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Crisis at Lincoln Hills juvenile prison years in making
Patrick Marley , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Published 10:00 a.m. CT Dec. 17, 2016 | Updated 3:49 p.m. CT Jan. 6, 2017

Red flags raised to Walker, others but abuses continued

Irma — Shirtless and handcuffed, the 17-year-old inmate stood in the hallway of the segregation unit, refusing to go into his room.

“You want to do something, do it now!" Kenyadi Evans snapped at two guards.

When a third guard arrived, Evans sized her up. “I'll beat your ass, too,” he said.

Guard Jeff Butler had heard enough that chaotic night, one like so many other nights at the trouble-plagued Lincoln Hills School for Boys. He shoved the teen into the room and slammed the door, smashing his foot.

Out of frustration, Butler punched the metal door so hard that he broke his hand.

Before driving himself to the hospital, the four-year Lincoln Hills veteran sat in his truck and cried, prison records show.

Inside his room, Evans screamed and held up his foot so the staff could see the bleeding. The Milwaukee teen had lost parts of two small toes, but it would take prison officials nearly two hours to take him to a hospital 15 miles away.

He would eventually require multiple surgeries and the partial amputation of the two toes.

It was Nov. 29, 2015.

It had been 46 months — nearly four years — since a judge alerted Gov. Scott Walker that prison officials had waited hours to take an inmate who had been sexually assaulted to a hospital. Twelve months since the Department of Corrections had launched an internal investigation. Ten months since criminal investigators had opened their own probe. One month since prosecutors had told a court they believed children were being abused.

Six days after Evans' toes were crushed, state agents descended on the facility, located 30 miles north of Wausau. The raid began to lay bare problems that would result in the departure of a dozen employees, spark an FBI investigation and deepen concerns about the state's justice system for juveniles who commit serious crimes.

The night Evans was injured made clear that public officials — from front-line guards to the governor  — had for years missed or ignored numerous warning signs about a facility descending into disorder.

On the way to the hospital, Evans boasted, said the guard who drove him there.

“He was talking about how much money he was going to make,” retired guard Doug Curtis recalled. “‘Boy, I’m going to make some money off of this. You’re going to pay.’”

Indeed, within a year taxpayers would give Evans a $300,000 settlement to avoid a lawsuit.

Problems fester

For years, officials knew or should have known about the thicket of problems at Lincoln Hills and its sister facility on the same campus, Copper Lake School for Girls.

“It all went on in plain view of the Department of Corrections, but nobody at the Department of Corrections knew how juvenile corrections worked or how Lincoln Hills operated or what was going on," said Troy Bauch, who until recently was the union representative for workers there.

“Nobody cared.”

The sweeping criminal probe, now nearly 2 years old, is examining allegations of prisoner abuse, child neglect, sexual assault, intimidation of witnesses and victims, strangulation and tampering with public records. A separate internal investigation uncovered four incidents where inmates' bones were broken.

The crisis at Lincoln Hills is rooted in systematic breakdowns, lax management, confusion over policies, a lack of communication and chronic staff shortages, a review of more than 1,000 pages of records and dozens of interviews by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found.

Officials trained staff improperly, failed to preserve video evidence, didn't document serious incidents, and often shirked their duty to report matters to parents, police and social service agencies.

The shortcomings intensified in 2011 when the Walker administration shut down two youth prisons in southeastern Wisconsin to save $25 million a year. The move put all of the state's serious teen offenders in one facility — hundreds of miles from most of their families.

“The entire climate went from mildly hellish to the ninth ring of hell," said Timothy Johnson, a former guard.

While a developing crisis quickly became apparent, no one moved to address it.

After nearly six years in office, Walker has yet to visit Lincoln Hills.

A prison with an unassuming name

Opened in 1970, Lincoln Hills is surrounded by a chain-link fence topped with razor wire. Inmates live in dorm-style cottages that dot the campus near the small town of Irma. They attend school year-round in a central building.

The state tries to give the facility a different atmosphere than adult prisons. Inmates are referred to as youth, guards as youth counselors. Residents hang Halloween and Christmas decorations to try to give it a homey air.

Lincoln Hills generally holds inmates as young as 13 and as old as 25, separated by treatment and education needs. Most inmates are in their mid to late teens; some adults are being held for crimes they committed as juveniles.

About 145 boys are in Lincoln Hills and 20 girls in Copper Lake. The two areas are separated by fences. Holding an inmate costs more than $100,000 a year.

Most of the inmates are African-American and come from Milwaukee  — 215 miles and 3½ hours away. The staff is largely white and from the rural north.

Unlike the state’s overpopulated adult prisons, there is plenty of room at Lincoln Hills. The prison was built to hold more than 500 inmates.

Typically, the inmates have committed serious, violent crimes  — including homicide and robbery — or have had repeated run-ins with the law and didn’t turn their behavior around after being sent to group homes.

'A caged dog'

The mother of one Milwaukee teen had mixed feelings when her son was sent to Lincoln Hills in 2014 at age 15. She worried about him being there but knew he needed serious intervention.

“(He) was at that point of no return,” said the mother, who spoke to the Journal Sentinel on the condition that her name not be used.

The boy was first arrested at 13 after breaking into a friend’s house. Before long, he broke into a school to try to steal computers. He ran away from group homes, once stealing a car.

At Lincoln Hills, he was frequently sent to segregation for beating others. Guards often doused him with pepper spray, his mother said.

"It felt like my son was a caged dog, not a child or a man,” she said.

In August, a staff member filed a report claiming the boy had attempted suicide by tying a shirt around his neck.

