in admissions in year one.
Initiated corrective action and developed an aggressive referral network and marketing campaign that resulted in a 50% increase in revenue.
Developed off-site family service centers to enhance referral opportunities.

Carol Grant's Education

Rollins College
Masters, Counseling Psychology
1994 – 1996

Louisiana State University
BA, Psychology
1984 – 1986

Webb High School
1974 – 1977

Award for Excellence - Straight, Inc, Dean's List - Louisiana State University 1979-1981, ... 20810.html

Carol Koenecke-Grant

Carol Koenecke-Grant serves Guthrie Health in northeastern Pennsylvania as senior vice president of strategic planning and implementation, with responsibility for the organization’s strategic planning efforts as well as physician relations, marketing, communications, and public relations. Guthrie Health comprises three hospitals and 23 clinics in Pennsylvania and New York.

Before joining Guthrie Health, Ms. Koenecke-Grant was vice president of planning and marketing at Carle Clinic Association, a 350-physician multispecialty group based in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Before that, she was manager of marketing services at Greenville (South Carolina) Hospital System, a 1,100-bed academic medical center.

Initially a clinician, Ms. Koenecke-Grant specializes in turnaround and organizational growth strategies and has more than 20 years of healthcare marketing experience. A member of the SHSMD Board, she holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Rollins College.

Carol Koenecke-Grant
Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning and Implementation
Guthrie Health
Sayre, PA

[email protected]

News Items / What would Jesus do?
« on: April 11, 2012, 02:22:22 AM » ... _147191055

Rev. Lonny Remmers Held In Torture Of Boy Who Was Forced To Dig His Own Grave

Posted: 04/10/2012 3:31 pm

Authorities in California said they have uncovered a case of incredible cruelty involving a pastor and two members of his church. The three men are allegedly responsible for the physical and psychological abuse of a young boy who prosecutors say was forced to dig his own grave.

The Rev. Lonny Lee Remmers, the 54-year-old officiating pastor of the Heart of Worship church in Corona, Calif., has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon and child abuse. Two members of the church, Remmers' stepson, Nicholas James Craig, 22, and Darryl Duane Jeter Jr., 28, have each been charged with nine felonies related to the incident.

The charges filed against Craig and Jeter include one count each of kidnapping, making criminal threats, false imprisonment and assault of a person by force; two counts of assault with a deadly weapon; and three counts of child abuse.

Authorities said they are considering additional charges against the three men.

Craig and Jeter are accused of taking a 13-year-old boy, who was living at a group home run by the church, to a secluded area near Barstow on March 18. Once there, the two men forced the boy to dig his own grave with a shovel then get into the grave while threatening to kill him. The men threw dirt on him and beat him with a belt when he tried to climb out, police said.

The following day, the boy was allegedly zip-tied to a chair at the group home and sprayed in the face with Mace, investigators said; the boy was denied treatment for about an hour.

"That same day ... Remmers (allegedly took) a pair of pliers to the boy's nipples while the victim cried and screamed for him to stop," said John Hall, a spokesman for the County of Riverside District Attorney's Office.

The abuses the teen suffered were committed as a form of discipline after his 30-year-old mother told Remmers that she believed her son had misbehaved, Hall said.

The boy's mother, who has not yet been named by police, has not been arrested. Authorities said they are still trying to determine is she was aware of the alleged incidents. Meanwhile, the boy and his 7-year-old sister have been placed in protective custody.

According to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, Remmers had previous run-ins with the law. In 1998, he was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for criminal contempt. Remmers refused to live up to a settlement agreement stemming from a telemarketing scam, the newspaper reported.

Remmers and his wife, Lisa Remmers, are both listed as plaintiffs in a separate civil fraud case filed in Ohio last year. The disposition of that case is pending.

Calls to a phone listing for Remmers' church went to voicemail Tuesday. According to the church's website, its mission is "to raise the church body to be true disciples of Christ, meaning that if Christ would not think it, say it, or do it, neither will we."

