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Dunwoody daycare shooting trial | Day 14: Closing statements begin

By Joel Provano

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Day 14 in the trial of Hemy Neuman, charged in the Nov. 18, 2010 death of Dunwoody businessman Rusty Sneiderman, opened Tuesday in DeKalb Superior Court.

Prosecution: DeKalb DA Robert James and Chief Assistant DA Don Geary.

Defense: Attorneys Bob Rubin and Doug Peters

Judge: Gregory Adams

Watch the trial live

11:28 a.m.: "I suggest to you there's one thing that we and the DA's office and each of you have in common in this case -- that Andrea Sneiderman is playing each of us for a damn fool." He then tried to discredit the testimony of Dr. Pam Crawford, the state's expert witness, who was not board-certified.

11:25 a.m.: Peters notes that Neuman told the truth about all the details of the killing, including the disguises, but he he did it to hide it from Sneiderman because if she knew what he was doing they couldn't be together forever. He talked about what effect  Sneiderman's push and pull of Neuman had on Neuman's delusional state of mind, according to the psychologists who testified. Dr. Marks said its like stoking the fire at a time when Neuman was spinning out of control, according to Peters.

11:20 a.m.: Peters notes that Sneiderman tells her friend in late December that she thinks Neuman killed her husband, but doesn't go to the police for six days, but continues to email Neuman and sends him an email about wanting to meet him when she visits the office. "It means she wants to further manipulate him so that the trail does not leave back to him."

11:15 a.m.: Peters tells the jury: "When you now for a fact that she is a liar when she says she didn't have an affair, that you know for a fact that she is a liar when she says she didn't manipulate Hemy."

11:10 a.m.: Peters says that on Nov. 19, the day after the shooting, Sneiderman lies to police about whether Neuman tried to break up her relationship. In this case, Andrea has said two things: I didn't have an affair and I didn't manipulate Hemy. I suggest to you it's up to you to decide whose telling the truth in this case."

11:07 a.m.: Peters mentions phone records that show that the morning before Neuman earlier tried to shoot Rusty at his home. He notes that one hour before that Andrea put in two calls to Hemy and that 30 minutes after he ran away, they were back on the phone. "Andrea Sneiderman set it in motion. Neuman was crazy."

11:05 a.m. Peters: "Andrea knew Hemy was losing his mind. Noone else did." He asked the jury to consider the testimony of Dr. Flores and Dr. Marks. He mentions the second trip to Greenville where the couple were groping and kissing and dancing.

11 a.m.: Peters reviews some of the those emails, especially those where Neuman asks Sneiderman to marry him and how close he felt to her children. "You telling me she didn't understand that he was losing his mind? He reads other emails where  Sneiderman is pushing and pulling at Hemy Neuman."

10:56 a.m.: Peters notes that in Greenville, S.C., the couple had dinner, dancing and sex, but then Sneiderman pushed him away again. Dr. Flores reviewed telephone records in the case. Andrea and Rusty shared almost 1,500 telephone messages and calls between them. Peters mentions the hundreds of photos that Sneiderman sent to Neuman.

10:55 a.m.: Please consider what Dr. Marks and Dr. Flores has shared with you: under erotomatic delusions, he will try to pursue the object of his delusion by  trying to rescue him or her from some imagined danger. "What they have told you is fundamental medical science that has been put in the bible of medical science and it fits just like a glove for what Hemy was experiencing."

10:50 a.m.: Peters mentioned Dr. Marks' testimony about a common characteristic of delusion is the apparent normality and when their delusions are not being discussed or acted on. "What does that tell us about who knew that Hemy was spinning out of control. The person who knew that was the object of his delusion, Andrea Sneiderman."

10:46: Peters says a trip to Melbourne, Fla. and other business trips with Sneiderman began Neuman toward his decision to kill Rusty. I response she said to Hemy, that will never happened. I am committed to Rusty." But she said she fantasized about him and allowed him to give her a foot rub back in the hotel. "

10:43: The testimony in this case was that Andrea was a shrewd, smart lady on her own. She was smart and knew what she was doing. The evidence shows she guided Rusty through several jobs, none of which paid out." For the first time in their marriage, she takes on the role of breadwinner and takes a job at GE, he notes. For the first time, Rusty Sneiderman was staying at  home and that caused problems in their relationship.