No one from Lincoln Hills notified the mother — a problem that repeatedly has cropped up at the juvenile prison.

She found out three months later, from a delinquency services official for Milwaukee County.

“When I got this letter, I almost had a heart attack,” she said. “My child tried to commit suicide and nobody told me? I would’ve walked, if I had to, up to Lincoln Hills and been there for him to find out what would make him want to harm himself.”

Her son, now 17, later said he had not attempted suicide but had covered his face with a shirt because he was about to be hit with pepper spray. She said she believed her son because he had never tried to hurt himself before.

A Department of Corrections spokesman said parents are notified only if an injury occurs.

When she contacted Lincoln Hills to find out why she hadn’t been told of the incident, she was told she would get a call back that day.

She is still waiting for that call.

Shutting down a prison

Numbers drove the decision to consolidate the state's juvenile inmates at Lincoln Hills.

In 2004, the state’s youth prisons held 668 inmates on a typical day. By 2011, the figure had dropped to nearly half that.

The reduction, which mirrored national trends was due to several factors. Fewer juveniles were being arrested. When they did get in trouble, they were increasingly being placed in community-based settings instead of prisons.

It no longer made financial sense for the state to run three secure facilities — Lincoln Hills, Ethan Allen School in Waukesha County and Southern Oaks Girls School in Racine County. In 2010, Gov. Jim Doyle formed a task force to figure out what to do and concluded a juvenile prison should close.

Ethan Allen was older, its grounds were smaller and the facility was more expensive to run than Lincoln Hills. At the time they were closed, Ethan Allen and Southern Oaks together cost nearly $33 million a year to operate. Lincoln Hills cost about $19 million.

It was also easier to close Ethan Allen than Lincoln Hills. A state law requires a juvenile prison to be maintained in northern Wisconsin.

Former Republican state Sen. Clifford "Tiny" Krueger, a tavern keeper in Merrill who had performed in the circus because of his girth, inserted the measure into state law more than 40 years ago, recalled Jim Moeser, a former juvenile corrections official.

No such law applied to southeastern Wisconsin, even though most juvenile inmates come from the state's most populated region.

Doyle's task force said if a facility was to be closed, there should be careful planning for the transition.

When Walker took office in January 2011, he moved quickly to close Ethan Allen and Southern Oaks.

The consolidation saved $25 million a year. Like other changes the Republican governor made early in his tenure, the move was overshadowed by the mass protests spawned by Act 10, which weakened collective bargaining for most public employees.

As juvenile justice experts around the nation were recommending smaller, more localized facilities, Wisconsin went in the opposite direction, consolidating operations in a remote setting.

"This is a 19th century or early 20th century model, where you have a large state-operated facility hours away from the urban centers," said Jeffrey Butts, director of a research center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

"It is profoundly ineffective and wasteful."

A rocky transition

More than 100 inmates were transferred to Lincoln Hills over several months in 2011, almost doubling the population.

Lincoln Hills got approval to bring on more than 100 new employees, but the institution was chronically short-staffed because of the challenge of hiring prison workers in a sparsely populated area. Supervisors forced employees to work double shifts, and living units were often operated with fewer employees, providing workers with less backup.

There were so many double shifts employees sometimes had trouble staying awake on their drives home, guards said.

“We got people walking around like zombies,” Curtis said in a recent interview as he reflected on his time as a guard there. “They want to know when they’re going to sleep again.”

The influx of new inmates created fights and arguments, as the teens sought to establish where they stood in the prison’s pecking order.

“I would come in at 6:30 and by 6:31 I’d have a couple guys on the floor in handcuffs,” said Johnson.

Guards, meanwhile, were angry because Act 10 made them pay more for their benefits, cutting a typical worker's take-home pay by 8.5%. With the loss of collective bargaining, they also had less say in how the prison was run.

Around this time, prison officials instituted a philosophy that calls for using restraints less often and trying to talk inmates through their problems when they act up instead of isolating them. Guards were skeptical.

Paul Westerhaus, who for years played key roles in running Lincoln Hills, admitted to internal investigators in 2015 that he didn't recognize the scope of the problems that were developing or move to fix them. The abrupt consolidation threw the staff into disarray, and the institution didn't have a solid training program to deal with it, he said.

He also attributed the problems to an inmate population that had more mental health issues and was increasingly aggressive. Having one facility made it tougher to separate inmates who clashed because they couldn't be transferred to another prison.

“It's almost like it began a perfect storm, and it just sort of went and grew from there,” he said.

Warnings arrived early 

In February 2012, Racine County Circuit Judge Richard Kreul did something he'd never done during 18 years on the bench. He wrote the governor a letter about one of his cases.

"I'm sure reading the attached memo will shock you as much as it did me," he wrote.

The memo Kreul sent to Walker described an incident in which an inmate from Racine was forced to perform oral sex on his roommate and then beaten unconscious.

Workers learned of the assault at 4 p.m. They didn’t get the victim medical treatment for three hours.

The delay happened in part because other inmates were playing a basketball game, according to a Racine County human services report.

“What did you want us to do, stop the game?” Lincoln Hills psychologist Paul Hesse asked with a chuckle when a Racine County official inquired about the sexual assault and beating, according to county records.

That night, more than six hours after the assault was discovered, hospital workers — not prison staff — reported the assault to the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department. The offender was ultimately convicted of the beating and sexual assault.

Racine County officials were tipped to the assault by another youth, but only got details from Lincoln Hills officials after making repeated inquiries. In response, Racine County dramatically scaled back sending juveniles to Lincoln Hills.