On April 4, Remmers and his co-defendants each pleaded not guilty. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Becky Dugan set Remmers' bail at $35,000, and at $150,000 each for Craig and Jeter.

It was not immediately clear Tuesday whether Remmers or his co-defendants had obtained attorneys. All three men are scheduled to appear in court again April 19.

If convicted as charged, Remmers faces up to seven years in state prison. Craig and Jeter each face up to 19 years behind bars.

More links: ... own-grave/ ... -own-grave ... e-remmers/

News Items / Judge Rotenberg - Shock torture video released
« on: April 10, 2012, 11:35:39 PM » ... t-20120410

Graphic video of teen being restrained, shocked played in court

Updated: Tuesday, 10 Apr 2012, 10:26 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 10 Apr 2012, 9:47 AM EDT

Mike Beaudet

Kevin Rothstein Producer ... z1rhQAi068

Facility Question and Answers / Cincinnati Restoration Church
« on: March 28, 2012, 04:25:53 PM »

Cincinnati Restoration Church / United Restoration Ministries

This is really an unlicensed adult rehabilitation center masquerading as a church.

Home page:

According to their website, there are 15 affiliated Restoration Churches in cities across the country and 2 in Mexico.

No findings of Licensure, Accreditation or Certification were found for the 3 "churches" in Ohio.
It does not appear to be a licensed program either under Cincinnati Restoration Church nor United Restoration Ministries.  See: and enter in the zip of 45212.  

They probably can't claim they need no licensure due to being a church or faith-based program because The Salvation Army and other faith-based programs are licensed in Ohio.  

ODADAS accredits chemical dependency treatment centers in OH.  I can't find any list of licensed drug rehabs on the ODADAS site.  Last time I had to submit a written letter.

Maybe this link:  and specifically ... vision=101 to look up licensed chemical dependency treatment providers.  

Neither Cincinnati Restoration Church nor United Restoration Ministries is a licensed chemical dependency treatment provider in OH.  Carmen and Richard Garcia are not individually licensed to provide drug treatment either.  

For individual professional licensing verification for staffers, see  I checked for Richard and Carmen Garcia and they are not licensed counselors, social workers, nor therapists in Ohio. Also, they are not licensed in chemical dependency treatment.
Neither Cincinnati Restoration Church or United Restoration Ministries are not registered with the BBB: ... ti-oh-8975

Related content:

Article from 2003:

"Right above the sanctuary live the 44 men and nine women who make up the congregation, including staff and people in recovery. Rules forbid alcohol, drugs and excessive swearing. Staff members usually must accompany residents when they leave the building. "We believe that two is better than one," Michel says. The area surrounding the church could be tempting for residents to fall back into old ways of living, he says. The presence of a staff member acts as a support system." ... _soul.html

Cincinnati Restoration Church called "a magnet" for out of state sex predators/offenders...also possibly receiving money per inmate ( although not known):

Article: ... ide-magnet


"I would not consider sending your son to the Cincinnati Restoration Church, a very close family member of mine, went there and it was awful. Definitely a very nasty and run down rehab. Very dirty place, people being there with aids, and other diseases, very nasty food, gay men hitting on straight guys, they "teach" you to speak tongues, which isn't right at all. You can't talk to them for a month, they don't give the person any messages you ask them too. Yes, the employees and whatnot are very nice, but the way they teach, there actions, and there rehab facility is not. It's just an awful place. I wouldn't recommend it at all."

Topix: ... AUI4IEP9G8




Cincinnati Restoration Church?  aka "Not a church but a drug rehab"


Cincinnati Restoration Church


PO Box 12887

1101 Harrison Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45214

Cincinnati, OH 45212


(513) 621-1881

United Restoration Ministries ... cincinnati

From their website:


Cincinnati Restoration Church
Pastor Rick & Carmen Garcia
1101 Harrison Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45214
Phone - (513) 621-1881
Fax - (513) 621-1222


Our target is the drug addict.


