(aka San Cristobal Academy)
(we are working to acquire the complete records for ALL years)
We advise current and/or former staff to report any abuses you may have witnessed while working at the San Cristobal Academy. For information on your rights and how to take action, visit www.heal-online.org/blowthewhistle.htm.† If you were fired or forced to resign because you opposed any illegal and/or unethical practices at San Cristobal Academy, you have the right to take action.†
If you were harmed (family or survivor) by San Cristobal Academy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you remember the long-term employees and from which years.† This will help!† Also, if you recognize any of these staff as having worked at another program, please send in any information about their past or present employment at other facilities and/or cults.
HEAL is currently investigating San Cristobal Academy.
|Dave Johnson||Operations Director(Former Owner/Former CEO)||Formerly worked for The Hazelden Foundation, Gatehouse Academy, St. Paul's Academy, and Vail Valley Academy.|
|Don Lewis||Program Director||Formerly worked for Gatehouse Academy, a confirmedly abusive program. Additional information on Lewis can be found at: Questions swirl around closure of teen centers. Lewis reportedly no longer works for this program. Lewis is reportedly dead.|
|Katryn Cross||Admissions & Marketing|
|Michael Baldassare||Program Director||Formerly worked for and "graduated" the confirmedly abusive Gatehouse Academy program.|
|Elin Ritchie||Medical Director (former)||Ritchie was reportedly fired for not being a licensed medical professional as reported on employment documentation.|
|Ron Northcutt||Program Manager||Formerly worked for Gatehouse Academy.|
|Michael Wolff||Phase System Coordinator|
|Casey Arrillaga||Phase Coordinator||Arrillaga currently works for Right Step in TX.|
|Vince Lauricella||Special Projects|
HEAL received an e-mail reportedly from James Fouhey on March 13th, 2011.
This e-mail states: "
James Fouhey resigned from San Cristobal Academy in December 2010 and is no longer employed by San Cristobal Academy or any program affiliated with Transitional Living Corporation or San Cristobal Academy."
|Bart LaCombe||Night Staff|
|Linda Salvucci||Therapeutic Director|
|Annadeene Miller||Residential Dir. (Former)|
|Dennis Vanhorn||Residential Dir. (Former)|
|Kate Veeder||Therapist (Former)||Veeder was reportedly fired for trying to protect clients from institutional abuse.|
|Jessica Grimes||Equine Director (Former)||Grimes reportedly resigned due to poor working conditions.|
|Chad Gamez||Teacher (Former)|
|Tony Griffo||Night Staff (Former)|
|Sandy Hook||Therapist (Former)||Hook was reportedly fired.|
|Jesse Mills||Resident Supervisor (Former)||Mills was reportedly fired.|
|Walter Gueraz||Resident Supervisor (Former)||Gueraz was reportedly fired.|
|Devon Nanton||Program Director||Formerly worked for Passages to Recovery wilderness program. Nanton currently (2017) works for Legacy Outdoor Adventures in Loa, UT.|
|Andy Coffin||Residential Director||Reportedly has no experience working for residential treatment programs, but, claims to have worked in "recovery field" for 25 years.|
|Christy Leach (formerly Christy Slate)||Admissions Director||Leach formerly worked for CEDU programs including notoriously abusive Rocky Mountain Academy.|
|Karin House||Staff||Former resident seeks to reconnect with this staff. Please e-mail email@example.com if you are Karin House and would like to reconnect with a former resident.|
|*(San Cristobal Academy, like many other programs in this industry, keeps a "tight lid" on any specific information regarding their staff, qualifications, and practices. Please contact us with the names of any staff of which you have firsthand knowledge or experience. Thank you for your help.)|
|This program does not provide program details or enrollment materials online or to the general public for review..|
|San Cristobal Academy is also reportedly affiliated with: Gatehouse Academy and Burning Tree Ranch. HEAL is currently researching Burning Tree Ranch.|
|San Cristobal Ranch Academy is now (2013) partnering with TRS Behavioral Care Inc.|
|San Cristobal Academy Whistleblowers Walk Confidentiality or Cover-up? The Four Musketeers January 18, 2008 By Bill Whaley Prologue A web surfer can learn much by Googling the San Cristobal Academy web site: http://www.sancristobalacademy.com/index.html. The storied ranch, once operated by Craig and Jenny Vincent, where so many kids attended summer camp in the 50s, and eventually returned to Taos as full time residents, has gone through several incarnations. In the 70s, this reporter remembers how Bob and Michelle Conte operated the facility as the San Felipe home for orphaned boys and girls from indigenous families in the Southwest. Friends from Taos, who worked there, brought the kids to the movies at the Taos Plaza Theatre. As the days and weeks turned into months, the stress began to take its toll of staff members. They looked increasingly haunted as they stumbled up to the box-office to buy tickets for the kids. Today the San Cristobal Academy or "Ranch," has found a niche in the "Recovery" and so-called "Transition Centeríí movement for young males from the age of 17 to 25. According to Horse Fly sources, some Enron executives bought the property and started the youth programs in the early part of this