Friday, December 12, 2003

Margolis says Straight tried to stop the abuse by W. Fager

On March 24, 1990 Los Angeles Times Reporter John Hurst published a large, front page feature article on the horrors of the new Straight, Inc. He interviewed Joy Margolis, Straight's national spokesperson for that article, and learned from her that the new Straight, Inc. did not tolerate abuse. That the new Straight. Inc. got rid of abusers whenever abuse was brought to their attention. Joy was asked about the allegations of Erica Clifton that while in Straight - Dallas she was held down and the boys painfully pulled her legs apart. She recalled one time when she was resisting and they "put a . . . Kotex pad down my throat to where I was gagging." When The Times asked Joy about the alleged incident she responded, "We regret things that have happened in the past. When it has been called to our attention, we have taken proper action." "We don't condone gagging," Joy told The Times. "One staff member I know of who was guilty of this was fired. "The Times wrote about Gena Golden age 16 who said of her Straight - Dallas stay that her nose was badly broken while she was being restrained and that "clients were sometimes held down and kicked." According to The Times, "Margolis acknowledged that Golden's nose was broken while the girl was being held. She said it was an isolated incident. She also said that Straight does not condone kicking clients." The Times pressed about a Texas state health report charging that "clients were tied with rope and with an automobile towing strap to prevent escape, that clients were physically restrained for minor infractions such as 'failure to sit up properly', and that bedrooms were overcrowded and furnished with 'containers to be used for urination.' " Once again Joy Margolis put everyone at ease explaining (according to The Times piece), "a staff trainee used a rope to tie up a client and was fired, as was an employee who instigated the practice of putting the containers for urine in bedrooms."

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The great Cincinnati land deal

Drug Free America Foundation used to be called Straight, Inc. It was founded in fraud under the name Straight Foundation, Inc. as a shell corporation to protect Straight, Inc.'s property and cash from civil suits, and to protect Mel Sembler from civil suits and criminal prosecutions. According to its own literature, "Drug Free America Foundation was founded by Ambassador and Mrs. Mel Sembler through private means . . ." But what were those private means.

Much, and probably almost all, of DFAF's initial private funding came from Straight parents and from people and organizations who thought they were donating money to help drug addicted kids become clean at Straight, Inc.--and only at Straight, Inc. Now that money is being used by DFAF to help businesses set up drug free work places and to fly Betty Sembler and company around the world to recommend national and international drug policy. Hopefully PumpGate will shed some light into where Straight's money is going.