Church service is for the whole family.
Men's Christian Drug Restoration Homes (live-in, no charge)
Women's Christian Drug Restoration Homes (live-in, no charge)
Missionary Teams Evangelistic Centers*Evangelistic Crusades* Leadership School*
Jail and Hospital visitations* And many more related services.


The first phase of our program is from six to twelve months (some stay longer as counselors or staff members). During this first phase a person is set free from life controlling habits and is taught Biblical principles and values that will equip and sustain him/her as they become productive,m law abiding Christian members of the community.

The second phase consists of the person's involvement in the church where they become responsible, active members of the church.

The third phase is preparation for full time ministry as pastors, missionaries, or team members to plant new Restoration Churches in the inner cities of America.


Message from my sister in law:

"She was on heroin and wanted help, so she signed herself into Cincinnati Restoration Church. Apparently they provide free rehab services (?), but they cut her off from heroin and cigarettes cold turkey and forced her to "pray the gay away" (she was a lesbian). She signed herself out of the program after only 2 days and then found a friend's gun and shot herself in the head last Friday (3-23-2012)."


Nicole COURTNEY (1990 - 2012)   |   Visit Guest Book


Amber Nicole Courtney, 22, passed away on Friday, March 23, 2012 in Carroll County. She was an EMS volunteer for the city of Erlanger, a past employee of Frisch's on Turfway Rd, an avid soccer and basketball athlete and a stout fan of North Carolina basketball. She will be dearly missed by her parents Steve Courtney and Connie Bradley, her brother Joshua Courtney and his wife Cassie, her sister Laura Mahony, her niece Willow as well as loving family and friends. Visitation will be held at Linnemann Family Funeral Home in Burlington from 4PM to 8PM on Wednesday, March 28, 2012. Funeral service will be held at the funeral home at 10AM, Thursday, March 29, 2012 with burial to follow at Burlington Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to fifth-third bank. Online condolences may be made to

Published in the Kentucky Enquirer on March 27, 2012 ... =156718360

News Items / Ron Williams Protested 3-25-2012
« on: March 25, 2012, 07:42:16 PM »
Calvary Bible Church: Ron Williams, Founder of Hephzibah House was a guest speaker at this church and subsequently drew protest. ... ima-church

Child abuse protest at Lima church

Posted: Mar 25, 2012 5:37 PM EDT
Updated: Mar 25, 2012 5:37 PM EDT

By Sam Shriver, Video Journalist

A protest against child abuse today in front of a Lima church.

Three women holding signs were out in front of Calvary Bible Church to protest the alleged abuse of children at Hephzibah House, a Winona Lake, Indiana boarding school for troubled girls.      

One of the women, Katrina Smith, was sent there when she was 15.
Ron Williams the founder of the boarding school was speaking at the Lima church today.                

Smith says other survivors of the home have told her about all sorts of abusive practices that are still going on like strip searches and forced vaginal exams as well as spankings administered with a long wooden paddle.  
Williams was not at the church while our cameras were there.
The pastor of Calvary Bible Church, Keith Hamblen did speak to us about their support of Hephzibah House.
A check of Hephzibah House's website claims they do not spank as discipline now, but instead makes those who need discipline write out a specific number of scripture verses.

News Items / Gatehouse Academy has Closed
« on: March 20, 2012, 08:39:47 PM »

From their website 3-20-2012...

Transitional Living Corporation

“We absolutely insist on guiding young adults towards a life of excellence, leadership and service” ~Mission Statement

It is with a heavy heart we inform our loyal families, alumni, friends, and associates that Transitional Living Corporation/Gatehouse Academy is faced with closing all of our program locations effective March 19, 2012. All of us at Gatehouse Academy are heartbroken, but we are faced with the inability to continue to meet our financial obligations and continue operations.

