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2016-2017 Updates, Progress, and Headlines

The following includes updates, progress, and headlines related to teen liberty and institutional abuse.  News reports regarding individual programs are now shared primarily on the background information/staff list pages of our website unless the program referenced was closed prior to creation of a staff/background information page or is located outside of the USA .  To search our news page using a PC (not a Mac), hit "CTRL+F" and enter the name of the program then hit "enter key" or "return key".  If using a Mac (not a PC),  hit "Command+F" and enter the name of the program then hit "enter".  The Command key on a Mac is also known as the Apple Key or Clover Key.

Due to a recent issue, we've been forced to archive all news articles from 1999-November, 2017.  You can view the archived posts/articles by clicking here.  See below for most recent news from earliest to latest in descending order.

 

Group home worker accused of sexually assaulting teens by WLUK Nicole Simon (Photo courtesy Waupaca Co. Sheriff's Office) WAUPACA (WLUK) - A newly hired worker at a Waupaca County group home for teens faces five counts of sexual assault of a child by a staff member for incidents with two teenage boys. Nicole Simon, 30, returns to court Tuesday afternoon for the balance of her initial appearance. She is currently free after posting a $2,500 cash bond. According to the criminal complaint, Simon started working at a Town of Lebanon group home in early October. The alleged sexual contact happened on five occasions between Oct. 19-30. In one instance, Simon went to the group home on a day off and asked two boys to come to her residence to help her move a couch. Once there, she performed a sex act on a 16-year-old boy, he told police, according to the complaint. “(The victim) did state that he felt he had to have sex with Nicole or he could get in trouble because he knew Nicole was in a position of power at the group home,” the complaint states. The same teen said there was another incident at the group home, and she sent sexual messages via social media. Another teen, 17, described three different sexual encounters with Simon, according to the complaint. Simon admitted to having sex with both teens, “although she claimed the contact with (teen 1) was non-consensual,” according to the complaint.  Source: http://fox11online.com/news/local/group-home-worker-accused-of-sexually-assaulting-teens
Sex trafficking, and other dangers often pose a threat to children in the foster care system Dr. John DeGarmo on a mission to recruit foster parents   Closed Captions Share Video Copied Copied Rewind 10 Seconds Next Up 00:00 00:00 00:32 Closed Captions Share Video Settings Fullscreen By Kimberly McBroom |  Posted: Wed 5:55 AM, Nov 08, 2017  |  Updated: Wed 9:24 AM, Nov 08, 2017 ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Dr. John DeGarmo is the director of The Foster Care Institute. He's on a national campaign to recruit 10- thousand new foster parents by 2020. DeGarmo says the nation's opioid crisis is fueling the huge need for more foster homes. "More people are becoming addicted to these opioids. Where are the children going? More people are dying from this crisis. 60,000 may have died last year. Where do all of these children go?" says DeGarmo. He and his wife have fostered more than 50 children over the years, adopting three. DeGarmo says our nation's foster care system is in crisis There are more than 500,000 kids in foster care, and not nearly enough homes for them. He says, "So, I'm traveling the nation, working with foster care agencies and child welfare agencies, and just bringing awareness to people that, you know what, this is a great mission you can do." DeGarmo says if more people don't answer that call, there will be even more kids in the foster care system. Often these children are looking for someone to love them, and fall victim to dangerous situations, like sex trafficking. "These children are being lured in through online means from predators. They're being approached by strangers. While not everyone has the means to foster a child, DeGarmo says we can all serve as advocates for these kids. He says if you see a child in need, or in danger, take action. "The absolute first things to do is report it. Do not feel afraid. You need to report it, because if you do not report this, who will?" We have a link to his effort to recruit foster parents to the right of this story.  Source: http://www.wdbj7.com/content/news/Sex-trafficking-and-other-dangers-often-pose-a-threat-to-children-in-the-foster-care-system-456056993.html
A Harbor Springs boarding school worked to erase Odawa culture until the 1980s By Stateside Staff • Nov 8, 2017 Related Program:  Stateside TweetShareGoogle+Email View Slideshow 1 of 5 In Harbor Springs, an Indian boarding school forced cultural assimilation for around one hundred years All photos courtesy of the LTBB Odawa Repatriation, Archives, and Records View Slideshow 2 of 5 In Harbor Springs, an Indian boarding school forced cultural assimilation for around one hundred years All photos courtesy of the LTBB Odawa Repatriation, Archives, and Records View Slideshow 3 of 5 In Harbor Springs, an Indian boarding school forced cultural assimilation for around one hundred years All photos courtesy of the LTBB Odawa Repatriation, Archives, and Records View Slideshow 4 of 5 In Harbor Springs, an Indian boarding school forced cultural assimilation for around one hundred years All photos courtesy of the LTBB Odawa Repatriation, Archives, and Records View Slideshow 5 of 5 In Harbor Springs, an Indian boarding school forced cultural assimilation for around one hundred years All photos courtesy of the LTBB Odawa Repatriation, Archives, and Records Listen Listening... 0:00 / 10:58 Stateside’s conversation with Eric Hemenway, director of archives and records for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and Sandra Clark, director of the Michigan History Center. You have probably heard the phrase “school of choice” used when describing public education options in Michigan, but what about a “school of no choice?” That was the case for many native Michiganders for over a century. With November being Native American History Month, Stateside welcomed Eric Hemenway, director of archives and records for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in and around Harbor Springs, and Sandra Clark, director of the Michigan History Center. Read highlights below, or listen to the entire conversation above. On the creation of Indian boarding schools During the westward expansion of the United States, in which large populations of American Indians were killed, the government decided to establish a number of Indian boarding schools around the country to force the adoption of American culture. More importantly, the schools tried to erase the American Indians’ cultures. “The idea is to found these Indian boarding schools where Indian children will basically not be allowed to be Indian children anymore,” says Clark. “The boarding schools varied from community to community, but we had one here up in Harbor Springs,” says Hemenway. The school, Holy Childhood, “started out as a mission school that was in conjunction with the tribe and the local Catholic Church. But as federal policies dictated Indian education into the 1880s, the policy said that Indian language was forbidden, Indian dress was forbidden.” At the boarding schools, Indians were generally taught to be laborers, not any higher professional aspiration like doctors or lawyers, says Hemenway. The students were taught to read and write, but the schools also aimed to “uneducate them on being Odawa.” Students were reprimanded, adds Hemenway, for practicing their culture. On the schools’ closings Most of the schools closed in the 1920s, but almost certainly not for moral reasons. The U.S. government didn’t think of the American Indians as much of a threat, and World War I led the U.S. government to reconsider funding the schools because “they were very, very expensive,” says Clark. “But what makes Holy Childhood an anomaly is that it keeps going for another 60 years,” says Hemenway. “It doesn’t close until 1983 and it’s the last Indian boarding school to do so.” On impacts on American Indian communities The large-scale forcing of American Indian children into abusive schools undoubtedly had massive impacts on those communities. “Loss of language I think is one of the biggest impacts,” says Hemenway. “When these kids were at the school they were forbidden to speak their language, and [there was a] loss of culture, tradition, spiritual beliefs, community ties, family skills.” Repercussions are still felt today. Hemenway explains, “We hear devastating stories of kids who survived the school and they grow up to be our elders and, you know, they talk about the situations they went through and how that affected their ability to raise children and develop relationships with other people because of what happened to them at the boarding schools.” This segment is produced in partnership with the Michigan History Center.  Source: http://michiganradio.org/post/harbor-springs-boarding-school-worked-erase-odawa-culture-until-1980s
AG's Office: Maple Leaf overcharged Medicaid almost $860,000 Elizabeth Murray, Free Press Staff Writer Published 5:15 p.m. ET Nov. 8, 2017 | Updated 5:58 p.m. ET Nov. 8, 2017 CLOSE Events in the news through the eyes of Nick Anderson, Darrin Bell, Lisa Benson and Joe Heller.AKI SOGA/FREE PRESS, Wochit Buy Photo The Maple Leaf Treatment Center in Underhill on Wednesday, March 1, 2017.(Photo: GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS)Buy Photo CONNECTTWEET 1 LINKEDINCOMMENTEMAILMORE The now-closed Maple Leaf Treatment Center billed the state for Medicaid services not provided to the tune of $860,000, according to a court filing by the Vermont Attorney General's Office this week. The claim against Maple Leaf was filed Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. It is one of 49 claims against the center, including by employees requesting lost wages and businesses stating they are owed money for services performed or goods sold.  "The state believes, if required to, that we could prove that the claims were knowingly filed, which means either with knowledge or with reckless disregard for the truth," said Assistant Attorney General Jason Turner, who leads the office's Medicaid Fraud Unit.  VTDigger.org was first to report the state's Medicaid claim against Maple Leaf's estate on Wednesday. The defunct Underhill drug and alcohol addiction treatment center closed unexpectedly in February and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Maple Leaf had served as one of three residential treatment centers in the state for opiate addiction. It also operated an an outpatient center in Colchester that was also closed.  The total amount all parties say Maple Leaf owes is more than $2 million. In its original bankruptcy filing, Maple Leaf said its total assets were more than $2.4 million, and its liabilities were more than $1.1 million.  RELATED COVERAGE: Documents: Maple Leaf under investigation by AG's Office Maple Leaf to sell assets at Underhill location Maple Leaf Treatment Center files for bankruptcy Doctor: Maple Leaf closure "irresponsible" Turner said Wednesday that most of the money the Attorney General's Office believes Maple Leaf overcharged was for claims filed from September 2016 until the center closed for what was supposed to be a temporary period in January. This totaled about $800,000.  "During that time period, Maple Leaf, from the state's position, did not have sufficient licensed alcohol and drug counselors to be providing the services for which they were billing," Turner said.  Buy Photo The Maple Leaf Treatment Center in Underhill on Wednesday, March 1, 2017. (Photo: GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS) At a one point, there was only a single licensed counselor for the entire business. Turner said the state believes this person was not on-site at the inpatient facility and that the proper services weren't being provided. The center never reopened and announced it was closing indefinitely in February.  Maple Leaf double-billed the state for urine toxicology screenings, which accounts for the rest of the claim, or $60,000, the state says.  "Maple Leaf was sending those out to a third party who was billing the state while it was included in Maple Leaf's bundled rate," Turner said.  Staffing and financing had been among a "combination of factors" considered when the board discussed the future of the nonprofit, the board's president, Jeffrey Messina, said in February. Two other facilities, Serenity House in Wallingford and Valley Vista in Bradford, increased their bed count to help make up for the loss of 41 residential treatment beds. Valley Vista also opened a new facility in Vergennes in July. Turner said he does not anticipate filings in any other court, including criminal court, because of the bankruptcy case. He said now, Maple Leaf's estate trustee will have to look at which claims can be repaid using the assets available. "I think there are concerns about the collectability in this case," Turner said, referring to the Attorney General's Office's claim. "It's important to the state that the employees who were providing care at Maple Leaf are able to get their wages paid." Buy Photo The Maple Leaf Treatment Center in Underhill on Wednesday, March 1, 2017. (Photo: GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS) Maple Leaf's estate trustee Douglas Wolinsky declined to comment on the case Wednesday. Any action regarding claims that can't be repaid will be determined by the estate's trustee and the Bankruptcy Court judge.  Contact Elizabeth Murray at 651-4835 or emurray@freepressmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizMurrayBFP.   Source: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/local/2017/11/08/ags-office-maple-leaf-overcharged-medicaid-almost-860-000/844991001/
Sheriff: 20-year-old man with disabilities assaulted in group home over sandwich Posted 3:20 pm, November 9, 2017, by Jessica Bates, Updated at 04:50PM, November 9, 2017 Facebook627 Twitter Google Pinterest LinkedIn Email Akron group home alleged assault AKRON-The Summit County Sheriff's Office is investigating the allegations of violence towards a 20-year-old man with developmental disabilities inside a group home. According to the Summit County Sheriff's Office, staff members are accused of taking the victim to the basement of the facility, holding him against his will, and striking the victim several times with a broom handle back on Oct 26, 2017. Investigators say it happened because the victim reportedly ate a sandwich which belonged to a staff member. Deputies have arrested manager, Dominique Gladney, 23, program director, Octavious Thomason, 43, and employee Mennyon Davis, 26. Additional charges and arrests are pending. Source: http://fox8.com/2017/11/09/akron-police-20-year-old-man-with-disabilities-assaulted-in-group-home-over-sandwich/
Youth Justice Milwaukee pushes to close troubled Lincoln Hills prison ports Business Opinion Watchdog Tap Fresh Trails Metroparent Green Sheet Obituaries 37°Weather Milwaukee, Wisconsin 7:32 PM  A coalition of community, faith and youth advocates on Thursday called on Wisconsin lawmakers to close the state's youth prisons and for Milwaukee County judges to stop sending teens to those facilities. Youth Justice Milwaukee is pushing for state and local officials to provide resources, programs and secure facilities for Milwaukee County youth in the community, instead of the state-run Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls, located north of Wausau. "Every news story out Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake makes it clear that these facilities are broken and they can't be fixed," said Jeffrey Roman, co-founder of the coalition. In recent weeks, reports of assault on staff and sexual harassment of female workers, including teen inmates who openly masturbate in front of them, have continued to roil the institution. Lincoln Hills has been under a criminal investigation for nearly three years for prisoner abuse and child neglect. This summer, a federal judge ordered prison officials to curb their use of solitary confinement and pepper spray. State corrections officials say they have made "significant investments" to bolster safety, education, programming and mental health services and improve staff training over the past two years. A 16-year-old girl who was incarcerated at Copper Lake for nine months spoke at Youth Justice Milwaukee's news conference Thursday, saying her family struggled to make the four-hour drive to visit her. She said she spent weeks in solitary confinement. "I felt like I was losing my mind," she said. Milwaukee County Circuit Chief Judge Maxine White was not available for comment Thursday, but the county has cut the number of youth sent to Lincoln Hills and Cooper Lake from 104 in January 2016 to 57 as of October. The county also has been seeking proposals from vendors to help run a 24-bed treatment facility that at capacity could nearly halve Milwaukee transfers to Lincoln Hills.  The state Department of Corrections' primary responsibility is to protect the public, and youth at the facility have committed "very serious crimes," often failing in community-based settings, agency spokesman Tristan Cook said in an email. The facility has set up youth council to voice concerns and is creating a similar council for inmates' families, he said. RELATED: Women guards at Wisconsin teen prison subjected to sexual assault, flashing and crude comments RELATED: Attorneys to judge: a few bad teen offenders and staff shortages behind Lincoln Hills disruptions At the news conference, state Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) acknowledged some youth will need to be incarcerated. She said the question was whether Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake were appropriate places to send high-risk, high-trauma youth. "Correctional officers have now also been harmed," she said. "What are we waiting on? Does someone have to die?"  Source: http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/crime/2017/11/16/youth-advocates-push-close-wisconsin-youth-prisons-call-judges-stop-sending-teens-lincoln-hills/869777001/
Bias on the Bench: Magistrate in Children's Hospital Hacking Case Has Financial Conflicts of Interest Written by  C. Mitchell Shaw font size decrease font size increase font size Print Email A young man accused of hacking Boston Children’s Hospital to save the life of a teen girl claims that court documents show that he is the victim of persecution by prosecution. The documents — provided to The New American — also certainly show that the federal magistrate in his case has a severe conflict of interest and yet has not recused herself. The case stems from what can only accurately be called the medical kidnapping of 15-year-old Justina Pelletier by the staff of Boston Children’s Hospital and their accomplices in government. In February 2013, Justina — who had been diagnosed with (and was being treated for) mitochondrial disease, a rare genetic disorder — was taken by her mother from their home in West Hartford, Connecticut to Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) to be treated for flu-like symptoms. Justina’s diagnosis of mitochondrial disease — made by Dr. Mark Korson, the chief of metabolism at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and one of the leading experts in the field of metabolic disorders — was set aside by a BCH doctor in the seventh month of his internship in favor of somatic symptom disorder, a mental illness. The new diagnosis was rubber-stamped by BCH psychologist Dr. Ioana Simona Bujoreanu after one 25-minute examination of Justina and without consulting any other physicians. Bujoreanu — far from objective in this case — researches somatic symptom disorder under a grant from the National Institutes of Health. As investigators say, follow the money. As her funding depends on the grant, Bujoreanu conveniently “found” a case of the disorder to study. If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, you will see every problem as a nail. On Valentine’s Day 2013, when Justina’s parents attempted to discharge her from the hospital, BCH staff sought and received the “help” of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) which took Justina into custody as a ward of the state. DCF justified the action by accusing the Pelletiers of “medical child abuse.” Justina was transferred to “Bader 5,” BCH’s psychiatric ward and all treatment for her disease was stopped. She was held there and at another facility for 16 months, during which time she was in constant pain and her health declined to the point that the girl — who was in competitive ice skating before her incarceration at BCH — was bound to a wheelchair and unable to use the bathroom without assistance. When Marty Gottesfeld — a senior systems engineer with extensive knowledge of computer networks — heard of Justina’s case, he decided to do something about it. BCH had been able to weather the storm of bad press and appeared to have enough pull to avoid being investigated, so Gottesfeld — who was an activist working to expose the “troubled teen industry” — decided to take a different approach. As this writer wrote in a previous article: When Justina Pelletier’s parents took the sick teenager to Boston Children’s Hospital in February 2013, they had no idea the trip would result in a nightmare: the medical kidnapping of their daughter. They also had no idea that a man they had never met would later risk his own freedom to help Justina gain hers. That man — Marty Gottesfeld — believed he needed to act to save Justina’s life. So as a senior systems engineer, he