10:40 a.m.: "This case is also about one bad, really bad woman, Andrea Sneiderman --  adulterer, tease, calculator, liar and master manipulator. I respectfully suggest to you that following this trial that Webster's dictionary should be changed and this day forward, anyone who looks up the definition of evil will see nothing more than a photograph of Andrea Sneiderman."

10:35 a.m.: Court resumes with Defense attorney Doug Peters. "This case is about two good men, Rusty Sneiderman, 36 years old, from a great family, bright well-educated, graduate of Harvard, a hard worker; a great father to two precious children. Hemy Neuman, 48 years old, from a good family but clearly a troubled family. Bright, well-educated; honor graduate from Georgia Tech, a hard worker, a great father to three precious children. On Nov. 18, the lives of each of these good men were altered forever. and so we are all left here asking why. why is it that this could ever possibly have happened?

10:22 a.m.: Rubin concludes: "At the end of the day we have shown, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Hemy Neuman is not guilty by reason of insanity. Thank you."

10:20 a.m.: Rubin tells jurors that if they find Neuman not guilty by reason of insanity, he will not go free but will be committed to a state mental health facility and "only Judge Adams can decide when, if ever, he is released."

10:12 a.m.: "There is not a single piece of evidence that Hemy researched how to malinger," Rubin says. "Which brings me to Pam Crawford, a psychiatrist in South Carolina ... who was a board certified forensic psychiatrist but let that lapse in 2008 and never thought to notify the South Carolina board ... the truth is, she's not board certified." Rubin says Crawford testified that she called the medical board in Georgia to make sure she wasn't committing a crime by practicing in Georgia, but "didn't get it in writing" and didn't know who she talked to. Rubin tells jurors, "Two people sat in that witness stand and lied to you: One is Andrea Sneiderman and the other is Pam Crawford. One got $2 million and the other got $60,000. That's the state's expert."

10:07 a.m.: All tests corroborate that Hemy Neuman is not faking and is bipolar with mania and delusions, Rubin says. The state hires Pam Crawford, but she didn't perform tests to determine if Neuman was "malingering." None of the state's experts performed such tests, he says. "They just chose not to confirm it ... they chose to ignore it."

10:03 a.m.: Rubin says in 2010, "things are falling apart" and sees the demon again. He's unhappy with his job, he's unhappy at home, he has financial difficulties. Neuman asks why Crawford, the prosecution expert, didn't explore these areas even though she took the time to read 7,000 pages of evidence.

10:00 a.m.: Rubin says Neuman never said the demon was "Barry White." Rubin calls it "significant" that in 1998 Neuman left a good job in Israel to move his family to Florida and "blows through" $100,000. And in 2008, despite being $70,000 in debt, he goes to his 401-K and pulls out $100,000 to pay off those debts but doesn't pay off the debts. He ‘blows through' that money. Rubin says.

9:55 a.m.: Rubin talks about Neuman being sent alone to boarding school in Israel and says Neuman is still traumatized by it, as seen in the interview with Dr. Pamela Crawford, the state's expert witness. When he's left along on a Jewish holiday, "It hits him: He is alone, he is on his own and he is depressed, and for the first time he sees and feels ... the demon. And the demon tells him to "come with me," which means suicide.

9:50 a.m.: Rubin says Dr. Marks said the center of this case is Hemy Neuman's childhood. Some people who are abused as children suffer for the rest of their lives. Flores and Marks both reached the same conclusion without conferring with each other: that Neuman's father was abusive. "And there's no question that Hemy Neuman's mom was not there for him," Rubin says. "She was not there for them, she did not protect them ... she was out partying, she was out traveling, she was everywhere but home."

9:45 a.m.: Dr. Adriana Flores, who has treated and evaluated hundreds of people ... did a forensic evaluation, put her reputation on the line ... Dr. Tracey Marks, who also evaluated Neuman ... neither one of them a hired gun for the defense. Both of them told you that the dozens of evaluations they conducted ... Dr. Marks said she didn't need to read 6,000 pages of documents, most of which didn't have to do with why, most of them had to do with "who." They didn't need to spend 300 hours looking at 7500 pages of documents.