During these difficult times, we ask that you understand that as an organization, we have taken every step necessary to ensure the integrity of our program, and serving our clients was always our highest priority. However, we are faced with the reality that we cannot safely sustain the business any longer and must dissolve the company.

In order to ensure the care of our residents, we are reaching out to programs that will consider reduced tuition and or scholarships for families during this time of duress. We are committed to the safety and well being of every one of our residents.

As you can imagine this is a painful and sad period in the lives of so many who have worked diligently to bring sobriety, happiness and a new life to young people. The lives we have touched are many. We are grateful for the experience and to those of you who entrusted your loved ones to our care.

Our hope is that our paths cross in the future and this is but one small hurdle in the blossoming life of your son or daughter and their continued journey into sobriety.

If you are the parent or loved one of a current resident and need assistance please call 888?730? 0905 to speak to a staff member.

News Items / St. John's Military School - Violence Alleged
« on: March 11, 2012, 08:35:50 PM »

Violence Alleged at Christian Military School


Wednesday, March 07, 2012

 Parents claim in Federal Court that a Christian military school lets students known as "the Disciplinarians" abuse younger students who are bound, gagged, beaten and urinated upon.

     Parents of four students sued St. John's Military School, of Salina, Kan., and The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

     The plaintiffs claim St. John's has settled nine lawsuits alleging abuse since 2006.

     The parents claim the residential boarding school for grades 6 through 12 allows senior students, known as the Disciplinarians, to discipline lower-ranking students.

     "Through this model, St. John's hands over to adolescent students the school's obligation to act as parent to each child enrolled at the institution," the complaint states. "These Disciplinarians abuse that power and take their authority beyond any reasonable limits while putting the younger boys in constant fear of physical and mental harm.

     "Because St. John's grants its Disciplinarians the authority to discipline the younger boys, it should have heightened security and increased personnel to monitor all activities and protect its children. Yet, in practice, it does quite the opposite.

     "St. John's students live in dormitories that even its former president called 'a terrible place.' The dormitories significantly lack monitoring in the form of personnel and cameras. At most, only one adult supervisor remains in the dormitory overnight to monitor the student activities.

     "By housing students in facilities with minor supervision, St. John's grants its Disciplinarians carte blanche to do what they wish and inflict harm upon the younger boys."

     One student says he was bound, gagged and beaten by multiple students, who took pictures of the assault and posted them on Facebook. This student says he was locked in a locker for 30 minutes, was forced to roll around in the mud in his uniform, then discard his clothes and was urinated on while showering.

     Another student claims he witnessed multiple suicide attempts by students, and an attempted rape.
     A third student says he was forced to perform physical training until he vomited.

     All of the student-plaintiffs claim they were victimized by multiple beatings, including one assault that led to a broken orbital socket and permanent loss of vision.

     The plaintiffs say the school encourages students to report abuse - but then tells the Disciplinarians which students made the complaint. Therefore, students who report abuse fear retaliation by the Disciplinarians, the complaint states.

     They seek damages for negligent supervision, intentional failure to supervise, intentional infliction of emotional distress or outrage, breach of fiduciary duty and conspiracy to assault and batter.

     They are represented by Daniel Zmijewski, with Miller Schirger, of Kansas City, Mo.
     St. John's is a member of the National Association of Episcopal Schools.

Program's website:

And.... ... ry_school/

Parents ‘Very Satisfied’ With Settlement From Salina, Kan., Military School

August 9, 2005

Source: redOrbit ([/b]

Aug. 10–The attorney representing a group of former cadets of St. John’s Military School in Salina said Tuesday the parents of a cadet who lost teeth and had his jaw fractured while being choked unconscious were “very satisifed” by a substantial payment made to settle the case.

Meanwhile, the civil cases filed against the school last fall have resulted in significant changes in policies concerning student conduct and in the school’s admission philosophy, the school’s president said.