Did Straight ever really close? Straights operated in major metropolitan areas across America. Surprisingly, there was never a Straight in the New York City area--the biggest city of all! This has led some to wonder whether Miller Newton ( traight's former national clinical director and a current member of a DFAF forum who headquartered his own Straight-like franchise from the NYC area) was actually working for Straight. There is other data to support that suspicion. (See chain from that area speculate that . cities Probably most of Straight's money was in real estate. The complete story on Straight's real estate holdings is here. In the current articleto After Straight, Inc. was run out of Ohio for abusing kids there, Straight Foundation tried to sale the Cincinnati property. But a group of concerned parents and local companies generally known as the Greater Cincinnati Area Straight Chapter had raised $1.5 million to bring Straight to Cincinnati and they felt that any money made from the sale of the property should stay in the Cincinnati area to help drug addicted kids in that area. Consequently local citizens Donald Bell, Anthony Celebrezze (Attorney General for the state of Ohio), J. Thomas Markham, Samuel B. Thompson, Jr., Nick J. Pishotti, Richard Tarvin, James M. VanBuren, Jr., The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, The Kroger Company and The Proctor & Gamble Company filed a class action suit against Straight in the US District Court in Cincinnati claiming that "at least $1.3 million" of the funds they had raised had been used to purchase the Straight-Cincinnati facility and that any money recovered form the sale of the property should remain in the Cincinnati area [Case # C-1-88-760]. Furthermore they wanted another $62,000 in legal fees they said they had spent trying to keep Straight from walking off with the money.
According to Exhibit A to Garcia’s affidavit, in May 1988 Straight Foundation had received a verbal appraisal from Strickland & Wright for approximately $550,000. Furthermore, the exhibit states that Mr. Wright had been instructed by Straight not to provide a written appraisal. Since Straight claimed the depreciated value of the facility in 1990 to be $1,098,062, and since Straight claimed that it had a verbal appraisal (presumably there is no written confirmation of this appraisal) for only $550,000 or 45.91% of the depreciated value, Mr. Garcia reasoned that all Straight holdings could reasonably be sold for just 45.91% of its depreciated value. He made this claim in spite of the fact that he acknowledges that Faith Tabernacle Church had put down a $15,000 deposit in an effort to buy the property early-on for $650,000 but was unable to raise the money and so Straight Foundation pocketed that $15,000.
According to the settlement agreement approved by the court on September 29, 1989 Straight Foundation and the plaintiffs would split 50-50 on proceeds from the sale of the property, and the plaintiffs would pay their legal fees from their half of the pie. I don’t have complete records of what happened after the 1989 settlement agreement but the best I can piece together from the court docket sheet is that on July 1, 1993 there was a Motion to Intervene by a Tri-State Drug Rehabilitation from across the river in Hebron Kentucky. And on July 2 a hearing was held on a motion to approve the sale and attorney fees. Then, according to Kentucky Post, on July 22, 1993 Tri-State Drug Rehab was the highest bidder on the property. The bid being $301,000. [Kentucky Post, 10/9/93]
The depreciated value of the facility was $1 million. If Straight got a million for it, it would have to give the Cincinnati folks a half million dollars. Even if Straight sold it for just $650,000 they would have to give the Cincinnati folks over $300,000. As it is the building sold for just $301,000 (or 54% of the 45.91% value) and the Cincinnati folks got just $150,500. An affidavit by the plaintiffs dated 9-27-89 shows their legal fees to be $66,345.50. Because of further court actions, I assume their legal fees to have been $70,000 by the time of sale, thus the Cincinnati fathers had managed to recover just $80,000 from their $1,393,165 investment!
Garcia had said that about the only organization that would buy one of their facilities would almost have to be another drug rehab program (as in fat chance of that happening), but that is exactly what did happen. And what is Tri-State Drug Rehab? Its treatment program was formerly called Kids Helping Kids of Hebron and now called Kids Helping Kids of Cincinnati. Kids Helping Kids of Hebron was created, in part, by Straight’s former national training director--Dr. George Ross. The therapeutic program is based almost exclusively on the Straight therapeutic model. At least two program employees have come from Straight. Ruth P. Thomas, first clinical director at KHKs, studied Rational Behavior Training at the University of Kentucky with Dr. Maxie C. Maultsby, as did Dr. Ross. On page 7 of his PhD thesis on Straight, Dr. Newton writes that Straight is "Kids Helping Kids." He went on to call his own Straight-like program Kids of Bergen County. Newton’s thesis was finished in 1981 and Kids Helping Kids of Hebron was founded on July 15, 1981.
The timing of the sale of the Cincinnati facility is worth mentioning. Later you will learn that in 1989 when Dr. Newton’s Kids of Southern California closed failing to get a license, that Straight moved into that very facility and took over the Kids’ clientele. When Straight-Orlando closed on August 14, 1992, Michael Scaletta, Straight’s former director at Straight-Orlando, opened up SAFE, Inc. out of the same facility using the same clients. Straight-Detroit closed in 1993. On June 18, 1993, former Straight official Helen Gowanny helped found Pathway Family Center 15 miles from the old Straight camp. Three days later on June 21, 1993, Kathleen M. Cone, formerly the registered agent for Straight, Inc. in Atlanta opened Phoenix Institute for Adolescents just miles from Straight-Atlanta. Ten days later on July 1, 1993 Straight-Atlanta, the last Straight treatment facility closed. On that very day in Cincinnati Kids Helping Kids filed a Motion to Intervene in federal court. A hearing was IMMEDIATELY held the next day for a motion to approve the sale and attorney fees. The property was sold 20 days later for a fraction of its value and the people who had raised the money got a return of just $70,000 out of a $1.3 million investment. Next you’ll see that exactly one week later, when Straight didn’t have to share anything with anyone, the Saint Petersburg properties sold for more than what they had been purchased for.
So real estate attorney Joseph Garcia gets a big fat F when selling Straight properties in the Cincinnati case. Unless, of course, Straight had no intention of giving the Cincinnati folks a half million dollars. If that were the case then Mr. Garcia would get an A+. So what about real estate transactions where Straight would not have to split with anyone. Let’s look at the sale of the Tampa Bay holdings next.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

THE KISS: Should Straight be culpable for any post-Straight suicides? Today's Washington Post might suggest an answer

Over 40 former clients from theStraights are known to have commited suicide. Only about 5% were female. Why?