decided to apply his knowledge of computer systems to hit the hospital where it would hurt the most: On April 20, 2014, he knocked them off the Internet during a major fundraising drive. As that article explains, investigators looking into the attack homed in on Gottesfeld because of a video he had posted on YouTube calling attention to Justina’s plight and imploring viewers to do all in their power to “save Justina’s life.” Using the video (which should reasonably be protected by the First Amendment), investigators filed for and received a “Tap and Trace” order to get records related to Gottesfeld’s Internet traffic. Based on the information gathered by executing that order, investigators filed for and received a search warrant for Gottesfeld’s home. Set aside for the moment that the affidavit for the search warrant is rife with errors, misstatements, exaggerations, and outright falsehoods — the main point is that the “judge” (she is actually a federal magistrate) who signed off on the search warrant has direct ties to BCH and its parent organization, Harvard University. Magistrate Marianne Bowler is married to Dr. Marc Pfeffer, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, which oversees BCH and was herself employed as a research assistant in biochemistry at Harvard Medical School prior to starting her legal career. In fact, Bowler was aware — assuming she actually read the affidavit for the search warrant before signing off on it — that the case was a conflict of interest for her, since FBI Special Agent Michael Tunick made the connection to Harvard explicit in the document. In paragraph 8, Tunick wrote: The incoming traffic resulted in significant disruptions to the BCH website and additional disruption to the network on which BCH and other Harvard University-affiliated hospitals communicate. In a statement provided to The New American in April, Gottesfeld wrote, “Magistrate [Marianne] Bowler's deep personal connection to Harvard Medical School and therefore its affiliated pediatric teaching hospital, Boston Children's call into question every aspect of her involvement with her case.” He added, “From her original approval of the search warrant for my residence to her five month delay in issuing a bail finding to my detention over the last 14 months. I am deeply concerned about her ability to remain impartial.” The affidavit for the search warrant — showing that Bowler knew about the connection between BCH and Harvard — seems to bear out Gottesfeld’s claims about Bowler's lack of “ability to remain impartial.” But what of his claims that he is the victim of persecution by prosecution? Well, it turns out that Bowler connections to Gottesfeld’s case run deep and wide. For instance, the search warrant affidavit signed by her also mentions Wayside Youth and Family Support Network (the BCH-affiliated facility to which Justina was transferred after months at BCH). Paragraph 27 says: Since the attack against BHC in April 2014, the FBI has learned of of other DDOS [distributed denial of service] attacks against entities associated with BCH, the Justina Pelletier custody battle, and the troubled teen industry. Additional victims include: NSTAR (which has a relationship with BCH), Wayside Youth and Family Support Network, Judge Rotenburg Educational Center, Greatschools.org, Sorenson’s Ranch, and Logan River Academy. These victims all experienced similar attacks. And here is where Bowler’s next big conflict of interest comes into play. Because Bowler is an emeritus member of the Board of Directors of The Boston Foundation, which raises money for Wayside Youth and Family Support Network. She is listed as such on page 18 of this report. It is not every day that a federal magistrate is given the opportunity to abuse her power by bringing the full weight of her bench against someone who is accused of attacking something near and dear to her. When that does happen, she is supposed to recuse herself. In fact, procedure requires it. And yet, Bowler, who worked for Harvard, is married to a Harvard professor, and is a director emeritus of a foundation that raises money for Wayside Youth and Family Support Network not only signed off on the search warrant (with an affidavit listing Harvard and Wayside as victims of attacks), but continued to preside over the case and has denied Gottesfeld bail though he has been in prison awaiting trial since February 2016. To put that in perspective, Marty Gottesfeld has already been in prison longer that Justina Pelletier was locked away in “medical prison.” Considering that Bowler came under fire when she bent over backward to make sure Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev knew his rights (which resulted in his refusing to continue talking to investigators), and ordered the release of his friend, Robel Phillipos — who was accused of lying to investigators — on $100,000 bond, on the conditions that he remain in his mother's home and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet, her handling of Gottesfeld’s case smells of a personal vendetta. Her allegiance appears divided between justice and Harvard with justice getting the short end of the stick. Granted, she was right to make sure Tsarnaev was aware of his rights and she had the legal authority to release Phillipos on bail. But given the difference in the way she has handled the Gottesfeld case, it is clear that he is right to be “deeply concerned about her ability to remain impartial.” It appears that Gottesfeld’s rights would be better protected by Bowler if he were a terrorist. At least then, he’d probably be out on bail and home with his wife. America does not need those who abuse power to sit in places of power. Magistrate Marianne Bowler needs to be removed from this case — if not the bench. More information about Marty Gottesfeld and his defense can be found at www.freemartyg.com. (HEAL Supports Martin Gottesfeld and the #FreeMartyG campaign.)  Source: https://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/crime/item/27386-bias-on-the-bench-magistrate-in-children-s-hospital-hacking-case-has-financial-conflicts-of-interest
Albany woman gets probation for neglect at Farm Home that led to suicide LILLIAN SCHROCK Corvallis Gazette-Times Lillian Schrock Nov 15, 2017 Updated 20 hrs ago 0 Facebook Twitter Email Buy Now Amanda Jayne Brown, right, appearing at her arraignment hearing April 20 in Benton County Circuit Court. Brown pleaded no contest Tuesday to a charge of second-degree criminal mistreatment in connection to the suicide of a 15-year-old boy at the Children's Farm Home last year. The residential psychiatric treatment center is owned and operated by Trillium Family Services. Anibal Ortiz, Mid-Valley Media Facebook Twitter Email Print Save A 21-year-old Albany woman will spend six months on probation for her connection to the death of a 15-year-old boy last year at a residential mental health facility near Corvallis, a Benton County Circuit Court judge decided Tuesday. Amanda Jayne Brown allegedly neglected a 15-year-old boy who was known to be suicidal while working at the Children’s Farm Home last year, according to an investigative report by the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. The boy attempted suicide Aug. 15, 2016, and died the following day at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, the report states. The Farm Home, located at 4455 NE Highway 20, is a treatment facility for young people operated by Trillium Family Services. Brown entered a no contest plea to second-degree criminal mistreatment, a misdemeanor. With Judge David Connell’s approval, Brown entered into a diversion program, meaning her case will be dismissed if she successfully completes probation. According to her diversion contract, Brown is required to complete 80 hours of community service for a nonprofit organization and make a $1,000 donation to a nonprofit dedicated to suicide prevention. She must also write a letter of apology that acknowledges the loss of the victim and attempts to demonstrate empathy, the contract states. Brown is not to be employed or perform volunteer work regarding the care of the elderly, youth or dependent persons, according to the contract. She should also have no contact with the parents or grandparents of the victim, unless the family members ask the court to allow contact, the contract states. Should Brown fail to complete these terms, she could be sentenced to up to one year in jail, according to the contract. Brown was represented in court by Salem attorney Jon Weiner. Advertisement Play Current Time 0:00 / Duration Time 0:00 Remaining Time -0:00 Stream TypeLIVE Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% 00:00 Fullscreen 00:00 Unmute Playback Rate 1 Subtitles subtitles off Captions captions off Chapters Chapters When reached for comment Wednesday, Trillium Family Services President Jamie Vandergon declined comment. An indictment was filed against Brown on March 17, alleging Brown had responsibility for the victim and that she “did unlawfully and with criminal negligence withhold necessary and adequate medical attention or physical care” from the young man. She was cited in lieu of arrest on March 26. “The defendant had reason to know the victim was suicidal,” Benton County Chief Deputy District Attorney Ryan Joslin said during Brown’s April 20 arraignment. According to the Sheriff’s Office report, deputies responded about 9:20 p.m. Aug. 15, 2016, to a building on the Farm Home campus and found employees attempting to resuscitate the boy. Brown told deputies the victim had used razors to cut himself in the past. She said he also made a statement to her that evening about wanting to die, the report states. She said the victim went to take a shower, and after about 40 minutes she realized he was still in the shower, according to the report. When the boy did not respond, Brown contacted a supervisor, she told deputies. They discovered the boy had hanged himself from a bathroom stall, the report states. She said they performed CPR on the boy until medics arrived. The report states it is the Farm Home’s practice to check on a person using the bathroom after 15 minutes. Brown told the deputies she had worked at the Farm Home for 10 months, according to the report. Lillian Schrock covers public safety for the Gazette-Times. She may be reached at 541-758-9548 or lillian.schrock@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter at @LillieSchrock.  Source: http://democratherald.com/news/local/albany-woman-gets-probation-for-neglect-at-farm-home-that/article_c666dcc2-54c1-5be3-97f4-5c68cca9c5d5.html
Disturbing allegations against psychologist at Vt. treatment center By Jennifer Costa |  Posted: Fri 6:35 PM, Nov 17, 2017  |  Updated: Sat 12:13 AM, Nov 18, 2017 MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) Disturbing allegations about the clinical director at a now-defunct drug treatment center. Investigative Reporter Jennifer Costa got her hands on documents that outline a disturbing pattern of intimidation and sexual harassment. The documents show psychologist Charles Sprague Simonds is charged with 11 professional conduct violations during his time at the Maple Leaf Treatment Center. His license to practice is now in jeopardy. Maple Leaf has had its share of problems this year, from allegations of poor care and understaffing to a sudden closure and a Medicaid fraud investigation. "This is a program that's been around for 50 years and to see it go down so quickly like this, it's really tragic," then-Vermont Deputy Health Commissioner Barbara Cimaglio said in February. Now, the secretary of state's Office of Professional Regulation has slapped the facility's clinical director with troubling violations. Documents allege during Charles Sprague Simonds' 10 months at Maple Leaf, he created a "hostile work and treatment environment" through a pattern of disturbing conduct. Simonds is accused making comments about female patients, calling them "whores" or saying they look "sexy" and asking inappropriate details about their sex lives. Staff members allege he showed young women favoritism, made promises about drug treatment and bypassed waiting lists to get them help ahead of others. He's accused of yelling and physically intimidating patients. Some refused to file complaints fearing he would pull their treatment opportunities. Staffers go on to paint a nasty picture of their work environment, telling the state Simonds routinely threatened, cursed and yelled at them, calling them derogatory names like "retarded," "monkeys," "fat and lazy," and threatening to fire them at will while sexually harassing female subordinates. Co-workers claim Simonds banned them from referring residential patients to facilities closer to their homes, instructed them to alter referrals to keep them in the Maple Leaf system and fired a clinician who refused to follow these orders. He is also accused of telling staff members to lie to the state about staffing to maintain funding and of directing clinicians to keep patients longer than necessary to drum up revenue. WCAX News has confirmed that after Maple Leaf closed, Simonds was hired by the state in October to work with children at the Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center as the clinical chief. He was fired Wednesday. Woodside officials say they knew about troubles at Maple Leaf but tell us they were unaware of any allegations against Simonds. They say they called his previous employers and references before hiring him. Simonds has 20 days to respond to the secretary of state's allegations. We reached out to his lawyer but have not heard back. If a licensing review board decides the state has proven its case of unprofessional conduct, Simond's discipline could range from a reprimand to a revocation of his license.  Source: http://www.wcax.com/content/news/Disturbing-allegations-against-psychologist-at-Vt-treatment-center-458319673.html
Counsellor charged with assault at Oakville group home News 02:30 PM by David Lea Oakville Beaver Share - Oakville Beaver file photo A residential counsellor from the Central West Specialized Developmental Services group home in Oakville has been charged with assaulting one of the residents. In September, Halton police began investigating following reports of an assault at the 53 Bond St. facility. The victim, a resident of the group home, received minor injuries. On Monday, Nov. 20, police arrested and charged Edobor Elaiho, 28, of Brampton with assault. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Det. Const. Tim Nichols of the Oakville Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905-825-4747 ext. 2214, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.ca or by texting “Tip201” with the message to 274637 (crimes).  Source: https://www.insidehalton.com/news-story/7936088-counsellor-charged-with-assault-at-oakville-group-home/
Mother of teen who died at DJJ wilderness camp files wrongful death lawsuit By Jennifer Berry Hawes jhawes@postandcourier.com Jennifer Hawes Nov 21, 2017 Updated 22 hrs ago (0) Facebook Twitter Email Buy Now Sheila Seagers and Shadeana Seagers, grandmother and mother of Del'Quan, embrace a photo of the 16-year-old who died at AMIkids Sand Hills two years ago. His family has been fighting to convince authorities that foul play was involved and now have filed a lawsuit against the camp and others. File/Staff Buy Now Lolita Gray, executive director of AMIkids Sand Hills, is one of five camp employees named in a wrongful death lawsuit against the camp. File/Staff prev next Facebook Twitter Email Print Save The mother of a teenager who died at a juvenile justice wilderness camp in 2015 filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday against the private company that runs it, alleging her son lay dying as its staff made three internal calls before summoning 911 or starting CPR. The 67-page complaint contends that after Del’Quan Seagers suddenly collapsed unresponsive in his dorm at AMIkids Sand Hills, a remote outpost in Patrick, staff took an unreasonable length of time to render him aid and were ill-trained to provide it. “These calls, in conjunction with other failures … substantially delayed emergency medical care to Mr. Seagers, causing and/or contributing to his death,” according to the lawsuit filed by attorney Justin Bamberg. The boy’s mother, Shadeana Seagers, is suing the state Department of Juvenile Justice and AMIkids, a private Florida-based nonprofit that runs six DJJ wilderness camps across South Carolina that house low-level youthful offenders. Neither immediately responded to a request for comment. The lawsuit comes on the heels of a Post and Courier investigation published last month that found a web of secrecy surrounds incidents at the camps, including Del'Quan's death, making it almost impossible for the public to get answers about fatalities and assaults that occur on DJJ’s watch.  DJJ officials have steadfastly supported AMIkids and defended the camps as necessary alternatives to sending youth to the detention center in Columbia. AMIkids said its staff followed procedures properly in handling Del'Quan's death. The lawsuit also names five Sand Hills employees, including Executive Director Lolita Gray. It contends that, before Del'Quan's death, Gray had directed camp staff to call her before summoning first responders, “focusing on themselves, their job security, and Defendants’ reputation and financial interests.”  The complaint, filed in Chesterfield County, alleges: wrongful death, civil rights violations, gross negligence, corporate negligence, fraud and misrepresentation, and violation of the state Unfair Trade Practices Act. It seeks actual and punitive damages. "I just want justice for my son's death," Seagers said told the newspaper. +4  Buy Now AMIkids Sand Hills is a remote DJJ wilderness camp in Patrick that houses low-level offenders. File/Staff Death at a camp Del’Quan lived in Ladson when he was arrested for shoplifting candy and then got sent to Sand Hills for violating probation. He'd skipped school and didn't follow curfew.  Five weeks later, he died. Authorities told his mother the cause of death was asthma, but she didn’t believe it. Seagers has been trying since then to convince authorities that Del'Quan was assaulted before he died. "They took him away from me like no one loved him and swept him under the rug like he was nothing," she said. One teen who was there when Del'Quan died told a friend on Facebook that the teen had been punched in the chest. Another boy told a camp supervisor that he too had witnessed Del’Quan getting punched, while the employee supervising them was in the room. "After asking the other juveniles to stop, decedent was punched multiple times again with great force, at which point he curled over in pain," the lawsuit says.  +4  Del'Quan Seagers was 16 years old when he died at one of South Carolina's wilderness camps after he violated probation for stealing candy. Provided Del'Quan was deprived of his constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment when the dorm's staff member, Anthony Cue, watched the assault and then failed to perform CPR, demonstrating "deliberate indifference," the complaint says. Cue told his supervisors that he didn't see Del'Quan fall in the other room just after 9:30 p.m. After hearing a commotion, another teen found him on the floor unresponsive. Cue called Rattler Burch, the shift’s supervisor, who then called the camp’s treatment director, director of operations and executive director, according to a report Gray filed with DJJ. Another report she signed said that Burch called LaKenya Cassidy, the treatment director, at 9:35 p.m. and Gray at 9:40 p.m. Burch called 911 at 9:38 p.m.  “We have a student that’s unresponsive right now,” he told the operator. After a teen told Burch that he thought Del’Quan was dead, Burch hung up and returned to the dorm. Six minutes after the first call was made, another employee dialed 911 from his cell phone from beside Del'Quan.  “The kid is passed out. Look like he’s not breathing or something,” he said. Someone was doing CPR, he added, and had gotten the “little things you shock with.” In the background, Burch performed CPR while directing someone to work the camp’s defibrillator. Del'Quan was pronounced dead at a hospital. +4  Buy Now Shadeana Seagers looks down at a tattoo of her son Del'Quan. File/Staff Reports of violence The lawsuit alleges myriad problems with violence at the wilderness camps, including an assault at AMIkids White Pines in the Upstate that left multiple staff members, including the executive director, charged with unlawful neglect of a child for roughing up a teen and then falsifying information about it. At Sand Hills, one staff member complained to AMIkids that “students are one riot away" from taking over the camp. Another employee sent AMIkids an anonymous letter complaining that a co-worker had directed a group of teens to assault a fellow youth, the lawsuit says. Another worker allegedly stabbed a juvenile with a car key after the youth took a pen from him. "The incident went unreported until a parent of the juvenile found out, saw the puncture wounds, and filed a formal complaint with the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office," the lawsuit says. Meanwhile, the two-year anniversary of Del’Quan’s death approaches on Saturday. Seagers is planning a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. that night at Sunset Memorial Gardens in North Charleston, where her oldest child is buried.  Source: http://www.postandcourier.com/news/mother-of-teen-who-died-at-djj-wilderness-camp-files/article_ac0d699c-ce3d-11e7-bc1f-d7e0f8d5421e.html