century. Apparently, Dave Johnson, the current CEO, arrived in March of 2006 and took over the business, according to program director Don Lewis, who arrived in July of 2006. Lewis himself said he doesnít deal with the finances, "Iím in this because we help peopleĖfor the best interests of the students." Lewis spoke with the pesky insect at his office from 3 to 4 pm or so on Thursday, Jan. 17. If parents can afford the tuition, about $60,000 for the three-phase one-year program, according to a payment agreement obtained by Horse Fly, then troubled boys can do their time in San Cristobal, instead of doing hard time in jail--like the local poor boys. Lewis says the 17 to 25 year olds have experienced a variety of problems: drug and alcohol addiction, emotional and psychological problems, whether due to physical disposition or environmental circumstances. Lewis said the current program has about 28 boys total in its three phases. In general terms, Phase I orientation and stabilizations takes place at the big house and cabins on the Ranch; Phase two emphasizes internships and advanced life skills and takes place at a four-unit house in San Cristobal; and phase three, where reintegration into society is emphasized, occurs at the Burch St. house in Taos. Lewis says the program emphasizes cognitive-behavioral therapy and hires staff with some academic training but was quick to emphasize that "life-experience" is exceedingly important i.e. recovered addicts and alcoholics relating to addicts and alcoholics. He implied that the program models the 12-step alcoholics anonymous (AA) and narcotics anonymous (NA). In effect, the program proposes to teach the subjects how to make better choices and acquire the skills to live in society. At the beginning of our meeting, Lewis told Horse Fly that "confidentiality" prevented him from acknowledging the names of subjects or staff, who live or work at the Ranch or participate in the program. When I mentioned my former intern and legman, Willy Minor, who attended public meetings and reported for Horse Fly, Lewis refused to acknowledge the existence of the Phase III Ranch graduate. At the end of the hour and a half discussion, Horse Fly mentioned to Lewis that local entities frequently suppress information about personnel issues or child abuse, which means that public suspicion is aroused, whether warranted or not. Consequently, circumstances that contribute to negative consequences continue. As Horse Fly readers know, local entities pay out huge sums to settle civil liability claims and claim confidentiality to cover-up their peccadilloes. I forgot to mention to Lewis that Taos leaks like a sieve. We know about some of the less capable folks that have worked up there (i.e. alleged local drunks). The Boys who rebelled against Lewis and his gang at the Ranch, mentioned below, were far less circumspect in their discussion of the Ranch and subsequent allegations. Weíll hear from the boys and get back to Lewis from time to time. Horse Fly has been meeting with the boys, talking to unnamed sources, the boysí parents, and so forth since Monday. The Four Musketeers On Sunday, Jan. 13, according to the Four Musketeers, the three 18-year olds and seventeen year-old enacted a plan to leave the facility--due to their disagreement with the methods imposed on them by the Ranch staff and management. Blake McClendon, Nick Loverro, and Landon Jensen are over 18. The X-Man is seventeen, so heís running a low profile on the streetĖlest he be picked up because heís a minor. He says he has spent about ten months on the Rez at the Ranch, apparently getting busted repeatedly and sent back to Phase I or retained there because he falls off the figurative wagon. As the nephew of the CEO, Dave Johnson, the X-Man is a walking bio of staff, times, places, and events. Caveat: Horse Fly has spoken with the parents, Program Director Don Lewis, and other sources. Let me say that the parents, during phone calls, suggested that I not believe a word their children say. Don Lewis said, in general terms, the subjects at the Ranch tend not to take responsibility for their actions and blame others for their problems. Typical teenagers, you might say. (Or typical politicians?) But, Horse Fly has also spoken with prior subjects at the Ranch, and sources privy to what goes on. Much of what the boys say about the facility and some of the staff behavior has been confirmed by other sources. But, I hasten to add that I have not toured the Ranch nor visited the empirical evidence. Thereís little in the way of actual documentation at this time. The allegations remain allegations. The Pizza Hut Blake McClendon, the spokesman for the Musketeers, called Horse Fly on Monday, Jan. 14, and asked for the news desk. He said he had a story to tell. Blake and his buddy Nick Loverro met me at a place called the Pizza Hut on the southside of town, not far from their motel. Blake is tall, freckle-faced, rangy, smart, quick, and has refined manners and a kind of southern charm. "Please," "Thank-you," and all that. The son of a Houston doctor, Blake wears his baggy pants at half-mast. Heís the take-charge guy and makes the arrangements. Later, he told a Horse Fly contributor and me how heíd organized an operation in the past. Nick is shorter, wary, stoic, street smart; his neck is tattooed, his face broken out. You can see that heís a stand-up guy for his buddies and he bears a distinct