This Bush Crony Has Blood on His Hands!

November 10, 2005

Listen here

THE INSIDE SCOOP on George W. Bush’s Former Ambassador to Italy, Melvin Sembler, who ran a teen drug rehab center where thousands of American teens were physically and mentally abused in horrific, degrading ways.

Guest: Reporter John Gorenfeld

Ambassador de Sade: Bush rewarded one of his loyalists with the ambassadorship to Italy — despite his past as the founder of a cult-like teen rehab clinic.

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  • Jen December 3, 2005 12:01 pm

    I did my time in that hell hole. A total of 39 months. Yup, 3 years 3 months!!!In Mass, from the age of 15 to almost 19. I did gradute and only because of fear and guilt. They made me feel like I would never be anything if I could complete the program.I am still in contact with a couple people from there neither are “sober” including myselfand some that are from time to time. We are all married and doing o.k. Despite what they made us think. But I believe we need each other still because I believe we were all tramatized in our own way and only we can truly relate to each other.And I do have alot to say aboutit.. Jen

  • Kelly November 21, 2005 11:40 am

    Thanks Ginger…you rock as well – I remember when I first found Fornits two years ago (or so), it really helped me come to grips with what I was feeling (not that I’m there yet or anything ;) ).

    For the past 6 1/2 years I’ve felt so incredibly isolated (ironic) by my experience at Cross Creek…It’s as if the “me” before the Program was a completely distinct “me” from after the Program – if that makes any sense…I feel like I’m finally starting to get back to the “real” me (who I was before Cross Creek), but even now (at 25) it’s difficult & confusing.

    My research objectives are heavily based, not only on my own experience, but on the experiences of others whom I have talked with as well. All of this evidence is purely anecdotal, however, which is why I am proposing the study. Anyhow, I’m pretty excited about it.

    I really, REALLY want to see this somewhere in the mainstream media…I think the Bush crony angle is, of course, fantastic right now given the political climate. I might also bring up HR 1738, although there is considerable debate among survivors on the bill’s viability…I think it would be a good thing to bring up if, for nothing else, to give the issue a sense of urgency/current political context.

  • Ginger November 21, 2005 12:50 am

    Kelly = Blowback
    Go Kelly! You rock!

  • Kelly November 20, 2005 11:24 pm

    Every couple of weeks or so I do a little internet searching just to see if any new media attention has been given to the Straight/WWASP/etc. abuse issue. I was pleasantly surprised today to find a flurry of new info. (well, not new info, but newly written stories) on Sembler/Straight/etc. on DailyKos, Inside Scoop & Alternet. I’ve been writing to various leftist & mainstream media outlets for months now with now response (kind of frustrating to say the least!).

    Ginger mentioned WWASP a couple of times – I was in a WWASP program, Cross Creek Manor (in LaVerkin, UT) from 1997-1999. It’s been over 6 years since I “graduated the Program,” but the process of recovering the “real me” has been very slow going. I, and all of the other girls at CCM, were deprived daily of basic rights – you couldn’t close the door when using the bathroom, use a telephone, read a newspaper (or watch television for that matter), or have any phone numbers/addresses written down (that would be “run plans”), among other things. Humiliation was the norm, as was extreme intimidation by the staff/counselors. I was constantly afraid during the 18 months I spent there. During one particularly splendid “process,” (during the required TASKS seminars – a discussion worthy topic in and of itself) where we were beating the ground (it used to be a chair, but for whatever reason, the ground is sufficient now) frantically for a long time (I think a couple of hours, not sure though), I was held down on my back(in that hysteric state) by a couple of seminar staffers while a seperate staffer screamed into my face that my childhood sexual abuser was “on top of me again.” She then tried to whip me into a greater frenzy by asking why I was just letting him do it…of course this is all transpiring while I’m being held down. That was just one process – there were plenty of other similar scenarios that I, and other girls, experienced. There were also girls that I knew who sustained pretty significant injuries as a result of being “taken-down” too roughly by staff. Since I turned 18 while still in the Program, my therapist/the Program convinced my parents that they had to “establish boundaries for their home,” and as such, must not “support” my leaving the Program before graduating (i.e., when the Program deems you are ready to go home, or when your parents run out of $$$). This meant that I had to sign a “contract” stating that if I “chose” to leave CCM after my 18th birthday, that I would be given a bus ticket to Denver (not Houston, where I lived) and $10 – my parents would not have any communication with me, nor would they help me to survive in any way. This was a major thing – I almost walked out, and my parents basically told me “goodbye” forever, but I chickened out and decided to stay.

    After that “choice” (to use the parlance of the Program), I fell headlong into the WWASP mentality/ideology, and became one of it’s most ardent supporters. Two weeks after I graduated from Cross Creek (I was almost 19), I was picked by the Program to appear on the Sally J. Raphael show, basically to talk about how the Program “saved my life.” It took years before I spoke out publicly against WWASP, and to be honest, part of me still feels a tinge of fear & guilt when actively opposing the Program.

    Currently I’m a social work grad. student, and have written a draft of a research proposal exploring the psychological responses to trauma experienced by WWASP survivors. I am testing for PTSD, dissociative symptoms, and Stockholm syndrome (“positive trauma bonding”). If funded, this would be the first (unbelievable, I know) empirical data (albeit limited, I admit, due to the way I’ll have to sample) accumulated on WWASP, Straight, or any other abusive treatment program out there. I’m optimistic about this, and hope that it will happen.

    Thank you all for giving a damn – really – and if you want to help, tell your friends and family about this. Unfortunately, most Americans just don’t know what is happening in their own backyards – the public airing of this dirty laundry is way, way past due!!

  • a listener November 20, 2005 9:27 am

    I just wanted to say thank God and thank you for doing this. It’s horrendous that this hasn’t been talked about on public radio before. The only chance we have of shutting down this kind of nightmarish systematic child abuse is awareness. Thank you for doing this, words are not sufficient enough to describe how incredibly important to human rights it is that you did this.

  • Ginger November 18, 2005 8:32 pm

    Come to think of it, and not to be a poacher, but I’m probably not the best person for you to ask this question. Here’s a lady (Chi3) who has actually been through this from the parents’ point of view.

    I hope you’ll read some of what she has to say and consider contacting her. I’m sure she’d be happy to answer all of your questions.