Teenager dies after being found unresponsive at behavioral center in Virginia - The Washington Post Teenager dies after being found unresponsive at behavioral center in Virginia By Ellie Silverman By Ellie Silverman Public Safety November 24 at 2:17 PM Follow @esilverman11 Authorities are investigating the death of a teenager who was reported to be unresponsive and not breathing at a behavioral treatment center in Northern Virginia. Officials responded at 3:37 p.m. Sunday to a call at North Spring Behavioral Healthcare on Victory Lane in Leesburg, Va., according to Kraig Troxell, a spokesman for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. A spokesman for the facility could not be reached for comment. The teenager was taken to a hospital where he later died. Troxell did not provide the youth’s exact age or other details, citing the ongoing investigation. The cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy. A person can be admitted to North Spring Behavioral Healthcare if he or she meets certain criteria for the inpatient acute psychiatric facility, various residential treatment center programs, partial hospitalization or substance abuse intensive outpatient, according to the company’s website. The organization lists its goal as providing “services that will enable the individual to return to a healthy, productive role within his or her family, school, work and community as quickly as possible, utilizing the least restrictive means of treatment while collaborating with community resources and support systems.”  Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/teenager-dies-after-reported-unresponsive-at-behavioral-center-in-virginia/2017/11/24/f767967a-d13e-11e7-a1a3-0d1e45a6de3d_story.html?utm_term=.dc32dc5f786f
Police charge group home caregiver with assaulting disabled woman Report says worked put hands on victim's neck Adam Walser 8:04 PM, Nov 28, 2017 11:15 AM, Nov 29, 2017 Share Article x Police say an employee of a group home in St. Petersburg for people with disabilities assaulted a client. Police say an employee of a group home in St. Petersburg for people with disabilities assaulted a client. ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Police say an employee of a group home for people with disabilities assaulted a client. A police report says other employees of PARC intervened and pulled the caregiver off the victim, then called authorities. PARC’s CEO calls the incident appalling and says it doesn’t reflect on the good work the non-profit does in the community. “She hurt me. She tried to get at my neck,” said Kelly Hunnicutt, in a video recorded by her sister Erin Hunnicutt.   60-year-old Bonnie Burrell was charged with abusing a disabled person last week after police said Burrell placed both hands on Kelly's neck and throat and pushed her. Kelly has cerebral palsy and an intellectual developmental disability. She has lived at the non-profit PARC St. Petersburg group home since she was 9 years old. “It’s wrong. My sister’s nothing but nice to these people and to take advantage of her like that. You shouldn’t be putting your hands on anybody,” said Erin, who is Kelly’s legal guardian. She says she has complained multiple times after she saw signs her sister was injured. Erin also said in recent years, she’s photographed cut, bruises and long toenails on her sister. The state investigated Erin’s prior complaints, but found no evidence of wrongdoing. “This doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If you have one event that can be an accident, but if you have several events, I think you have to look at it find out what they’re doing wrong,” said attorney James Ragano, who represents the Hunnicutt family.   PARC’s CEO Karen Higgins declined an on-camera interview, but said Burrell passed a background check and had extensive training. Burrell was immediately fired. Higgins said PARC has provided services to the community for more than 63 years and currently serves more than 800 clients. Erin says she hopes there won’t be future issues for her sister. “They’re there to get good care and be taken care of. And it should be a safe place they can trust. If she’s there getting abuse, it’s not right, just because they think she can’t speak up,” said Erin. We called Burrell to try to get her side of the story, but she declined to comment. If you have a story you’d like the I-Team to investigate, contact us at adam@abcactionnews.com. Source: http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/local-news/i-team-investigates/police-charge-group-home-caregiver-with-assaulting-disabled-woman
Trial begins for LA-area officer accused of abuse at Camp SLO  By Chris McGuinness The trial of a Huntington Park police officer accused of abusing children at a disciplinary youth boot camp in 2015 began in SLO County Superior Court this week. click to enlarge File Photo OFFICER ON TRIAL Huntington Park Police Department officer Marissa Larios is on trial in SLO County court for allegedly abusing children at a disciplinary boot camp held at Camp SLO in 2015. Jury selection for the trial of Marissa Elizabeth Larios, 36, began on Nov. 27. Larios faces three misdemeanor charges in connection with her role at the Leadership Empowerment and Discipline (LEAD) boot camp, a program for at-risk youth run by the Huntington Park and South Gate police departments for children ages 11 through 17 and held at Camp San Luis Obispo between May 17 and 24. According to SLO County prosecutors, Larios allegedly participated in the physical abuse of some of the participants in the program along with South Gate Police Department officers Edgar Yovany Gomez, 35, and Carlos Manuel Gomez-Marquez, 32. According to court documents filed in the case, Larios allegedly choked and hit a female cadet under her supervision and placed another in handcuffs for lengthy periods of time. None of the alleged victims were from San Luis Obispo County, according to investigators. Larios is the only one of the three officers to take her case to a jury trial. In August, Gomez and Gomez-Marquez, who are brothers, were sentenced to 60 days in county jail and four years probation after pleading no contest to some of the charges against them. The brothers were accused by multiple victims of various abuses, including punching the children repeatedly, stomping on their hands, and locking them in a dark closet when they broke the rules. "The case against Ms. Larios is weak by comparison, because there is ample evidence to show uses of force she allegedly employed were both within policy and completely justified," Larios' attorney wrote in a December 2016 motion to sever Larios' case from the brothers. The trial is expected to take about two weeks. Δ  Source: https://www.newtimesslo.com/sanluisobispo/trial-begins-for-la-area-officer-accused-of-abuse-at-camp-slo/Content?oid=3865051
Jackson County jail director resigns amid growing problems at downtown KC facility By Mike Hendricks mhendricks@kcstar.com LinkedIn Google+ Pinterest Reddit Print Order Reprint of this Story December 01, 2017 02:56 PM UPDATED December 01, 2017 05:03 PM Joe Piccinini inherited leadership of the troubled Jackson County jail amid an FBI investigation into guards using excessive force on prisoners. Now, more than two years later, with other troubles mounting and the county’s elected leaders squabbling over the jail’s future, Piccinini has resigned his six-figure job as director of corrections. “He came in at a tough time,” County Executive Frank White said in announcing the leadership change at a Friday afternoon news conference. Piccinini tendered his resignation the day before, White said, and both agreed that new management was needed. Piccinini’s deputy, Diana Turner, will serve as acting director. Unlike Piccinini, she has corrections experience, a requirement for the new permanent director. White said a nationwide search will begin next week. Piccinini had weathered increasing criticism from county legislators alarmed at news of continuing violence and security breaches at the Jackson County Detention Center and adjoining Regional Correctional Center. As recently as Tuesday’s legislative meeting, legislator Crystal Williams challenged White to make a change at the top in light of the most recent assault on a guard on Thanksgiving Eve. “Why do you have the same management team in place running that jail, when incident after incident after incident occurs?” she asked. White denied a change was necessary. “I have complete confidence in the people we have over there,” he said at the time. Exactly 72 hours later, White announced that Piccinini was stepping down, calling him “a man of integrity, compassion and respect.” He said the 57-year-old Piccinini didn’t “want to be a distraction because his priority is to fix the problem and ensure our corrections facility reaches the level of excellence our staff, inmates and community deserve.” Like his predecessor, Ken Conlee, Piccinini came to the job without prior experience running a jail. Both men had completed long careers in law enforcement. Before joining the county corrections department, both had been chief of the Lee’s Summit Police Department. Piccinini replaced Conlee as chief when Conlee took the county job in 2007, then came to work as Conlee’s top assistant in 2014 when Piccinini, too, retired from the police force. Former Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders made him acting director the following year, when Conlee stepped aside with health problems in 2015, and then got the job on a permanent basis. His 2016 employment agreement guaranteed him a base annual salary of $110,500 and an $800-a-month car allowance. It calls for no severance if he quits the job and six months’ pay if he is let go without cause. During his tenure, he oversaw millions of dollars of improvement projects to fix broken cell doors and other renovations, while trying to improve working conditions for corrections officers. But without the benefit of funds to increase guard pay to market levels, he was never able to hire enough staff to run the facility and security suffered. Guards and inmates alike fell victim to violent assaults that made headlines and brought pressure from constituents on county legislators to fix the problem. County officials are now considering whether to build a new jail, but Piccinini will not be the man running it. Turner was named deputy director in September after three years of running the 70-bed juvenile detention and residential treatment centers for Jackson County Family Court. Prior to that, Turner worked with prisoners at halfway houses in Kansas City and for 15 years at the Missouri Department of Corrections, according to her resume. Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article187592393.html#storylink=cpy 
Leader of 'Cult-Like' Boarding School Is Arrested In Late 1980s Cold Case Death Of Toddler Crime 11:36 AM PST, December 2, 2017 - Inside Edition Staff (Cobb County Ga. Sheriff's Office) (Cobb County Sheriff's Office) A Florida woman who once led a religious boarding school described by local authorities as "cult-like" has been arrested in the 1980s death of young boy. Anna Elizabeth Young was arrested near Atlanta Friday according to Alachua County Sheriff’s spokesman Art Forgey. Now 75, Young is charged with torturing and withholding food from Emon Harper, who was 2 or 3 years old at the time, leading to his death. According to authorities, Young operated the House of Prayer for All People near Gainesville from about 1985 to 1995. WCBJ reports that some children who "Mother Anna" once had in her charge came forward as adults to describe the alleged abuse to authorities. Young was convicted in 2001 of one prior abuse after she bathed a child in a tub full of chemicals. Now after a year-long investigation involving the Alachua County Sheriff's Office Cold Case Unit and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Young is facing new charges. And investigators say there could be more to follow. "The arrest is in no means going to close this case, because there is so much more and so many more potential victims and witnesses," Forgey said. With the help of her former boarding students, authorities think there will be other charges. "Witnesses came forward from the House of Prayer alleging brutality and even some children being murdered," Forgey said. Young was arrested Thursday night and is facing a charge of premeditated first degree homicide-murder of a child, for which she was indicted by a grand jury this week. It is not clear if she has an attorney.  Source: http://www.insideedition.com/leader-cult-boarding-school-arrested-late-1980s-cold-case-death-toddler-38609
The Culture of Not Caring in Child Welfare 12/04/2017 01:02 pm ET Jovens Chevalier 150 Foster youth bare the brunt of almost every negative social determinant you can imagine. We are underemployed, undereducated, over-incarcerated, and at higher risk for any-and-every-thing that makes life more difficult. Every piece of empirical evidence available to us paints this picture very clearly. Yet amongst those who work in the space of child welfare, and more broadly youth homelessness, there exists a shocking culture of complacency that at best can be characterized as extreme incompetence, and at worst, potentially life-threatening negligence. I witnessed this first hand over the summer of 2017. I came into the season with a lot of promise. I had been struggling with my mental health, and it’s deteriorating effects on my stability since leaving an abusive relationship the year prior. In May of 2017, I was due to begin a new job as a career civil servant at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the Department of Health Human Services. It was an opportunity that had come to me after working closely with the True Colors Fund, an organization whose mission is to end LGBTQ youth homelessness. Sadly, just two days after I began my new job, I was terminated. As a result of the federal hiring freeze President Donald Trump ordered shortly after his inauguration earlier in the year, funding for the position was suddenly cut. Even though I had been given a final offer of employment, moved everything I owned from New York City to Washington, D.C., and was literally working on the job for two whole days — the agency had every right to terminate me. All federal employees begin their careers with a 1-2 year probationary period. There was nothing I could do to fight it. I emerged in the aftermath saddled with unnecessary relocation expenses, depleted savings, little resources, and the shallow support system typical of a foster care alum. Sadly, I became homeless again almost immediately, and my mental health suffered as a result. One of the first things I did was reach out to the True Colors Fund to ask for help. They had, after all, encouraged me to pursue this opportunity. I was shocked at how little support I received from them. Outside of sending me a few job postings I didn’t qualify for, the True Colors Fund did almost nothing to help me. At one point, while I was living in my car, I reached out to them and explained how precarious my living situation had become, and that I had little access to resources outside of what I was able to accumulate through the street economy. They responded by offering to look over my resume. I sent it to them, hoping this would be the tip of a lifeline. I never heard back. Daniella Carter Daniella Carter (left) and Kristopher Sharp (right) pose for a selfie before co-hosting the True Colors Fund annual “State of Out Youth” at the 2014 40toNone Summit in Houston, TX. I didn’t realize the extent of the problem until fellow child welfare advocate Daniella Carter, a trans woman of color who grew up in foster care and experienced homelessness as a young adult, told me she too had reached out to the True Colors Fund to seek help after becoming homeless again. Even though the True Colors Fund often references the very real dangers trans youth face while experiencing homelessness, like myself, Daniella received little support from them. After meeting with staff from the True Colors Fund twice to seek help, she had to set up an emergency GoFundMe account to get back into safe and stable housing — something she is still struggling to make a reality. What is most disturbing about mine and Daniella’s interactions with the True Colors Fund is that they have used our storied upbringing as children who grew up in foster care, and our lived experiences surviving youth homelessness in almost all aspects of their work from marketing, to fundraising, to advocacy since 2014. Like many organizations in the profession of child welfare, they took from us, commodified our traumas, and willfully used our lived experiences when it was convenient for them. Yet as we struggled to navigate homelessness, new traumas that manifest from experiencing repeated housing instability, and the potential dangers of the street economy, the True Colors Fund seemingly could not be bothered with us. Screenshots taken from the True Colors Fund website in October of 2017 soliciting donations with images and quotes from Daniella Carter (left) and Kristopher Sharp (right). In early October, a fellow advocate and foster care alum Rusty Pretz committed suicide after a long battle with depression and mental health. When I heard about Rusty’s story, which struck so close to home with what both I and Daniella had been experiencing, I knew that I had to speak up and share mine. For those who work in child welfare, it is no secret that system involved youth are at greater risk of developing mental illness and contemplating suicide. One study suggests that young adults who had been in foster care were nearly four times more likely to have attempted suicide than their peers. In my personal struggle over the summer, I had some dark moments in which I too thought deeply about suicide. I have often wondered if Rusty also tried to seek help before he decided that suicide was his only way out. Did any of the organizations he worked closely with as an advocate step in to help him navigate the challenges he was experiencing with his mental health? Were there people, organizations, or entities who in whole, or in part, turned him away after using his lived experiences and commodifying his traumas as the True Colors Fund did to both Daniella and me? Young people who grow up in foster care almost always leave with little to no systems of support — family, friends, community, etc. So then where was Rusty even supposed to go to seek help? Even more, where were Daniella and I supposed to go? If not to those who have been most intimately involved in our lives, our stories, and our experiences, then to whom? The culture of complacency and the commodification of childhood traumas within the child welfare profession needs to be examined. It is without question, wrong for any organization, person, or entity to use the lived experiences of system involved youth to profit and advance in one breath, and in the next, pretend as if the resources do not exist to help us when we are in crisis. Clearly, it is also paramount that we engage in a deeper conversation about how we are addressing the mental health needs of former foster youth. Lives are on the line every day, and with such high stakes, our actions have to be intentional, and our errors have to be few and far in-between. This story is not about the True Colors Fund or any other entity in particular. Rather, it is about the questionable patterns and practices that have become the norm in the world of child welfare. In using our compelling life traumas and stories to solicit donations, and grow their organizations, but lacking the will or desire to help us when we falter, one can only begin to feel as though some within this delicate space have lost sight of their missions, and the people they set out to help to begin with. Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-culture-of-not-caring-in-child-welfare_us_5a2451f8e4b04dacbc9bd86f  [HEAL Note: Whether a child is placed in a residential school or program by government agencies or their own parents, the damage is the same.  Children and youth need a real family that is committed to the family.  Fix your problems and don't subject youth to unlawful imprisonment and conditions that exacerbate the problems they may be exhibiting.]
Report: Students regularly go missing from school for troubled teens Posted: Dec 07, 2017 11:51 AM PST Updated: Dec 07, 2017 5:17 PM PST Students regularly go missing from school for troubled teens The New York Times reports that nearly every day, a teenager is missing from Hawthorne Cedar Knolls. More Videos Team of the Week: Mamaroneck HS girls basketball Car crashes through living room of Spring Valley home Report: Students regularly go missing from school for troubled teens Franken announces resignation from Senate amid allegations School bus plows into Bedford telephone pole Congress seems set to avert weekend government shutdown California wind, and fire danger, hits unprecedented high Westchester/Hudson Valley Sportscast, HAWTHORNE - Mount Pleasant Town Supervisor Carl Fugenzi is joining a growing list of elected officials to call for big changes at Hawthorne Cedar Knolls. The mounting pressure comes after an explosive report in the New York Times that nearly every day, a teenager is missing from the campus. The facility is a rehabilitation center for troubled children. State Sen. Terrence Murphy is introducing legislation that would get rid of the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, the group that runs the organization for troubled children. He says the agency has failed these children, failed their families and failed the communities. A spokesperson for the board released a statement saying in part that their “highest priority is to provide our residents a safe and therapeutic community. Hawthorne Cedar Knolls is not a detention center, and unfortunately short, unauthorized departures are a common coping mechanism for traumatized youth, which we work with them to understand and overcome." Murphy says his bill has bipartisan support. He says he hopes it will be debated in the Legislature next year.