similarity to local guys from Taos, who ride around in Neons. His father is a well-known sports journalist in Washington D.C. According to Horse Fly sources, including bits and pieces learned from the boys, some rather serious allegations and alleged charges are pending against Nick for an act involving a getaway car during an unsocial expedition while a juvenile. During our Pizza Hut interview, Blake and Nick wore black watch caps and disheveled bulky clothing. In winter, especially, you canít tell where the body begins and the clothes end. They said, the third member of their party was asleep in the room, a friend had rented. They also mentioned that a fourth person, a 17-year-old, had left during the same time period and was on the lam though nobody knew where he was. It became apparent to this reporter that Blake and Nick were expert observers of the rehab, transition, recovery business due to experience. Nick said he had been in and out of jail and institutions since he was thirteen. Blake, as it turned out, has been in trouble with the law and the norms since he was 15. Later in the week, over Lattes, at Mondo Kultur, Blake admitted that he was also an Eagle Scout and had spent time at the Philmont Scout Ranch. Nick, who had gotten a two-year head start on Blake in terms of institutional incarceration, seems less adaptable when he mixes with straight society. While this reporter learned some of the basics during that first hour-long interview, much that was omitted, dribbled out over the days to come: over lunch at Bravoís, lattes at the Kultur Caf√©, and during a shopping expedition to Albertsonís. Needless to say, the Young and the Restless today are much different from you and me. At the Pizza Hut on Monday, they told me about a suspended staff member, who was accused of yelling at one of the kids. They both said this particular staff member helped them more than anyone ever had. "He helped me out more in two months than anyone," said Nick. Blake said, "By himself he helped more than any rehab" They pointed out how other staff members were allowed to verbally abuse the kids but not punished or suspended. The rules were allegedly applied to some staff members and students but not to others particularly. They described a chaotic situation with an ad hoc approach to organization. (No, this had nothing to do with local government.) Don Lewis later told the Fly that CEO Dave Johnson focused on individual plans that addressed each personís particular and various needs. In effect there could be some misunderstanding of the fundamental principles of organization at the Ranch, whether applied to staff or subjects, so to speak. Nick and Blake said, "Thereís no heat source in the house on the ranch." Apparently the upstairs bedrooms are heated but not the downstairs. They also said the toilet upstairs was clogged. "You can see your breath in the house," said Blake. "The fire extinguishers donít work. They are piled in a closet." Both said the fire marshal and state agencies responsible for health and safety needed to visit the ranch. Don Lewis said there was 50,000 BTU heating unit on the first floor and called the allegations nonsense, saying "You cannot see your breath." A source, who attended the Thanksgiving party with staff and students more than disagreed with Lewis, saying the place was cold. dank, poorly lit, and that one had to wear oneís winterís layers inside. Indeed, the boys, according to themselves and our sources, apparently burned up the flue in the fireplace. Don Lewis noted that a toilet clogged by paper towels had been fixed despite the boysí assaults on it. Blake, in a memorable moment, commenting on some of the staff and their lack of formal training in comparison to other facilities, said, "One should have background. These are troubled teens." They explained that everything blew up on Friday night when there was a community meeting, called to motivate the kids and "they took away our privileges." The staff, apparently, provoked the Four Musketeers and sent them scurrying for the exits by refusing to allow them to smoke cigarettes. It was the straw that broke the camelís back. "Even the CEOís nephew walked," they said, ominously. At the time of this conversation, I had yet to meet the delightful X-Man. As an aside, I have seen AA and NA members on break at town hall on Civic Plaza Drive. You will often see attendees at AA and NA meetings, no matter how young, smoking cigarettes during breaks. Blakeís nicotine-stained fingers and Nickís casual use with the cancer sticks, suggest both boys have been lighting up for much of their adolescent lives. Nick said, "They call us criminals, sorry sacks of shit, saying, `You deserve to be in a psych ward.'" Don denies it all When the three 18 year olds checked out, they said program director Don Lewis promised to give them three-days worth of meds but did not--due either to a mix-up or because of alleged manipulation. (Don later told Horse Fly he needed the doctorís permission to give meds to patients moving outside the controlled enviro of the Ranch.) According to the Four Musketeers, the staff manipulates the parents and tells them not to believe anything the kids say. "They bleed the parents," is a common refrain among former staff and graduates of the program historically. Nick said, "They make the parents feel bad and tell them not to enable you." Historically, prior to the Johnson-Lewis