  • Vicky November 18, 2005 8:30 pm

    Ginger – You’ve misunderstood my questions…I am not condoning what the parents did or automatically assuming they did it for a “good” reason. In fact on this board or the other one, I questioned the fact that parents could/would place their child in a facility without doing some very intensive background checks.

    I don’t think parents are infallible – I’m a parent and I know I’ve made lots of mistakes…I also know what teenagers are like…some are much more difficult than others. That doesn’t mean I justify sending our kids to be raised by someone else.

  • Ginger November 18, 2005 8:22 pm

    That’s ok, Vicky, I apreciate your skepticism. Like I said, you can’t offend me, just go ahead and try.

    If more people would ask those questions out loud instead of rhetorically, we’d be getting somewhere a lot faster.

    But your assumption that there must have been some good reason for our parents to do something like this is an example of a big part of the problem. Everyone assumes that. No one ever questions the parents’ decisions, and no one ever believes the kids.

    It’s a sticky problem, too. Taken too far the other way, families are torn apart by well intended social workers who believe the kids (or vindictive ex spouses or neighbors, etc.) and take drastic action w/o any evidence.

    I think that whenever a family situation rises to the level of clear and intolerable abuse, it should go before a jury. So far, the jury has been out to lunch on this one. We’re trying to remedy that.

    But seriously, don’t take my word for it. Just google the term “troubled teen” and call up some of the people offering help for troubled teens. You can call the same number a few hours apart and likely get a different intake person. Describe two different kids; one obviously doing alright w/ just the typical “symptoms” of adolescence, and another who’s clearly criminally violent. I’m not lying. They’ll take both imaginary kids while claiming expertise in both extreams and promising a safe and helpful environment to the kid who’s not violent or criminal.

  • Vicky November 18, 2005 7:40 pm

    Ginger – I’m sorry – I didn’t mean to make you sigh. I can sense and understand your frustration with the questions etc – I’m just trying to understand how things like this can happen – it still just seems unbelievable – although I do believe!

  • Ginger November 18, 2005 7:28 pm

    [sigh] Yes! I was depressed. I had no friends. I wasn’t allowed to have them because, according to Program dogma, 99% of teenagers were, or eventually would be, druggies. If I showed interest in any friendship, my mom (who had been involved with the Seed for close to 10 years) would start asking questions which I knew (cause I had to attend all those open meetings too) were all about whether or not my new friend was a druggie or a dry druggie or a potential druggie.

    Then I had difficulty w/ algebra. I’d always been an easy A/B student. Now, suddenly, I was flunking my math class. In her mind, that was a sure sign that I must be a druggie. Never mind that I just found algebra to be a whole lot more difficult than geometry, which I had aced easily. Then, in totally unrelated news, I didn’t formally join the church and quit attending Sunday services, though I still got As in Bible class, observed and respected all the rules and standards of our little Christian school. (good school, btw, back in the day anyway)

    Yes, definitely, the parents are hysterical and desperate w/ fear. But, most of the time, it’s unfounded. Just like all those alleged ADD/ADHD and ODD kids upon whom the schoolpeople like to push their favorite drugs. These days, when the kids rebel against this indignity, guess what? They often get recomendations for programs like KHK or WWASP.

    Same crap, slightly different and more sophisicated sales pitch.

  • Vicky November 18, 2005 6:54 pm

    I did read that web page and can see the point you’re making. (Although I can’t say I agree with your conclusion that ANY kid would be in need of drug treatment based on their criteria.)

    I think being the parent of a teenager is one of the most difficult jobs out there and I have to think that parents who placed their kids in these places were suffering from their own problems in that they didn’t know how to relate to or cope with their teens (or simply didn’t want to??!)

    Those of you who were teens and in these programs but hadn’t been drug users, looking back, now, can you see anything that was happening in your life that caused your parents to pursue this option?

  • Ginger November 18, 2005 12:54 pm

    Vicki, did you read that web page? What do you think? How many of those “signs” would fit you or kids you know? Think of it both from the kid’s perspective and from what a parent (one who’s been to a few toughlove hategroup seminars… that’s where he/she got the link) would answer?

    Now then, do you know of ANY kid who wouldn’t be deemed in need of drug treatment based on their criteria? Are you starting to understand? We weren’t in a drug rehab. What happened was that our parents were taken in by a destructive cult and we were made to pretend to be drug addicts and that what was going on in those warehouses was therapeutic.

    The trouble is that the leaders of the free world STILL BELIEVE THIS!

  • ginger November 17, 2005 7:23 pm

    Vicki, here’s one reason.

    I didn’t have a drug problem either. MOST of the kids in these places don’t. But the Program dogma views almost everyone as a druggie or a dry druggie. And that’s just the Straight line of programs. The rest of the troubled teen industry has come up with a delightful array of colorful terms for farily healthy teen behavior. What’s the difference between “oppositional defiant disorder” and draptomania?

    What we all have in common is parents who were desperate and frightened and not confident in their ability to take care of us or in our ability to grow up alright.

    If you want to get an idea of what I’m talking about for yourself, call up some of these places that come up on a search on ‘troubled teen’, describe a kid you know who obviously doesn’t need treatment and see what they say. Then do it again describing a different kind of kid and see what they say. You’ll find that most places don’t take kids w/ violent or drug problems, unless of course that’s what you’ve got.

  • Vicky November 17, 2005 6:55 pm

    Scott, If you wouldn’t mind sharing with us just how it is that you ended up in a drug rehab program when you didn’t even use, I’d appreciate hearing about it. I’ve noted that several people have said the same thing – no drug use and yet they spent time at one of these places.

    The length of time some of you spent there is unreal!

  • Scott November 17, 2005 5:49 pm

    Thanks for bringing up this subject. I was in a Straight off-shoot, Kids of El Paso, from 5/87 – 12/89. The Kids program was started by Miller Newton (author of the 80′s propaganda piece “Not MY Kid”). A former staff member of Straight in FL, the cancer he started began in NJ and spread to TX, CA, UT, and Canada.

    That horrible place pretty much ruined my teen years. I didn’t even use drugs and somehow my parents were convinced that I needed to be admitted. When I got out, it took a few years to get over the brainwashing and the mental/emotional problems caused by the Kids program.

    I encourage anyone reading this to visit It’s a great site that tells our story and some of us still keep in touch on the message board. If you were in one of these programs, you’ll see actual staff notes & documents that you may find interesting.