An editorial by Wesley Fager (c) 9-6-03

Extortion. The obtaining of property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.
18 U.S.C. S 1951(b)(2) (Also known as the Hobbs Act.)

[Photo of AP entertainment writer Christy Lemire, left, and Meredith Vieira, co-host of ABC's "The View".] To marathon a person by making her stand on her feet for extended periods of time while yelling and spitting in her face can be deadly, that's what killed Jesus Christ--all the fluid eventually drained to his feet and he died of heart failure. But that's not the cruelest, most destructive thing Straight does to kids. Making a teenager soil her pants and sit in it may be against the laws of man, but it's not the worst Straight does either. Nor is it denying a child food or sleep, bending fingers back, beating him or making her bleed without a Kotex, or even making a kid ask for permission for each wipe of his annus. There is something more heinous yet, utterly despicable and probably lethal. A report in Today's Washington Post that includes a story on Meredith Vieira--the former reporter on CBS' West 57th Street who broke the story on child abuse at Miller Newton's second-generation Straight--presents evidence that might help us understand Straight's ultimate nightmare for some. Might help us understand why of the 40 former Straight clients who are known to have committed suicide, only three have been women.

Had you asked Straight before the states closed it down why there have been so many post-Straight suicides, Straight would have probably said because their clients are little monsters who are drug addicts and that's what drug addicts do, they kill themselves. But we know now that many Straight clients are not drug addicts at all. Most have probably tried marijuana and many were recreational users of marijuana or beer. Some are addicts; others had virtually no history of drug abuse and some no use of any kind at all. If drug addiction is not the common link between Straight kids then what is? What is the ability a client's parents to pay Straight's high cost either by affluence or by access to funds through a loan, second mortgage, a rich relative or borrowing against a life insurance policy. Perhaps having a high percentage of adoptees as clients sheds some light as to the affluence of Straight's targeted population--affluent white kids, see:

Since Straight clients are not necessarily drug addicts and since Straight was roughly evenly divided between boys and girls, what does cause the high suicide rate and why in the strange proportions given? Before turning to Meredith Vieira and the Washington Post one needs to understand some things about Straight. In Chinese thought reform schools upon which Straight is modeled students are constantly badgered to get honest, tell all. They are coaxed, beaten, frightened, cajoled, deprived of food and sleep--by their peers--and then persuaded to confess to being a reactionary, anti-revolutionary or a sympathizer with George Bush. Likewise Straight students are constantly badgered to get honest, to tell all. They are coaxed, beaten, frightened, cajoled, or just plain terrified into confessing all by their peers. But what Straight is looking for is confession of drug usage that may or may not be true, and for information about their sex life. While the child is being broken down, three questions are frequently asked. Have you ever had sex with an animal? Have you ever had sex with a parent or sibling? Have you ever had sex with someone of the same sex?