era, Horse Fly has been told by former staffers how the marketing staff greets parents, tours certain cabins or facilities, introduces them to model subjects, and basically provides a front to convince parents to hand over the cash. In one or two instances Horse Fly was told that a student caught staff on tape admitting same and played the tape for his parents. Lewis says he is unaware of the financial issues but says some teens just wonít take responsibility for their addictions, actions, and want to blame others. The Pizza Hut meeting ended at about 1:15 pm. Bravos on Tue. At Bravos on Tue, Jan. 15, the Four Musketeers discussed in general what they alleged were unsafe conditions, poor supervision, especially at night, and bare bones facilities. Don Lewis, as you might well imagine denied it all. The boys graded staff members according to who "cares," and who doesnít. Horse Fly met Landon Jensen on Tuesday. Landon has neck length long hair and is thin as a rail. Blake and Nick sport buzz cuts. The X-Man has a buzz cut, too, I think. Landon had gotten into a hassle with the above-mentioned staff member but said verbal harassment by the in-house equestrienne expert, who constantly berated the boys, deserved a reprimand far more than Blakeís and Nickís favorite staff member. Landon, a bit hyper-manic, turned out to be from the Boulder area. Despite Nickís tough-guy Baltimore persona, he freely admitted that he was afraid of horses but said those unfamiliar with the equestrian arts werenít taught how to ride and or care for the large beasts. During that Tuesday session at Bravoís, the hungry teens gobbled up their burgers. Landon said he was on 500 or 550 milligrams of some drug, fluxor or something, and was experiencing headaches due to a lack of meds. The X-Man, who had turned up and was staying with the three, said he was suffering from a stomach ailment and lack of meds to take care of it. He eventually went to Holy Cross emergency and got something for his tummy that evening. Wed. at Albertson's By the time, I spoke with the parents of the boys on Wednesday morning, Landon was home, safe and sound in Colorado. He either took the bus or got a ride. I called his mother first because I was concerned about his ragged edges, given the sudden stop in his medication, which had something to do with a hyper-manic condition. As for the remaining three musketeers, Blake and Nick seemed unaffected by their missing meds, some sort of tranquillizers or whatever. Only the X-Man seemed in genuine need. He said he had to be very careful about what he ate. "I try not to eat too much," he said. He also said he worked at the local animal shelter as an intern before getting busted for a rule infraction and sent back to Phase I. He said he hoped to get his job back. On Wednesday evening, I took the Three Musketeers shopping for groceries at Albertsonís. Despite Donís claims that the boys were taught about nutrition, healthy dining, enjoyed fresh air, and exercise, they denied any knowledge of these life skills. My wife, a personal trainer and former nurse, met the boys and said their physical condition displayed a certain lack of consideration for health. During our Albertsonís shop, one of them introduced a new kind of pop tart to the others much to their mutual amusement. I felt like I was trailing around with a gang from a Marx Brothers movie in the store. They purchased a bunch of fried chicken. They also said they frequently ran out of food at the ranch, which they cooked themselves. A source said they ate a lot of hot dogs. I liked these guys but wouldn't want them to cook for me. Don said the communal kitchen, run by the boys, prepared adequate meals. Thursday at Horse Fly On Thursday at noon, I gave them a ride to a second motel, more centrally located in Taos. During my few encounters with them, I occasionally mentioned that they ought to come up with a plan and also showed them where the new homeless shelter was. You might run into them at Mondo Kultur. They were intent on getting their message out to the public, so they called Horse Fly. That was the deal. I didnít want to let them down despite the incomplete nature of this story. Between distributing Horse Fly throughout Taos County and investigating the boysí story, Iíve gotten a little frazzled. They were a kick to be around and not so different from teenagers we have all known or reared but with some decidedly different challenges, some of it conditioned by responding to the singular effects of institutions. Don showed up Thursday afternoon at Horse Fly and we discussed the two different points of view, so I could publish the story. Postscript Don Lewis, the Ranch programmer, said to me that regardless of societyís ills, he had to address the individual in front of him and try to help. Well, in Taos, we do the same. We are suspicious of systems and prefer the individual to the institution. We meet some young people, listen to their story and the story their parents tell, and we try to help. We donít know the answers. But, the temperature was well below zero and those boys were hungry and needed a warm place to sleep. A few unnamed Taosenos have been helping them out. The next move is up to the boys. Thatís the story. But, of course, that isnít the end of the story. Source: http://www.peskytaosinsect.com/?fuseaction=home.viewarticle&article_id=2186|
January 4th, 2017
Last Updated: January 4th, 2017