How Christian Reform Schools Get Away with Brutal Child Abuse ByNile Cappelloillustrated byLia Kantrowitz Dec 5 2017, 10:58pm Thanks to the legacy of a Texas pastor named Lester Roloff—and a glaring lack of oversight from state and local authorities—religious "schools" for troubled teens often operate with impunity. Art by Lia Kantrowitz SHARE TWEET Kimi Cook was 15 years old when she arrived at Lester Roloff’s Rebekah Home for Girls in Corpus Christi, Texas. Eager to end the teenager’s relationship with an older boyfriend, her parents pitched the place as an accelerated boarding school. Cook—who had previously done well on tests despite cutting classes at her San Antonio public school—eventually agreed to a month-long trial period. Within hours of arriving, Cook learned she was no longer allowed to wear jeans, listen to rock music, or use tampons. She would also be required to attend church daily, memorize and chant from the Bible, and scrub her room early each morning. Disobedience was met with strict punishment ranging from revoked snack privileges to receiving “licks” with a wooden paddle, being put in an isolated closet, or being forced to kneel on linoleum for hours on end. When she was allowed phone calls, Cook pleaded with her family to save her from what she remembered describing as a “jail” and “prison camp.” But three months in, she learned that no help was coming. As Cook recalled, a relative “explained to me that by signing the admittance paper, I had signed myself over into the care of the Roloff homes.” By the time Cook started there, in 1983, the Southern Baptist Rebekah Home for Girls had already been the subject of state investigations spanning the previous decade, instigated in part by parents who witnessed a girl being whipped at the facility. In fact, Roloff had already temporarily closed the school—and the other homes he operated in Texas—after being prosecuted by the state on behalf of 16 former Rebekah Home for Girls residents. (Roloff grew even more notorious for exclaiming in court, “Better a pink bottom than a black soul.”) After losing his last Supreme Court appeal in 1978, the Rebekah Home for Girls became the site of the “Christian Alamo,” where religious leaders formed a human chain around the place to defend against attempts to remove girls from Roloff’s care. The issue was eventually “resolved” by Governor Bill Clements, who Roloff himself had campaigned for. With an ally in office—Clements once said the closures amounted to “nitpicking” by his predecessor—Roloff transferred ownership of the homes from Roloff Enterprises to Roloff’s People’s Baptist Church; under this religious auspice, a state court ruled Roloff’s homes could operate without a license. Advertisement Roloff himself died in 1982, but by then he had established a strong tradition of exploiting the religious freedom loophole to shield suspect youth residential facilities from outside scrutiny. Somehow, that same loophole still exists across much of America today. Cook escaped the school she hated when her older brother was killed in a car accident 11 months into her stay. The home was closed again in 1985 following pressure from the state, but reopened yet again in 1999, after Governor George W. Bush introduced religious exemptions for youth residential home regulations. The school operated until 2001, when a supervisor at Rebekah was convicted of unlawful restraint; finally, Texas laws were changed to require licensure for all youth homes—including religious ones. Rebekah closed permanently in 2001, but at least some of its ex-employees helped found the New Beginnings Girls Academy in Missouri. This residence remains in operation despite state investigations into allegations of abuse. (VICE was unable to reach New Beginnings officials in connection with this story.) Though Texas laws were changed amid the Roloff saga, many other state governments around the country lack the legal power to oversee religiously affiliated residential schools. Unlike personal religious exemptions, where an individual might argue that a law requiring, say, medical intervention, vaccination, or anti-discrimination violates his or her religious freedom, these facilities don't need to apply for special treatment. In many states, such exemptions are written directly into the laws meant to regulate residential youth facilities—that is, religious schools are never subject to the rules in the first place. Advertisement “The state passes the law for the regulation of residential facilities, and then they put, within that statute, a religious exemption,” Liz Sepper, a religious liberty expert and law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, told me. “You don’t need to apply, go into court for the exemption. The law never applied." Thus, many states allow religiously affiliated boarding schools to operate without registration, educational standards, background checks, or instructional certifications—even when institutions have long histories of abuse reports alleging Roloff-esque whippings, isolation rooms, and Bible memorization. Preachers from various area churches and supporters of evangelist Lester Roloff, form a barricade around Roloff’s People’s Church near Corpus Christi, Texas, to keep out state officials, June 21, 1979. (AP Photo/Pete Leabo) In 2010, Clayton “Buddy” Maynard’s Heritage Boys Academy in Panama City, Florida, closed following allegations of racial discrimination and severe corporal punishment. When the prosecution lost witnesses in 2011, a criminal case against Maynard was dropped; in 2012, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Maynard was once again housing children at Truth Baptist Church in Panama City. This past May, a GoFoundMe page raised $500 in support of Maynard and the “Maynard Family Children's Home.” Currently, he appears to operate the Truth Baptist Church in Panama City and, according to his Facebook profile, a “Truth for Troubled Youth Ministries.” (VICE was unable to reach Maynard for comment for this story.) The same whack-a-mole pattern of scattershot oversight can be found across much of the country. Bobby Wills’s Bethesda Home for Girls in Mississippi closed in the 1980s following allegations of beatings with wooden boards, with operators moving on to the now closed Mountain Park Baptist Boarding Academy in Missouri. Alabama’s Reclamation Ranch was raided a decade ago following allegations of torture, yet founder Jack Patterson—who, according to his Facebook page, is a proud disciple of Roloff—continues to run an addiction-focused rehabilitation facility under the same name, now associated with Lighthouse Baptist Church. (Patterson has denied allegations of abuse at his facilities.) Yet another Baptist pastor, Michael Palmer, battled legal oversight over multiple decades and across multiple state and country-wide jurisdictions: In 1991, Palmer closed Victory Christian Academy after the state of California pushed for licensure. Advertisement One former student who attended Victory Christian described extended abuse at the school, including something called the “Get Right Room,” a small space where girls were punished with a version of solitary confinement. “You were brain-washed into thinking the abuse was good because the staff and the Lord loved your soul,” recalled Cherie Rife, now a holistic health practitioner in Irvine, California. Alleging that she was singled out for being a lesbian, Rife pointed to the religious justification that loomed above it all: “[Their] Baptist interpretation was used for fear and control and shaming.” Palmer later helped found Genesis by the Sea, a facility located in Baja California that was closed in 2004 by the Mexican government; though the ensuing investigation asserted that claims of abuse were unsubstantiated, the school never reopened. Instead, Palmer redirected his attention to the Florida Panhandle and yet another residential reform home for girls: Lighthouse of Northwest Florida, which he closed in 2013 following an investigation into allegations of rape at the facility. As Newsweek reported, Restoration Youth Academy in Prichard, Alabama, was yet another home operating under a modern incarnation of the Lester Roloff approach until 2012. The facility remained free from oversight until Charles Kennedy, the now retired captain of the Prichard Police Department, received a phone call from the mother of a boy who said he’d been abused at the facility. When I spoke with Kennedy, he recalled what he found at the home: a naked boy locked in a closet, widespread allegations of physical abuse, severe exercise, and sadistic mind games. Staff had even encouraged a suicidal student to shoot himself with a gun he didn’t know wasn’t loaded, Kennedy said. Advertisement Once the cop uncovered the dark history behind Restoration Youth Academy’s instructor William Knott—that his Bethel Boys Academy in Mississippi had been closed after a federal lawsuit alleging abuse—and obtained written statements from the boys, it took four years and reports to multiple local and statewide agencies for anything to be done. By then, Knott and Pastor David Young had closed Restoration Youth Academy and opened another facility in nearby Mobile County, Solid Rock Ministries. It’s a common move by religious leaders who know law enforcement have no way of monitoring the facilities, tracking their leaders, and compiling abuse allegations across jurisdictions, according to Marc Stern, general counsel at the American Jewish Committee and a leading expert on religious legal advocacy. “There’s a strong political tradition in the United States, for better or for worse, that education is a local matter controlled by local officials, and only extraordinary circumstances justify federal control.” After Solid Rock Ministries was subject to its own allegation of abuse, a 2015 police raid found isolation rooms, deplorable conditions, and signs of corporal punishment at the Mobile, Alabama, facility. Earlier this year, Knott, Young, and counselor Aleshia Moffet were convicted and sentenced to 20 years each on aggravated child abuse charges. It was the only instance I could find where operators of religiously affiliated residential schools wrapped up in abuse allegations actually went to prison. Kennedy has since dedicated his career to using that case as a precedent for nationwide reform; in the years following the prosecution of Knott and his accomplices, Kennedy partnered with Alabama state representative Steve McMillan on HB-440. The bill passed this past May and was signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey, a Republican, on July 29. It’s a rare example of increased government regulation of religion in the Trump era—the new law imposes regulations on residential facilities and does not exclude religious institutions. As Kennedy described it, the war he’s waging here is not against religious freedom, but for basic standards of human rights. “[The facilities] can operate here, and we’re not going to charge [them] a nickel,” he said. The new law requires facilities to alert the county Department of Human Resources upon admittance of new students, conduct background checks on employees, accurately describe programming to parents, avoid restraints or abusive punishments, provide medical care, feed the children sanitary and nutritious meals three times daily, allow residents to practice their own religious beliefs, and more. “We’re just saying that if you take children into your care and custody for more than 24 hours, we should know that they are in a safe place,” Kennedy told me. Kennedy, who views this saga as a “national disgrace,” has set his sights on changing laws in Missouri next, and plans to battle for regulation across the country. Though he faces opposition from those eager to exploit the religious freedom loophole, the pattern of abuse begs the question: How does hiding behind the law to abuse children represent Christian ideals? Actually, plenty of Christian leaders say it doesn’t. “Carefully considered partnerships between government institutions and religious institutions can assist the government in meeting one of its highest duties: protecting children,” Jennifer Hawks, associate general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, told me. “Religious freedom does not require—and should not claim to support—exemptions that harm the state’s duty of protecting children.” Kimi Cook has returned to the site of the Rebekah Home for Girls two times since she lived there more than 30 years ago; most recently, she visited with two of her three children this past September on the tail end of Hurricane Harvey. Along the way, she found a clue into her past: a copy of the 1983–1984 yearbook, covering the period during which Cook lived at Rebekah. Upon locating her photo, she was overcome with emotion: “It was not revulsion, it was not upset, or sad, or angry. It was almost like finding a lost piece of myself,” she said. Today, Cook continues to struggle with the trauma inflicted upon her at Rebekah—but hope comes in the form of support from her family, and, now, a chance at finding long-lost friends listed in that yearbook. She’s one of a growing number of survivors of abusive religious reform schools left to their own devices over the course of a long tradition of official neglect. Organizations like HEAL and Fornits offer online record-keeping of abuse allegations against religious youth homes, resources for parents who might be considering these institutions. Advertisement Perhaps most important, they serve as confirmation for people like Cook that they are not alone. Follow Nile Cappello on Twitter.  Source: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/vbzexd/how-christian-reform-schools-get-away-with-brutal-child-abuse
Voucher Schools Championed By Betsy DeVos Can Teach Whatever They Want. Turns Out They Teach Lies. These schools teach creationism, racism and sexism. They’re also taking your tax dollars. By Rebecca Klein 25k 110 PORTLAND, Ore. ― It was late morning in an artsy cafe, the smell of coffee and baked goods sweetening the air, and Ashley Bishop sat at a table, recalling a time when she was taught that most of secular American society was worthy of contempt. Growing up in private evangelical Christian schools, Bishop saw the world in extremes, good and evil, heaven and hell. She was taught that to dance was to sin, that gay people were child molesters and that mental illness was a function of satanic influence. Teachers at her schools talked about slavery as black immigration, and instructors called environmentalists “hippie witches.” Bishop’s family moved around a lot when she was a child, but her family always enrolled her in evangelical schools. So when Bishop left school in 2003 and entered the real world at 17, she felt like she was an alien landing on Planet Earth for the first time. Having been cut off from mainstream society, she felt unequipped to handle the job market and develop secular friendships. Lacking shared cultural and historical references, she spent most of her 20s holed up in her bedroom, suffering from crippling social anxiety. Now, at 31, she has become everything that she was once taught to hate. She shares an apartment with her girlfriend of two years. She sees a therapist and takes medication for depression, a condition born, in part, of her stifling education.   Years later, some of the schools Bishop attended are largely the same, but some have changed in a significant way: Unlike when Bishop was a student, parents are not the only ones paying tuition for these fundamentalist religious schools – so are taxpayers.  Amanda Lucier for HuffPost Ashley Bishop didn’t find out until after she graduated from Christian schools that she was unprepared for a wider world of education. These schools are among thousands in the United States that participate in private school choice programs, which most often come in the form of state-level voucher or tax credit scholarships. Voucher programs offer publicly funded financial aid to parents for private schools. Tax credit programs usually offer individuals or corporations tax credits if they donate to a scholarship granting organization, which in turn offers private school scholarships based on various criteria, including income. President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have openly championed such programs and have encouraged states to embrace school choice, arguing that voucher programs give parents an alternative to low-performing public schools. Currently 14 states and the District of Columbia have voucher programs, and 17 have tax credit programs. DeVos has made it a top priority to push a federal school choice initiative. Many of the private schools that participate in these state-led programs are run by evangelical Christian churches. They are sometimes unaccredited and can teach a curriculum similar to the one Bishop studied ― all with the help of taxpayer dollars.    The textbooks used at all of Bishop’s schools were published by three of the most popular, and most ideologically extreme, Christian textbook companies: Abeka, Bob Jones University Press and Accelerated Christian Education. The ideas in these textbooks often flout widely accepted science and historical fact. But the number of schools using these resources is largely unknown, even in states where they receive support from publicly funded scholarships. No state or federal organization tracks the curriculum being used in private school choice programs. The religious affiliations of schools that participate in these programs are also not always tracked.    That means there are thousands of kids receiving an extremist and ultraconservative education at the expense of taxpayers. Several months ago, HuffPost set out to create a database of every private school in the country that receives taxpayer funding. We also tracked the religious affiliation of each school and looked at how many taught from these evangelical Christian textbooks. HuffPost obtained lists of schools that participate in private school choice programs around the country. We searched for the most up-to-date lists on either a state’s education or revenue department’s website. Several states did not keep a list of which schools participate in choice programs. In those instances, we went directly to the individual scholarship granting organizations in each state.  Our list totaled nearly 8,000 schools across the 25 of 27 states that offer private school choice along with the District of Columbia. (Two states that do not allow religious schools to participate in private school choice programs were excluded from our analysis.) Then we researched the religious affiliations of each school by scouring each school’s website. If a school did not maintain a website, we emailed school representatives and often followed up with a phone call.   Our analysis found that about 75 percent of voucher schools across the country are religious ― usually Christian or Catholic, with about 2 percent identifying as Jewish and 1 percent identifying as Muslim. There were gray areas: At least six schools identified as non-religious but used a curriculum created by the founder of the Church of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard. Since a plurality of schools in these programs (42 percent) are non-Catholic Christian schools, we dove deeply into researching the curriculum of those schools. We searched their websites for information on curriculum sources and sent out emails to school leaders if they did not make their academic plan public. We did not assess Catholic schools, which made up 29 percent of Christian schools, since there is already a large body of research on the outcomes of students who go to these schools. Evangelical Christian schools are newer ― many popped up only a few decades ago – and remain less scrutinized. Indeed, we found many of the non-Catholic Christian schools (32 percent) were using Abeka, Bob Jones or ACE textbooks in at least one subject or grade. We found that Abeka was the most popular textbook source ― used in about 27 percent of non-Catholic Christian schools ― and Accelerated Christian Education was the least popular ― used in about 5 percent of these schools. We could not definitively ascertain the curriculum used by about 2,000 Christian schools, because they did not respond to requests for information. Around 200 Christian schools told us they did not use these three textbook sources.   With taxpayers footing the bill for religious private schools, the separation of church and state, a cornerstone of American democracy, becomes a murky line. So how did it come to be that taxpayers are footing the bill for an evangelical education? Most states have little oversight on the curriculum used in schools that participate in private school choice programs. Some states have zero regulations on the topic. Others require private schools to follow the state’s broad-based content standards but specify little else. (Rhode Island’s stipulations appear the most strict: Curricula in private schools must be submitted and largely equivalent to what is taught in public schools.) Additionally, private schools that participate in these programs are not typically subject to the same accountability and transparency rules as public schools, although rules vary on a state-by-state basis. It is difficult to ascertain exactly how many students use taxpayer funds to attend schools with evangelical curricula, but we do know that over 400,000 students nationwide currently attend school using money from a voucher or tax credit program, according to the education reform group EdChoice. Some states are more transparent than others. In Indiana, about 4,240 students received over $16 million in scholarships to attend schools that use the Abeka or Bob Jones curriculum, according to 2016-2017 figures from the Indiana Department of Education. These numbers could soon grow. DeVos is an advocate of school choice and religious education. While she failed in her first attempt to push a federal private school choice program via the Education Department budget, she has repeatedly said she will not stop trying.  Joshua Roberts / Reuters Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has pushed for a federal school voucher program and tax funding of religious schools. The prospect of giving kids more access to these schools with public money is deeply upsetting to Bishop, who was recently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of bullying and corporal punishment she experienced as a child. After leaving high school and getting a taste of the outside world, Bishop fell into a deep depression. When she went to job interviews, she had no idea what to say about the education she had received.  What They Learned HuffPost spoke to nearly a dozen former students and teachers at schools that relied on Abeka, Bob Jones and Accelerated Christian Education curricula. Many of these students, who consider themselves no longer religious, reported feeling traumatized by their educational experiences. A number of them communicate with each other via online support groups for survivors of fundamentalist schools, including Bishop. Some say these curriculum sources left them woefully ill-equipped to thrive in a diverse society while instilling in them racist, sexist and intolerant views of the world. Bishop said her fundamentalist education made her wary of people from other religious groups whom her teachers and textbooks had demonized. “Anything that wasn’t Christianity was a strange religion,” said Bishop, who made it a priority to study other religious practices after high school and even spent time with the Hare Krishna. “But even other denominations were evil. Catholicism especially.” Another former student who spoke to HuffPost under the pseudonym Natasha Balzak, was taught at home that all Muslims hate America, she said. Teachers at her Florida school reinforced this idea, telling students to pray for Muslims and other non-believers, like atheists and gay people. “When it comes to hateful ideology and rhetoric, I was taught a lot of things to skew my mind into believing ― I guess you could call it brainwashing,” said Balzak, 27, who is using a pseudonym to protect the identity of family members who are still deeply involved in their church. Balzak recalled that her school, Coral Springs Christian Academy, used a mix of ACE and Abeka materials, but the head of the school said they were not aware of the school ever using ACE and that they currently used only Abeka in lower grades for phonics. The school participates in Florida’s three private-school choice programs and currently enrolls 172 students on these scholarships. It received $554,418 in taxpayer-funded scholarships this year, according to a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Education. A HuffPost analysis of Abeka, Bob Jones and ACE textbooks confirms the recollections of these students. These materials inaccurately portray events in Muslim and Catholic history while perpetuating anti-Semitic stereotypes. The materials speak disparagingly of Native Americans and Native culture. The chart below details some of the inaccurate and biased perspectives in these textbooks compared with the perspective of an academic who studies these issues. See all the schools we could confirm use one of these curriculums in our full dataset. A Bob Jones high school world history textbook portrays Islam as a violent religion and contains a title “Islam and Murder.” In the same textbook, when describing the Catholic Reformation, Catholic leaders are described as failing “to see that the root of their problems was doctrinal error.” When describing the concept of Manifest Destiny, the term used to describe America’s 19th century expansion westward, an ACE textbook referred to the movement essentially as spreading the gospel: “It was considered God’s will that this vastly superior American culture should spread to all corners of the North American continent,” the passage reads. “The benighted Indians would be among the many beneficiaries of God’s provision.” David Brockman, an expert on world religions, was presented with passages from the Bob Jones and ACE textbooks. Most Protestants would likely disagree with the theological and historical narratives portrayed in the books, he said. “The textbook simply distorts history,” wrote Brockman, a non-resident scholar at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, after examining the selections. “And given the biblical command not to bear false witness, I would question whether a distorted history is consistent with Christian teaching.” When Balzak attended a secular college in 2009, it was a shock to the system, she said. In her first environmental science class, she learned about climate change ― a concept she had been taught was a hoax. “When I took my first real science class, a million light bulbs went off,” said Balzak, who had only been taught creationism in school. “Everything finally made sense.” The experience made Balzak feel robbed of a fact-based education. Indeed, Balzak’s former school, Coral Springs Christian Academy, includes a statement of faith in its parent-student handbook, which is posted on its website: “We believe God created the entire universe out of nothing.” The handbook also describes the school’s attitude toward LGBTQ students. It says administrators will reject applicants or expel current students if they are caught “living in, or condoning, or supporting any form of sexual immorality; practicing or promoting a homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity.”  