Straight knows that sooner or later it will have to let the parents talk to their child. To that end the parent is sent to a school and taught how to talk to his child once he earns back that right. The child is given the same schooling and is pushed constantly for a written confession. Finally after a few weeks or sometimes 6 - 9 months, the child earns TALK. Mom, dad, child and a Straight official have a 5 minute sit-down. It is forbidden to talk about current events in one's life at Straight. Dad says, "son I remember a time in your druggie past when you did (fill in the blank) and it made me feel (select one of the 99 sanctioned feeling words developed by Dr. Newton. All other words are 'thought' words and are forbidden.). Dad then concludes, "but I love you." Next mom says, "Bill, I remember a time in your druggie past when you did (fill in the blank) and it made me feel (chose an allowed feeling word), but I love you." Finally the student says, "Mom, Dad, I remember a time in my druggie past when I (fill in the blank) and it made me feel (chose an allowed feeling word), but I love you." Everyone then stands, hugs, and the session is over. The word blackmail is never used, but if the child has confessed to some embarrassing sexual activity or fantasy that he has indulged in, even if it is a lie, an exaggeration or actually true, that confession has been recorded in the child's own handwriting and signed by him in a Moral Inventory, (COC) Chain of Command, or FOS (full of shit) list. The confession gives Straight additional insurance that the child will not tell of the abuse for fear of embarrassment if exposed to his parents. The confessed material is also available should the child or his parents ever decide to sue. In effect Straight obtains property from the confessor's parents in the monthly fees paid, the parents remining ignorant of the abuse as their child is too frightened and too embarrassed to tell them when he finally has a monitored talk session.

Straight is a two year sentence. Newcomer males must look down whenever females pass. Guys are forbidden to look to the right at the girls group. Guys sleep several to a room, sometimes locked in, sometimes alarmed in. They are accompanied to the bathroom by another male who watches them get into the shower and watches as they wipe themselves on the toilet. In a very unnatural setting, guys talk to one another while one is using the toilet. Many try to commit suicide at Straight but can not because they are watched all the time even when they wipe themselves on the toilet. There is no opportunity to masturbate in private. One kid reports that he once held up five fingers in a rap meaning he could only talk to a 5th Phasor. He told him that he had masturbated last night. The child psychiatrist-guard hugged him and said that his honesty would keep him sober one more day! There are sex raps where kids are forced to talk in group about the content of their confessions. Sometimes boys talk about sucking dicks or being fucked in the ass, openly, in front of their peers. Miller Newton has taken some of these criminally extorted confessions and used them in his book Kids, Sex and Drugs to show, he feels, that drugs make kids want to have sex with members of the opposite sex and with cats and dogs. After graduation clients become 7th Steppers and are allowed no boy-girl relationships for six months. Violators are placed back on first phase. Straight is a homophobic cult that makes kids talk about and think about things they best not be thinking about.

Once the child leaves Straight either by escape, graduation or the parent yanks him the child has time to rest and reflect. Reflection on what he or she has admitted to in Straight. Meredith Vieira demonstrates in the Washington Post that heterosexual girls can kiss one another because it is a guys thing. It turns men on. These women are not lesbians, but they can kiss one another, passionately on the lips, to turn guys on. Read "The Kiss That Leaves Men Open-Mouthed" in The Washington Post:

(In the printed version, besides Meredith Vieira and guest Christy Lemire getting it on, there are photos of Madonna and Britney in a lip lock and Madonna and Christina Aguilera kissing.)

The big point to be made here is that the mores of Western society let Straight girls handle their trumped-up confessions better than the boys. When you do what Straight does to a young man, you can kill him. Once they get out, some former male clients understandably question their manhood. This is Straight's great problem. Former male clients sometimes could possibly wonder whether they are now gay because they have admitted under duress to something they may or may not have done. Straight's teenage therapists can easily turn an episode of two 4 year-old boys playing doctor into a homosexual experience. The Sullivan Report published in 1989 found that homosexuals in the age group 15 to 24 were three times more likely as heterosexuals to kill themselves, and concluded that homosexuality was one of the risk factors for youth suicide. [Washington Post, 1-13-90, p. A5.] Most kids come out of Straight probably suffering from Straight-induced post traumatic stress syndrome, anyway. They are depressed and confused. Their sexuality has probably not changed, but many may have taken on life-long Straight induced fears and guilt. Perhaps unable to cope, 37 former male clients have committed suicide. Three women have too. Significantly, 13 of the 40 deaths have been former clients of Straight--Springfield in Fairfax County, Virginia. Suspiciously, during the nine years Straight was in Fairfax County there have been three incidences involving multiple-death suicides by teenagers. Two of those have involved at least one former Straight client and there is a report that one of those was a double suicide involving two former Straight clients! The author feels that he has probably uncovered most of the suicides by former Springfield clients, but not all. He concludes that since he lives in Fairfax County it is easier for him to discover those deaths (suicides, especially of youths, are frequently not reported as such by the press unless it is a multi-death pact). He fears that similar statistics exist for other Straight-related programs. Conservatively he estimates the death toll just from the 12 programs that operated under the name Straight to be 150. The total toll from all related programs could be as high as 250, which if accurate, would make Straight the cult with the third highest suicide rate in the world, exceeded only by Jim Jones The People's Temple where 900 parishoners took cyanide together, and perhaps another group that the author will not name.