The settlement resulted in a dismissal last month of a lawsuit brought by Martin Sure, father of former cadet Michael Shure, now living and attending school in Denver.

The suit was one in a series filed by attorney Patrick Neustrom of the law firm of Achterberg, Neustrom & Angell, 118 S. Seventh. An earlier suit representing another Colorado couple, Michael and Tess McCabe, on behalf of their son, Julian, also was dismissed. The sums of those settlements were not disclosed.

All the alleged incidents took place in 2003 or 2004. Some of the allegations involved beatings with broom sticks and coat hangers.

Two cases remain on file in court. Four others are in talks with the school’s insurance carrier to see if they can be resolved before suits are filed. All the cases could be settled through negotiations, Neustrom said.

“We’re negotiating in good faith with (the insurance company) and they’re trying to resolve these cases for the boys so they can move on,” Neustrom said. “We’re hoping to take positive steps.”

Safer for students Col. Jack Fox, president of St. John’s Military since September 2004, said Tuesday that he and the staff and the board of directors of the school have gone through adjustments to create a safer environment for the students.

Staff members are now required to undergo regular training for dealing with alcohol and other drug problems and anger management.

Cadets who bring discredit to the institution will be dismissed, he said.

This year when the new students, known as “new boys” report on Aug.

26, they will face a zero tolerance policy on hazing, he said.

“If a boy has a history of violence, fighting and fighting again, what I tell staff is don’t bring in any boy that you wouldn’t want your son living with,” Fox said. “We’re not going to take a boy we can’t help. Parents look to us for academics, too. We took a hard look at ourselves, and that’s healthy.”

The Episcopal school, which Fox expects will enroll up to 130 students this fall, serves boys in grades six through 12.

Source: redOrbit (


From Investigative Reporters and Editors

St. John's Military School

Number   21860
Subject   Schools
Source   KWCH-TV (Wichita, KS)
State   KS
Year   2004

Publication Date   July 18; Nov. 4, 23; Dec. 3

Summary   This KWCH investigation revealed a 10-year pattern of abuse at a Kansas military school. A tip from a former employee of the school prompted the TV station to FOIA police records, which noted 28 cases of abuse including boys being beaten with broomsticks, burned with lighters and kicked repeatedly. A related civil suit alleged staff negligence, and other discussions of abuse were found in an alumni chat room on the Internet.
Category   None
Pages   25
Keywords   TAPE;TRANSCRIPT;military schools;military academy;military cadets;St. John's Military School
Related Links   
Related Video   
Ordering info   Want to place an order? Email us or call us at 573-882-3364 (Stories are only available to members of IRE. For membership information, please refer to our membership page)


The Truth About Military Schools: ... chools.htm

News Items / Spring Creek Academy
« on: March 09, 2012, 02:44:43 AM »
Montana Supreme Court orders new trial over suicide at Spring Creek Academy

By VINCE DEVLIN of the Missoulian | Posted: Thursday, March 8, 2012 9:30 pm [/b]

THOMPSON FALLS – The Montana Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a new trial in a lawsuit that accuses a Utah company and its founder of playing a part in the suicide of a 16-year-old girl here.

A Sanders County jury took less than two hours in October 2010 to decide that World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools Inc. and its founder, Robert Lichfield, were not negligent in the death of Karlye Newman.
Newman hanged herself with a sweatshirt on Oct. 7, 2004, after six months at Spring Creek Academy Lodge, a boarding school for troubled teens that was a member of WWASP.

But Montana’s high court said retired Montana Supreme Court Justice John Warner, who was brought in to hear it after the third District Court judge assigned to the case retired, was wrong to bar the jury from hearing evidence outside of what the dead girl knew, witnessed or was within her general knowledge.
“We conclude that the District Court abused its discretion when it limited the evidence concerning negligence to what Karlye knew and what happened to Karlye,” Justice Patricia Cotter wrote for the majority. “The District Court determined it appropriate to admit evidence of what Karlye knew, but exclude evidence of what the defendants knew. This analysis is contrary to our case law.”