  • Igor Smith November 15, 2005 9:47 am

    A Skeptic’s Indictment

    Politicians, perhaps, start with the best intentions
    but, when mixed into the system’s form,
    become twisted, mashed and blended
    into an amalgam mush
    perpetrating store-bought deeds
    unbecoming reptilian minds,
    lest men of worthy purposes.

    So excuse me, if I choose
    not to wait in line
    to show deference to governmental icons.
    I’ll bide my while to better service
    by pissing in the wind, and
    contemplating sidewalk slime-trails
    of crawling snails, and
    drawing stick-man comics that sing the poetry
    that soothes the sting
    of the festering holes of our group conscience.

  • stop_mind_rapists November 14, 2005 9:49 pm

    “Before Melvin Sembler was appointed as the Ambassador to Italy a large number of survivors, including parents – made our protests known – to 1) our indiviudal state’s senators and representatives 2) the White House and 3) the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (who appointed Sembler). We presented our case and made our protests known; we made a big noise. However, despite our efforts, these “leaders” appointed Sembler to the position anyway. Consequently, three of the first five speeches Sembler made in Italy after his arrival BRAGGED about his being the founder of Straight Incorporated! Of course, Sembler made NO MENTION of the fact that the program had been shut down for inhumane treatment, neglect, and child abuse. But we knew. And after all, that was Sembler’s point: that no one cared about what a bunch of “lying druggie cockroaches” had to say.
    Posted by: Leigh at November 13, 2005 06:33 PM”

    Thanks Leigh,

    I also think that Sembler was confirmed within weeks shortly after 9-11-2001. If you remember, there was a lot of confusion and our “leaders” IMHO, took full advantage of that fact and slipped that ****** right on thru to confirmation. Thanks a lot you ****** jerks that “run” things. Hope you don’t play the blame game when all this comes out in the wash, cuz it will !!!!!

  • Robert November 14, 2005 8:52 pm

    Why did Bush make him Ambassador to Italy when he could’ve put him in charge of Abu Ghraib?

  • william earnshaw, sr. November 14, 2005 9:09 am

    Dear “KATHY” whoever you are, I was never a straight inc counselor. It would be nice if you would not post innacuracies like this in the future.

    Thank you

  • melissa November 13, 2005 10:36 pm

    everyday in america there are still kids in these programs. i was in the lester roloff homes every thing i have heard. is the same thing i went through. these homes are closed down and reopened again under different names. these kids have no way to tell anyone what is going on.they are afraid. they are hungry. they are hurt. they need help. but they will not dare seek any help for they are afraid. kinda like elizabeth smart. she was to afraid to yell out help me .when you are brainwashed and tortured you trust none……

  • Leigh November 13, 2005 6:33 pm

    Before Melvin Sembler was appointed as the Ambassador to Italy a large number of survivors, including parents – made our protests known – to 1) our indiviudal state’s senators and representatives 2) the White House and 3) the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (who appointed Sembler). We presented our case and made our protests known; we made a big noise. However, despite our efforts, these “leaders” appointed Sembler to the position anyway. Consequently, three of the first five speeches Sembler made in Italy after his arrival BRAGGED about his being the founder of Straight Incorporated! Of course, Sembler made NO MENTION of the fact that the program had been shut down for inhumane treatment, neglect, and child abuse. But we knew. And after all, that was Sembler’s point: that no one cared about what a bunch of “lying druggie cockroaches” had to say.

  • kathy November 13, 2005 6:09 pm

    What William is not telling you is that he actually worked at Straight as a counselor.

  • Ginger November 12, 2005 9:18 pm

    Yeah, I read a book about that case before the settlement. Title is The Franklin Conspiracy. I’m still on the fence. If it’s true, it implicates the president and vice president in all kinds of kinky and sadistic behavior. We’re not talking consensual blow jobs under the desk, but the frequent use of child sex slaves.

    On the other hand, it’s just such an unbelievable story. But it’s hard to imagine either a successful conspiracy as alleged by the victims or a successful conspiracy to pretend it happened. But there it is for all to see. One side or the other is making it all up. Presumably, the other isn’t.

    Astounding, isn’t it? But, based on my personal experience w/ a program closely affiliated w/ a good many powerful public figures, I can’t write it off as implausible.

  • bk November 12, 2005 8:23 pm

    Dear Inside Scoop Folks:

    It’s been a long time since I’ve posted (don’t really post much) but I’m absolutely astounded by what I’m reading! My heart goes out to all of you who suffered this torturous treatment. I was so moved by Jason’s comments on the air. It sounded to me as though he had to bury a lot of crushing pain just to survive *after* his experience.

    I’m definitely not of his poitical stripe but that doesn’t keep my heart from going out to him. In fact, I empathize with his unwavering, conservative support of Bush & Co. It seems as though he has been working hard to put his life in order to make his experiences “make sense.”

    I felt as a listener though, that there’s no need to make sense out of senseless acts. Sometimes the only “sensible” thing to think is that the people who put him in that position were wrong, immoral (not necessarily the traumatized kids who particpated) and out of their minds, too.

    I was trying to pinpoint another story about abused kids associated with high powered Republicans. I couldn’t recall it for a while but then found a link after Googling around a few times. I know, just what we need, more conspiracy theories…but I thought it might be worth a look. Some of the sources seem credible, some not, but I’ll defer to our resident attorney.

    Again, my heart goes to those of you who have suffered in silence. I commend your bravery.


  • Ginger November 12, 2005 7:42 pm

    Cactusrose, thanks for the info. I’ve heard similar stories, though nowhere near as radical, about treatment under incarceration.

    Wackenhut runs the work release program for Broward County and they run it on the therapeutic community model. I knew one person who went through that. According to her, they had a deal w/ La Quinta Inns where they built the facilities according to the hotels’ floor plans so that, if the deal fell through w/ a corrections agency they could easily convert them to hotels. I found out not long after that Wackenhut was also buying up private alarm monitoring services in the area and requiring, as a condition of the deal, that they newly acquired companies employ inmates from their TCs.

    Now, here’s another huge credibility problem. And I wish I had been able to think on my feet when Mark asked me why this story hasn’t broke yet. Oh well, it’s complicated. Don’t know if there would have been time on air to really explain it. But who are our natural allies in this? Of course, the political left. Unfortunately, the left has been thoroughly and very effectively seduced by the idea of “treatment not incarceration” as a way to end the drug war. And I’m reminded again that a Communist is someone who’s read Lenin, Engles and Marx; a Capitalist is someone who’s understood them.