The day after the assault, Lincoln Hills officials sent the victim to segregated housing for disruptive behavior. It was that detail  — punishing the victim — that prompted the judge to write the governor eight months after Ethan Allen School was consolidated into Lincoln Hills.

His memo was addressed to the governor, but Walker's aides said they never showed it to him. At the time, he was fighting for his political life during a recall election sparked by Act 10.

No one was disciplined for the handling of the assault. Department of Corrections officials told county workers they were retraining employees, but they did not get back to the judge himself.

"Zero," said Kreul, who is now retired. "I got nothing back. I would not have sent the letter if I thought it was going to go to the circular file. ... I thought somebody would say, 'This merits some real investigation.'"

At the time of the sexual assault and delayed response, Westerhaus was the prison’s superintendent and John Ourada its deputy superintendent.

Walker's team promoted the pair two years later, in 2014.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The state inspector general for child welfare is investigating child sexual abuse and exploitation of children in state-licensed facilities.
Julie Rogers announced Wednesday that her investigation will show whether the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is taking adequate precautions to prevent and respond to children in the state’s care being abused.
The Lincoln Journal Star reports ( ) that Rogers‘ office has received 36 reports since July 2013 of state wards, youth placed in state-licensed facilities and youths adopted from the child welfare system subjected to sexual abuse or exploitation.
“We know that children and youth in the state’s care - both in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems - are particularly vulnerable. Many have already been victims of abuse or neglect, have experienced trauma, or both,” she said.
HHS spokesman Russ Reno said the agency has cooperated with the investigation and will welcome its recommendations.
“The care and well-being of children in our custody is of the utmost importance to this Agency,” Reno said.

The children reporting abuse say they were sexually abused by foster parents, adoptive parents, other youths or staff members at residential care facilities.
Several abuse cases have made headlines in recent years. In one, a 34-year-old Beatrice woman was sentenced to two years in prison after a friend of her boyfriend developed a sexual relationship with her 14-year-old foster child when he stayed at her house.
And in August, a 28-year-old former therapist at Kearney’s Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center was charged with having sexual contact with an 18-year-old at the center.
All of the cases Rogers is aware of have already been investigated by law enforcement and referred to prosecutors, if needed. Rogers said she doesn’t plan to duplicate those efforts.
Rogers‘ investigation will focus on identifying areas for improvement and making recommendations on how the state can better protect children. Her recommendations will be made public in September.

Kirstie Bean of Concord allegedly had relations with a boy at the Sununu Center, gave him and another teen alcohol, tampered with a witness.
By Tony Schinella (Patch Staff) - December 29, 2016 2:18 pm ET

MANCHESTER, NH — A local sociologist who was recently employed as a youth counselor at the Sununu Youth Services Center in Manchester has been arrested for child rape and other charges, according to a New Hampshire State Police investigation. Kirstie Bean, 25, of Chapel Street in Concord, was arrested on Dec. 1, 2016, for aggravated felonious sexual assault, felonious sexual assault-penetration of a victim 13 to 15, handguns-sale of a pistol to a minor, three counts of endangering the welfare of a child, witness tampering, and hindering apprehension or prosecution.

Editor’s note: This post was derived from information supplied by the Manchester District Court. It does not indicate a conviction. This link explains the name removal request process for NH Patch police reports.

While there is limited information being released about the investigation, according to court documents, a state police detective began looking into allegations that Bean was inappropriately involved with a then-15-year-old boy at the facility earlier this year.

Between early June and late August of this year, she allegedly began touching the boy in a sexual manner while she was a counselor at the center and had “disciplinary authority” over the teen. On April 24, Bean allegedly purchased alcohol for the boy as well as an 18-year-old and provided it to them at an unknown location in Manchester. On Aug. 26, she allegedly let the boy operate a motor vehicle in Manchester.

By October, with an official investigation underway into allegations against her, Bean allegedly “knowingly attempted to induce or otherwise cause” the boy to withhold testimony, documentation, or information, after reportedly calling him at the facility and telling him that he should not be “speaking about their relationship” to anyone, according to court documents.

The court file did not reveal information about the aggravated felonious sexual assault-penetration charge, the gun sale to a minor charge, or hindering apprehension allegation.

On Nov. 30, state police took out a warrant for Bean’s arrest and she was arrested at the facility on River Road at just after 1 p.m. the next day. She was released later on $2,500 cash bail.

Before working for the Sununu Center, according to her LinkedIn profile and other employment information online, Bean was a summer camp counselor at the Pines Community Center, a recreational facility in Northfield, between 2008 and 2014, a substitute teacher at the Keene Day Care Center between 2012 and 2014 while attending college, and a babysitter, before graduating from Winnisquam High School.

On her protected Twitter account, she stated in the caption, “The ones I pity are the ones who never stick out their neck for something they believe, never know the taste of moral struggle, & never the thrill of victory.”

Bean’s attorney appeared on her behalf on Dec. 19, and entered a plea of “not guilty” to the charges, according to court documents. Bean is due back in court for an arraignment on Jan. 9, 2017, in Manchester District Court.

Other charges against Bean

This isn’t Bean’s only run-in with police, according to reports online.

Back on April 25, she was stopped at 12:30 a.m. in Hillsboro by an officer for a motor vehicle violation, according to a report on the department’s website. After a reported consent search of the vehicle, she was arrested on a possession of drugs in a motor vehicle charge. A passenger in the vehicle – Jacob Morrisette, 18, of Hillsboro – was also arrested for possession of drugs.