Coral Springs’ head of school noted that the institution had likely changed a lot since Balzak attended some years ago, although he has worked at the school for only a few years. He said that staff members do not recall the school ever relying significantly on Abeka materials, and says that the student body has become significantly more diverse, “It’s a very different education I’m sure than 20 years ago,” said head of school Joseph Sanelli.  But in some ways, Balzak considered herself lucky. She said her childhood wasn’t traumatic, just deeply imperfect. Bishop didn’t have such luck. Some of the schools Bishop attended were worse than others. She faced the greatest difficulty from ages 11 to 13, when she attended Franklin Christian Academy in Georgia. The school appears to no longer be open, according to the Georgia Department of Education list of private schools, and a series of calls to what Bishop said was an affiliated church were not returned. The school consisted of three rooms, Bishop recalled, with most of the school’s 30-something kids spending all day in the same classroom. The school relied on an Accelerated Christian Education curriculum currently used by at least nine private schools in Georgia that are eligible for taxpayer funds. ACE classrooms are uniquely designed. Students sit in cubicle-like offices, with barriers separating their desks. Teachers do not lead students in lessons or discussions. Instead, students spend all day silently sifting through a succession of readings and fill-in-the-blank worksheets. When students have a question, they raise either an American or Christian flag to get the attention of a class supervisor. A 2012 training manual for administrators obtained by HuffPost lists an education degree as a “detriment” for the job. Indeed these supervisors’ lack of qualifications was once the topic of a “Judge Judy” episode about a decade ago.  At Bishop’s school, she dealt with intense physical bullying and verbal harassment. When she would complain about the harassment, school authorities told her to ignore it. They sometimes implied she was at fault and needed to get closer to Jesus, she said. The school did not employ professionals trained to deal with mental health issues, she added. As a teenager she went nearly mute and thought about killing herself. “I didn’t want to get out of bed. I did self-harm,” she said, speaking slowly and deliberately over coffee. “I just hated myself and I didn’t know what to do about it.” It was also around that time that Bishop realized she was attracted to other girls. She repressed her feelings for decades, even spending most of her 20s married to a man. An examination of ACE textbooks shows that its materials push strict ideas about gender roles and sexuality. Even now Bishop still sometimes finds herself shrinking in the presence of men, saying that it’s almost like “muscle memory.” Balzak echoes these sentiments, saying that even her female teachers reinforced the idea that women are secondary to men. When describing the 1920s, a high school ACE textbook criticizes women for wearing short skirts and cutting their hair, calling it a violation of Scripture. Before the 1920s, when women were less likely to work outside the home, they “were comfortable to be discreet, chaste, keepers at house, good, obedient to their own husbands,” says the material. School, Bishop said, made her want to give up on education. She spent some time being home-schooled, then at another Georgia school before moving to Roxboro Christian School in North Carolina. After less than two years there ― in which she spent much of her time hiding in the bathroom ― she dropped out and got her GED. Roxboro currently participates in North Carolina’s voucher program, and representatives there confirmed that Bishop was once enrolled. The school also confirmed that they use Abeka, Bob Jones and ACE. Roxboro has received over $8,000 this year in voucher program and currently enrolls four scholarship recipients, per a report from the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority. Two other schools Bishop attended are also eligible to receive monetary assistance via school voucher or tax credit programs. Bishop attended Beaufort Christian School in South Carolina and Neuse Christian Academy in North Carolina as a child. Beaufort Christian Academy uses materials from Abeka and ACE, per its website. A representative from the school confirmed that Bishop was once enrolled. Neuse Christian Academy uses materials from Abeka and Bob Jones University, and it received $37,368 in scholarship money for 18 students, per the North Carolina Education Assistance Authority. The school was not able to confirm Bishop’s enrollment because it does not still have its records from that time. How Did These Textbooks Come To Be? Abeka, Bob Jones University Press and Accelerated Christian Education started selling textbooks in the early 1970s, a few decades before Wisconsin enacted the nation’s first voucher program. At the time, enrollment in fundamentalist Christian schools was booming. For one, recent Supreme Court decisions had banned school Bible readings and official school prayer. Groups of evangelical Protestants were alarmed. The founders of these textbook companies dedicated their lives to pushing fundamentalist viewpoints. Abeka leaders Arlin and Beka Horton also founded Pensacola Christian College in Florida, which outlaws dancing and other “satanic practices.” They also founded Pensacola Christian Academy, a K-12 school that currently receives public funding for student scholarships via Florida’s tax credit program. Bob Jones University Press is affiliated with Bob Jones University, which famously lost its tax-exempt status in 1983 after banning interracial dating, a policy it didn’t reverse until 2000. Accelerated Christian Education was founded by Donald Howard, a Texas pastor. In his 1988 book, “World Awakening,” Howard describes AIDS as a plague sent down by God intended to punish gay people and other idol worshippers, like “feminists, prochoice, and Planned Parenthood advocates.” ACE, Abeka and Bob Jones University Press leaders have largely similar educational philosophies, with a few subtle differences. The leaders of all three companies subscribe to an authoritarian vision of education in which students are taught not to question their elders. While ACE’s curriculum barely involves a teacher, Abeka’s promotes the educator as an absolute authority, per research from Binghamton University professor Adam Laats. They all have come under fire for providing children with an inadequate education.  Amanda Lucier for HuffPost Ashley Bishop says the evangelical Christian schools’ curricula kept her from going in directions she might have been interested in. Eleven separate reviews of the ACE program by experts and academics have repudiated the curriculum, according to research conducted by Jonny Scaramanga at University College London. A representative of ACE responded to one of these reviews from 1987. “Our material is not written with conventional viewpoints in mind. We do not believe that education should be nondirective or speculative, or that the final interpretation of facts and events should be left up to immature inexperienced minds as mainline secular curricula do,” wrote a former ACE vice president at the time. The University of California system refuses to accept certain high school courses that rely on BJU and Abeka materials for credit. The Association of Christian Schools International sued the University of California System over this issue in 2005. A judge eventually ruled in favor of the UC System. Still, American taxpayers continue to indirectly prop up these curricula through voucher programs. It is unclear how the proliferation of private school choice programs has affected the bottom line for these textbook companies. Representatives of Bob Jones University Press did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Representatives of ACE did not respond to requests for comment either, however its website claims they are in 6,000 schools around the globe, although a number of experts told HuffPost that they are skeptical of this number. A spokesperson for Abeka noted that, while the company is aware its materials are used in private schools that receive public funding, “Abeka does not advocate or encourage the use of state or federal funding for private, Christian schools.”  “We recognize that academic scholars have differing opinions on historical/scientific content and that this frequently occurs in both public and private educational institutions as reported in the media. We are confident that our content is accurate, age appropriate, and academically rigorous,” wrote Brent Phillips, assistant to the president for business affairs, via email.  Educators Sound Off Educators who use or are familiar with these resources told HuffPost that not all schools who use them have a fundamentalist approach. Indeed, not all schools who use these curricula are deeply religious, and they are used in a range of Christian schools.  They emphasize that the quality of these publishers’ resources differ based on subject and grade level. Bishop said that, while her “education did not equip me to get the most basic of jobs,” she praised the rigor of Abeka and Bob Jones vocabulary and reading comprehension lessons. (Below, a passage on slavery from an Accelerated Christian Education textbook) Dave Moore, executive director of Pittsburgh Urban Christian School in Pennsylvania, said that he does not use any materials provided by these sources but that “Abeka has excellent elementary grammar resources.” Pittsburgh Urban Christian receives scholarship money through Pennsylvania’s school tax credit program. “I would still use it if we didn’t already develop our own curriculum. It does such a good job of it,” said Moore of Abeka’s elementary phonics and math resources. If his school decided to use Abeka materials, he would direct teachers to be on alert for propaganda, he said. “We do the same thing with secular textbooks,” Moore said. Some educators told HuffPost they are happy with the education students receive with these resources. Stephen Lindahl, assistant director of Calumet Christian School in Griffith, Indiana, disagreed with characterizations of Abeka and Bob Jones University Press as pushing a far-right worldview. His school uses Abeka materials almost exclusively for elementary school and then a mix of Abeka and Bob Jones in some later grades. “Abeka and Bob Jones and other biblically based curriculum try to approach academics from a biblical standpoint and from a moral, ethical view, which does not necessarily push any agenda outside of an understanding of God and who Christ is,” Lindahl said. He noted that secular textbooks, too, often come with a specific point of view. HuffPost also reached out to multiple national school-choice advocacy groups for their responses on our findings. None of them responded, even sometimes with weeks’ notice.  However, professors who have studied the curricula say they are dangerous tools for schools to wield. “I want parents to know their children might be coming home with a book that looks like an ordinary textbook but the messages are not what people would ordinarily learn,” said Kathleen Wellman, a professor of history at Southern Methodist University who is working on a book about these publications. “Many universities don’t require history education, so for many Americans this will be their last exposure to history. And many students say they didn’t realize at the time how thoroughly indoctrinated they were being.” Sometimes Bishop wonders what her life would have been like had she not attended evangelical schools. She tried taking online university courses once but dropped out after having trouble balancing academics with her job. She still thinks about trying college again from time to time but worries about the financial feasibility.  (Below, a passage on evolution from an Accelerated Christian Education textbook) Growing up, her schools had never offered outlets for her interest in art or dance ― things that she maybe would have wanted to explore. The only thing she ever remembers wanting to do was perform, a far cry from her current job, working in the produce department of a grocery store. The only career paths presented to her revolved around the church. “It would be kind of different if I was at a school that allowed me to head in a direction I wanted to go,” said Bishop, who lights up when talking about the dance classes she has taken as an adult. “I didn’t really get that chance.” Kaeli Subberwal contributed to this report. Data and graphics by Alissa Scheller. Animation by Isabella Carapella.  This is the first piece in a HuffPost investigation on the policies and curriculum of schools that participate in private school choice programs.  Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/school-voucher-evangelical-education-betsy-devos_us_5a021962e4b04e96f0c6093c
Metro Detroit adults under court guardianship put in unlicensed group homes Court appointed guardians using unregulated homes Heather Catallo 11:15 PM, Dec 6, 2017 11:31 PM, Dec 6, 2017 Share Article As part of our year-long investigation into Michigan’s probate courts, the 7 Investigators have uncovered an alarming practice: court appointed guardians putting the people they’re supposed to be caring for into unlicensed group homes. Copyright 2017 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. WARREN, Mich. (WXYZ) - As part of our year-long investigation into Michigan’s probate courts, the 7 Investigators have uncovered an alarming practice: court appointed guardians putting the people they’re supposed to be caring for into unlicensed group homes.  Mom said she was drugged, abused under Michigan probate guardianship While it’s not illegal for certain group homes in Michigan to operate without a license, when you’re dealing with someone who’s considered legally incapacitated, experts say most people in these situations do require care from a licensed facility. “They took her dignity from her, they took everything from her,” said Peter Klavinger. Klavinger says his grandmother, 80-year-old Mary Helen Plummer, had lived on her own for years.   But after a family friend told the Oakland County Probate Court that Plummer was having memory loss, court records show a Judge appointed a Southfield attorney as a co-guardian. Charlene Glover-Hogan is a Public Administrator, a lawyer appointed by Michigan’s Attorney General to handle probate estates after someone dies.    But several judges in metro Detroit like to appoint Public Administrators as professional guardians for adults who are considered “legally incapacitated.” “It’s awful,” said Klavinger. Klavinger says he was outraged when Glover-Hogan moved Plummer into an unlicensed group home in Warren -- a home that was operating illegally as an Adult Foster Care facility. “It smelled, she didn’t look like her hair was brushed.  She had on the same clothes every day, it was for a week,” said Klavinger. Desperate, Plummer’s family hired an attorney. “He called Glover-Hogan, and said did you visit? She said no. He said, well you’re supposed to – and I can name several violations right off the top,” said Klavinger. In Michigan, a group home must be licensed if the owner receives compensation for providing personal care, supervision, and protection, in addition to room and board to people who are mentally ill or disabled. Clarisse Carter runs Due Season Residential Services LLC, the unlicensed group home in Warren.  State investigators from the Bureau of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs inspected the home in October and found that Carter was violating the law. Carter applied for a license 11 months ago, but refused to answer our questions about why she was operating the home before being approved by the state. The guardian later moved Plummer to a licensed facility, but according to state records, Glover-Hogan still has one ward inside the Warren group home. “So you have a document that you want to show me indicating that it’s unlicensed,” asked Glover-Hogan.   During an interview Tuesday, 7 Investigator Heather Catallo shared the Special Investigation Record from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, which oversees Adult Foster Care Facilities.     The report, which is public record, tells Clarisse Carter that she has been providing adult foster care, and says “any person who provides foster care for 24 hours a day, 5 or more days a week, for 2 or more consecutive weeks for compensation without a license is in violation of [Public] Act 218.” “I don’t have anything indicating that that was the case,” said Glover-Hogan. Glover-Hogan says based on the level of care required in Plummer’s case, she didn’t think that a licensed home was needed. “My goal, is make sure they have a roof over their head, they have heat, they have electricity, they have water and they have food,” said Glover-Hogan.  “We all serve as public servants – it’s not an easy job.” Glover-Hogan said going forward, she will do more research, and she said often when she initially places wards, she does not have access to any of their funds yet, which can make placement extremely difficult. “I do the best I can with what I have,” said Glover-Hogan. “An individual that’s incapacitated that needs a higher level of service, the likelihood is that that type of facility would require a license,” said Larry Horvath, the Director of Michigan’s Bureau of Community and Health Systems.  The Bureau supervises the state’s 4200 licensed group homes. “We would strongly try to encourage the courts and educate the courts on that, to make sure that those guardians and placing agencies are placing them in a proper setting,” said Horvath. The owner of the group home would not return our phone calls to comment on this story.   After a legal challenge this fall, Mrs. Plummer’s son and cousin are now her guardians, and she is now living at home with relatives. If you know of a group home that you believe should be licensed, the state wants to hear from you.  If you prefer to contact the state via mail, please click here. If you want to see if a certain group home is licensed, please click here. If you have a story for Heather Catallo, please email her at hcatallo@wxyz.com or call 248-827-4473.   Source: https://www.wxyz.com/news/local-news/investigations/metro-detroit-adults-under-court-guardianship-put-in-unlicensed-group-homes
Now-shuttered Millstone youth group home had several violations Steph Solis, @stephmsolis Published 5:01 a.m. ET Dec. 8, 2017 | Updated 10:22 a.m. ET Dec. 8, 2017 CLOSE A group home, run by the New Jersey Mentor group, had multiple violations for months before closing for an unrelated reason. Steph Solis/Wochit MILLSTONE - The Stillhouse Road group home for at-risk boys, run by the private, taxpayer-funded New Jersey Mentor company, became controversial just months after it opened in this sleepy township in November 2016. Following a series of burglaries, neighbors and town officials complained about increased crime and lack of communication with New Jersey Mentor's managers, ultimately pressuring the for-profit group home agency and the state Department of Children and Families to shut it down last month. What neighbors didn’t know when they aired their complaints is that the group home had operated for months under a cloud of violations identified by state inspectors. They ranged from minor infractions such as open food in the kitchen to staff members working alone with the young residents before getting their background check clearances and children receiving psychotropic medication before giving written consent, according to an Asbury Park Press analysis of inspection records obtained through public record requests to the Department of Children and Families. "All of this points to what I was saying in the (October) town meeting, what does it take for one of these group homes to be shut down?" asked Fiore Masci, deputy mayor of Millstone. "These organizations are taking taxpayers' money to provide a service, and those services can be and should be rendered. If they're not rendered appropriately, we need to find services that will."  More: Lakewood housing czar makes $469,000 despite federal battle, conviction More: Howell homeless camp residents thankful for donations, each other The Department of Children and Families did not respond to questions about how the state responds to multiple violations at group homes; nor did the department respond to any questions regarding individual violations. Neither the department nor New Jersey Mentor elaborated on how much the company is paid for running a group home. The state Department of Children and Families and New Jersey Mentor agreed to close the group home after a town hall meeting in October where Millstone residents questioned the company's practices.  Neighbors complained for months about slack supervision and the boys' alleged behavior outside the group home and level of supervision, following a string of burglaries in July that were tied to two suspects living in the Stillhouse Road home. The complaints came to a head after a second string of burglaries Oct. 5 in which stolen items were lit on fire with an accelerant in the woods near the group home. The staff member on call didn't report the boys missing that night and was fired, New Jersey Mentor supervisors said. "It's concerning that there's kids out there in the middle of the night," said Tara Katzman, a mother of four who was burglarized in the October incident. She eventually learned her family's laptop had been set on fire in the woods. New Jersey Mentor supervisors and state officials declined to release personal information about the at-risk boys living in the Stillhouse Road group home because of privacy laws protecting the children. But inspection records offer a glimpse into the group home.  Have you had experiences with group homes in New Jersey? Contact reporter Steph Solis at ssolis@gannett.com. Buy Photo The group home operated by Mentor Group in Millstone Township. (Photo: Doug Hood) Multiple violations The Stillhouse Road property was one of 18 group homes run by New Jersey Mentor. According to inspection records on the property, the group home housed up to five boys at a time and was required to have at least two staff members in the home to watch the boys. Joanne Kirk, executive director of New Jersey Mentor, said the group homes within the state offer art, dance and other forms of therapy, individual and family counseling, volunteer outings and other resources. At the Stillhouse Road property, state inspectors between May 24 and 26 reported nine violations related to programming and five related to upkeep and safety. These are among the most severe:  Staff members restrained youth without documenting it. State regulations require that staff members report all instances involving physical restraint in incident reports. Staff members were working alone with residents before their criminal background checks and child abuse registry checks were on file. Staff members administered residents psychotropic medication before getting written consent. Additionally, staff members documented daily side effects of psychotropic medication on a child when that child wasn't in the program. The state investigated a report from March 30 suggesting a staff member "engaged in an inappropriate physical interaction with a resident." The inspection did not elaborate on the nature of the incident other than to say the staff member was re-trained. More: Millstone man's $900K pot operation busted, prosecutor says Photos: Millstone man makes the ultimate Halloween display The Department of Children and Family's Office of Licensing inspects group home at least once every other year and often conducts an unannounced inspection once or twice, but follow-ups can occur days after an initial inspection. A re-inspection conducted fourth months later at the group home shows that some violations remained unresolved, including the issues with documenting the use of physical restraint. The inspector reported two additional violations: missing signatures on medication logs and missing proof that a resident received medications to treat an infection. When asked about the violations, Kirk said in a statement, "In most instances, including with regard to background checks, the problems raised in the licensing reports can be tied to weaknesses in record keeping. We have recently expanded our HR capacity and are reviewing our processes and procedures to ensure a more seamless hiring process and full compliance with all regulatory standards." State inspectors may work with group homes to give them time to correct certain problems before conducting a re-inspection or directing other officials to step in, said Mary Coogan, vice president of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, a nonpartisan nonprofit that works with government officials to improve child welfare. Coogan did not comment on individual inspections, but she said some infractions such as missing background checks or lack of consent for medications warrant more attention than others related to cleanliness or paperwork. "It makes sense to give a program or agency time to take corrective action regarding licensing violations that pertain to record-keeping or maybe staff training or programmatic issues," she said. "Violations that would raise a safety concern, from my perspective, require more immediate action." Earnest Landante, a spokesmen for the Department of Children and Families, confirmed that the department and New Jersey Mentor agreed to close the home after all the children were transferred. He did not respond to followup inquires about the inspection records. 'It's a failing business' Dozens of residents packed the Millstone meetingroom one night in October for three hours, pressing New Jersey Mentor supervisors with questions and complaints. Residents questioned the agency's supervisors about the children's background and the treatment they receive. Several in the town of 10,000 said they used to leave their front doors open and their cars unlocked; now they lock everything and have home surveillance systems installed. While some neighbors blamed the children, most residents shifted focus to the managers. They claimed New Jersey Mentor supervisors weren't helping the boys, integrating them into the community or disciplining them when they acted out. "This is a business, and it's a failing business because these kids are being failed," resident Anthony Italiano said at the town hall meeting in October, adding "we care about those kids and we care about our kids in the community. It is failing." During the meeting, Italiano and Katzman, one of the burglary victims, asked several questions on behalf of the community: Do the kids get bed checks? Were the homes subject to any municipal inspections? How do employees handle incidents involving youth?  A little more than a week after the meeting, town officials announced the group home was closing.  “This is a business, and it's a failing business because these kids are being failed.” Anthony Italiano, Millstone resident Councilwoman Nancy Grbelja said she contacted Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, and they are discussing legislation to bar group homes from small towns like Millstone that don't have municipal police departments. One major problem, she said, is group homes can open without notifying municipalities. They don't face municipal inspections because they are licensed by the state and zoned as private residences. "I had said to him at this particular point we really needed something that was going to allow a municipality to allow to put some kind of control on these group homes," she said.  Kirk said New Jersey Mentor's properties are audited regularly by routine and unannounced inspections like any other group home. Despite the closure of the Stillhouse Road property, she said the agency helped children make progress in their treatment and return home, "which was our collective goal." She added: “We welcome any policy discussion that is designed to ensure the well-being of the children we serve. That said, we believe that DCF does an excellent job regulating and monitoring their contracts with all providers." Steph Solis: @stephmsolis; 732-403-0074; ssolis@gannett.com.  Source: http://www.app.com/story/news/local/western-monmouth-county/millstone-township/2017/12/08/millstone-new-jersey-mentor-group-home-violations/822085001/