9:42 a.m.: Rubin says the first tests performed on Neuman indicated there was evidence of bipolar disorder.

9:40 a.m.: Rubin cautions jurors against viewing "guilty but mentally ill" as a compromise, because that is still a conviction.

9:35 a.m.: Rubin says the defense has to prove insanity by "the preponderance" of the evidence. The state, he says, must offer "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" that Neuman committed the act and knew it was wrong. Absent that proof, "you must acquit Hemy Neuman," he says. Rubin tells jurors they have four options for a verdict: Not guilty, not guilty by reason of insanity, guilty beyond reasonable doubt  and guilty but mentally ill. That Neuman did not kill Sneiderman "is not an option we're asking you to consider" but  Neuman  thought he was protecting the Sneiderman children and didn't know he was doing wrong, he says.

9:33 a.m.: Rubin says Georgia law requires that a person be able to distinguish between right and wrong to be convicted of murder. The law, he says, is for humane reasons. "There has to be both the act and the ability to know that the act was wrong."

9:31: Bob Rubin opens for defense. "On November 18 2010, two worlds collided with terrible, tragic consequences. Rusty Sneiderman died that day. Hemy Neuman is now on trial for murder." The Sneidermans "lost a brother, a son, two children lost a father. ... but we can't compound that tragedy by convicting Hemy Neuman of the murder. Hemy Neuman ... did not have the mental capacity to distinguish right from wrong at the time of the shooting ... in fact, he thought he was doing the right thing, as bizarre as that would be to any of  us."

9:30 a.m.: Adams explains procedure to jurors, says each side can take two hours.

9:25 a.m.: Adams returns, warns gallery there must be no outbursts during closing arguments. Adams orders jury in.

9:20 a.m.: Adams calls five-minute break.

9:00 a.m.: Judge Adams enters courtroom. Prosecutor Don Geary is arguing for a motion about what can be stated to the jury regarding Neuman's confinement if he is found not guilty by reason of insanity. Adams rules defense can state that Neuman will not be released if found not guilty. Geary files a second motion to "restrict allegations that were never proven at trial" regarding whether prosecution expert Dr. Pamela Crawford was practicing medicine without a license when she performed a forensic examination of Hemy Neuman. Adams rules the defense cannot accuse Crawford of committing a crime.

News Items / Reporter looking for AZ info/people
« on: March 10, 2012, 03:36:12 PM »
A reporter is looking for Arizona survivors - if you were detained at an Arizona facility, please contact me via PM or [email protected]. Also let me know any info you have about AZ, or if you know any AZ employees/EdCons that are willing to speak out. He is fine with talking off the record. He is interested in exposing the abuse; he does amazing investigative work, I think he will write an excellent article that could get a lot of attention. Please pass along, share on fb, tweet, blog, etc. let's find him lots of people to talk to!

Feed Your Head / Billboard to expose SOPA author
« on: March 10, 2012, 01:58:57 AM »

While the vast majority of us relish a free open internet, there are some like Lamar Smith, author of SOPA, who choose to oppose this freedom through poorly written legislation – all at the behest of the corporate entertainment industry.

$3,844 is all it takes for Test PAC to put up a billboard in Texas’ 21st district, Lamar Smith’s political home-front. Donate what you can, dollar by dollar we can make a difference: ... difference.

This is a site & effort by reddit users, more info here: ... amar_smith and here: ... amar_smith

News Items / International reporter looking for survivors to speak out
« on: March 06, 2012, 12:38:58 AM »
An international reporter for a popular weekly magazine would like to do a story on the troubled teen industry. She is wants to cover the angle of "education via breaking"; so it would be about religious brainwashing, psychological and physical torture. She would also like to focus on "troubled" teens who are not especially troubled – those who are atheist, homosexual or not very good at regular school.