Problems at the center

The Sununu Youth Services Center is a 144-bed secure detention center that offers institutional services to New Hampshire residents who are 13 to 17 and have previously been involved in criminal activity. It is the state’s only juvenile detention facility and is run by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. Like other detention facilities as well as prisons, it has strict sexual assault and sexual harassment policies based on federal laws.

A NH DHHS spokesperson stated that Bean was no longer employed at the facility.

According to NHPR, the facility’s population has been declining in recent years, while lawmakers have been analyzing how to best use the facility. In a 2015 report, the radio network noted that only a third of its beds were being used at the time.

Back in mid-October, members of SEIU 1984, the state employee’s union, met with Democrat gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern to discuss the work at the facility, including the challenges facing employees. One nurse, according to a post on the union’s website, stated that the Sununu Center was “not a jail” but “a treatment facility.”

Drug Treatment Counselor in Perth Amboy Charged With Extortion
MCPO: Howell Man Extorted Cash in Exchange For Favorable Reports on "Client"

Code: [Select]
PERTH AMBOY, NJ—A 54-year-old man from Howell Township was charged with second-degree "theft by extortion" in connection with his work as a drug treatment counsellor at a Perth Amboy clinic called "Journey to Wellness."

Anthony Trimble, who also earns $63,470 working for the state performing a similar function at the Special Treatment Unit of East Jersey State Prison in Avenel, according to's Craig McCarthy.

According to the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office (MCPO), Trimble "demanded [an] undisclosed sum on December 14, 2016 after the victim failed a drug test."

Trimble faces five to ten years in state prison if convicted of doing so but, at least for now, he is a free man.  Having been released on his own recognizance, Trimble did not spend any time as an inmate in jail and did not have to pay any bail to be released.

The victim was someone, whose identity prosecutors did not disclose, who had been sentenced to three years on probation, and was required to report to Trimble.  The man's attorney allegedly alerted authorities.

The private company, which is apparently working with the state's criminal justice system, told McCarthy that they fired Trimble after learning of the accusations from detectives.

But the status of his job with the State of New Jersey is still not clear, more than three weeks after the arrest.

Ellen Lovejoy, a spokesperson for the NJ Department of Human Services, did not respond to an inquiry about whether or not Trimble was being paid during his suspension.  McCarthy's report noted that, "It was unclear if Trimble was still being paid by the state while suspended."

The charges have raised also concerns about privatization within the criminal justice system, where small--and sometimes questionable--companies get put in charge of serious responsibilities.

"With 1 in 5 positive tests being a false positive and retesting at the discretion of the counselor and a positive test result impacting probation or child visitation the incentive is great for the clients to pay off the counselors," noted one commenter on the December 23 article.

"Private drug rehabs not investigated closely enough," the comment concluded.

In addition to the Market Street location where Trimble worked, Journey to Wellness also has a "self-help" facility in Toms River, one that is listed on a state website.

Their Perth Amboy facility appears to operate out of a small, nondescript building that has not been marked on the outside by anything more than a modest company banner that has since come down.

Journey to Wellness' low-tech website includes a pitch for people to consider applying for a job there:
Come join our professional and friendly substance abuse counseling team!

We have openings for applicants with a degree in psychology, social work, counseling, or a related field AND a CADC or LCADC to provide substance abuse counseling services to men, women, adolescents and their families.

Bilingual candidates are welcome! We are also accepting interns pursuing the CADC or the LCADC who speak Spanish fluently.

We offers the following six points about the job on its hacked website:
1. Flexible hours
2. Per diem hours
3. A highly competitive hourly rate
4. Your caseload is determined by you
5. On-the-job training and support
6. A family-friendly working environment

In the days following the news of Trimble's arrest, the site displayed a message indicating it had been hacked.

"I wanted to inform you that the site is vulnerable to any type of attack, your files are not safe from attack," read the message from the hacker, who apparently went by the name "REV."

Hacked by REV* I am a good hacker. i belong to the "whitehat"
I wanted to inform you that this site is vulnerable to any type of attack, your files are not safe from attack. Admin, repairs the
vulnerability before someone with malevolent intentions takes hold of your site.
Kindest regards
Group whitehat.

With an increasing number of alleged offenders taking deals that require them to submit to urine testing in order to avoid jail, probation and other diversionary programs find themselves increasingly relying on urinalysis.

Drug testing is sometimes left to private companies like Journey to Wellness, but even in cases where the government is in charge, similar problems still arise.

Trimble's situation mirrors a charge leveled against a Middlesex County Court employee who worked in the county's "drug court."

Rhonda Battle, another state employee who worked in the courtroom of Judge Lorraine Pullen at the Middlesex County Courthouse is still facing an indictment on charges she took $200 bribes throughout 2014 in exchange for clean test results.

Judge Pullen abruptly retired shortly thereafter, but she is now back on the bench in Superior Court.  Battle's case is still pending, and has been moved to her home county--Union--to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The investigation is being conducted by MCPO Detective Kevin Schroeck, and is characterized as "active" and "continuing." Anyone with information is Schroeck at (732) 745-3300.

Woman pleads guilty in Crossroads teen rape
Xerxes Wilson , The News Journal

Rebecca Winters, a former Crossroads drug and alcohol counselor, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to three counts of fourth-degree rape.

The plea came three days into her trial in which she was charged with sexually abusing a 16-year-old patient in her care.

Kent County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Clark ordered a pre-sentencing investigation ahead of her Feb. 28 sentencing hearing. Winters faces up to 45 years imprisonment under the plea, according to Karl Canefsky, Department of Justice spokesman.