Inspection records for group homes are not easy to come by December 08, 2017 06:54 PM The family of the young man who died in a state-regulated group home in Rochester Wednesday night says they're working with Rochester police. Police are trying to find out how and why Luis Minllety died. If families try to find inspection reports on the home their loved ones are in, it's nearly impossible. Advertisement – Content Continues Below If you're a parent looking at day cares, it takes some effort but you can find details on every inspection the day care got. If you're a parent looking for a group home for a child with developmental disabilities, you really can't. Take the group home that Luis Minillety died in. It's run by the Ibero American Action League. When I asked the state Office of People with Developmental Disabilities -- or OPWDD -- to look at the group home's inspection reports, the office directed me to a website. It tells me that the provider -- Ibero -- has a five star ranking. And when it comes to whether the staff is "competent to meet the safety needs of individuals" it gives Ibero perfect scores. It says there were nine reviews, but it doesn't say when those reviews happened, what the inspectors found and if any violations got corrected. "I've been fighting for literally close to ten years to get proper inspections," says Michael Carey, Jonathan Carey Foundation. Ten years ago, Michael Carey's son Jonathan was killed in a state-regulated group home near Albany. He now runs the Jonathan Carey Foundation and advocates for families. In his experience, he says group homes are rarely inspected. He adds, "And usually there's a phone call in advanced to say we're coming in in a few weeks, get your house in order." Brean: "As an advocate for people who are in these group homes and their families you believe that families ought to be able to research and read the inspection reports." Michael Carey: "Exactly." Again, Ibero runs two group homes. It has a five star ranking and according to the state, when it comes to safety for individuals, it has a 100 percent rating. I asked Ibero if they could tell me the last time their group homes were inspected and how often it happens. Ibero says it can get me that information next week. OPWDD's statement "The safety and well-being of people with developmental disabilities is our number one priority.  OPWDD providers are required to follow a robust set of regulations and compliance is monitored on a regular basis through site visits that evaluate program quality.  Providers must correct identified deficiencies and sanctions can result from failure to correct identified problems.  OPWDD makes available provider survey results upon request. Provider agency ratings are also available on the OPWDD Website." Ibero statement "It continues to be a very difficult time for staff as we try to come to terms with the death of Luis Minllety. Luis came to Ibero when he was 13-years-old and was considered family.  As an agency that places a strong focus on creating a supportive and nurturing environment for everyone, this is a personal loss for us.  We are providing grief counselors at this time while continuing to cooperate fully with investigators." Source: http://www.whec.com/news/group-homes-new-york-inspections-records/4700792/
Province ignored whistleblowers who warned about child abuse at its training schools | Toronto Star Province ignored whistleblowers who warned about child abuse at its training schools An ongoing Star investigation of alleged physical, sexual and emotional abuse at the schools for troubled youth between the 1960s and the 1980s found that the province was warned as early as 1972. By Kenyon WallaceNews reporter Fri., Dec. 8, 2017 In late 1972, Ontario probation officer William Brewer started hearing stories from young people in his care about organized, staff-condoned fighting amongst students in provincial schools for troubled youth. Shocked by what he was hearing about what allegedly went on inside these “training schools” — residential institutions for troubled children operated by the province — Brewer wrote to his superiors at the Ministry of Correctional Services. Nothing happened. The following year, Brewer told several Family Court judges about the allegations of brutality, which by then had increased and had also begun to come from fellow probation workers. He told the judges he believed training schools were “not fit places to send our children.” Again, nothing happened. Article Continued Below By 1974, the 38-year-old Brewer’s continued insistence on raising his concerns in court were becoming too uncomfortable for the provincial government, so it ordered him to stop talking, suspended him, and held a secret discipline hearing. An ongoing Star investigation of alleged physical, sexual and emotional abuse at training schools between the 1960s and the 1980s found that Brewer was one of two officials to warn the province of brutal and sadistic treatment at the hands of staff — warnings the province appears to have ignored. The Star’s investigation also found that the province has paid out 220 settlements to victims of historical abuse at training schools. The payouts ranged from several thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and victims were made to sign confidentiality agreements — “gag orders” as some survivors call them — preventing them from discussing their settlements. READ MORE: They say they suffered ‘cruel and sadistic’ abuse as kids at Ontario training schools — and the province paid them to keep quiet Several former training school residents who settled with the province chose to break their silence to tell the Star their stories and demand a public acknowledgment of the abuse. In interviews and statements of claim filed with court they have recounted being subjected to a range of shocking abuse at the hands of teachers and staff, including sodomy, forced oral sex, fondling and beatings. Children sent to these schools — some as young as eight — need not have committed any crimes. Parents or guardians could apply to the family court to have children they were “unable to control” sent to training school. These children were commonly deemed “unmanageable” or “incorrigible.” From the 1960s to the 1980s, the province operated about a dozen such schools in places such as Simcoe, Bowmanville and Cobourg. It was at one school in Hagersville that probation officer Brewer heard from a staff member boasting about a broom closet at the school being the place used to brutalize misbehaving children. Information about Brewer’s decision to go public with his concerns comes from documents related to his hearing at the Public Service Grievance Board, an independent tribunal for employment disputes in the Ontario public service, and media reports at the time. Fearing that his concerns were repeatedly falling on deaf ears, Brewer went to the media, appearing on a City-TV talk show in Sept. 1974 to discuss publicly what he had heard. It was career suicide. The ministry convened a closed discipline hearing for Brewer over several months and fired him. Speaking to the media without permission was one of the reasons the Ministry of Correctional Services cited in its dismissal of Brewer in April 1975. 'A lot of questions I raised about training schools have gone unanswered' William Brewer Former Ontario probation officer His dismissal letter, written by then-deputy minister of correctional services Glenn R. Thompson, cited Brewer’s “generalized negative statements in court regarding training school programs,” “total disregard of the ministry’s written policy regarding interviews with the news media” and his “violation of the oath of office and secrecy in this respect.” Thompson also cited Brewer’s “refusal to return probation files pertaining to various individual clients” and noted that Brewer’s maintenance of administrative records was “unsatisfactory,” and that Brewer was previously reprimanded for “failing to follow instructions.” “I am particularly disturbed by the position you have taken never to recommend a probationer for admission to the training schools system, without consideration of the appropriateness of this resource for specific individuals,” Thompson wrote in documents obtained by the Star. When reached by the Star recently, Thompson said he had “no recollection” of the Brewer case. Brewer appealed his dismissal to the Public Service Grievance Board, and it too held a private hearing. The board then denied Brewer’s appeal. “I still think it is unfair, and a lot of questions I raised about training schools have gone unanswered,” Brewer told the Star on July 31, 1975, the day he lost his appeal. “I’ll continue to try to substantiate my allegations even though I’m not part of the Ministry of Correctional Services. There is a lot more to this than just the management-employee question.” After waging his losing battle, Brewer, a former officer in the American navy, moved back to the United States. He died in 2015. One observer of Brewer’s ordeal was inspired to write about what he witnessed while working in a training school. Don Weitz, a former consulting psychologist at Pine Ridge Training School in Bowmanville, told the Star in a recent interview that he was “appalled” by the mental suffering he was witnessing in children sent to solitary confinement cells — usually concrete-lined rooms about two metres by three metres — when he arrived at the school in 1968. A solitary confinement cell at the now-derelict Pine Ridge Training School where children as young as 8 were once sent as a punishment. The concrete-lined cell was known as "the digger," as the only way to possibly escape would be to dig your way out, students and staff used to say.  (Randy Risling)   Back then, solitary confinement was known as “the digger,” as the only way to possibly escape would be to dig your way out, students and staff used to say. The official terms for solitary confinement were “segregation” or “detention.” “These kids were eight, nine or 10 years old, not even in their teens. It was child abuse,” Weitz, now 86, said during an interview at his Yonge and Eglinton apartment. 'These kids were eight, nine or 10 years old, not even in their teens. It was child abuse' Don Weitz Former consulting psychologist at Pine Ridge Training School in Bowmanville Weitz, whose job entailed providing counseling to young people shortly after they arrived in the training school system, said students were “clearly traumatized” by their experience in the digger. He recounted the case of one student, known as “Charlie,” who was sent to the digger at Pine Ridge in 1968 while exhibiting suicidal behaviour. Weitz recalled finding Charlie curled up under his bed in the digger, refusing to speak or even acknowledge the presence of others. Weitz and another staff member wrote a letter to the school’s superintendent strongly urging Charlie’s removal from Pine Ridge so that the boy could receive proper psychiatric treatment. “He belonged in an emotionally secure residential place for children,” said Weitz, who describes himself as an anti-psychiatry and a social justice activist. His letter received no reply and Charlie was kept in the digger for another three days, Weitz says. “After I saw Charlie and what the superintendant…failed to do to protect him, I said what kind of a place is this? Why am I working in a place that doesn’t protect kids?” he said. Shocked by what he was witnessing, Weitz resigned after a year and a half. But before he left, he surreptitiously copied out the school’s detention logbook for the years 1965 through 1968. When William Brewer went public with his allegations of mistreatment in provincially run training schools, Weitz decided to break his own silence. He pitched and wrote an article about what he discovered at Pine Ridge for Toronto Life magazine in 1976. Don Weitz, a former consulting psychologist at Pine Ridge Training School in Bowmanville, says he was "appalled" by the mental suffering he witnessed in children sent to solitary confinement cells.  (Randy Risling)   “He broke his silence and made an official complaint, so I said the least I can do is write something to expose the digger experience, which I consider a form of torture of children,” said Weitz. His article revealed that the records he had copied out showed students were punished with solitary confinement for the pettiest of transgressions: going AWOL, smoking, fooling around in church, drawing dirty pictures, and tampering with a window, to name just a few. Kids exhibiting suicidal tendencies were also sent to the digger. The logs also recorded the length of time wards spent in solitary. In 1967, for example, an average of 53 boys were locked up each month, for an average of one-and-a-half days. As far as Weitz knows, nothing came of the article, which appeared in May 1976. The province continued to send children to Pine Ridge for another three years before finally closing it in 1979. Weitz still harbours anger towards the training school system. “These kids were abused, dammit, and the government didn’t protect them.” By the mid-1980s, the province phased out training schools as an increasing number of troubled youth transitioned to alternative forms of treatment, such as group homes. Some training schools, such as Brookside in Cobourg and the Cecil Facer School in Sudbury, were converted to youth detention centres following the passing of the federal Young Offenders Act in 1984. Some training schools, such as Brookside in Cobourg, above, were converted to youth detention centres following the passing of the federal Young Offenders Act in 1984.  (Randy Risling)   Historically, the government has in many cases publicly acknowledged abuse at provincially-run institutions only as a result of police investigations, class-action lawsuits or media reports. In 2004, for example, then-premier Dalton McGuinty formally apologized to former residents of two Ontario training schools affiliated with the Roman Catholic church, St. Joseph’s in Alfred, Ont., east of Ottawa, and St. John’s in Uxbridge. The apology came following settlement and benefit payouts to more than 1,000 victims and a massive police investigation that led to hundreds of sex-abuse charges and the conviction of more than two dozen Christian brothers. In 2013, following a $35-million class action against the province, Premier Kathleen Wynne apologized in the legislature for abuse suffered by developmentally disabled residents of the now-closed Huronia Regional Centre in Orillia, Ont. Kenyon Wallace can be reached at kwallace@thestar.ca or 416-869-4734 Do you want to help shape the Toronto Star's future? Join our team of readers who are passionate about journalism and share your views. Sign up Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/12/08/province-ignored-whistleblowers-who-warned-about-child-abuse-at-its-training-schools.html
Girl sexually assaulted while under care of Minnesota child treatment center An employee at Heartland Girls' Ranch was disqualified for 'serious maltreatment.'  By Chris Serres Star Tribune December 11, 2017 — 5:13pm Roberta Opheim, the state ombudsman for mental health and developmental disabilities, said a "cascade of miscommunications" led to the sexual assault of a young girl at a child treatment center in Benson.  A girl being treated for abuse at a children's facility in west-central Minnesota was sexually assaulted by an older adult after being allowed to leave without adequate supervision, according to a state investigative report released Monday. Staff at the treatment center, Heartland Girls' Ranch of Benson, allowed the girl to go on two unsupervised trips into the community without properly notifying her county case managers and guardians. On the second outing, the girl disappeared for three days and was later found by police in Iowa, with evidence of sexual assault and with bruising on her neck, "as though she had been choked," the report said. The staff member responsible for communicating with the girl's guardians and case managers in Wright County was cited for seriously endangering the girl's health, and has been disqualified from having direct contact with vulnerable persons receiving services from state social service agencies. Heartland Girls' Ranch is a working horse ranch that serves girls ages 12 to 17 who have been victims of sexual exploitation, including human trafficking. Since the assault, Heartland has completed an administrative review and has increased communication between the facility and the residents' treatment team members. The girl, whose identity was not released, was admitted to the facility in July and had a history of "acting out on social media and engaging in risky behavior by talking to older [people] online," according to the state report. She also had a history of being sexually abused, as well as running away from home and meeting with strangers, the report said. Because of her troubled past, the girl's guardians, who were also her county case workers, were required to be included in all decisions involving her supervision and care. However, this did not happen. In September, a staff person arranged an unsupervised home visit for the girl without notifying her guardians. During this visit, the girl used a cellphone to contact a much older adult in the community, state investigators found. Staff failed to notify the girl's guardians of this unauthorized contact and did not place any further restrictions on her home visits, state investigators found. Less than a week after this incident, the girl was allowed to go on another unsupervised home visit -- and again, her guardians were not notified. This time, the girl ran away from the home with the older adult, who was later apprehended by police in Iowa when his car ran out of gas, state investigators found. The girl "had been sexually assaulted and had bruising on her neck consistent with being choked," state investigators found. The Wright County case managers told state investigators they never would have approved of the second home visit had they known about the girl's cellphone use and contact with the adult during the initial trip. "There was a cascade of miscommunications here," said Roberta Opheim, state ombudsman for mental health and developmental disabilities. "Each person involved in this girl's treatment appeared to assume that the other was being notified, which led to this tragedy." The assault marks the latest in a string of cases involving the maltreatment of girls at state-licensed children treatment centers across the state. In December 2015, a 25-year-old caregiver at Nexus Glen Lake, a 12-bed facility in Minnetonka, sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl in her bedroom at the facility, according to a state report. And last year, A 15-year-old girl who ran away from an Itasca County mental health treatment center was sexually abused by an adult counselor who allegedly harbored the girl in her home. The girl was missing for nearly 2 ½ months before Grand Rapids police discovered her in the garage of her counselor. There are about 120 state-licensed residential facilities across Minnesota that provide mental health counseling, drug treatment and other services for troubled children and adolescents. Mental health advocates say children placed in such facilities are particularly vulnerable to maltreatment because they often have long histories of trauma and abuse, and arrive seeking attention and guidance from adult caregivers. chris.serres@startribune.com 612-673-4308 chrisserres  Source: http://www.startribune.com/girl-sexually-assaulted-while-under-care-of-minnesota-child-treatment-center/463457323/
Mayor: Last boy removed from group home in Millstone Matthew Sockol, Staff Writer Dec 12, 2017 Updated 2 min ago 1 Facebook Twitter Email Facebook Twitter Email Print Save MILLSTONE – All of the juvenile residents of a group home on Stillhouse Road have been relocated to residences outside of the township as part of a process that will close the group home and see it revert to a single-family residence. On Dec. 6, Millstone Township Mayor Michael Kuczinski announced that the juveniles had all been removed from the home. The removal of the juveniles follows the announcement that the group home’s contract to operate with the New Jersey Department of Children and Family Services will be terminated. State officials terminated the group home’s contract after juvenile residents of the group home were arrested and charged with burglarizing unlocked vehicles in the township in July and again in October. Group homes are operated by a third party under authority from the state. The Stillhouse Road group home was operated by New Jersey Mentor, which also operates two other group homes in Millstone. The group homes serve juveniles who have complex trauma, such as family fragmentation, abuse and/or neglect, and other issues. The group home on Stillhouse Road, which was established in December 2016, was serving young men between the ages of 14 and 17. Residents raised concerns about the group home in July after two young men left the house and were subsequently charged with burglary and theft for allegedly stealing items from unlocked vehicles in the community. In response to the incidents, representatives of New Jersey Mentor said they would upgrade security procedures at the residence with the intent of preventing future incidents from occurring. On Oct. 8, three juveniles were charged with burglary and theft after they left the group home and allegedly stole items from unlocked vehicles. The New Jersey State Police, which covers Millstone, did not confirm if the juveniles in the October incident were the same as in the July incident, but did confirm that two of the juveniles involved in the October incident had previously been charged with burglary and theft. The October thefts prompted significant objections regarding the group home from residents who said they were concerned for their own safety and the safety of the juveniles. Many residents said they do not believe Millstone is a suitable location for group homes because the community does not have a municipal police force, fire hydrants or street lights. On Oct. 26, Kuczinski announced the closing of the group home on Stillhouse Road. According to Kuczinski, representatives of the Department of Children and Family Services rejected assertions that juveniles with behavioral health needs are unsuited for a particular community, that the juveniles are predisposed to criminal conduct and that their presence is a detriment to the community. However, the department’s representatives did believe the incidents harmed the homeowner’s relationship with the community and created an environment that was detrimental to the group home’s treatment mission and to the residents of the community. With all of the juveniles having now been moved to other homes, Kuczinski said the former group home is in the process of vacating its license. He said he was informed that New Jersey Mentor has the right to appeal the state’s decision, but he said state officials are not expecting an appeal. After the program is officially closed, the property on Stillhouse Road will be sold as a residence that will be regulated by existing township rules and ordinances, according to Kuczinski. The mayor said the two other group homes in Millstone will remain open and he said the Department of Children and Family Services Office of Licensing will implement an inspection and corrective action program.  Source: http://www.centraljersey.com/news/mayor-last-boy-removed-from-group-home-in-millstone/article_5bcbba12-746d-5c78-9dc6-baf2a47510a7.html