There is one catch, the editor in chief made it clear: without high resolution photos of inside troubled teen facilities, there will be no article. So, if you have photos, that would be key. She said snapshots would be ok.

If you would like to get your story out to an international audience (and possibly generate some international pressure), please contact me at [email protected] or via PM.

The Troubled Teen Industry / Step-by-step guide to report abuse
« on: March 03, 2012, 02:12:58 PM » ... child_at_a

Were you abused as a teen or child at a residential treatment center? Here is a step-by-step guide to report the abuse.

I called (800.422.4453) and they gave me some information on how to report abuse in an RTC or group home. This includes therapeutic boarding schools, wilderness camps, boot camps, etc. Also see comments below for additional info.

1. Report the abuse to CPS. Here is a state listing of websites & numbers to call: ... no=W-00082. You will want to call the state you were abused in, they said the report will initiate in that state and then it will get moved to the state you currently reside in. If your abuse was paid for by a local government agency, you will want to initiate the report in that state (ie, if Orange County, CA school system sent you to an RTC in Utah, you should contact the CA office of CPS).

2. If you don't feel that CPS is doing an adequate job, contact your State Liaison Office. Every state has one, and can help you find out how to contact yours.

3. If you still don't feel like your case has been properly handled, contact [](, 800-733-0059. They are a private, national agency that can help you with legal support.


Also, Childhelp can help you with support resources. From their website (
Childhelp® is a national organization that provides crisis assistance and other counseling and referral services. The [Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline]( ... ng/how.cfm) is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with professional crisis counselors who have access to a database of 55,000 emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are anonymous. Contact them at 1.800.4.A.CHILD (1.800.422.4453).

News Items / Looking for Columbus, OH survivors
« on: March 02, 2012, 02:30:05 PM »
A reporter for Ohio State's newspaper, The Lantern, has contacted me and is interested in writing a story about the troubled teen industry. If you have been locked up at a facility as a child or teenager in the Columbus area, or if you live in the Columbus area or attend OSU, please PM me or email me at [email protected].

I've checked out this reporter's work, he is very talented and I'm sure will write a fantastic article. OSU had a student body of over 50,000 people, this is a fantastic way to spread awareness.

News Items / Mitt Romney's connections to the troubled teen industry
« on: February 28, 2012, 04:41:39 PM »
The TTI forum is being eaten alive with trolls so I'm starting a thread here. I'll be adding to it when I have time, hopefully later this week. In the meantime, you can find info about Romney here: ... rict_sr=on

Please, if anyone has constructive articles or comments to add, join in!

The Troubled Teen Industry / Survivor story going viral on reddit
« on: February 26, 2012, 04:05:21 PM »
This survivor story is going viral on reddit. I encourage anyone to make an account (it takes 2 seconds, email is optional) and tell your experience at any facility, or help answer questions. A lot of people are finding out about the troubled teen industry for the first time. This thread should be alive for a few days, so please jump in!

"In September 2009, after admitting to my parents that I was atheist, I was abruptly woken in the middle of the night by two strange men who subsequently threw me in a van and drove me 200 mi. to a facility that I would later find out serves the sole purpose of eliminating free thinking adolescents." ... y_parents/

39 ... 76403.html

Rick Santorum-Linked Hospital Chain Saw Suicide Attempts, Abuse, And Loss Of Parents' Rights

Jason Cherkis

Posted: 02/21/12 10:23 AM ET  |  Updated: 02/23/12 03:14 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Three weeks ago, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) canceled campaign events in Florida on the eve of the state's primary to be with his ailing daughter in a Virginia hospital. His three-year-old, Bella, has a genetic condition that can be fatal and had contracted pneumonia. On the phone from his daughter's hospital room, the presidential candidate told reporters, "It's been a very hectic 36 hours."

Bella recovered, but Santorum rejoined the campaign with his daughter's health still on his mind. Stumping in Minnesota, he insisted that children like his daughter who are on the "margins of life" would not get adequate medical attention under President Barack Obama's health care reform law. He went so far as to invoke former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's infamous charge that the federal law would create bureaucratic "death panels."