It is unclear if prosecutors will recommend a sentence as part of the plea. John Malik, Winters' attorney, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Winters had been charged with 12 counts of fourth-degree rape and sexual abuse of a child by a person of trust, two counts of providing alcohol to a minor and continuous sexual abuse of a child. Dover police arrested Winters in August 2015 and accused her of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old for nearly three months during the summer of 2015.

The first three days of trial saw testimony from another patient at Crossroads who observed Winters' relationship with the victim as well as the victim, his mother and others.

"He would text me and tell me basically everything," said the 15-year-old girl, whose name is being withheld because she is a minor. "They had sex and she did things to him and he did things to her."

The girl, who received treatment at Crossroads for drug and alcohol abuse, described the routine of Winters regularly driving her, the victim and other children for treatment at Crossroad's Milford center. She said beach and movie outings gave clues of Winters' alleged close relationship with the victim as well as her looking the other way when rules were broken.

Winters' first trial ended in a mistrial earlier this year after testimony from a police detective was ruled to have compromised proceedings.

A separate civil lawsuit is still pending in Superior Court against Crossroads, claiming Winters's mother, Alberta Crowley, who was executive director of the now-closed organization, should have known that her daughter was sexually abusing a patient. Crowley has said she called the child abuse hotline when she learned of the relationship in August.

For more than 20 years, Crossroads, a for-profit organization, provided behavioral healthcare for adults and juveniles through outpatient substance abuse treatment, an adolescent full-day plan and intensive outpatient program for adults.

‘Spiritual warfare,’ ‘demonic attacks.’ The role religion played in home for sex-trafficking victims

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Two weeks before the voluntary shutdown this year of Courage House, a licensed group home for young sex-trafficking victims near Sacramento, a ritual was performed on a teenage girl.

According to findings in a state investigation, the girl’s forehead was anointed with oil, a religious verse was recited and the teen was told she would have to be a Christian, or at least denounce Satan, to continue living in the home. Crosses then were handed out to the other girls to wear.

Courage House founder Jenny Williamson later would explain that the girl had multiple personalities and posed a danger to herself and others. “She worshipped Satan, and she practiced animal and human sacrifice,” she told The Sacramento Bee in August.

Williamson told regulators in a June 18 memo responding to the state’s unannounced visit that the girl had been the victim of satanic ritualistic abuse and told staff she had “participated in human sacrifice when she was an alter personality.” Williamson said the girl terrified staff by announcing that “this week was a blood sacrifice week.”

The California Department of Social Services did not accept the group home’s explanation and issued Courage House a “Type A” citation, the most severe penalty for violations considered serious enough to have an immediate impact on clients’ health, safety or personal rights.

In its investigation, the state found that the girl had an interest in satanism but did not threaten to perform sacrifices and, instead, had “made a general statement that she enjoyed drawing some of the images” of satanic practice, a state licensing official wrote.

Courage House appealed the citation twice, losing again in November, arguing in its appeals documents that the state’s investigation was “grossly inadequate” and that “the resident was adamant that she wanted to pray to become a Christian.” In addition, her condition left her with frequent amnesia, preventing her from being able to recount “full events,” two Courage House officials wrote Oct. 6 in their second appeal to the state.

“There was never any pressure given, or ultimatums discussed with her,” wrote former program director Melissa Herrmann and clinical director Angela Chanter, who participated in the episode. “She was told she could not perform human and animal sacrifices, or drink the blood of any person there, but she was never told she could not worship Satan nor was she told she had to become a Christian.”

The clash underscores the tension that can arise between faith-based service providers and government officials – each held accountable for the health and safety of vulnerable clients.

Over the last decade, child sex trafficking has become a hot-button topic, spawning new programs and multiple new funding streams. Christian organizations in particular have rallied to the cause, organizing conferences, engaging communities and embarking on worldwide missionary work.

Some Christian-based groups, such as Courage House and its nonprofit parent organization, Courage Worldwide Inc. of Rocklin, have gone a step further, establishing their own facilities to house and treat young victims.

As the new year approaches, the once-vaunted program is struggling to reopen its Northern California facility for six girls, ages 11 to 17, while undergoing scrutiny from the state – including accusations it has violated children’s right to religious freedom.

Because Courage Worldwide accepts government money – $9,100 a month per child at the time the group’s Sacramento-area home closed in June – the program must stay within regulatory boundaries and not favor one religion over another, or press children to participate. If it is able to reopen, it would be eligible for about $12,000 a month per girl under a new state system in effect next year.

Courage Worldwide officials maintain they have found the appropriate balance.

“State funds do not mean you cannot be a Christian home – state funds and license mean you cannot force a child to practice any religious ritual, and Courage House does not,” said Gil Stieglitz, a board member for Courage Worldwide Inc. and pastor at Bayside Church in Roseville, in an emailed response.

From the time Courage Worldwide opened its Sacramento-area group home in 2011 on 52 acres north of the city, the organization has been steeped in Christian beliefs and practices, according to a Bee examination of state licensing records, dozens of internal Courage Worldwide emails and interviews with 17 former employees, business associates and a former client. The group opened a second Courage House around that same time in the east African country of Tanzania that it says now has 12 beds.

Over and over, Williamson has publicly recited the story of how God spoke to her in church and directed her to build a home for her “daughters.” The organization’s major benefactors – and recruiting grounds for volunteers and donations – have included Christian churches in the Sacramento region and other states.

Email exchanges in 2012 among corporate executives, obtained from a source, show spirited and sometimes frenetic discussions about “demonic attacks” on the girls and the “spiritual warfare” necessary to counter the threat.

