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Human Rights Defenders

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 1

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Human Rights Defenders and Mandated Reporters of abuse have no protection and no plausible legal recourse

Abuse of children and teens within residential treatment facilities, located in both the US and in other countries that are run by non-profit organizations legally based in the U.S.A., has occurred for more than four decades.  In spite of numerous reports from human rights defenders and mandated reporters, there have been no significant changes to stop the practice.  There are no protections for witnesses/victims/survivors or for their human rights defenders.  Mandated reporters of such human rights violations are more likely to lose their employment or be demoted, suffer personal and professional retaliation.   

 

There is an entrenched unwillingness within the US government to expose the root cause of the political tolerance for the deregulation, lack of inspection, lack of financial transparency and accountability, lack of law enforcement action to investigate these crimes, lack of appropriate prosecution of perpetrators, and lack of any punishment for the offenses.   The moral, ethical, and legal obligations to uphold human rights by US legislators, US Department of Justice officials, and even judges have not been fulfilled.  When they have permitted this course of conduct to continue for four decades, they are culpable for the egregious human rights violations that have occurred.

 

Victims/Survivors are left with no access to redress or reparations.  This systemic failure to protect children and young adults is a crime  about which the US government has been fully informed, yet refused to prevent.  Criminal acts that have occurred in these treatment facilities include:

 

  • Murder (homicide) [i] [ii] [iii] [iv] [v]
  • Enslavement [vi]
  • Deportation or forcible transfer [vii]
  • Imprisonment or severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law [viii]
  • Torture [ix]
  • Rape, forced pregnancy, forced abortions [x] [xi]
  • Persecution against persons not of Christian faith, especially those of Jewish faith
  • Persecution of persons who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered [xii]
  • Enforced disappearance of persons [xiii] [xiv] [xv]
  • Other inhumane acts that intentionally cause great suffering, or serious injury to body, to mental or physical health [xvi]  [xvii]  [xviii]  [xix] [xx]
  • Psychological, emotional, and sexual trauma leading to suicide.[xxi] [xxii] [xxiii]

 

These acts are crimes of serious concern to the international community as a whole.

 

The number of suicides secondary to psychological and emotional trauma as well as sexual abuse of young teens trapped in these rehabilitation centers came to the attention of public health officials who monitor suicide rates. [xxiv]  The original Straight Inc. centers were located in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, within Hillsborough, Paco and Pinellas counties.  According to 1987 statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics, the Tampa Bay area had the highest suicide rate in the country.  This rise in the suicide rate was not related to the large number of retirees there.  The juvenile suicide rate in Pinellas County rose 130% between 1980 and 1986.  A 1992 study found that 1 out of 4 girls in neighboring Pasco County attempted suicide in 1991 (national average was 10%).  In neighboring Hillsborough County the juvenile suicide rate tripled, from 3 in 1980 to 9 by 1987.  Nineteen (19) youths committed suicide in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties in 1989 (up to nine of these were gay). 

Straight Inc. operated its founding center, Straight-St Pete, in St Petersburg, Florida in Pinellas County from 1976 to 1993.  In 1986, a related program called Outreach was opened in Cape Coral, Florida.  In 1987, a community task force was organized to study why 19 youths aged 14 - 17 years had attempted suicide. 

In 1988 the national Center for Disease Control (CDC) launched a study on juvenile suicides in Cobb County, Georgia because its suicide rate of 14.7 per 100,000 persons was three higher than the state average, and twice as high as the national average. Straight-Atlanta, operated in Marietta (Cobb County), GA was implicated.

Dr. Richard Schwartz, medical research director for Straight-Springfield, noted in an article for its newsletter, EPIDEMIC, vol. 6, that suicide was fifth-ranked as cause of death for American teenagers in 1964, third-ranked in 1978 and had risen to second-highest in 1983.   Straight Inc. launched operations in late 1976 and had centers in Cincinnati, Springfield, Virginia, St Petersburg and Sarasota by 1983. 

 

Licensed medical professionals, psychologists, therapists, child protective services personnel, and other mandated reporters were obligated to report this sudden rise in suicide which was linked to a particular type of residential substance abuse treatment program.