"In top-down, government run systems, patients become commodities, and their value is based on their usefulness to society," Santorum elaborated to The Huffington Post. "Often times, those with special needs are not viewed as 'useful' by society's standards -- and far too many like our little girl have been forced to receive inadequate care and in many instances no care at all."

"We need a health care system that provides consumers the best choices for the best care available. These choices should not be left in the hands of bureaucrats to judge an individual's value. Instead we should place that choice in the hands of the consumer -- the children and the parents -- who can make the best choices for their individual circumstance."

"Put simply, a patient should be the decision-maker in their care -- not a government or bureaucrat."

Despite his advocacy for patients' rights and his stake in providing care for severely vulnerable children, Santorum has avoided discussing another personal experience with the health care industry. From 2007 through the first half of 2011, Santorum served on the board of directors of Universal Health Services, Inc. (UHS), one of the country's largest hospital chains.

According to the company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings, as of Feb. 28, 2011, UHS owned 25 acute care hospitals and 206 behavioral health centers located in 37 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Many of those facilities include or are classified as residential treatment centers (RTCs) -- secure facilities charged with the difficult task of treating children with severe mental-health or behavioral issues, many of whom are living very much on the margins of society.

The RTCs make up a significant part of UHS' business portfolio. The UHS board on which Santorum served is partially responsible for general management of the company's operations. Santorum declined to comment on his work at UHS or the company's RTCs.

RTCs are often last chances for kids who haven't adjusted to foster care or who come from the juvenile justice system and are at risk of possible mental health problems. Although the process varies from state to state, children are generally sent to residential treatment centers by child-welfare agencies or juvenile-justice authorities. Parents sometimes turn to these facilities on their own as well if there are no other options that their insurance will cover. The centers tend not to produce a lot of happy moments -- those that a presidential campaign could highlight in a stump speech or a cheery video.

The Department of Justice is close to settling with UHS over allegations that it committed medicaid fraud in one of its RTCs. The DOJ settled a case with the company in 2009 for $27.5 million over allegations that it bribed doctors to get them to refer patients to hospitals in Texas. Various state authorities have penalized UHS facilities with serious sanctions, suspending their licenses and barring them from receiving Medicaid reimbursements. In several incidents, staff and patients have been implicated in criminal activity ranging from rape to homicide.

The Huffington Post has documented these incidents in a series of stories on Santorum and the hospital chain.

Placing children in an RTC, away from home and in the care of strangers, can be hard on parents even when things go well. In a majority of cases, the RTC is the last option offered by their insurance and only after less severe options have been tried. It doesn't mean they give up their rights as parents, however, just as with other hospitals. They get to make decisions about things like medications, and can generally remove their children at any time.

But in interviews with HuffPost, two families of former UHS patients treated at the company's RTCs voiced a common complaint -- a feeling that their parental rights stopped at the facilities' front doors. They recall RTC staff limiting communication with their children, flouting parental consent, and brushing off their attempts to monitor their loved ones' care. They all say that their troubles started soon after their children were admitted.


In the fall of 2008, Candace Touchstone, 38, brought her 11-year-old daughter (who asked that her real name not be used to protect her privacy), to UHS' Timberlawn facility in Dallas, Texas.

Touchstone says her ex-husband had been physically abusive to her and their child when their daughter was five. Her daughter had struggled with the memories, becoming more and more withdrawn. She began running away from home that September. Her attempts became more daring -- one time she was found at a major intersection in central Dallas a mile and a half away. She had a suitcase full of canned goods and some clothing. On the fourth and final attempt, she jumped out of her mother's car and hid in a bathroom stall in her therapist's office building. It took Touchstone nearly two hours to find her.

After seeking help from private therapists, Touchstone says the doctors recommended Timberlawn, thinking it could stabilize her daughter. She says doctors told her they had never been there and admitted they did not know what it would be like. Timberlawn was just 10 miles from their home, however, whereas the only other facility that Touchstone's insurance would pay for was 60 miles away.

During the intake process, Touchstone says she explained to Timberlawn's doctors and staff that her daughter had an extreme phobia of needles, and she forbade doctors and nurses from using them on her daughter. John Touchstone, who married and later divorced Candace after she left her ex-husband, says he made a similar request.