“October is a hideous month where the evil one is worshipped daily by his followers and those on our team (and some of our girls in Africa and Nor Cal) that have come out of SRA or witchcraft (satanic ritual abuse) are experience (sic) relentless demonic attacks,” employee Stephanie Midthun wrote in an October 2012 email to staff.

Midthun and her husband, Joel, are key figures in the Courage Worldwide organization. Joel, the pastor of Elk Grove’s Living Water Church, is on the board of directors. Stephanie has served in various roles since 2008, including creative director, chaplain, spiritual adviser and community relations director.

A July 2011 email Williamson sent to her staff and supporters warned: “We are at war! We are under great attack and need your prayers ... If you have a personal relationship with the girls – any time this week – morning, noon, afternoon evening please go out to Courage House to pray and prophecy over them, please, please do so!”

In a March 2012 email, Herrmann, the former program director, discussed the possibility of taking a young client being discharged from a hospital directly to a hotel room in Elk Grove “while she goes through a more intense deliverance and prayer process before transitioning her back” to Courage House.

For years, Williamson has touted an ambitious expansion plan for Courage House Northern California that includes as its centerpiece a shimmering chapel with a large cross, according to architectural renderings. The architect’s plan, which also envisions 10 new cottages for 60 girls, describes the chapel “as the most important building on the campus.” Despite aggressive fundraising around those plans – and a $300,000-plus kick start in 2011 from Bayside Church – the organization has yet to break ground.

Williamson and other Courage Worldwide officials vehemently deny there is any pressure to practice Christianity at Courage House, and said that girls are free to attend services of their choice as staffing levels permit.

“We are in full agreement with the state to provide access to religious services when the girls request it, if provided sufficient notice in advance so that we can properly staff for such requests,” Courage Worldwide officials said in an emailed statement to The Bee.

The state licensing file includes a sample of a “Courage House religious participation form,” which allows girls to check a box indicating their preferences. Choices range from no participation to weekly church services to worship nights and other spiritual events.

Even so, the state leveled a Type B citation against Courage House in December 2015, finding that the girls were required to attend the Midthuns’ church – a concern shared by some staff members.

DeAnne Brining, a former therapist at the home, said the girls felt awkward and conspicuous at the church because the congregation knew who they were. “The girls did not want to be known as Courage girls,” she said. “Everybody at that church knew they were trafficked.”

Courage Worldwide officials disputed the state’s findings, telling The Bee the Elk Grove church was the girls’ “consensus choice.”

The citation was the first of two issued to Courage House by the department’s Community Care Licensing Division for violating children’s religious freedom. That in itself is unusual: Citations regarding religious freedom are so rare in California group homes that only nine other group homes out of 1,500 statewide – regardless of size – have been written up for this violation in the last five years, according to an analysis of statewide data, which includes facilities that operated during this period but are now closed.

Courage Worldwide’s conflicts with the state have extended beyond matters of religious freedom. In the last five years, Courage House has been cited 36 times for regulatory violations, according to the data released to The Bee in early December. That’s more than three times the average for citations at the 300 facilities statewide of similar size and classification level.

Only 14 facilities in California of similar size and classification logged more citations during that period.

Courage Worldwide officials, in their emailed response, noted that while some deficiencies have been about policy, others involved “paperwork issues.”

“No deficiency has been over an issue that the state viewed as serious enough to shut our facility, as it has at other facilities,” the email stated.

‘Battle worship’ and witchcraft

A former life coach and motivational speaker, Williamson founded her nonprofit a decade ago, originally under the name Courage To Be You Inc. The organization started with a social mission of empowering people to “fulfill their God-given purpose,” then refocused in 2008 to sex trafficking, eventually changing its name to Courage Worldwide to reflect its global aspirations.

In recent years, the organization has gained favor in Sacramento’s philanthropic community, collecting millions in donations while promoting the grandiose vision of expansion.

This year, though, the organization’s fundraising practices uncorked a controversy when Williamson and her board quietly decided to close the Northern California facility, a move they say is temporary. The four remaining girls were given seven-day notices and the home closed June 13, with most of the staff laid off over the summer.

The organization told regulators in June it needed a temporary “pause” to prepare for next year’s overhaul in how the state handles placements of troubled youths, which aims to phase out long-term group homes in favor of more family-based care.

However, Courage Worldwide made no public announcement about its pause and continued to actively solicit money. The Bee’s investigation into Courage House and its closure prompted several major donors to withdraw or curtail their pledges.

From the start, the organization has been open about the role Christianity plays in its mission, and its reliance on fundraising from churches. The Courage Worldwide website now includes a blog post entitled, “Churches are Rising Up to Stand with Courage Worldwide” that lists 25 pastors supporting the group.

Documents and emails obtained by The Bee illustrate how staff operations at times have been intertwined with religious pursuits. The Midthuns often were at the center, along with former program director Herrmann, urging prayer sessions and “battle worship nights” to defeat evil.

“We are calling for a corporate fast for Courage Worldwide for the following tuesdays in October (October 9, 16, 23 and 30th) as well as a special ‘Battle Worship Night’ October 31, Halloween night (location TBA),” Midthun wrote to staffers, board members and supporters in October 2012.

Midthun warned of a “strategic attack against our reputation” and the finances of the organization, as well as the private business run by Williamson and her husband, Mike. The email does not explain the source of those perceived attacks.

“We feel the only way to reverse these spiritual battles or assignment against CWW is on our knees in prayer and working as hard as we can,” Midthun wrote.

Stieglitz of Bayside Church conducted one such service at the group home, according to an email a week later.

