Melvin Floyd Sembler is a multi-millionaire from Saint Petersburg, Florida. He is also the US Ambassador to Italy. But how did he get to be a multi-millionaire? And how did he get to be a US ambassador--not once but twice? And what are these stories spreading around linking him and his wife Betty Sembler to child abuse? Mr. Sembler used to sell ladies underwear in a ladies apparel store in Dyersburg, Tennessee. He married the store owner's daughter and expanded the business into shopping center construction and management. In the early 70s he moved the shopping center construction business to Pinellas County Florida where it flourishes today under the name Sembler Company. In 1987 Sembler Company got caught buying a piece of swampland in Florida (using insider information) for $1 million and almost selling it overnight (with the aid of its insider) to the city of Clearwater, Florida for $2.65 million. The local press caught wind so in the end the company only made $1 million on the deal.
The Semblers have admitted that about the time of their move to Florida they put their number two son into a controversial, federally-funded drug rehabilitation program chain called The Seed. In 1974 the US Senate published a study that likened The Seed's methods to Communist brainwashing. (See Individual Rights and the Federal Role in Behavior Modification by the US Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights.) Under such a scathing indictment The Seed withered but out if its ashes the Semblers created (with the aid of federal grants) their own rendition of The Seed which they called Straight, Inc. A half dozen directors left Straight in its first year. One of them inferred that Straight was worse than The Seed. And indeed it was.
The idea (as perfected by the Communist Chinese) is to strip a kid of all self esteem and then build him back up in the straight image. Life starts anew at Straight and all time before Straight is one's druggie past, even the period when he was just five years old. As in Chinese Seventh of May Academies (brainwashing prisons) kids (12 - 21) were deprived of food and sleep, painfully restrained without cause, spat upon in their faces and not allowed to wipe the spit off, made to urinate and to defecate on themselves (young girls on their period bled in their pants). Kids constantly yelled at other kids trying to get them to admit to drug usage or sex acts they may or may not have committed. Kids were coaxed or terrorized into signing confessions (true or false) of an utmost personal nature. [This is the criminal act of extortion. Kids are tortured for information about themselves that can be potentially used to silence the child while his parents continue to pay Straight's fees (eg. money exchanges hands). The information can be used to keep the kid and his family from speaking out against the program once he leaves and it can also be used to discourage civil suits and criminal complaints.] This bizarre, experimental treatment lasted two years--though Straight officials invariably told prospective parents that their kid might make it through in a few months.
In such a confused, terrorized and humiliated state of mind many kids carved on their bodies just like caged animals often do. So they had to be watched 24/7, even when they wiped themselves on the toilet, to guard them from committing suicide. But Straight had no plan to guard them once they left Straight. Over 40 former clients from Straight and follow-on Straights, that we know about, have committed suicide after leaving. (See Straight: Suicide or Murder.) Straight targeted the children of affluent white families and though most clients were teenagers there were some adults in their early 20s as well as children as young as 12. Unfortunately, records, media reports and eye witness reveal that many kids being treated for drug addiction at Straight were not drug addicts. Heath officials in Boston cited Straight for treating one little girl age 12 for drug addiction when her records indicated that all she had done was to sniff a magic marker! Yet through the years tens of thousands of American teenagers were held hostage while Straight claimed exorbitant success rates and earned nearly $100,00 million in the process. From 1976 to 1993 Straight, Inc., with treatment camps all over America, was the biggest juvenile rehabilitation program in the world! Much of its spectacular success was due to endorsements by the likes of Nancy and Ronald Reagan. George Bush the elder even made a TV commercial for Straight.
In 1990 Straight invited two prominent Canadian psychology professors from Simon Frasher University to visit its treatment camp in Springfield, Virginia to dispell the rumors, once and for all, of brainwashing. Professor Beyerstein's concluded that Straight was indeed using Communist brainwashing techniques and published his findings in his report Treatment, Thought Reform and the Road to Hell. The other professor, Dr. Bruce K. Alexander, subsequently wrote a book on Canadian drug policy titled Peaceful Measures: Canada's Way Out of the 'War on Drugs'. On page 75 he wrote this about Straight, Straight officials have generously allowed me to witness some of their group sessions firsthand . . . I believe that Straight's treatment can be fairly compared with 'brainwashing' in prisoner-of-war camps as documented by Brown (1963, chap. 2)*. Thus, procedures that would be reprehensible in any context outside of a prisoner-of-war camp are considered acceptable 'treatment' in the case of drug addiction. * The quote is from Techniques of Persuasion: From Propaganda to Brainwashing by J. A. C. Brown.
Take the quick tour of Straight's abuses:
Now read the story of Straight's former national clinical director, Reverend Doctor Miller Newton.
In 1985 Straight faced yet another law suit for abusing a minor. Scared for his personal liability, Melvin Sembler and his board of directors changed the mission of Straight from rehabilitation to educating the public of the dangers of drug use. And changed the name from Straight, Inc. to Straight Foundation, Inc. Then a new organization was formed to treat kids for addictions. The new organization was called--Straight, Inc. all over again. The foundation of course held all the assets--property and cash. It leased the property back to the treatment program. Mel Sembler went with the foundation where he felt he could not be sued for what the treatment arm did. (See Straight: piercing the corporate veil. ) In 1989 health officials in Florida tried to close Straight's flagship treatment center in St. Petersburg but there is evidence that Mr. Sembler used his growing political clout to quash  that effort. Straight, Inc. finally closed in 1993 amidst law suits and state investigations, but the foundation did not. In 1995 Straight Foundation, Inc. changed its name yet again to its current name: Drug Free America Foundation (DFAF) . The mission was changed again too. The current mission is a. to help small businesses setup Drug Free Workplace Environments, and b. to be a national drug policy think tank. Melvin Sembler is the former national finance chairman for the national Republican Party. He has given a lot of money to Republicans and has helped raised millions more. George H.W. Bush made him ambassador to Australia. George W. Bush has made him our current ambassador to Italy. At his Senate confirmation hearings Sembler stressed that he was selected because of his humanitarian work at Straight. (On his official state department web page  Sembler claims that he and Betty saved 12,000 kids at Straight.) But Melvin Sembler was given ambassadorial jobs because of his money. [See Sembler's contributions to the Republicans.  ] And because of his money the Republican Party helped Straight  become the power it became.This site is mirrored at www.theStraights.com/overview-abuses.htm