"One thing we told them was don't give her needles," he explains. "She's afraid of needles."

The Touchstones say the admissions nurse promised they would not inject their daughter, but then promptly did so -- restraining her and injecting her three times with tranquilizers.

The next morning, their daughter tried to kill herself.

In a largely barren room, she took off her pants and tied them around her neck so tightly that the staff had to cut them off. The Touchstones say their daughter had never spoken of or attempted suicide before.

The Touchstones' daughter, now 14, recalls her mother repeatedly telling her that she wouldn't get shots, and the devastation she felt when the doctors injected her.

"I remember thinking everyone was lying to me," she says. "I couldn't stay in a place like that. I couldn't. I just. I didn't know. I remember looking -- they put me in a room with a window. I remember thinking ... I would never be able to leave. And that was the only way to leave."

Candace and John Touchstone say a doctor called and apologized and promised they would not inject her daughter again but that during the following shift a nurse did so anyway.

After that, the Touchstones say, their daughter tried to kill herself by wrapping her shirt around her neck. Timberlawn did not return a request for comment.

John Touchstone says he felt helpless once his step-daughter entered the RTC. "I'm a man," he says. "I fix everything, right? And this is something I can't fix. You're stonewalled. You got a child who won't talk to you. And you have a hospital that won't listen. There's not any support."

He says it felt like he was putting his step-daughter into Gitmo. "You might as well waterboard her," he says. "That's what it felt like. That was kind of the overtone of everything. It seemed like that was the level of care we got at that hospital."

That dynamic proved frustrating for Candace Touchstone, who says she constantly called the RTC to inquire about her daughter's care. "They felt like I was fighting against them," she says. "I was fighting for her. They didn't see that."


Rooted in the early 20th-century juvenile-justice reform movement, which favored work farms and bucolic reformatories over hard time, residential treatment centers tend to play up their idyllic, often rural settings when marketing themselves, according to experts and written accounts about the industry.

Timberlawn, founded in 1917, advertises itself as just "a half day's buggy ride from the bustling city of Dallas."

In the last decade or so, in fact, health care experts have dismissed these facilities as about as old fashioned as the horse and buggy. The U.S. Surgeon General condemned the RTC model in a widely-circulated report in the late '90s. "In the past, admission to an RTC has been justified on the basis of community protection, child protection, and benefits of residential treatment," the nation's top health official wrote. "However, none of these justifications have stood up to research scrutiny."

The RTC's isolation can be an incubator of pathology as well as a hindrance to family-supported therapies, analysts say. "Families are often not regularly involved in decisions made about their children when moved to a RTC, and this isolates them from continuing engagement with their child and limits success," wrote Bruce Kamradt, director and founder of Wraparound Milwaukee, a consortium of social service agencies and providers who work on preventing RTC placements, in an email to HuffPost.

A year before the Touchstones' daughter entered Timberlawn, the Washington, D.C.-based University Legal Services published a study on RTCs and highlighted the barriers between parents and children in these settings. The report noted that the isolation "severely impedes youths' clinical treatment and quality of life. The isolation that comes from being in an institution cannot be overstated."

Candace Touchstone, who is a nurse at a state-run mental hospital, thought there was no way the staff at Timberlawn could inject her daughter, because she had not given consent. But Jennifer Lav, ULS' managing attorney and the author of the study, says that facilities often don't take families and guardians into consideration.

"We've had quite a few [cases] where parents say 'I want to know why my child is taking medication, if this is the correct one, I didn't authorize this medication,'" says Lav.

In December 2010, Karen Dunning, 50, flew her 14-year-old schizophrenic daughter, Alysha, from Arvada, Colo., a suburb of Denver, to the San Marcos Treatment Center in San Marcos, Texas. At the time, she was desperate to get her daughter help.

"Our local mental health center found it," she says. "When they found there was a bed, they gave us 24 hours to get her there. I didn't get a chance to look at it. She had been in and out of the children's hospital psych ward four or five times in the previous six months. She had been in acute care for two months."