Sraight's goal is to make money, not to kill, but has Straight caused people to kill themselves? Consider this:

  • 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.(35) It's not just because of the large number of retirees there either. The juvenile suicide rate in Pinellas County rose 130% between 1980 and 1986.(36) A 1992 study found that 1 out of 4 girls in neighboring Pasco County attempted suicide in 1991 (national average was 10%).(37) And in neighboring Hillsborough County the juvenile suicide rate rose from 3 in 1980 to 9 by 1987.(38) 19 youths committed suicide in Pinellas/ Hillsborough Counties in 1989 [up to nine of these were gay.](39) Straight operated its founding center, Straight-St Pete, in Saint Petersburg, Florida in Pinellas County from 1976 to 1993.
  • In 1986 a Straight-like program called Outreach was opened in Cape Coral, Florida. Next year in 1987 a community task force was put together to find out why 19 youths aged 14 - 17 had attempted suicide. [I have no data whether any of these youths were at Outreach, nor do I have any data showing that Outreach was an "abusive" Straight-like program.](40)
  • In 1988 the National Center for Disease Control launched a study on juvenile suicides in Cobb County, Georgia because its suicide rate of 14.7 for every 100,000 was 3 higher than the state average, and 2 times higher than the national average. Straight-Atlanta, operated in Marietta, Georgia in Cobb County.
  • Dr. Richard Schwartz, medical research director for Straight-Springfield, noted in an article for Straight's newsletter EPIDEMIC , Vol 6, that suicide was the fifth ranked cause of death of American teenagers in 1964, third in 1978 and second in 1983. But Straight had started operating in late 1976 and had centers in Cincinnati, Springfield, Virginia, Saint Petersburg and Sarasota by 1983. Suspiciously, the rise in juvenile suicide rates coincide with the rise in the the number of Straights.

There may be a precedent for charging Straight with negligent homicide, negligent manslaughter or at least "child abuse resulting in death by suicide"--and right down there in Florida, no less. On October 30, 1987 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida a trial by jury found Ms. Theresa Jackson guilty of child abuse resulting in the death by suicide of her 17 year-old daughter Tina Mancini. Ms. Jackson had forced her daughter to dance nude at a topless bar so the mother could live off the earnings. This was a third degree felony. Another applicable precedent set in this case is that Broward County Circuit Judge Arthur Franza allowed expert testimony as to "state of mind" of the dead girl to be entered into evidence when he allowed Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Douglas Jacobs to testify about his 'psychological autopsy" of the dead girl.(41)

For further reading on the 40 deaths from Straight, take these links:

Straight creates an environment for suicide

Friday, June 13, 2003

DPNA severs ties to its own forum

6-13-03 On May 29, 2003 the Oakton Institute reported on an alliance between DFAF (formerly Straight, Inc.) and DPNA (Drug Prevention Network of the Americas). In that article we reported that DPNA has an open discussion forum. Since that time there have been several posts to their forum to set the record straight on Straight. Subsequently, DPNA has left its forum page open, but removed the link to it from its own web page! It would be frightening to think that an international group like DPNA could not stand up to the truth. Yet this is not the first time such a perceived event has happened. On October 31, 2002 DFAF itself announced a free and open web forum. By the next evening nitizens familiar with DFAF's dastardly past discovered that forum and started posting to it. Within 12 hours the open forum had become a closed forum. Even the new Saint Petersburg Times seems to have been stymied. Recently the Times published an article about DFAF's founders Mel and Betty Sembler and their 50th wedding anniversary in Rome; but apparently the paper chose to camouflage the story under the title of another story dealing with a nursing home in Tampa.