“Dr. Gil led the leadership of Courage Worldwide in prayer at Courage House to battle the demonic strongholds at the home in Nor Cal and we all sensed it was very much connected to all over our homes,” Midthun wrote. “We came together on our knees with confession and communion, with prayers, tears and worship to battle for our home, our staff and the girls. We sensed a breakthrough in the spirit.”

In February 2012, Herrmann announced that Midthun and her husband, Joel, had been appointed as “Courage House Spiritual Directors” and that staffers should “pray for extra protection, strength, discernment AND that God would continue to reveal himself to all the girls at Courage House!”

Courage House also offered to underwrite the cost of prayer sessions with a pastor it brought in for “individual prayer counseling sessions with staff, volunteers, families and our girls!” according to a January 2012 email from Herrmann with the subject line “Pastor Joe Appointments.”

“Pastor Joe normally charges $100 for individual prayer counseling sessions,” Herrmann wrote to staff. “Courage to Be You is willing to cover 25% of the cost of an appointment with Pastor Joe.

“Please pay the $75 to him directly …”

The fight against evil also extended to Courage Worldwide’s home in Tanzania, where Courage House officials wrote in an Oct. 24, 2012, email after a trip there that the girls “are still experiencing a lot of demonic attacks.”

“During this trip we have found out quite a bit about some significant amount of witchcraft that was done on the property previously over a number of years (prior to Courage House). We have also been spending time praying with the girls and brought in some local experts in the area of witchcraft to help pray with them individually.”

A prayer for rescue

Even former employees of Courage House who identified themselves as people of deep faith said they viewed the corporate culture as overbearing and some of its practices as inappropriate for the girls.

Arlicia Lorentty, a former social worker at Courage House, said the organization’s religious convictions initially were part of the attraction to work there, but that she later came to believe Williamson was “misusing faith” with her dramatic fundraising appearances aimed at “pulling at people’s heartstrings.”

“As a person who is a Christian, and very much believes God has a heart for this population, I don’t think this is what he meant,” said Lorentty, who left in 2015.

“The use of God’s name for fundraising – that’s the other part that really, really bothers me,” she said. “… She’s exploiting our faith, she’s exploiting these people’s generosity.”

Several former staff members said that the religious intensity continued as the organization grew – along with its pool of government contributions.

Today, Courage Worldwide boasts on its website that its therapeutic trauma program for girls is administered by psychologist Benjamin Keyes of Regent University, a private school in Virginia founded by conservative Christian minister and broadcaster Pat Robertson. Courage Worldwide explains that the program is a “Christian therapeutic model” known as Healing Emotional Affective Responses to Trauma (H.E.A.R.T.)

Lauren Conklin, who worked at Courage House for four years, said she was uncomfortable with some of her bosses’ expectations. At one staff meeting last year, she said, Williamson wanted to wash her employees’ feet, symbolic of Jesus’ gesture to his disciples.

“I said ‘no,’ ” she said.

Linda Fiore, the group home administrator at the time the home closed, said she was not at work when the ritual with the oil and crosses occurred. But she said she attended a staff meeting later at which Courage House officials recounted the event and described their success at driving out evil forces.

“I was just shocked,” said Fiore, who went out on medical leave in June and later was laid off. “It was very uncomfortable just being there.”

Faith-based groups in California and elsewhere are continuing to forge relationships with government to help sex-trafficking victims. Many say they are well aware of the boundaries.

Last year, officials announced that the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office was teaming up with Catholic Charities of the East Bay to create a safe home in the Bay Area for girls recovering from sex trafficking. Mary Kuhn, Catholic Charities communication director, said the home is “on path” to open in 2017 and will seek to become licensed by the state.

“It will be our obligation to meet those requirements,” she said.

“We do not discriminate. Our services are not about proselytizing,” she said. “Our services are about meeting the needs of people.”

Mandy Porter, who coordinates a faith-based alliance to help trafficking victims, said Christian groups and volunteers must be extremely careful not to thrust their faith upon this population, or be perceived as trying to control or manipulate them.

“The idea of choice is so important when treating a trafficking victim because they’ve had so many choices taken away,” said Porter of the Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking. “… We don’t want to be another form of coercion, another thing they have to do in order to belong.”

Courage House officials say they believe they are in good standing with the state, and that they’re working to reopen in early 2017. Fundraising efforts continue.

A Dec. 9 fundraising letter posted on the Courage Worldwide website and sent to supporters includes a “giving card” that asks recipients to make a choice: a one-time financial gift; a set monthly contribution; or a commitment to “praying for more children to be rescued out of sex trafficking.”

Open Free for All / merely for Archaeology now?
« on: March 29, 2016, 10:55:42 PM »

State will debate legislation this month that would ban the counseling on minors, a practice psychologists say can lead to depression and suicide

9 The death of a fraudulent Jewish gay conversion organization [JONAH] NEWSWEEK 18 DEC 2015 AT 16:04 ET       

Some familiar tactics in what those posing as therapists and life-coaches at JONAH were inflicting on the men.



Psych Hospitals / Eddie Davidson's Life Sentence
« on: December 14, 2015, 02:01:03 AM »
Locked up in a psych ward under the false premise that he was a convicted sex offender, Eddie Davison sued New York state for false imprisonment. Now the state is charging him $2 million.

According to the mental hygiene law, the New York State Office of Mental Health is allowed to seek repayment for services from any individual who can pay, including by filing counterclaims like this.