Dunning says staff at San Marcos promised her that Alysha would be under constant supervision for the first 48 hours. On Alysha's first day, however, Dunning says, another patient slammed her head against a concrete wall, punched her in the face, and gave her a bloody nose. That night, a staff member left Dunning a message downplaying the incident, according to a voicemail provided to HuffPost.

"Another little girl I guess got mad at her about something," the staffer stated, "She hit her in the nose. ... She's OK."

The next day, Dunning says, Alysha passed out and had no pulse and no blood pressure. San Marcos did not call 911, however, and Dunning says the facility didn't notify her for hours. When they did, they told her they had laid Alysha down, and she started breathing again on her own. They only had a psychiatrist check her out. "I was beyond panic mode," Dunning says. "That was day two."

Dunning says her daughter complained that her face was black and blue. Personnel told her it was just the bloody nose. "I wanted to Skype to see her," Dunning says. San Marcos rejected her request, citing privacy laws. "I said I can waive that because she's my child. Nope, they wouldn't do it."

Touchstone estimates that she called UHS' corporate headquarters between 10 and 15 times complaining that her daughter had been mistreated. She says she never got a call back.

Isa Diaz, vice president of UHS public affairs, declined to comment on individual cases, citing UHS policy and patient confidentiality laws. "All UHS facilities place quality of care and patient satisfaction as our most important priority," she wrote in an email to HuffPost. "UHS provides extensive training to its staff on all patient care matters including but not limited to medication administration, restraint usage and protecting the safety and well being of our patients."

Dunning says that San Marcos only allowed phone calls in 15-minute slots and near a staff desk, so patients had no privacy. Often the background noise was a girl screaming at Alysha to get off the phone, Dunning says. Every time Dunning reached her daughter by phone, Alysha would tell her that the facility scared her.

"She's crying every time I talk to her," Dunning explains.

Making matters worse, Alysha was assigned a blind therapist, despite the fact that Dunning told staff that her daughter communicates visually better than she does verbally.

Alysha says the scariest part was simply getting beat up and that the staff was rarely around to protect her. "They weren't doing anything," she says.

During a conference call concerning her daughter's 10-day review, according to a tape recording Dunning provided to HuffPost, the San Marcos psychiatrist charged with Alysha's care made it clear they did not appreciate Dunning's level of oversight. "You try to micromanage everything," he complained to her.

"She's my child, I'm going to," Dunning replied. "She doesn't belong to you."

The doctor urged Dunning to trust them. He said that Dunning's calls put the staff on edge and interfered with therapy. "The trust needs to be earned," Dunning said. "This is not micromanagement. This is the concern of a parent."

The doctor then blamed Alysha's mental-health struggles on her mother. "I think that some of her problems are caused by your over involvement," he said.

By then, Dunning also discovered that San Marcos wasn't properly monitoring Alysha's diabetes and filed a complaint with Texas social services. The state investigated the diabetes incident and confirmed that the staff at San Marcos had failed to provide appropriate care, according to a Texas Department of Family and Protective Services report. San Marcos did not return a request for comment.

Alysha continued to be assaulted as well -- at least six times during her month there, Dunning calculated, before she finally decided to remove her from San Marcos.

Dunning says the UHS facility was her only option because there were no places in Colorado that would fit her daughter's needs. The local mental health provider couldn't offer the level of intensive in-home services Alysha required, Dunning explains.

Several states, including Wisconsin, Virginia and Tennessee, realizing the limits and costs of institutional care, have worked to develop alternatives to sending kids far from home.

The city of Hampton, Va., stopped sending children to RTCs in April 2007, finding more success by keeping kids in family settings. Instead of secure facilities, therapists make house calls. Mental health, social services and the courts all collaborate and meet on individual cases. The city also sees extended family members as resources for taking care of kin.

Others have pursued similar reforms. In Wisconsin, Kamradt began transforming social services in the mid '90s with his Wraparound Milwaukee initiative. His model emphasizes keeping at-risk kids out of RTCs by giving families leadership roles and support from coordinated government agencies, a pool of private providers, and emergency services for moments of crisis.

