Thursday, June 30, 2005

Mel Riddile, Straight's former national clinical director, protested at awards ceremony

We have received word that on June 22, 2005 Melvin Riddile, Ph.D., the principal of J.E.B. Stuart High School in Fairfax County, Virginia was presented an award in Williamsburg, Virginia for being the best principal in Virginia. But the ceremony was protested by a handful of Straight survivors. Dr. Riddile is the former national executive director of Straight, Inc. and during the early 1980s Dr. Riddile was the director of the Straight camp in Springfield, Virginia (in Fairfax County). For 17 years Straight, Inc. was one of the most destructive juvenile rehabilitation programs in the world. Straight stopped treating kids for addictions in 1993 and today is an internationally recognized think tank on American and international drug policy. Today it calls itself Drug Free America Foundation and its founder (who is the former chairman of the finance committee for the national GOP) Melvin Sembler is our Ambassador to Italy. While DFAF no longer treats kids for addictions, Kids Helping Kids of Cincinnati, Ohio does.

Kids Helping Kids was founded in part by Dr. George Ross who, like Dr. Riddile, has a Ph.D. in Education. Dr. Ross is Straight's former national education director. A few months after Straight had opened in Virginia, back when Mel Riddile was director of the Virginia program, a young Straight escapee named Fred Collins was awarded $220,000 by a jury in US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia for being falsely imprisoned by Straight. Virginia authorities did not prosecute Dr. Riddile or anyone else for their roles at Straight, but state authorities in Kentucky tried to prosecute Dr. Ross for his alleged role of violating civil liberties at Possibilities Unlimited--another Straight-like program he founded in Lexington, Kentucky.

Straight-Cincinnati voluntarily closed in Ohio after state criminal authorities took it to court on multiple criminal counts. Today Kids Helping Kids continues to operate out of the old Straight facility. Recently some Straight survivors urged Dr. Riddile to speak out against Kids Helping Kids. They allege he personally knows "people who were involved with KHK." When Dr. Riddile refused to speak out against Kids, the Straight survivors passed out the following flier at the awards ceremony for Dr. Riddile. Here is a copy of the Riddile flier that was eMailed to us.

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Anonymous said...

I attend J.E.B. Stuart High School and until recently I was not a fan of Riddile. This past year however my views have changed slightly upon actually talking to the guy. I am really interested in this Straight Inc. situation that happened while under Riddile's watch and this is the first time I have actually heard any of these allegations. I'm curious to know why this part of his past has been so hidden from us, but before I attempt to start a controversy at my school I want to get all the information I can. Your website is very helpful.

Anonymous said...

I attended Robert E. Lee High School in Springfiled, Va in the 1970's where Mr. Riddile was a vice principal before moving to Straight. I remember vividly the charges against him, and was surprised to see him awarded the Principal of the Year award.