“It’s good news,” said James Manley of Polson, one of several attorneys representing Karlye’s mother, Judith Newman. “It means we get to retry it with all the evidence in this time.”

That includes, he said, evidence concerning other WWASP schools that were shut down by regulators and investigated for abuses, and information about what happened to other students in the so-called “tough-love” institutions.
Warner’s ruling had said admitting such evidence was “highly prejudicial” against the defendants.

But, Cotter wrote, “Without this information, the jury could not determine whether it was foreseeable to these defendants that Karlye was at risk of injury while a student at Spring Creek.”

That evidence, which will be allowed in the new trial, points to Judith Newman’s contention that WWASP should have recognized what might happen to her daughter if Spring Creek – which closed its doors in 2009 – continued its allegedly harsh treatment and punishments of Karlye, according to Manley.
“The retrial will be a very different kind of case,” Manley said.


Judith Newman, who paid $3,000 a month to send her daughter to Spring Creek, filed the original lawsuit in 2006. Through dismissals and out-of-court settlements, a long list of defendants was whittled down to WWASP and Lichfield before it went to trial in 2010.
In the lawsuit, Judith Newman contends the WWASP-affiliated school misled her about her daughter’s progress and condition, ignored signs that the girl had become suicidal, and contributed to her death through a series of harsh punishments that included multiple periods of solitary confinement and refusing to allow the girl to have any contact with her parents throughout her stay.

The defendants, represented by San Francisco attorney William Kronenberg, say Judith Newman failed to disclose previous suicide threats by Karlye before the girl was enrolled in Spring Creek Lodge Academy, and signed off on Spring Creek’s methods prior to enrolling her daughter.

Reports say that WWASP, which is said to have generated as much as $90 million per year from the tuition for the many schools it operated or was associated with, is no longer in business, but still exists on paper so that its insurance company will continue to pay its attorneys.

WWASP is the subject of several lawsuits besides Newman’s. The largest is a federal suit involving 353 parents and former students who accuse the firm of assault, battery, false imprisonment, fraud and racketeering.

Judith Newman is suing for wrongful death, negligence, breach of contract, fraud and deceit. She is asking for unspecified damages, although Manley told the Sanders County jury Karlye’s life was worth at least $5 million, and that other damages could tack on another $1 million.

The 2 1/2-week trial rivaled the 2 1/2 -week incest trial of Douglas Guill in 2008 as the longest in Sanders County history.

Manley said the case will be remanded back to District Court some time in the next 10 days, and Newman will ask for a new judge to be assigned, which either side is allowed to do after a successful appeal.
Reporter Vince Devlin can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or at ... z1obSFGMMc

The Troubled Teen Industry / Congressional Videos on Youtube
« on: March 08, 2012, 10:29:46 PM »
I have been working on making shorter videos from the Congressional Hearings so the info can be used. I will paste links to the videos I have made here.

2007 Hearings - Wilderness Programs:

2007 Hearings - NATSAP - Jan moss compilation:

8 Short videos from the 2008 Congressional Hearings. I hope these are more digestible and useful for sending to parents and/or using for other videos compilations. Please rip them and make copies for your own use. Real player has an easy way to download video files.









Now here is a 2008 compilation of the previous 8 videos I rolled into one:

Most other video of the Hearings can be found on Youtube, mostly posted by 'edlabordemocrats". Most personal Testimonies were recorded and posted by them, for instance testimonies of parents who lost their children to programs as well as survivors of programs.

News Items / SPLC Wins Federal Class Action suit
« on: March 02, 2012, 06:04:19 PM »
Groundbreaking Settlement in SPLC Case Protects Incarcerated Children from Abuse in Mississippi


Children and teens incarcerated in Mississippi will no longer be housed in a privately run prison or subjected to brutal solitary confinement under the terms of a groundbreaking settlement reached in an SPLC lawsuit.