The wraparound model works, Kamradt says, because it emphasizes families over RTCs, small case loads and intensive services. "It's around strengths and needs of kids," he explains. "Better we plan this together. We'll look at family needs too. If the youth problem is he's in a gang and the mother really needs to get out of this neighborhood, we may find alternative housing. If she needs a job, we'll try to find a job for her. We're going to focus not only on the kid's need but the family's need."

If the Touchstones' daughter had run away in Milwaukee instead of Dallas, a team could have been put in place to help her immediately and link Touchstone with community-based assistance. She would not have to have had an expensive hospital stay. Recent figures show RTCs can cost hundreds of dollars per day, per child. In comparison, family-based models cost a fraction of that amount.

"It's a great paradox in child welfare: the worse the option, the greater the cost," Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, explains. "Once the child is admitted and the door is closed behind him, the RTC is effectively in charge."

CORRECTION: This article originally reported that Santorum's daughter, Bella, had been taken to a Philadelphia hospital. That was the information initially provided by the Santorum campaign, but, unbeknownst even to Santorum's staff at the time, she was being cared for in Virginia. The campaign later apologized for the confusion. We regret the error.

I know I'm a n00b, but have you all seen this before? The US Dept of Homeland Security is on the bottom of this 'struggling teen' website. I don't remember ever seeing their logo on these sites before.

It's not even hyperlinked. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

This Q&A / IAMA on reddit about Logan River made me check out their site: ... ilderness/

The Troubled Teen Industry / Massive list of activist websites
« on: February 07, 2012, 03:58:10 PM »
Anyone can edit this, add your cause today! After people have had time to update it, I will copy/paste the list here as well. ... 5Xst4/edit

Maia Szalavitz, leading expert and author on the 'troubled teen' industry, is doing reddit's version of a Q&A (IAMA) RIGHT NOW. It's sure to be fascinating, this is your chance to ask her anything you want! Please make an account on reddit and upvote it using the arrows next to her headline. Spread the word! ... t_book_to/

The Troubled Teen Industry / Watching UHS Blog
« on: January 31, 2012, 02:17:52 PM »
New blog exposing Universal Health Services, including abuses and political contributions.

Brian Lombrowski and his team have worked very hard to come up with this list. Note there is a 'Rating Rubric and Program Types' tab at the bottom where he explains the 'Website Danger' column and reasons why programs were included. ... pNED#gid=0

This is what Brian said when he posted it to facebook 6/29/11:

So this is not yet a finished product, and if anyone would like to help with developing the research on this, I would be more than happy to give you access, just message me. Just a few notes as you read through the document.

1) This is not a facility "Watchlist", this is an attempt to define the "Troubled Teen Industry" in the context of all types of institutions that serve youth. Inclusionary criteria include the presence on the websites of Educational Consultants (presuming that they do business with the Ed Con field), documentation of taking youth from multiple states other than the states that they are located in or in states that are not "border" states, and programs that are part of a larger corporation that have congregate care facilities in multiple states. Exclusionary criteria included facilities that served older adults. There are a number of facilities for which it was very unclear if they should be on this list or not, primarily programs for individuals with developmental disabilities and regular boarding schools.

2) In the first column, programs in bold have been closed, there are probably programs that are not bolded that have also been closed. Programs closed since 2007 have been included in this list, before 2007 have not (hence none of the CEDU programs).

3) The column on "Website Danger" is a rough scale from 1-10 based on red flags that are obvious from the website. There are tell tale signs of what a Teen Help or Aspen website look like, then there are programs that adopt those marketing techniques, and programs that don't. This was a somewhat scientific way of trying to measure it.

4) There is still a lot of work to do with this, and while program descriptions are fairly accurate, it's one column that I can't vouch for 100% accuracy (as in the boundaries between an RTC and a Therapeutic Boarding School are as blurred on this list as in the real world)

I hope you enjoy it (if enjoy is the right word), and I hope that you take something from it. If you have any questions, just shoot me an email and I'll try to respond as quickly as possible.

New Info / Bremwood Residential Treatment Center
« on: January 26, 2012, 07:42:19 AM »
Teacher's sudden death shocks Waverly-Shell Rock


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