 

Licensed medical professionals are morally and ethically obligated by their Hippocratic Oath to protect their patients’ safety.  Under US law and international standards of proper professional conduct, they are also Mandated Reporters of torture and abuse.  Licensed medical professionals are Defenders of Human Rights, the watchdogs for vulnerable patients in need of care.  The reality in Straight Inc. facilities and in many other residential treatment centers is that “the fox is in charge of the hen house.”

 

 



[i] October 10, 2007,  Full report of testimony before the Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives. [PDF, 38 pages] GAO.gov, GAO Report: Concerns Regarding Abuse and Death in Certain Programs for Troubled Youth (Full Report) http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08146t.pdf.

 

[ii] Residential Programs: Selected Cases of Death, Abuse, and Deceptive Marketing (Full Report) April 24, 2008, Full report of testimony before the Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives. [PDF, 24 pages]. 

 

[iii] Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse (CAICA) website lists deaths that have occurred in “behavioral modification” facilities not unlike Cross Creek as a result of tackling and restraint. CAICA.org,  http://www.caica.org/RESTRAINTS%20Death%20List.htm.

 

[iv] Henry, Tim, “Synanon and the man who got the snakebite,” Nov. 20, 2010, PaulMorantz.com, http://www.paulmorantz.com/the_synanon_story/synanon-and-the-man-who-got-the-snakebite/.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THu690d7qJE.

 

[v] Synanon’s founder, Dederich tells his followers. “Our religious posture is: Don't mess with us. You can get killed dead, literally dead.” Synanon is heavily implicated in the late-1972 or early-1973 disappearance of Rose Lena Cole, who was ordered by a court to enroll in Synanon before she disappeared.  She has not been seen or heard from since.  Rose Cole's entry on The Charley Project, http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/c/cole_rose.html

Following an investigative NBC Nightly News program in 1978, the NBC executives and its corporate chairman received hundreds of threats from Synanon members and supporters. Jack Anderson  "NBC Cancelled Jonestown Story,” March 20, 1981.  

 

On September 21, 1978, the ex-Synanon member Phil Ritter, was severely beaten by two Synanon members, which caused him to fall into a coma for a week. Fluid leaked into his spinal column, which caused a near-fatal case of spinal meningitis.

Mitchell, Dave, Light to celebrate 25th anniversary of its Pulitzer, Point Reyes Light/April 15, 2004, http://www.rickross.com/reference/synanon/synanon5.html

On Dec. 2, 1978, Synanon’s founder, Dederich was arrested in Arizona - dead drunk.  Along with Kenton and Musico, Dederich pled no contest to murder-conspiracy charges. Kenton and Musico went to jail, but Dederich received probation after his lawyers said he was so sick incarceration would kill him.

 

[vi] Brian Dodd survivor of Straight Inc Case No.: 8:10-CV-1092-T23 TGW  United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, Susan Kenske, Attorney-in-Fact, 911 Washington Ave #217, Largo, Florida Largo, Florida 33770. Antifascistencyclopedia.com, http://www.antifascistencyclopedia.com/allposts/lawsuit-brian-dodd-survivor-of-straight-inc-torture-vs-mel-sembler-etal

 

[vii] Abduction to WWASPS video shows details of Rick Strawn's criminal convictions and alcohol abuse, LegalAffairs.org,  http://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/July-August-2004/feature_labi_julaug04.msp Video.google.com  http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3527555530644740074#

 

[viii] International Survivors Action Committee Corporation (also “ISAC”) The International Survivors Action Committee Corporation was an industry watchdog organization created by survivors of Straight, Incorporated. ISAC works “to expose child abuse within privately owned behavior modification centers, drug treatment centers, specialty boarding schools and teen boot camps.”  ISAC was dissolved in 2009. Their documents can be viewed on line at www.survivingstraightinc.com.