    Oh, the irony when you consider that this holy jihad against users of certain unpatentable drugs began in earnest under Nixon, not a little influenced by the fear of a vast left wing conspiracy to brainwash America’s youth with Marihuana.

  • cactusrose November 12, 2005 11:10 am

    If you haven’t already done so, form an Internet group where people can discuss this problem and brainstorm strategy. Also use the group to help others heal from what was done to them. Old-fashioned consciousness-raising. You’ll be surprised how quickly people who are struggling with feelings of having caused and even deserved their abuse will get over these erroneous ideas when they hear that the same things were done to others. They know perfectly well that these other people didn’t cause or deserve their abuse, so they quickly realize they didn’t either.

    As for these people claiming you have no credibility because you were drug addicts (regardless if you were or were not), all abusers and exploiters use some variation of this ploy. According to the abusers and exploiters the patients who complained had no credibility because they were mental patients. Their family members had no credibility because they supposedly had caused or contributed to the patients’ problems. The staff who complained were “disgruntled”. (That a popular one.) And the other people who were horrified by what was being done to people by these places and monsters were gullible dumbbells who had been hoodwinked by a bunch of articulate mental patients. BTW, we learned to warn reporters and politicians that the owner of the local facility would say this. Sure enough, he did, and our credibility rose and his went down as a result.

    Frankly, I think every person who engages in abuse like this should be sent away to prison for a very long time. They certainly don’t need to be in any positions of authority.

  • cactusrose November 12, 2005 11:08 am

    I encourage each of the people who were abused by this program to keep speaking out about it and fighting. Tell anyone who will listen. Write letters to the editor and letters to politicians. Speak out in churches and other public places about it. Persistence is important. Yes, you are going to run into people who don’t want to listen. Some people have a vested interest in things like this continuing. They’re gaining something from it. Some people just don’t care about others. They’ve never learned that what monsters do to others today eventually will be done to them too. Others will want to help but may not be able to do anything at the moment. They will in the future. It also helps to spell out what people can do to help. A few will not only care, they will have the power or the knowhow to do something in the present.

  • cactusrose November 12, 2005 11:04 am

    What was done to people connected to the military and to the people on here is what some very bad, even evil people want to do to ALL Americans. One of the interviews I did that stands out for me was of the wife of a retired seargent. When I asked her why she signed the consent forms for hundreds of dollars of medical tests she neither wanted nor felt she needed, she said she was afraid not to sign. She said she saw how they treated the others in the BCRs (Behavioral Control Rooms), and she was afraid that would be done to her if she didn’t sign. She then related that for a long time after getting out of the hospital she was afraid to disagree with anyone about anything no matter how trivial. For example, if her husband offered her a second piece of toast at breakfast, she’d take it even if she wasn’t hungry because she had been so conditioned to be afraid of disagreeing or refusing. Folks, this is the kind of absolute obedience some very evil people want to instill in all Americans.

    Some of the posters on here have related how they weren’t really abusing drugs but got falsely labeled as drug abusers anyway. The same false diagnoses and falsification of evidence were occurring in those for-profit psychiatric hospitals. Most of the patients had either mild psychological problems that could have been treated better in an outpatient setting, or they had physical medical problems that had been misdiagnosed as psyhological. Some doctors were making more from “bounty hunting” (accepting kickbacks from these places for each patient referred to them with good insurance) than they were making from their medical practices. Social workers, school nurses and counselors, and even some preachers were bounty hunting. The abuse of not only patients but also their family members in and by these facilities was so bad that many of these people developed psychological problems as a result.

    The nature of abuse is to cause people subjected to it to feel like it was done to them alone and they somehow caused and even deserved it. This is NOT so. Plus abusers will do things to increase these feelings in their victims.

  • cactusrose November 12, 2005 11:01 am

    Yes, these things are being done in America.

    In the early 1990s I was one of the people who worked on the problem of people connected with the military – active duty, retirees, and their family members – being targeted by for-profit psychiatric hospitals and various programs for the very generous CHAMPUS (what health insurance for people connected to the military was called back then) payments. CHAMPUS regulations were even written to encourage hospitalization over cheaper, safer, and more effective out-patient treatment.

    There is very little going on in the military prisons that wasn’t being done to people connected to the military back in the 1980s and early 1990s. That includes the sexual humiliation and abuse, the beatings, the use of stun guns and cattle prods, the ignoring of physical medical problems (including serious ones), the constant making fun of and belittling, etc.

    I and others I worked with have long suspected (though we weren’t able to prove) that what these people were subjected to was part of an experiment into breaking down people. The people involved not only learned a lot about breaking people with abuse, coercion, and torture, they learned a lot about identifying the type of people who will participate in torturing others or at least look the other way.

    Anyone wishing to learn more about this can check out the congressional report The Profits of Misery: How Inpatient Psychiatric Treatment Bilks the System and Betrays Our Trust. I warn people that it’s very depressing reading. People also can check out a series of articles by Soraya Nelson which appeared in the August 17, 1992 issues of The Army Times, The Air Force Times, and The Navy Times.

  • Patti November 12, 2005 2:21 am

    I also had no drug problem when I was decieved and left at Straight Inc. For 6.5 concesutive months, I was deprived of sleep, nutrition, sunlight, communication w/almost anyone entirely.(almost meaning I could only communicate with staff or in group) I spoke/saw my parents for a grand total of 15 minutes during the 6.5 months(5 minute withdaw meetings when they would allow them)I put in a “withdraw” every single day. I was deprived of clean clothes, my own clothes, clean sheets, privacy (even when going to the bathroom or showering) I was deprived of sleeping alone in a bed (I was most often on the floor or in a bed w/ several other girls) Many teens had Impitago and scabies left untreated for months. Oldcommers guarded the doors where we slept by putting their Bed infront of the door, The windows at the houses were locked-nailed-alarmed shut as were all the doors. I normally had to go to the bathroom after the doors were locked/alarmed, So Straight instructed the host parents to make me use a bucket in the bedroom w/ several newcommers/oldcommers watching.

    I was on first phase frozen on Day zero for 6.5 months, because I refused to comply. I was physically thrown to the floor and restrained by 4-6 untrained Clients almost daily for hours on end for simply sitting on my hands looking at the floor. They would litterally sit on me, I would gasp for air thinking I was going to die.