The federal class action suit charged that conditions at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, which houses boys convicted as adults, are unconstitutional. The facility is operated by GEO Group Inc., the nation’s second largest private prison corporation.

“This represents a sea change in the way the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) will treat children in its custody,” said Sheila Bedi, deputy legal director for the SPLC. “As a result of this litigation, Mississippi’s children will no longer languish in an abusive, privately operated prison that profits each time a young man is tried as an adult and ends up behind bars.”

Under the proposed decree, the MDOC will be required to remove boys from the GEO-operated prison and house them at a stand-alone facility governed by juvenile justice, rather than adult, standards. The MDOC will be required to provide them with a broad variety of rehabilitative services and strong protections from sexual abuse and violence. The decree also categorically bars the state from subjecting young people to solitary confinement – the first time a federal court has banned the barbaric practice of housing children in long-term isolation.

“It’s been known for a long time that prolonged solitary confinement causes terrible suffering and psychiatric breakdown even in mature healthy adults – let alone in emotionally vulnerable children and teenagers,” said Margaret Winter, associate director of the ACLU National Prison Project. “Getting these kids out of the greedy hands of GEO is a big step forward, and the ban on solitary confinement in this decree is truly unprecedented.”

The lawsuit, filed in November 2010 by the SPLC, ACLU and civil rights attorney Robert B. McDuff, challenges notoriously abusive conditions in the GEO-run facility. The lawsuit describes the routine practice of GEO staffers peddling drugs to teenagers in their custody, subjecting them to brutal beatings, sexual exploitation and solitary confinement, and failing to protect them from violence at the hands of older, predatory prisoners. One youth suffered permanent brain damage as a result of an attack in which GEO staffers were complicit.

The consent decree will also require the MDOC to protect the adults who will be housed at Walnut Grove from physical and sexual abuse, violence, excessive use of force and prolonged isolation, and will require the MDOC to increase its oversight of GEO.

The consent decree still must be approved by U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves in Jackson. ... om-abuse-i

News Items / MS chief fired after video shows abuse of disabled teen
« on: February 24, 2012, 07:33:35 PM » ... abled-teen

MS chief fired after video shows abuse of disabled teen

Posted: Feb 23, 2012 10:37 PM EST
Updated: Feb 23, 2012 11:51 PM EST

By Janice Broach


A Mississippi police chief was fired after he and other officers were caught on camera abusing a mentally disabled teen with cinnamon and boxing on city property.

A video shot by a Tutwiler city official in city hall shows 18-year-old Cortez Martin, ordered to do community service for a misdemeanor.

"I have never seen anything or heard of anything where someone was doing something like this to a mentally challenged person," said Clarksdale attorney Ellis Pittman.

Tutwiler is a town of about 1,300, not far from Clarksdale.

In the video, a city worker pours cinnamon down Martin's throat for something called "the cinnamon challenge."

It did not take long for Martin to cough up the cinnamon, as the group roared with laughter.  Martin then runs for water and then into the bathroom, where he appears to vomit all while people are laughing.

"This is just sickening," said Pittman.

On a separate occasion, Pittman said another video was shot by a police officer of Martin being challenged to a boxing match with another officer.

The video shows former Tutwiler police officer Jimmy Johnson hitting Martin in the head several times as the officer shooting the video laughs.

In the video, Martin is knocked down a few times.

The teen said he wanted to continue.  Then, Johnson hit Martin so hard he fell to the floor.

The town of Tutwiler fired officers Johnson and Bobby Banks, Police Chief Terry Tyler, the town clerk, and another employee.

PIttman said there is also supposed to be video of officers paying Martin $5 dollars to use a taser on him.  The district attorney and FBI are investigating.

Officials in Tutwiler were not available for comment.

another source: ... abled-teen

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 12