Public Sector Gulags / Unrestrained
« on: December 10, 2015, 07:55:57 PM »

While evidence of abuse of the disabled has piled up for decades, one for-profit company has used its deep pockets and influence to bully weak regulators and evade accountability

Australian Government Contractors Will Now Go to Jail for Reporting Child Abuse in Detention Centers June 26, 2015 by Lauren Gillin

Greg Barnes is a barrister and national president of the Australian Lawyers Alliance. He told VICE that the legislation prevents someone's ethical and moral duty to report abuse.

"It's ironic at the same time we have a royal commission into institutionalized sexual abuse we have a government supported by the Labor party, which is deliberately setting about to prevent disclosure of serious criminal abuse," he said.

Mr. Barnes says the law is aimed at anyone having anything to do with asylum seekers in any setting.

"If someone disclosed information that the Australian Navy or customs pushed a boat back out into dangerous waters—and people drowned because of it—they could go to jail."

He says he has "no doubt" there would be legal challenges to the legislation as "most judges and the courts generally would be horrified by legislation that allows for the cover up of physical and mental abuse."


After Josh Duggar admitted to his parents Jim Bob and Michelle that he had fondled multiple minor females in his home, his parents say they were swift to move into action, and get him treatment. Only can reveal the faith-based center, founded by a controversial figure.

Radar has identified the facility as the Insitute in Basic Life Principles Training Center in Little Rock, founded by Bill Gothard. Gothard was previously accused of sexually grooming and inappropriately touching young women in his ministry, and while he was later cleared of any wrongdoing, he resigned amid the scandal.
Today, the centers claim to “strengthen individuals and families through sound Biblical teaching and character development opportunities and to demonstrate Christ’s love through serving,” according to a church website.The programs have come under fire in the past, with several alumni questioning their methods on online forums. John Krull, Executive Director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union called the Indianapolis center an “apalling” “shadow world, where these kids almost disappear” after local Child Protective Services began investigating complaints about the facility. The facility’s Principal, Rodger Gergeni, denied allegations of abuse.

The Little Rock facility is located in an imposing former VA hospital that also houses a local substation of the Little Rock Police Department. A former leader at the center, Harold Walker, confirmed Josh’s attendance to Radar.

“I really don’t remember the circumstances on why Josh came to our center,” Walker said, “He came down … they used to work at the center, the entire family did.”

PHOTOS: Meet The Duggars! The Juiciest Secrets Of All 28 Family Members Exposed

When questioned specifically about the sex crimes claims, he said, “I have to talk to them [the Duggars] about it.”

He declined to comment further.

A police report released yesterday claimed that Jim Bob said church elders had agreed that Josh “needed to be put into a treatment program.”

Jim Bob told cops that Josh was in the program in Little Rock from March 17, 2003, until July 17, 2003.

Jim Bob and Michelle “said that they were both comfortable that nothing had occurred since [redacted] went through the program in Little Rock. They both felt that [redacted] no longer had any problem and that all of this had been resolved.”

Story developing.\\\\



" founder of a chain of Christian “treatment” centers Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar sent their eldest son to for molesting five girls — including his sisters — resigned in 2014 under a cloud of accusations that he had “sexually groomed” and harassed young women and teens in his ministry.

According to RadarOnline Josh Duggar was taken by his father to the Basic Life Principles Training Center in Little Rock, for counseling after admitting to groping the young girls.

Bill Gothard, a Christian writer and minister, founded the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) in 1961, as a way to help families resolve issues by using Biblical principles. Among the services offered at IBLP are ministry seminars, community outreach, counseling for troubled Christians, and mentoring Christian youth.

In an interview, Harold Walker, a former leader at the Little Rock location said he recalled Josh Duggar being brought in, but couldn’t recall the reasons why.

“I really don’t remember the circumstances on why Josh came to our center,” Walker said, “He came down … they used to work at the center, the entire family did.”

In a police report filed after Jim Bob Duggar took his son to a local police officer to discuss what happened, police noted that the Duggars said they placed Josh in a “treatment facility” upon the advice of church elders.

Michelle Duggar later admitted that their son had also been farmed out to a friend who did home remodeling, where Josh did manual labor as part of his rehabilitation.

Gothard, and IBLP, has a colorful history with his Gothard’s brother Steve being forced out after having affairs with a few of the institute’s secretaries.

Gothard himself left under a cloud in 2014, amid accusations that he had sexually harassed multiple women and failed to report allegations of child abuse at IBLP.

IBLP issued an internal report stating Gothrad acted “inappropriately — which was in turn disputed by former members of the ministry who called it “deceptive” — however the 80-year-old chose to leave the ministry he founded.

In 2010, Michelle Duggar received a “Mother of the Year ” award from the head of a ministry who also resigned after admitting to adultery.

That ministry was subsequently shuttered.

A hand-out showing step-by-step how sex abuse cases are handled at IBLP can be seen below, courtesy of Recovering Grace::

Elan School / RIP Tiffany Sedaris
« on: October 22, 2013, 02:21:37 AM »
Tiffany Sedaris (one of six siblings who include among them actress Amy Sedaris and Author David Sedaris) is reminisced in an article by her brother David following her May, 2013 suicide. he briefly includes mention of her having been sent to Élan:
“A few weeks after these messages were written, Tiffany ran away, and was subsequently sent to a disciplinary institution in Maine called Élan. According to what she told us later, it was a horrible place. She returned home in 1980, having spent two years there, and from that point on none of us can recall a conversation in which she did not mention it. She blamed the family for sending her off, but we, her siblings, had nothing to do with it. Paul, for instance, was ten when she left. I was twenty-one. For a year, I sent her monthly letters. Then she wrote and asked me to stop. As for my parents, there were only so many times they could apologize. “We had other kids,” they said in their defense. “You think we could let the world stop on account of any one of you?”

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