    The day I went in, I was told we were going shopping for my 14th B-day. (I no longer celebrate my Birthdays) My parents left me at Straight that day, because I had runaway a few times (locally). The intake was several hours long since I refused to ~sign the papers. The intake staff lied to my parents telling them I had confessed to doing a ton of drugs. (I had tried pot under 3 times 6+ months prior to Straight) I was strip searched by other clients.. I was given a urine test, which I know was clean. We were under such duress on intake and after, We couldn’t even go #2 for weeks, some even months.

    Within the fist days and everyday after, I tried to leave, I asked for an Attorney, I asked for the police, I asked for medical treatment, I asked for social services. I recieved none of these things.I was told everyday, I would never get out(They called it “rotting” on first phase), I had NO rights and NO one wanted me. Straight knew what they were doing to us all and knew if any of us got the chance we’d tell someone or runaway.

    I asked for medical treatment over and over, I was in horrible pain..My condition went untreated (endometriosis and a minor PID) Consequently, I have undergone 14 surgeries to repair the damage to my fallapion tubes from having NO medical care while in Straight. I can never have children because of it.

    I lived 6.5 months on “Misbehaver consequences” 30 sec showers, no sugar, no salt, only water to drink, no shampoo, no extras anything. I had to say before I could do anything (including wiping myself) “By the courtsey of my most humble host home may _I wipe_?” There were more consquences too.If I didn’t adhere to these policies I would be kept up all night/day for several days in a row, yelled at, spit on, violently restrained by untrained clients.

    Oh My, I could go on and on. Misbehavers were treated horridly. Anyone who didn’t comply and praise the program, anyone who even admitted to “having thoughts” which went against the program were considered Misbehavers. Once during an open meeting, I was restrained in an intake room, because they knew I would run to my parents, They were hiding me from my family, me-then-this insane animal Straight had created.
    Sometimes I still see it in my head, myself in Straight. I see that frightened, confused misbehaver still laying there on the floor, blood dripping from her head, crying, gasping for air. I have nightmares often of still being there or being kidnapped back to there. To be taken down to below the integrity of an animal at 14 (for sitting on my hands refusing to comply) was devastating.

    After all Straight did to us, The ONE thing they NEVER did was educate us or treat us for any kind of Drug probelm, Matter of fact Straight didn’t treat us for anything. There was NEVER any therapy. The sessions were used to tear us down, and humilate us. There was never a “building back up” process, just ongoing torment and coerced confessions, which they used to keep us there longer, to keep the money rolling in.

    Sorry this was so long and kinda jumbled up, but we have so much to tell.. Straight Suvivors and the like are a phenonemon all to ourselves. We in no way deserved what Straight did to us. Criminals have more rights than we did. I’m not even sure how I got out, My parents came and got me one day. I was either Terminated by Straight or Withdrawn by my parents. I think my parents couldn’t afford to pay anymore. They had already sold property to pay for the 6.5 months. We as a family still can not discuss Straight Inc at all. Once I tried to tell them and we didn’t speak for 3 years. They will not even look up Straight Inc now on the internet to see the information available now, 20 years later. That hurts alot.

    Thanks again, the show was great. I am horrified the people who founded and funded Straight still control our lives and laws. Sick, sick people. I will try to find the courage to call on Sunday.

  • William Earnshaw Sr. November 12, 2005 12:34 am

    Hi Vicky,

    Webster’s 4th edition dictionary defines a concentration camp as a “prison camp in which political dissidents, members of minority ethnic groups, etc are confined.”

    I would say that in of itself, a typical STRAIGHT, INC warehouse lockdown facility, complete with guarded doors and guards posted at the end of each row of chairs in which the group of clients sat was definitely a type of concentration camp. It would fall in the “etc” category. We were cut off from all communication from the outside world, fed small portions, allowed little sleep, coerced into talking a certain way (groupspeak) using only an “authorized” vocabulary, never allowed (on first and second phase) outside during daylight hours, forced to flap our arms like stark raving mad Tazmanian devils, forced to stand in lines with our toes touching the heels of the person in front of us and subjected daily to a slew of other systematically abusive and tortuous experiences because we were labeled as “druggies” and “addicts”. Yes, I’d say STRAIGHT, INC. operated, by definition, a network of concentration camps. Not everyone went voluntarily, mind you, some kids were “court ordered”.

  • jane November 12, 2005 12:34 am

    Thank you for doing this story. I was in Straight Dallas in 1989 for 5 months. I had smoked pot one time a year before. I was screamed at constantly, told that I was lying about everything, that I was a drug addict and that I was full of shit. I lived in fear of being stood up and confronted for god only knew what…whatever they decided to make up that day. I didn’t understand what was happening, and I was too young to consider that the people running that place were crazy. I eventually “came to believe” (as in the the 2nd step I believe) that I was a drug addict. I grew to be in constant fear of being full of shit, fake, prideful, of thinking of running away (which was also against the rules), of singing any songs in my head, of looking the wrong way during raps. I learned how to lock up all of my “wrong” thoughts into a little box and keep them there. That place was deplorable and how it could stay open and have spin offs in operation even today is something I just can’t even fathom.

  • Vicky November 11, 2005 10:32 pm

    Ginger – First of all, my post above was unclear – I didn’t mean to imply that you were comparing these drug rehab places to concentration camps – but one or two other posters did make that reference.

    I had heard and read about the Roloff ministries (briefly) quite a few years ago and never got the impression that they were “breaking and manipulating” kids…although I did understand that the program was quite rigid and strict…I think there is a difference.

    Thanks for the link. I will check it out.

  • Ginger November 11, 2005 9:09 pm

    Larry, were you personally trained by David Ick or is that just another nasty rumor?

  • Ginger November 11, 2005 9:01 pm

    Yes, Vicki. There are many similarities between the methods used to break and manipulate kids in The Seed and Straight and those used to break and manipulate kids in the Roloff ministies. If you’d like to know more about Roloff, click my name under this post, I’ve linked it to the Roloff/VCA/Rebekah forum on my server.

    But I’m not quite clear on the point of your question. Are you saying you know something of Roloff and think it’s OK? Or that you can’t believe anything as bad as Roloff has become a boom industry?

    I don’t think I used the term “concentration camp” and I wouldn’t equate Straight or any of these programs with a concentration camp, at least not closely. But there are similarities in the bigger picture. I’d say Straight, Inc. (as well as DARE and Safe and Drug Free Schools/Workplaces/Communities are a lot more like Hitler Jugund than like a concentration camp. No, the paralel to concentration camps in this dirty war are the prisons overflowing with over 2 million Americans, most of them dark complected young men convicted of the thought crime of intent to engage consensual, yet unauthorized, commerce.