 

[ix] Class Action Suit Against  WWASPS,  by Windle Turley and A. Watson, T Nguyen of Turley Law Firm, 6440 North Central Expressway, 1000 Turley Law Center, Dallas, TX 75206, Telephone: (214) 691-4025, Facsimile: (214) 361-5802  and James W. McConkie, II, Bradley H. Parker, Parker & McConkie, 175 East 400 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84111, Telephone: (801) 578-3250, Facsimile: (801) 524-1098,  In the United States District Court for the District of Utah, Civil  2:06-CV-708, ECF,  Honorable U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups, HEAL-OnLine.org,  http://www.heal-online.org/turley.pdf .

 

[x] Balko, Radley, “Drug War Casualties,” Fox News,  May 23, 2002. Samantha Monroe was 12 years old in 1981 when her parents enrolled her in the Sarasota, Fla., branch of Straight Inc.,  She was raped by a male counselor and then forced to have an abortion. WebDiva.org,  http://www.webdiva.org/fox/.

 

[xi] Whitsett, Ph.D., Doni and  Kent, Ph.D., Stephen A., “Cults and Families,” Doni Whitsett, Ph.D., Stephen A. Kent, Ph.D. from the University of Alberta stated that beginning in the mid-1970s, women in Synanon were required to shave their heads, and married couples were made to break up and take new partners. Men were given forced vasectomies, and a few pregnant women were forced to have abortions. http://www.arts.ualberta.ca/~skent/Linkedfiles/Cults%20and%20Families.pdf.

 

[xii] Dog Emperor, “Teen Challenge: The depths of coercion at a ‘God Warrior’ training camp,” May 01, 2008  He states that “In the case of Teen Challenge, the anti-LGBT attitude is especially apparent.”  As noted, Teen Challenge is a division of a denomination known to have spawned an anti-gay hate group. The attitude in "Watchmen At The Walls" seems to be the unofficial stance of members in regard to LGBT people who won't stay in the closet or be "ex-gays".  This is a denomination that embraces involuntary outing, "exorcism,” and shipping LGBT youth to places like Teen Challenge.  The Assemblies of God has a very official policy statement that defines being an uncloseted LGBT person as incompatible with the group. The Assemblies of God co-signed a letter to the American Psychological Association (APA) to protest its statement that "reparative therapy" is regarded as a formal ethics violation and is not only ineffective but harmful.” DailyKos.com, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/05/01/505299/-Teen-Challenge:-The-depths-of-coercion-at-a-God-Warrior-training-camp.

 

[xiii] Jerry Vancil, age 17, escaped Straight Inc. in 1977 and went to the press. He claimed he was beaten by several “old comers” who, after the beating, hugged him and told him they loved him. Several old comers confirmed the incident but said they had not beaten Jerry. One said they had only patted him with their hands; another said that Jerry was hitting them.  The state of Florida had opened an investigation but closed it when Jerry Vancil disappeared. No trace was ever found of Jerry Vancil (dead or alive) since his disappearance. 

 

[xiv] Labi, Nadya,  “Want Your Kid to Disappear?,” Legal Affairs, July–August 2004, http://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/July-August-2004/feature_labi_julaug04.msp.

 

[xv] Joanne Green, “Rough Love: Kids from South Florida and beyond are sent to Jamaica to straighten up. Or else,” Miami New Times, June 22, 2006. http://www.miaminewtimes.com/Issues/2006-06-22/news/feature_full.html.

 

[xvi] See the testimonies of victims/survivors  compiled by HEAL, Human Earth Animal Liberation, 126 SW 148th St, Ste C100-422, Seattle, WA, 98166-1984, (877)845-3232, HEAL-OnLine.org,  http://www.heal-online.org/childtortureusa.htm

 

[xvii] Fornits runs a web chat room for victims/survivors – many accounts of abuse are recounted there, Fornits.com,  http://www.fornits.com/.

 

[xviii] Teen Cult manages a website that discusses in detail about Teen Challenge abuse including many newspaper reports, TeenChallengeCult.blogspot.com,   http://www.teenchallengecult.blogspot.com/.

 

[xix] A detailed report provided by Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty, Inc. Nov. 4th, 2004 newsletter, ChildrensHealthCare.org,  http://childrenshealthcare.org/.