Iowa Youth Home Counselor Accused of Relationship With Teens A residential counselor at a Davenport juvenile group home faces charges after being accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old resident and giving the boy drugs and money. Dec. 14, 2017, at 9:33 a.m. Iowa Youth Home Counselor Accused of Relationship With Teens Share × Share on Facebook Post on Twitter Post to Reddit Email Share in LinkedIn Share on StumbleUpon Share on Google Plus DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — A residential counselor at a Davenport juvenile group home faces charges after being accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old resident and giving the boy drugs and money. The Quad-City Times reports that police say 25-year-old Danielle Puls, of Rock Island, Illinois, gave the boy marijuana, as well as money to buy a handgun. Police say she had inappropriate contact with the teen and had a sexual relationship with another resident at Family Resources' Annie Wittenmyer juvenile facility. She is charged with drug distribution to a person under 18, possession of a firearm, sexual misconduct with an offender and lascivious conduct with a minor. Puls was arrested Wednesday and remained in the Scott County Jail on $33,000 bond. An attorney for her was not listed in online court records Thursday. ___ Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com  Source: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/illinois/articles/2017-12-14/iowa-youth-home-counselor-accused-of-relationship-with-teens
DSHS Settles First Kiwanis Vocational Home Lawsuit for $1.5 Million Deal: Money Will Go to Three Former Residents Who Claimed Abuse By Natalie Johnson / njohnson@chronline.com 9 hrs ago 0 Facebook Twitter Email Chronicle headlines in the 1980s and 1990s alluded to trouble at the Kiwanis Vocational Home, but nothing as explosive as claims included in a number of lawsuits filed in relation to alleged abuse, negligence and fraud at the facility, which closed in 1994.  Facebook Twitter Email Print Save The state Department of Social and Health Services has settled the first lawsuit alleging abuse and negligence at the state-licensed Kiwanis Vocational Home, which was open in Centralia from 1979 to 1994.  DSHS has agreed to pay $1.5 million split equally between the three plaintiffs, identified in the 2015 lawsuit by their initials as R.N., J.W. and S.C.  Investigations Showed Misuse of Funds, Violations and Obstruction at Centralia Kiwanis Home Attorney Darrell Cochran said for his clients the moment is “bittersweet.” “The bitter part is they’ve not only had to experience the horror at KVH but have been attacked by both the state and the Kiwanis for bringing this tragic situation to light,” he told The Chronicle Wednesday. “They’re relieved. They have some peace.” +1  The Kiwanis Vocational Home, then renamed Coffee Creek Center, closed in 1994. For 25 years it served as a state-licensed group home for wards of the state. DSHS issued a comment on the settlement Wednesday afternoon.  “The settlement involves no admission of liability on the part of the state,” the statement reads. “The passage of time between the events in question and the lawsuits make these cases challenging to defend.” R.N., who has asked that his full name not be released, said he was sexually abused by staff as a teen at the facility.  “After I left that place, my life spiraled out of control,” he said.  R.N. is currently incarcerated.  He. said he was placed in the Kiwanis Vocational Home after being removed from an abusive home by DSHS. Like many former residents who have shared their stories with The Chronicle, he remembers his stay at the home beginning with a “blanket party” during which older residents covered him with blankets and beat him with objects, then sexually assaulted him.  He also has accused staff at the facility of sexually assaulting him on several occasions. He said the incidents were reported to DSHS, but police never got involved.  A previous analysis of public documents by The Chronicle found about 40 instances just in the last eight years the home was open in which sexual or physical abuse was reported to DSHS with no corresponding police report in existence.  Documents: State, Centralia Home for Boys Didn't Report Dozens of Claims of Abuse The settlement comes about a month after DSHS successfully petitioned a Thurston County Superior Court judge to issue a stay on the case, putting it on hold for at least a year. However, the case was only stalled for DSHS, and attorneys representing Kiwanis plan to present a motion for summary judgement Friday asking a judge to rule that they should not be held accountable for the actions of third parties — the staff who the plaintiffs accuse of abusing them If Kiwanis’ motion is successful, that might have left DSHS as the only defendant, Cochran said.  Sexual Abuse, Fraud and Negligence Alleged at Closed Centralia Home for Boys “All they had achieved was a delay,” he said, of the stay. “They were never getting out of it, it was never getting better and it might have been they would end up being the only defendant. That was a risk the state was not willing to take, apparently.” However, Cochran said he does not believe a judge will rule with Kiwanis at the hearing Friday. Cochran has represented a number of plaintiffs in similar lawsuits against the state and Kiwanis regarding the Olympia Kiwanis Boys Ranch, but the 2015 lawsuit with R.N., J.W. and S.C. was the first involving the Centralia facility, and the first to reach a settlement. “I think it sets a precedent that the state acknowledges there were horrific conditions for foster children there,” Cochran said. “I think it’s a milestone in that this settlement acknowledges there were terrible conditions that DSHS could have prevented and now it’s in the open.” The three plaintiffs have sued various defendants including DSHS and agencies under its umbrella and Kiwanis clubs claiming that the state and Kiwanis allowed the home to stay open despite years of allegations of sexual and physical abuse by staff and other residents. The plaintiffs report that they were the victims of abuse while residents in the 1980s. More lawsuits from former residents were filed in 2016 and 2017.  According to DSHS, a total of 13 claims have now been brought against the state regarding the Centralia group foster home.  “In the more than two decades that have passed since the alleged actions took place, DSHS has taken numerous steps to improve child safety and well-being in Washington state, not the lease of which enhanced the procedures for licensing, monitoring and investigating facilities like Kiwanis Vocational Home,” said DSHS Secretary Cheryl Strange in a statement. “If these allegations were true, we hope these funds provide the men with the resources they need to recover from that traumatic time in their lives." Source: http://www.chronline.com/dshs-settles-first-kiwanis-vocational-home-lawsuit-for-million/article_6f66f488-e100-11e7-8fe9-e36d1becd68d.html
Police: Altoona man abuses group home resident Published on Dec. 15, 2017 | Updated 9:29 a. m. Share Tweet Share Email Comments An Altoona man is accused of physically abusing a resident at an Eau Claire group home. Joshua J. Mielke, 31, 215 Twin Oak Drive, was charged Thursday in Eau Claire County Court with a felony count of recklessly abusing a patient likely to cause great harm. According to the criminal complaint: Eau Claire police were called to the Bridge to Independence home, 2831-2833 Stein Blvd., at 10:10 p.m. Wednesday on a report of an employee placing a resident in a chokehold. The resident told police he was sad and upset because his girlfriend had broken up with him. Mielke became angry with the resident and told the resident to take his medications. At one point, Mielke told the resident he was tired of his actions and placed him in a chokehold for about 30 seconds. A witness said the incident was unprovoked by the resident. The group home’s director told police staff members are instructed to never use physical holds on residents. Mielke said the resident was out of control and that he was trying to protect himself and other residents Mielke said his boss told him he was allowed to restrain residents if necessary. Source: http://www.leadertelegram.com/News/Local-Briefs/2017/12/15/div-class-libPageBodyLinebreak-Police-Altoona-man-abuses-group-home-resident-br-div.html
Florida juvenile justice said it would weed out bad hires. How did this guy slip through? By Carol Marbin Miller cmarbin@miamiherald.com LinkedIn Google+ Pinterest Reddit Print Order Reprint of this Story December 16, 2017 09:00 AM UPDATED 1 HOUR 51 MINUTES AGO It took just two months for Chris W. Jeffries to get into trouble at his new job as a counselor for delinquent teens with drug or behavior problems. A week ago, police charged him with child abuse on allegations that he slugged a 16-year-old boy in the jaw at the Pembroke Pines program where he worked. Administrators at the Broward Youth Treatment Center hired him on Oct. 9, despite an ominous sign that Jeffries might have an anger management problem — just like many of the kids he’d be supervising. In June 2016, police say, he pulled a gun on his roommate and threatened to kill her after she demanded that he move out of the home they shared. Jeffries’ roommate later changed her mind and declined to cooperate with prosecutors, who dropped the case. It’s the exact sort of red flag that is supposed to trigger an alarm under a stringent new hiring policy designed to weed out youth workers with the kind of criminal backgrounds or unsavory work histories likely to render them unfit to work with hard-to-manage teenagers. The new procedures were developed eight months ago in response to a Miami Herald investigation that documented widespread excessive force and other misconduct within Department of Juvenile Justice lockups and residential programs. But there’s a hole in the state’s new policy: While the beefed-up screening governs how DJJ hires officers for its 21 detention centers, it holds no sway over the private contractors who run the state’s 53 residential programs for youths already adjudicated delinquent. The Broward Youth Treatment Center is one such facility. Never miss a local story. Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access. SUBSCRIBE NOW Though DJJ has the authority to write new contracts that require providers to reform their hiring practices, administrators have yet to hold their contractors to the same standards they’ve set for themselves. As a consequence, emotionally troubled teens were left in the care of a man who later acknowledged settling his differences with a closed fist. In a prepared statement, DJJ Secretary Christina K. Daly said that, although Jeffries’ criminal history didn’t disqualify him from employment under state law, “it is always the department’s expectation that hiring managers use the utmost common sense and discretion in hiring potential employees that place as their number one priority the safety and security of youth.” Christina K. Daly, secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, said the department ‘continues to be in constant communication with private providers to collaboratively improve hiring practices.’ Emily Michot emichot@MiamiHerald.com “The department continues to be in constant communication with private providers to collaboratively improve hiring practices. Our contracted private providers have been voluntarily working with the department on revisions to the background screening policy and procedures, to include hiring requirements, for all contract provider owners, operators, employees and program volunteers, as well as department employees and volunteers,” Daly said. Neither DJJ nor its contractors may hire job candidates whose criminal histories include a conviction for what’s called a “disqualifying” offense, such as sexual assault or felony battery. Under DJJ’s new policy, administrators also are expected to consider criminal histories as a whole, and purge prospective employees who technically are acceptable but who might pose a risk to vulnerable kids. DJJ’s Inspector General’s Office performs the background screenings, and provides the results to its contractors. From stocker to counselor In a detailed statement, the lawyer for Youth Opportunity Investments, the contractor that runs the treatment center, said that, under YOI’s internal procedures, job candidates with “non-disqualifying” criminal histories generally are flagged for further investigation by the company’s senior leadership, “who personally vet the candidate. Only those candidates who, with clear and convincing evidence, demonstrate qualities that overcome the historical event are considered for employment,” said attorney Gary Sallee. “Few have met that burden.” “It is YOI’s policy that it hires no one with a prior disqualifying offense and few applicants with non-disqualifying offenses,” Sallee said. Dark secrets of Florida's juvenile justice system :  Dark secrets of Florida's juvenile justice system : A Miami Herald investigation A look at the "fight club" culture inside Florida's juvenile justice system, where staffers sometimes employ harsh takedowns, ignore abuse and offer snacks as bribes for beatdowns — known as "honey-bunning." Emily Michot and Matias Ocner emichot@miamiherald.com In Jeffries’ case, however, something went wrong. While the details of Jeffries’ employment remain under investigation by YOI executives, the company learned Friday that an employee “knew or should have known about the prior arrests and did not get that information in [Jeffries’ employment] packet,” Sallee said. The employee’s “dishonesty” was discovered Friday, Sallee said, and she was fired. Chris W. Jeffries was hired as a counselor at a Pembroke Pines mental health treatment center despite an arrest the previous year on allegations that he pulled a gun on a roommate. New state hiring guidelines at juvenile detention facilities intended to flag past problems aren’t mandated for private contractors. Broward Sheriff’s Office Sallee said the questions raised by the Herald not only led to the employee’s dismissal but “will create a better system, better policies and procedures.” Reached by telephone, Jeffries declined to speak at length with a Herald reporter. “I don’t want to speak more about it without a lawyer, even though I gave a statement to police,” he said. “I didn’t expect the case to get so big,” he added. “I didn’t think all this would happen.” Jeffries’ job application shows he worked as a stocker for a Sam’s Club in Miramar before joining the treatment center, and had been a security guard the previous three years, including stints at a Miami Beach nightclub and what is now called Hard Rock Stadium. He said he was licensed to do security work, and had a Florida concealed weapon permit. His job title with YOI was “youth care worker 1.” Jeffries’ criminal history isn’t much different than those of many of the teens he supervised at the Broward treatment center. His first arrest appears to have been made in November 2011 by the Tallahassee Police Department, which charged him with petty theft. He was placed in a pretrial diversion program. Later charges included marijuana and drug paraphernalia possession, which were dropped, and aggravated assault with a weapon, also dropped. A closer look at the assault charges might have caused a personnel director to think twice. A sworn statement from a Miramar police officer said that Jeffries got into an argument — the officer called it a “domestic disturbance” — with his roommate on June 11, 2016. The roommate and her boyfriend told Jeffries “that he had 24 hours to vacate the residence, at which point Jeffries became upset and approached her in an aggressive manner.” It’s Lord of the Flies culture with some of the people they have managing these facilities.With strong kids controlling the weak kids — and the staff controlling the strong kids. Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice As Jeffries got closer, his roommate threatened to spray him with Mace, the police report said. Jeffries then told her “that he will shoot her if she does.” The roommate, who didn’t want to see the argument escalate, ran from Jeffries and sought refuge in a friend’s car, police reported. While the two sat in the car, they could see Jeffries in the rearview mirror “pointing what appeared to be a black handgun at the rear of the vehicle,” the report said. A short while later, Jeffries left. Short tenure “The victim stated that she was in fear of her life during the incident,” the report said. Her friend confirmed her account, and police concluded the woman had “a well-founded fear that ... violence was about to take place.” Though a magistrate found probable cause to sustain the charges against Jeffries, the Broward State Attorney’s Office later declined to prosecute. An internal memo documented that Jeffries’ roommate “wanted to drop charges” and a witness later refused to speak with police. Jeffries was hired by Youth Opportunity Investments on Oct. 9. His short tenure with the company yielded only one complaint to DJJ — the unnecessary use-of-force allegation that resulted in his firing and arrest, records show. What few details are available of the Dec. 9 incident are contained in an arrest report by the Pembroke Pines Police Department and an incident report by DJJ. There is also a surveillance video that captured the encounter, but DJJ has yet to release it to the Herald. The youth who is listed as Jeffries’ victim is a 16-year-old from West Palm Beach. He is 5 feet 7 inches tall, and weighs 150 pounds. His parent is the state of Florida, as the teen is a foster child whose mother and father were stripped of their parental rights. Though the youth had been charged with simple battery in March 2016, the rest of his criminal history includes nonviolent, mostly minor offenses such as burglary, using a fake ID, trespassing, criminal mischief and theft. Jeffries, the police report said, “became upset with the victim because the victim was spreading false rumors about him. [Jeffries] confronted the victim in the ‘day room’ common area.” He then “struck the victim with a closed fist once on the left side of the victim’s face.” The teen was not injured. Jeffries’ rap sheet says he is 5 feet 10 inches tall, and weighs almost 160 pounds. DJJ’s incident report said Jeffries was fired some time after the altercation. Investigations are underway by DJJ, the Pembroke Pines police and the state Department of Children & Families. A lawyer for the teen, West Palm Beach Assistant Public Defender Megan Eaton, declined to discuss the case, except to say in an email: “We are concerned about the safety of our clients in these facilities, particularly given that this incident happened after the Miami Herald’s exposé of DJJ’s past violations against children in their commitment facilities.” The strong and the weak Jeffrey Butts, who is director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said Florida’s juvenile justice system will continue to be suffused with violence as long as the private providers that operate its post-adjudication facilities pay as little as $19,000 per year to the men and women who work with often mentally ill, disabled and traumatized youths. Jeffries’ annual salary was $21,611, Sallee said. Butts said his starting salary as an Oregon social worker with a master’s degree was about $19,000 — almost 35 years ago. “This is a social choice,” Butts said. “Florida is making a social choice when it underpays the people who take care of the most needy and most troubled children.” “It’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ culture with some of the people they have managing these facilities,” added Butts, who has worked with policymakers in 28 states, largely on youth justice. “With strong kids controlling the weak kids — and the staff controlling the strong kids. “You are using violence to try to teach kids not to use violence.” Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/article190124124.html#storylink=cpy 
Ex-Kentucky Country Day teacher sentenced to six years in prison for sharing child porn Ex-Kentucky Country Day teacher sentenced to six years in prison for sharing child porn Justin Sayers, Louisville Courier Journal Published 1:12 p.m. ET Dec. 16, 2017 Matthew Graves(Photo: Metro Corrections) CONNECTTWEETLINKEDINCOMMENTEMAILMORE A former Kentucky Country Day softball coach and teacher was sentenced this week to six years in prison, more than a year after he was accused of sharing child pornography on a social media application. Matthew Graves, 40, of Louisville, pleaded guilty in September to two counts related to receiving and sending sexually suggestive pictures of youths, according to federal court records. He received a 72-month sentence and 20 years of supervised release as part of a plea deal. The case was prosecuted in the Western District of Kentucky. Graves, who was arrested in March 2016, has remained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. Courier Journal previously reported that Graves was contacted by the FBI at the eastern Jefferson County private school on Feb. 8, 2016, wanting to talk about his use of Kik, a cell-phone messaging application. More: Around 30 people in Shelby Park have access to water restored after Tuesday's massive pipe break More: Man arrested in connection with drive-by shooting in California neighborhood The since-fired teacher met with investigators at a nearby bookstore and said he used the app on and off in 2013 and 2014 to search for adult pornography. He said while in chat rooms, he would see others talking about child porn, according to a recording of the meeting filed in court. When pressed by police, Graves said he might have entertained conversations and exchanged pictures involving child porn, but that he never had any idea the people he was talking with were actually harming youths. “It was all a fantasy for me. I never hooked up with anybody," Graves said on the recording. "I never met anybody face to face." An undercover federal investigation in Dec. 2014 resulted in the arrest of William Steinhaus IV, a Maryland man who is alleged to have sent hundreds of images of child sexual exploitation using Kik. When Steinhaus’ phone was examined, police say they discovered he sent sexually suggestive images of youths to 25 Kik users, including someone identifying as “SouthernSon05.” Using an email address, investigators were eventually able to connect the username with Graves. In the recorded bookstore interview, Graves explained to police he no longer used the app and that he was unmarried and bored during the time he used the app. He assured them he would never touch a child and there have been no complaints against him by students. “It was never a reality, it was never something that I was partaking in,” Graves said. More: 2 killed, 1 man injured in Valley Station shooting Wednesday night “It was someone’s reality. It was a little girl’s reality," one of the investigators replied. "...At that time, it was definitely her reality." They asked Graves how he could view such material while having children of his own. “It’s twisted, man," Graves said. "When I was living in there, you just separate the two. And I just wanted someone to interact with." Graves, who a physical education teacher and head varsity softball coach at the school, was placed on administrative leave amid the allegations. He was fired at some point during the next month. Matthew Glowicki contributed reporting. Justin Sayers: 502-582-4252; jsayers@gannett.com; Twitter: @_JustinSayers. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/justins.  Source: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/crime/2017/12/16/kentucky-country-day-teacher-sentenced-prison-child-porn/958075001/
Judge: Lawsuit Over Group Foster Home Abuse Can Proceed A Thurston County judge says a lawsuit alleging misconduct at a group foster home in Centralia can proceed against the Kiwanis International and two local clubs. Dec. 18, 2017, at 10:25 a.m. Judge: Lawsuit Over Group Foster Home Abuse Can Proceed Share × Share on Facebook Post on Twitter Post to Reddit Email Share in LinkedIn Share on StumbleUpon Share on Google Plus CENTRALIA, Wash. (AP) — A Thurston County judge says a lawsuit alleging misconduct at a group foster home in Centralia can proceed against the Kiwanis International and two local clubs. Superior Court Judge James Dixon on Friday rejected the Kiwanis claim that it had no actual involvement in Centralia's Kiwanis Vocational Home. The Centralia Chronicle reports that an attorney for Kiwanis International and local clubs had asked the judge to dismiss the claims against them. The Kiwanis Vocational Home served as a state-licensed group home for wards of the state until 1994. In the first of several lawsuits filed, three men claimed in 2015 that the state and Kiwanis allowed the home to stay open despite years of allegations of sexual and physical abuse by staff and other residents. ADVERTISING inRead invented by Teads The state Department of Social and Health Services last week agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle their portion of that lawsuit. ___ Information from: The Chronicle, http://www.chronline.com  Source: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/washington/articles/2017-12-18/judge-lawsuit-over-group-foster-home-abuse-can-proceed