    But don’t take my word for it. A top Dutch drug policy official said just the same thing to Arnold Trebach. Here’s the link to his telling of that encounter.

  • Vicky November 11, 2005 7:53 pm

    Ginger – Are you making claim that the Roloff Ministries were the same as Straight, Inc?

    Also I’d like to question the use of the term “concentration camps” – that just doesn’t seem to fit – I’m not doubting anything that any of you who have been personally involved have stated – but after reading personal accounts of the concentration camps during WWII…I don’t think there is a comparison.

  • Larry Nelson November 11, 2005 6:58 pm

    I was forced into Straight INC in 1077 by some people from The Seed, another program that started this whole mess.I remeber the staff members hovering over me like fresh meat and by he Grace of God and my two winged feet I escaped into the wilderness. After being not able to function I had myself committed to the LIFE program and paid the Bill myself. I left on bad terms and Helen Petermann and Nancy Reagan had my VA pension taken away. There’s more to this than I’m telling , But President Bush Still has a CANCER on his administration called the whole Fam Damnily is Islamic terrorists except me. I’m still a slave to this day.Donna has everyone fooled with her idols and magic mirrors and her little Allah stunts. I’m a prisoner and live in torment all day and night. She’s the puppet master alright. Houdini too.

  • ginger November 11, 2005 5:48 pm

    Well, Vicky, how were you to know? Who would even imagine something like this going on? In this country? In this day and age? It’s exactly the same slight of mind as Hitler’s “Big Lie”. And these people are just FULL of big lies.

    Catmado, there are at least hundreds of similar programs in operation these days. One of the biggest and most notorious didn’t spin off from the Seed/Straight/KIDS line. It grew up independently out of Synanon, starting with the first program, CEDU. Today, they have a network of programs, marketers and professional kidnappers under the corporate name World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools (WWASPS). They’re not, by any means, the entire industry. Just the biggest, most successful and, therefore, more notorious.

    Going back further, there are the Roloff Ministries. If you want to find out more about the Troubled Parent industry, just google some of those terms. You’ll find it. If you can’t believe what you read, pick up the phone, call their toll free hotlines and have a little fun describing any kind of kid and see for yourself that they’ll tell you whatever you want to hear to get your business.

    Then keep an eye out. If someone you know mentions a kid having gone off to boarding school, ask a few questions.

  • Ginger November 11, 2005 5:32 pm

    Big Dave, thanks for the moral support. Personally, I’m SO past placing blame. Again, please understand this. It’s vitally important that we do. Staff was just another phase of the program. I know. I was on pre-trainging and my ex sister in law had been on staff at the Seed. The things they did, the lies they told to cover it up and the whole warped culture they promoted was and is, by far and away, more evidence of their having been damaged by the process than of personal culpability. Of all the ppl who post to my forums (some thousands), it’s the former staffers who are usually most ashamed and least willing to give away their identities.

    The parents, even those who rose up through the ranks of executive staff, most of them were even more brainwashed than any of us. Mel Sembler is not just a greedy, power hungry sadist. Remember that, before he founded Straight, Inc, he did this to his own son and he remains, to this day, proud of having done it! That’s what makes him and all of his associates who condone what he has done so dangerous. There is no smoking gun to be discovered and exposed that will bring the whole thing down. These people are every bit as sincere and fanatic as those people who keep throwing bomb laden virgins at us.

    The trouble is that the vast majority of good, intelligent, compassionate Americans have, for over 3 decades now, mistaken them for sane people and even noble heros.

    I just want ya’ll to see them for what they are. I don’t care one whit what happens to them. For all I care, we can put them up at public expense on a beautiful tropical island and keep them well fed and comfortable. They can spend their days stroking each other’s egos, reminiscing about the good old days while enjoying gourmet cuisine and sweedish massage. That would be fine with me, SO LONG AS THEY HAVE NO INFLUENCE!

  • Sean November 11, 2005 4:55 pm


    It is a Republican thing because those that fund and support the Republican Party are those that did/are doing it.

    Our politicians are not the tobacco industry. If we see them doing something fundamentally harmful to us, we do have the ability to stop them.

    Thank you and good night.
    “Bush is not a crook!”

  • Vicky November 11, 2005 3:24 pm

    I’m sorry to admit that I was totally unaware of something like this going on – had no idea – it seems unbelievable.

    However, I’m not sure how this is a right-wing republican/conservative problem?

  • catmando November 11, 2005 3:14 pm

    How many of these Gulags exist in the United States? What is being done to expose the torturers and bring Sembler and his henchmen to justice? How can an ordinary citizen like myself help?

  • Shanna November 11, 2005 1:15 pm

    I was in Straight Richardson Texas in 1987 I was 13 years old. I got up to 3rd phase copped out, got brought back and misbehaved. I was abused the same as everyone else there. I would bang my own head on the floor for relief, when I left to go to a psyco ward they counted 52 scabs on my arms from where I had dug into myself with my own finger nails. I was not allowed to go to school. Many of us have tried to escape what Straight has turned us into with suicide. I have a scar on my wrist that shows the everyday pain of having to live with myself. Today I keep my windows covered and my doors locked. I live in fear.

    Thank you for giving us a voice. There are children still in these places that are being abused just like I was. They are not allowed to use a computer, phone or even mail a letter to voice what is happening to them. Most of the kids do not know they are being abused. They think its normal. The survivors of Straight are the voices for the children that can not speak.

    Thank you for your time!

  • big dave from queens November 11, 2005 11:18 am

    To all the victims of this Right Wing Gulag:

    Remember you are NOT at fault for what happened. The people who ran the camp and the conservative politicians and in some cases your conservative parents are responsible for the crimes. Hopefully every last one of them can be jailed for life. But remember, it is NOT your fault. Do not blame yourself one bit.