 

[xx] The Fornits Home for Wayward Flora.  This website lists survivors stories from Sea Org Refuge, Teen Challenge, SEED, Straight Inc., WWASPS, CEDU Brown Schools and derivatives, Aspen Education Group, Wilderness Programs, Weight Loss Programs, Public Sector Gulags, Ridge Creek School/Hidden Lake Academy, Elan School, Daytop Village, Vision Quest, Who Am I Discovery/Whitmore, Lighthouse of Northwest Florida, Rebekah /Roloff Homes, Mission Mountain School, Hyde Schools, Synanon, and Morgan Yacht.  Fornits.com, http://www.fornits.com/phpbb/.

 

[xxi] Ray Bradbury and Wes Fager were prepared to share some perhaps telling statistics with the court. TheStraights.com,  http://thestraights.com/reports/martin-trip.htm.

 

[xxii] The following is a list of former members of AARC who have taken their lives: Brian Neal (Brian was a client in Kids of North Jersey and later worked as staff in AARC. He reportedly broke into AARC before taking his life), Andrew Mazur (Former Client), Devon Newson (Former Client), William LeBaron? (Graduate. Known best as "Steve" LeBeraon).

 

[xxiii] Kelly Mathews, WebDiva.org,  http://webdiva.org/straight/.

 

List of Suicides at Straight Inc. Straight Suicides: This is a partial list of people who committed suicide while in straight or after they got out. Many others TRIED to take their lives. Last names were left out purposely for those who wish to maintain privacy. There are several others that have died reasons not disclosed. No doubt this list will continue to grow over time.

 

Note: According to statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics, in 1987 the Tampa Bay area (Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas Counties) had the highest suicide rate in the country. It's not because of the large number of retirees there. The juvenile suicide rate in Pinellas County rose 130% between 1980 and 1986. A 1992 study found that 1 out of 4 girls in neighboring Pasco County attempted suicide in 1991 (national average was 10%). And in neighboring Hillsborough County the juvenile suicide rate rose from 3 in 1980 to 9 by 1987. 19 youths committed suicide in Pinellas/ Hillsborough Counties in 1989 [up to nine of these were gay.] Straight operated its founding center, Straight-St Pete, in Saint Petersburg, Florida in Pinellas County from 1976 to 1993.

 

Springfield, VA Straight

Jon Guyton 1985

Greg Hughes 1985

Steve Matthews 1986

Kristin Stottlemeyer 1986

Chris Weiss 1986

Chris Kelly 1987

Duane Rolfs 1987

Matthew Hunter 1988

Charlie Griffith 1989/90

Greg T. 1989

Dan Brown late 80s

Ira Kauffman late 90s

Glen Steepleton 2000

Kevin Yriondo 2000

Kent H. 2009

Travis Stone

Paul Riffle

Terry L.

Teddy B.

Lisa D.

 

Stoughton, MA Straight

Chris Ahlman 1988

Glenn Jenkins

Brandon E.

Dale N

 

Dallas, TX Straight

William F. 2001

Vance H.

Shiela C.

Michelle K.

 

Cincinatti, OH Straight

Jeff Leugers 1990

Paul Price

Rob H.

Dane W.

 

Sarasota, FL Straight

Reagan F

 

Atlanta, GA Straight

Brandon K.

Tara M.

Theresa S.

Tracey G.

Ron H.

Michelle E.

Ben L.

 

 

St Pete, FL Straight

Jerry V.

Geoffery R.

Kent C.

 

Orlando, FL Straight

Chris C.

Aaron Rockey

Dave Gilman

James Mixon (died Oct 1989 -15 yrs old- possible suicide by cop)

Matt Willingham

Chris Cybulski

 

The Seed

Ken S.

 

 

Others

Charlie P.

Jamie C.

David H.

Ryan K.

Ron F.

Phil W.

Albert P.

Andy M.

Tracy B.

Shirley C.

Brian N.

Bennett B.

Bill F.

Dan H.

 

 

[xxiv] Smith, Angela, H.E.A.L., Provo Canyon School and similar programs use a harmful and ineffective program of behavior modification or "thought reform"/"brainwashing" to violate children in their "care". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSjW2gh2YQU&feature=related.

 

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
 
― Leo Buscaglia

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