  • William Earnshaw, Sr. November 11, 2005 1:44 am

    I liken the 7PM show on Thursday to the opening of a BIG can of worms. This topic is one of the most well kept secrets in the media today. It will take courage such as was exhibited by Mark Levine, reporters, the callers, and others to get this topic into the media mainstream. I was in the Springfield VA branch of STRAIGHT, INC. from early 1983 to late 1984. This was during the tenure of the National Association of Secondary School Principals 2006 principal of the year award winner: Mel Riddile. Riddile was a therapist/executive director at the Virginia branch of STRAIGHT, INC. As one of Melvin Sembler’s right hand men, Riddile received his therapy training from Miller and Ruth Newton, the notoriously abusive priest and wife who tormented hundreds of kids and young adults over several years in “treatment” programs throughout the country. In his role as Regional Director of STRAIGHT, INC., Riddile was instrumental in training staff, doing program PR, and opening more branches of the program in other states. The director of the Detroit MI STRAIGHT, INC. facility was trained by Riddile in the Cincinatti branch which was located inside warehouse in Milford, OH. Today, an offshoot of STRAIGHT, INC. called Kids Helping Kids, is using the same building as did STRAIGHT, INC. It is also currently under abuse investigations by at least 3 OH agencies at this time. Riddile, currently employed as a principal and state employee, is required to report child abuse. Earlier this year, he refused to comment about it claiming he had no knowledge about the program in OH eventhough he was first told about it in January of 2003. Yet, another award for a Mel Sembler former collaborator. I wholeheartedly agree, this type of treatment is 100% systematically physically and psychologically abusive. There is no way around it. Kids who have been subjected to it for short periods of times (2 weeks or less) have been diagnosed with PTSD. Others, including myself, have to live with permanent negative side effects as a result of long term exposure. No sunlight, little sleep, total vocabulary manipulation, constant humiliation, instilling of fear of death or insanity for not finishing the program, manifestations of self doubt and hypercritical observations, personality extortion, parent manipulation and subsequent family turmoil, suicide attempts and deaths, exacerbated drug use via self medication, physical trauma, retarded, severely altered or non-existent menstrual cycles, forced abortions, attempted murder, hetero and homosexual rape, … the list goes on and on.

    Thank you for spotlighting this subject. I look forward to calling the show on Sunday.


  • Kris November 10, 2005 8:10 pm

    I wanted to add one thing to my previous post. At the police station after my rescue from my Straight kidnappers, I was asked to press charges. I refused. I was hysterical, scared, outraged and extremely traumatized by being kidnapped and by being in Straight as a “client.” I just wanted to get away from Straight, as far away as I could. I just couldn’t take thinking about it. There are so many reasons why many of us never reported abuse endured while in Straight. These were just my reasons. I back up what other callers said when asked on the show why they didnt go to police. FEAR.

    Thank you for beginning the process of bringing the story of Straight, Inc. Survivors to the public’s attention. OUR STORY MUST BE TOLD! The public has a right to know. I can’t even begin to explain how grateful I am for your efforts to report this story.

  • Kris November 10, 2005 7:38 pm

    I was in Cincinnati Straight from late October 1984 until early February 1986. I was admitted against my will even though I had NEVER tried drugs in my life and had only got drunk once. I was however “rebellious.” I was considered a “druggie liar not to be beleived.” While in Straight, I lived in a constant state of anxiety, stress, and fear. The verbal assault, humiliation, and other abuses I either witnessed or experienced in Straight were unbearable. I felt like I was in hell that would never end. I could go on for hours about the abuses I witnessed while in Straight. But even worse, after graduating the program, I was kidnapped at the direction of Straight staff to force me back into the program because I had broken the no dating during aftercare rule by holding hands with a boy. I was 18 when the kidnapping incident occurred. Fortunately I was rescued by police. But charges were never pressed against Straight. I have been haunted by Straight for 20 years. I recently was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, yes because of Straight, had to take a 90-day leave of absence from work, take off from law school this semester, and I am in counseling. I hope this nightmare never happens to another child. No child deserves what we, the “clients” of Straight, Inc. endured.

  • Ginger November 10, 2005 3:49 pm

    Thanks for the correction, Mark, and for the moral support, Skip.

    Please understand how the heirarchy works. To a casual observer or chronic sports fan, it may appear that the Büsh admin simply hands out plum appointments and other goodies personal friends without any thought to their qualifications. I don’t think that’s the formula. Understand that, in order to gain the political currency to found Straight, Inc., Melvin and Betty Sembler had to put their own son in the program (The Seed) and become active members of the program parents’ group. Same for Donald Ian MacDonald before he took the title of Straight, Inc. director of medical research and then Reagan appointed him as the nation’s top drug policy advisor.

    I’m not as concerned about ongoing child abuse in the private troubled teen industry as I am about the profound influence these people have in all areas of public policy today. Did you scratch your head and wonder why in the world the Büsh admin handed $43million to the Taliban just the summer before we started bombing Afghanistan? Did you ask rhetorically if they were nuts? Well, in my opinion, they ARE bug all loony. If you want to know just how loony they are, just read up on Straight, Inc.

    I’ll try and call you later. Thanks, again, for throwing some light on this very important American story. With just a little bit of luck, we can turn things around by peaceful, civilized means before the world is forced to solve the problem for us as we did the Nazis.

  • Patti November 10, 2005 3:12 pm

    Thank you!
    I also endured the many abuses Straight Inc. called “treatment” I am forever damaged. I was totrured physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I was violently restrained by un-trained staff and other “clients” I was refused 1 second of privacy. I was refused an Attorney, when I asked to leave. I was refused communication of ANY kind to my parents or anyone outside the building. I was refused medical treatment, which has left me with major long term effects. They tortured us in so many un-thinkable ways. These people experimented on us without informed consent from us. They were using “thought reform” techniques which closely resemble techniques used on “war prisoners”. Many started to beleive we had somehow deserved this treatment. Most did not “wake up” and start remembering what really happened there for 15years or more, Like memory repression was “part of the Sembler plan”.
    We have gone unheard for far too long.
    It is disturbing to watch the whole story come together. I am horrified to find the many ways Mel Sembler and Straight Inc were/are connected to the Goverment.
    Thank you for having the courage to bring The Mel Sembler Story into public view. Thank you for acknowledging the Suvivors of Mel Sembler’s abusive programs. Some of which are still open today, under diffrent names. Some have adopted the Tecniques Straight used, and are torturing children to this very day.

  • Skip November 10, 2005 2:00 pm

    Its no wonder the far right is in bed with cults like the Moonies and are talking about using nuclear weapons in the middle east. From their point of view, its a small step in their thinking processes to go from this domestic torture to a “humane” nuclear weapon.

  • Skip November 10, 2005 1:40 pm

    It sounds like torture is the far right’s modus operandi (sp?).

  • samantha monroe November 10, 2005 1:06 pm

    I was a victim of straight inc in Sarasota Florida. I wish I could call in tonight but I have to work.
    If I could have called I would have stated that these abuses have NOT STOPPED there is no regulation of these type of “mal”treatment centers and the directors need only grease the palms of the republicans and they are protected. HMM Hush money, Bribery? Does this smack of racateering?
    Another point I think should be made is that “OPRAH” did an entire show on STRAIGHT in the 80s and the admin numbers jummped. To this day “OPRAH” has NEVER made an attempt to amend or take any responsability for being dupped into the STRAIGHT GAME.
    And another point is that Alot of kids who left STRAIGHT and went into STATES CUSTODY were questioned and then hidden out of state during the investigation of the 80s. I was hidden in Devereux GA just 25 mins. from the ATLANTA program. As a matter of fact Kristen Stottelmeyer who came from Atlanta and was a victim of straight and also a victim of Devereux Killed herself. Alot of kids from the VA and Atlanta programs have attempted suicide, What the hell went on up there! I remember JR and SR staff from Sarasota were sent up there to start the program and I was threatened to be sent there. My mother tried to enrole my sister there 3 years after I escaped, It was by the grace of God that she was spared the heinous treatment I and all the other victims suffered.
    It seemed the more Straight got away with the more they did to hurt us.
    I hold the STATE OF FLORIDA RESPONSIBLE along with all members of STRAIGHT Staff Directors Parents and volunteers. Any one who says “They didn’t know” are FULL OF SHIT! there were reports, children bloodied AND bruised, hospital records when we were lucky enough to be brought to the hospital. I was brought there once to SARASOTA MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, Penny I forget her last name and Lisa Ringland accompanied me with a couple of other straightlings My shoulder was dislocated after being sat on for hours it is in the hospital report somewhere, I told them of the abuses at STRAIGHT, My mother was a nurse there. YET I WAS SENT BACK TO STRAIGHT.
    Another STRAIGHTLING then LIFER Mary Azadian has stated that she would tell the truth about me being bloddied she remembers and she is a PRO LIFE/Straight person. try to find and talk to her. You see it was a terror camp a gulagh a time in my life that I wish I could forget but instead is burnt into my memory FOREVER. And every day I remember more.
    Thank you for having the courage to expose STRAIGHT FOR WHAT IT WAS AN AMERICAN GULAGH KINDER JUGEN A TORTURE CAMP paid for by our parents and sponsered by the state and federal government.

  • Anon November 10, 2005 1:00 pm

    I am glad that this story is finally getting the recognition it deserves. Mel Sembler and everything he stands for needs to finally be brought out into the light.

    I am another survivor of Straight who is haunted by nightmares to this day of what happened in there. I witness others tortured in there along with my own torment. I was starved, denied sleep, (sleep routine changed), over exercised, experienced in-your-face drilling, no release date ever revealed’ degraded in every way including sexually too, along with my colleagues writing here today. This is not about me being “bitter” either for something that happened to me many years ago, I don’t want this thing happening to my Niece or Nephew, or anyone else’s kids anymore. As long as I know there are spin-off places modeled after Straight, I won’t rest.

    I have to shake my head when I hear reports of how the prisoners of war in Iraq and Afghanistan are being: ‘abused/interrogated, the reports use terms such as being ‘starved, denied sleep, (sleep routine changed), over exercised, experienced in-your-face drilling, degraded in every way including sexually’, no release date ever revealed’ , and I shake my head in amazement how similarly we were treated to the Al Qaeda prisoners yet right in our own back yard and for all those years, no one cared. I feel as though the U.S. government used me (a natural born citizen), as a research tool, like a lab rat to figure out how to suck information out of its enemies all these years later.

    I think the public deserves to know exactly who these people are that claim to be “in charge” of us. I don’t care if we’re talkin Bush, Sembler, Miller Newton, they’re all same to me, they’re losers in my book. They look out only for themselves, I don’t care if were talking about a war in the Middle East, price gouging at the fuel pumps, destroying the working class in this county and the living wage that supports our economy, Hell, enough is enough, we have to take a stand against these elite few and vote them out before they sell us out. “Free market” my ass. Try ‘free for the taking by big business’.

    *BTW, yes some of this was barrowed from my other post, but I gave myself permission to do so :)

    Thank you Mark Levine for caring enough to air this long but thankfully not forgotten chapter of this ever-growing, warped Republican scandal. Thank you again to John Gorenfeld for stepping up to the plate and getting the truth out.

  • Mark Levine November 10, 2005 12:09 pm

    Thank you, Ginger. I have provided the link to John Gorenfeld’s stunning article.

    For both Mark and Ginger, please encourage anyone you know that was part of this awful program to call into the show tonight.

    (I hope you will call in, Mark, so that people can hear what happened from an eyewitness.)

  • Ginger November 10, 2005 11:08 am

    Sorry, here is Mr. Gorenfeld’s story. (click my name)

  • Ginger November 10, 2005 11:07 am

    Here’s Mr. Gorenfeld’s story on Alternet. I hope folks will read it before the show tonight.

    This is an extraordinary story. As such it requires extraordinary evidence. We can provide that. And we’re finally starting to get some notice here. And we’re getting so close to really breaking this one out into the mainstream, I’m just waiting for David Ick to come along and do his little disinfo gig.

    Just in case, no, Melvin is not a lizzard. Yes, Melvin, in my opinion, is a Nazi who has a habit of grabbing the Rabbi and crying sanctuary. Don’t buy it. Please do investigate his history and the histories of those people who have been affiliated with him over the past 30 years. They’re extremely influential in drug policy going all the way up to the White House and all the way back to the Nixon Admin. `Splains a lot, huh?

    Quit paying them and quit obeying them!

  • Mark November 10, 2005 10:57 am

    I was a victim of Mel Sembler’s teen torture camp, Straight, Inc., in St. Petersburg, FL, during the early 1980s. I was routinely abused, denied food, water, sleep, and use of bathroom facilities. I was subjected to physical, mental, and emotional abuse, often directed by Executive Staff members as well as “peer staff” (staff members who were graduates of the program).

    Mel Sembler knew of and approved of the use of these methods. He is a criminal who has profitted from the pain and abuse of thousands of children, and has participated in defrauding parents of millions of dollars.