Teen sexually assaulted in foster care files lawsuit WSPA Staff Published: December 19, 2017, 8:04 am Updated: December 19, 2017, 8:21 am Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window) 552Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)552 Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) GREENWOOD, S.C. (WSPA) — A federal lawsuit alleges that a special needs teenager in foster care was sexually assaulted by a driver who worked for the South Carolina Youth Advocacy Program. The teen’s attorney, Heather Hite Stone, said the boy was being transported from a visit to Greenwood to a foster home in Columbia when the driver took the teen home and sexually assaulted him in March 2016. The victim was 17 years old at the time. The boy reported the sex assault to his foster mother and was so distraught he considered suicide, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit asserts the driver claimed the sex act was consensual, but attorneys say the special needs teen cannot and did not consent to sexual activity. The S.C. Youth Advocacy Program, two of its employees and a caseworker with the S.C. Department of Social Services are named as defendants in the lawsuit. The lawsuit also alleges that DSS did not provide the boy with sufficient counseling. “Special needs foster children are perhaps the most vulnerable population in our society, and it is hocking an horrific when individuals and agencies who are charged with protecting our most vulnerable citizens violate this sacred trust,” Stone said in a statement.  Source: http://wspa.com/2017/12/19/teen-sexually-assaulted-in-foster-care-files-lawsuit/
Audit finds unsafe conditions at group homes for foster children Share via e-mail To Add a message Your e-mail Print 52 Comments 52 Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/file 2015 Governor Charlie Baker has put a focus on reforms at the Department of Children and Families. By Michael Levenson Globe Staff  December 19, 2017 A moldy mattress, a broken handrail, a dirty toilet, mildew in the shower, and a bathroom door that didn’t close all the way were among the unsanitary and unsafe conditions found last year during inspections of 30 group homes for foster children in Massachusetts, according to a federal audit released Monday. The audit, by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, concluded that 27 of the 30 homes inspected failed to follow health and safety standards designed to protect children taken into state custody due to abuse or neglect. In addition, 18 of the 30 group homes had one or more employees who had not completed the required criminal background checks.  Source: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/12/18/federal-audit-uncovers-unsafe-and-unsanitary-conditions-group-homes-for-foster-children/HxaFR0eqhIYQpyjfeU1iEN/story.html
Foster care system needs to raise the bar Dec 19, 2017 The bad news just keeps coming, with another disturbing report about how the state of Massachusetts has been caring for kids in need. Just a week ago the governor and state Auditor Suzanne Bump got into a public feud over Bump's report that said children under the care of the state Department of Children and Families had been abused and prosecutors weren't alerted to crimes committed against them.  Now, a report by the Office of the Inspector General in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has found scores of cases where employees in group foster homes had not received background checks, an issue that put children "potentially at risk," according to the report. The report also cited instances of moldy and ripped mattresses, rotting food and widespread noncompliance among 30 group homes inspected by government auditors. The apparently haphazard use of criminal background checks before people are hired to work in group homes is the most disturbing aspect of the report. It said about 10 percent – 155 of the 1,445 group home employees the federal auditors reviewed – never underwent background checks before they were hired. George Nedder, who directed the federal audit, said, "You're talking about someone in a house behind closed doors" with children. He noted that he had to fill out a form for a CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) check before he could volunteer to help at his daughter's soccer games. Yet his auditors found more than 150 instances where prospective foster home workers were never fingerprinted, never scrutinized for criminal records and never compared to a sex offender registry, before they were hired by state contractors to work with children. DCF oversees more than 9,000 children in foster care. DCF and officials at the state Department of Early Education and Care promised to act on specific allegations in the federal report. In statements released this week, state officials said they are starting annual unannounced visits to group homes, as recommended in the Inspector General's report. There's no denying that many of the children in foster care – whether placed in a family setting or in group foster homes – often face serious behavioral and developmental challenges, because of often unstable family backgrounds. DCF and the Department of Early Education are charged with trying to create stable and healthy living environments for many children who haven't had them before. But the findings that state agencies were so sloppy about a most basic procedure – complete background checks on strangers before they are put in contact with often-vulnerable children – is especially disturbing in this day and age.  The need to do a better job isn't being ignored, judging from the statement by DCF spokeswoman Andrea Grossman: "Children in our custody deserve a safe and healthy environment, and the specific issues identified during the course of the audit were immediately addressed." That presumably means the agency is now doing criminal background checks on everyone it has hired, and the unsanitary conditions cited in some of the group homes reviewed in the audit have been cleaned up. Those seem like minimum requirements in the 21st century.  The vow to conduct one annual, unannounced visit to each group home seems like a very low bar to reach. Even at that, these improved practices should improve overall conditions for children in Massachusetts group foster homes.  Source: http://www.salemnews.com/opinion/editorials/foster-care-system-needs-to-raise-the-bar/article_591ee1cb-829e-5b3f-b426-766135da1efe.html
‘Drill instructor' accused of sexually assaulting child at Abilene behavior boot camp Jamie Burch Posted: Dec 21, 2017 11:03 AM CST Updated: Dec 21, 2017 11:03 AM CST Emory Dale Phillips, 30 Emory Dale Phillips, 30 ABILENE, Texas - Abilene police arrested a "drill instructor" accused of sexually assaulting a child at a behavioral boot camp. Emory Dale Phillips, 30, of Abilene, is charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child. His bond was set at $150,000. According to court documents, the victim reported the abuse to a relative in July. She said it happened at a behavioral boot camp in October 2013 when she was "eight or nine years old." The victim said Phillips “cornered her in her room” and told her to pull down her underwear. He then touched her "no-no spot" and touched “in there.” Phillips – who was featured as one of Abilene’s Wanted Criminals in October – was out on probation for an injury to a child conviction. He kicked a young girl in the torso, 11 days after the alleged sexual assault. Source: http://www.ktxs.com/news/drill-instructor-accused-of-sexually-assaulting-child-at-abilene-behavior-boot-camp/675940086
AGN EXCLUSIVE: Former Congressman Bill Sarpalius details suffering abuse at Boys Ranch When Bill Sarpalius was a teen, he lived at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch with 35 others in a dormitory overseen by two house parents.   Also at the home for troubled or parentless youths was a dairy barn. That’s at least one of the places where the former U.S. congressman said he was abused when he was a resident there from 1960 to 1967. “I had been sexually abused by boys, by some of the older boys,” he said in an interview with the Amarillo Globe-News. “It was some big boys that were in the dairy barn, and they took me into the feed room, and that’s where it happened,” he said. “It was a back room, where they kept the cow feed.” SEE ALSO Editorial: Transparency is next step for Boys Ranch Boys Ranch acknowledges, apologizes for decades of physical, sexual abuse from ’50s to ’90s Sarpalius — who represented the Texas Panhandle for eight years in the Texas Senate and then six in Congress — is perhaps the most prominent in a growing number of men who say they were severely mistreated at the residential care facility 36 miles northwest of Amarillo. Sarpalius came to Boys Ranch when he was 13 years old; he could not read and had previously suffered from polio. He said he was “tall and skinny and behind in school — and a prime target to be bullied.” He said he received excessive physical punishment at Boys Ranch, recounting a time a staffer tied him and another boy up to chin-up bars and “probably spanked us a little more than we should’ve been.” But Sarpalius said most of the abuse he experienced there was from other students, since the ranch at the time was a place where judges sent violent youth offenders. He characterized the conditions at the time as “violent boys versus kids that had nothing.” “They had about half the kids who committed violent crimes and half of the kids came from places that had no home, like me,” he said. The head of the ranch recently apologized in a written statement after allegations of abuse made by former residents were made public by The Guardian, a British newspaper, and the Child-Friendly Faith Project, an Austin nonprofit advocacy group. Abuses allegedly occured from as early as the 1950s through at least the 1990s. “For those who left Boys Ranch having experienced abuse of any form, I am truly sorry, both as the leader of this organization and as a man,” Dan Adams, Cal Farley’s president and CEO since 2004, said in the statement. “It is for these reasons that regulatory oversight and strength-based models of care in this field evolved, and Cal Farley’s strives to be a leader in observing both.” Out of the shadows Child-Friendly Faith Project, which is advocating for a group of former Boys Ranch residents who say they were abused and have emotional issues stemming from that abuse, praised Sarpalius’ decision to come forward. “As we have seen with the #MeToo movement, when prominent, well-known individuals acknowledge that they have been victims of abuse, it empowers survivors who have previously been afraid to tell their stories out of shame or fear they will not be believed or they will be dismissed or rebuked,” Child-Friendly Faith Project founder Janet Heimlich said in a statement. “Many Cal Farley survivors, as children, tried to speak out and tell adults they were being abused or had witnessed abuse, only to be rejected and sometimes punished,” she wrote. “We are grateful to Mr. Sarpalius for his courage and compassion.” The nonprofit doesn’t allege ongoing abuse, but has pushed for Cal Farley’s to more publicly and actively confront the years of alleged abuse at the ranch, which has housed more than 9,000 youngsters since it opened in 1939. Boys Ranch is open to at-risk children ages 5 to 18 and currently supports about 250 boys and girls. It has its own K-12 school, Boys Ranch Independent School District. Despite protests from the group, Boys Ranch recently moved ahead with the naming of a dormitory after Lamont Waldrip, a longtime ranch employee and superintendent who some accused of harsh abuse. Waldrip died in 2013. “It wasn’t nothing for him to give you 50, 60 licks and make your a— bleed through your Levis,” said Rob Waldrup, who lived at the ranch from 1964 to 1969. Waldrup, 66, said his time there, marked by vicious beatings, has left him with emotional and anger problems that led to stints in jail. But Sarpalius and others former residents interviewed by the Globe-News say they admired Waldrip and said the naming should stay because it also honors his family. “Roger Waldrip he meant the world to me,” Sarpalius said. “He gave me my first spanking.” Jimmie Boatwright, the 65-year-old president of the Cal Farley’s Alumni Association Board of Directors and a resident at the ranch from 1966 to 1970, said Waldrip really cared for the boys, but he admitted punishment at Boys Ranch was extreme. “You’ve got to realize corporal punishment was everywhere. There was a different mentality at the time,” he said. “But some people took it too far, that I agree.” Changing rules Sarpalius, who has stayed in close contact with the ranch over the years, said he isn’t angry with his treatment, and he credits his success to his time at the ranch. “I had a teacher who went out of her way to teach me how to read, and if it hadn’t been for Boys Ranch, I would’ve never accomplished what I’ve accomplished,” he said. “I don’t ever regret going there,” he said. “There was some bad, but there was a whole lot of good.” Sarpalius also emphasizes that the ranch has dramatically improved over the years, and he attributes the rough conditions to a lack of state regulation during that time at the ranch. The state passed licensing laws in 1975 that added regulatory requirements for all childcare facilities. Over time, Boys Ranch also shifted away from being a destination for violent youth offenders and added professional social workers to its staff. Sarpalius said he hopes the stories and allegations from years ago don’t bring down the organization. “The Boys Ranch of today is not the Boys Ranch of 50 years ago,” he said. ADVERTISING Controversy at Boys Ranch highlights evolution of organization Tales from the Ranch Sarpalius said stories of his time at the ranch will be shared in an upcoming book, “The Grand Duke from Boys Ranch,” which he said is set for release in April. A description of the book says it chronicles Sarpalius’ “harrowing challenges” at Boys Ranch through his time in Congress, when his efforts fighting for Lithuanian independence in 1990 earned him that country’s honorary title of grand duke. Sarpalius, who now lives in Maryland and does some lobbying and public speaking, said he hoped the book would open up more opportunities for him to tell his story and encourage people “they can make something of their lives, regardless of what environment they’re in.”  Source: http://amarillo.com/news/local-news/2017-12-23/agn-exclusive-former-congressman-bill-sarpalius-details-suffering-abuse
Long Creek is failing to keep Maine kids safe. It’s time for its doors to close. By Alison Beyea, Special to the BDN • December 26, 2017 11:33 am Updated: December 26, 2017 11:38 am George Danby | BDN George Danby |  Kids, some as young as 11, don’t belong in prison. Earlier this month, we were reminded why. An independent audit of Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland produced by The Center for Children’s Law and Policy documented the dangerous conditions of the youth prison and its failure to provide children with adequate care, including mental health treatment and education. It was a stunning rebuke, but it wasn’t a surprise. Science, child development experts and experience all tell us that children are better served receiving rehabilitative services closer to home in a setting designed to make sure that they get the care they need. The kids sent to Long Creek are largely warehoused and forgotten until a tragedy — like a suicide — catapults them into the headlines. At that point, it’s too late. Every day Long Creek remains open, more kids are put in jeopardy of violence. Every day a child spends at Long Creek is a day that’s lost instead of aiding in their education and recovery. That’s why the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine has called for Long Creek’s closure. Sponsored Content Why a Gap Between Educators and Students Exists on This Issue By Pearson The evidence is overwhelming. Long Creek represents a broken, irreparable system that is harming Maine kids and violating their constitutional rights. The Maine Juvenile Code tasks Long Creek with providing kids “the necessary treatment, care, guidance and discipline to assist that juvenile in becoming a responsible and productive member of society.” The 74-page Long Creek report shows that the facility is not meeting its statutory duties. Instead, the report details a litany of horrors no person would wish on a child. Children with intense mental health needs are marooned at a facility not designed nor equipped for therapeutic treatment. They are physically unsafe, and inappropriate force is used by inexperienced and overwhelmed staff. Youth are pushed deeper into the adult criminal justice system “because of behavior that stems from an unmet mental health need or disability.” Staff rely on Google Translate to communicate with parents who are not fluent in English. LGBTQ residents are bullied and harassed by staff and fellow residents alike. The audit also found that kids are not getting the education they are legally entitled to: detained boys, who are held at the facility before trial, receive only half of the legally required education minutes per day; girls don’t consistently get full days of school; and youth who need special education services are not getting the services that Long Creek has agreed to provide them in their Individualized Education Programs. The Long Creek report paints a picture of a Department of Corrections that has failed the youth in its care, but it also reminds us that the Department of Corrections is not the only state agency responsible for this mistreatment. As we said last spring, multiple state systems have failed these kids, including most significantly the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services. The Long Creek report backs this up. One of its two central recommendations is to examine and address how DHHS policies and practices failed to catch these struggling youth before they were sent to Long Creek. The Legislature and the public must hold DHHS accountable for failing to keep our kids safe. There are concrete steps that can be taken. The state should examine the continuum of care supported by DHHS, identify the key problems, and then demand the agency come up with a plan to fix them. DHHS contracts with psychiatric residential treatment facilities that are too often a pipeline to Long Creek. That needs to change. If those service providers are just temporary stops on the way to prison for kids, new providers should be found. For the kids currently inside, we must require that the Department of Corrections and DHHS do an individual assessment of each child with mental illness at Long Creek and find a suitable placement that is developmentally and therapeutically appropriate as soon as possible. Holding our state agencies accountable for the failures at Long Creek should not require Herculean changes or expenditures. The numbers of kids who need our help is small, between 65 and 85, some of whom are as young as 11. We should be able to treat so few kids without locking them up in an expensive and violent prison. In order for us to honor our fundamental values and to provide the necessary treatment, care, guidance and accountability for youth in the juvenile justice system, we must seek more humane and effective solutions, and we must close Long Creek. Alison Beyea is the executive director of the ACLU of Maine. Follow BDN Editorial & Opinion on Facebook for the latest opinions on the issues of the day in Maine.  Source: https://bangordailynews.com/2017/12/26/opinion/contributors/long-creek-is-failing-to-keep-maine-kids-safe-its-time-for-its-doors-to-close/#_=_
Maine should follow other states and close youth detention center December 26, 2017 6:00 am Updated: December 26, 2017 6:55 am Troy R. Bennett | BDN Troy R. Bennett | BDN Long Creek Youth Development Center on Westbrook Street in South Portland. Poll Should the state close Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland? Yes No VoteView Results Like the state’s county jails and prisons, the Long Creek Youth Development Center has become a warehouse for young Mainers with mental illness. Predictably, it is failing to develop, let alone protect the safety of, the children who are housed there. “Any outside observer should see the number of suicide attempts and self-harming gestures as clear evidence of the inappropriateness of Long Creek as a placement for many youth,” an independent group concluded after its assessment of the facility in South Portland. Eighty-five percent of the youth committed to Long Creek had three or more diagnosed mental health conditions and roughly four in 10 had spent time in a residential mental health treatment facility before being sent to the detention facility. At Long Creek, these children are not getting the mental health services they need nor are they receiving legally required educational services. Last October, a mentally ill transgender boy hanged himself while on suicide watch at Long Creek. Not long after that, corrections officials began to publicly acknowledge that the center cannot handle its large population of mentally ill inmates, which includes other young people who have tried to kill or hurt themselves. About a third of detainees at Long Creek are sent there by mental health facilities, a breakdown of that system as well. The state has been working for decades to improve juvenile detention, and that work is ongoing with a welcome, but vague, announcement last week that many of the facility’s detainees will be moved to small, regional psychiatric facilities beginning in the spring. There have been successes — the number of juveniles being held has been cut in half in the last decade, the detention of low-risk offenders has essentially ended and graduation rates have risen. However, continuing to hold children in an unsafe, inappropriate and expensive facility — it costs $250,000 a year per inmate at Long Creek — is a colossal failure that is harming these youths and wasting limited taxpayer resources. Rather than seek to improve Long Creek, Maine needs to move to a new system that emphasizes treatment and that keeps kids in the community, preferably their own. There are many models, which are working in other states, that Maine can follow as it begins the work announced by Corrections Commissioner Joseph Fitzpatrick last week. An analysis of the state’s services for youth, including state and private sector programs, should guide this work to ensure coordination between programs and emphasize those that are working. A first step is to move juvenile justice services out of the Department of Corrections. Maine is one of just a few states where juvenile detention and rehabilitation is overseen by the Department of Corrections. In most states, these youths are in programs and facilities run by family and health departments. This is important because despite increasing emphasis on mental health, corrections departments are built largely on a model of punishment as a means of rehabilitation. Nationally, states are moving away from warehousing juveniles in large detention facilities. Illinois and Kansas have closed such facilities, and Connecticut is poised to do so. Missouri and Massachusetts house small numbers of children is small facilities with a focus on therapeutic treatment. Sponsored Content Why Educators Are Hesitant Towards Introducing New Technology By Pearson The biggest change must be one of mindset. Gov. Paul LePage and his administration have made it clear that improving the lives of people living in poverty and with addiction and mental illness are a low priority. Staffing shortages and lack of direction and coordination at Long Creek mirror similar problems at the state-run Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta. Nor has the administration prioritized improving the state’s corrections system, which is heavily reliant on underfunded county jails. The Center for Children’s Law and Policy, which reviewed operations and conditions at Long Creek at the behest of the state’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Group, found that the facility’s low staffing and high population of teens with mental illness have created “dangerous and harmful conditions.” Because the facility is understaffed, employees there worked more than 5,400 hours of overtime during the first nine months of the year. This led to burnout, turnover and lack of coordination and consistency in how the children held there were treated. As a result, both staff and detainees are put at risk of violence and injury. This is nearly identical to the findings in a report on conditions at Riverview. The problems there were improved when the Department of Health and Human Services got serious about filling staff vacancies. The same kind of commitment is needed now to overhaul the state’s juvenile justice system. Follow BDN Editorial & Opinion on Facebook for the latest opinions on the issues of the day in Maine.  Source: http://bangordailynews.com/2017/12/26/opinion/editorials/maine-should-follow-other-states-and-close-youth-detention-center/#_=_
Inspector general: 50 victims of sex abuse verified in 3 years in Nebraska child welfare, juvenile justice systems JoANNE YOUNG Lincoln Journal Star JoAnne Young State government reporter Dec 27, 2017 Updated 26 min ago (1) Facebook Twitter Email Buy Now Rogers Journal Star file photo Facebook Twitter Email Print Save A nearly yearlong investigation into alleged sexual abuse of children and youth in Nebraska's child welfare and juvenile justice systems showed 50 verified victims in a recent three-year period, the state's inspector general for child welfare reported Wednesday.  It also showed attitudes toward sexual abuse of youth in state care that concerned Inspector General Julie Rogers and her staff, including "problematic attitudes" among system professionals and caregivers toward child sexual abuse and children in the state's care.  “I want to assure the public that we prioritize the safety of every youth in our care,” said Matt Wallen, director of Children and Family Services. “While our most recent data shows that 99.83 percent ... of children in our care are not abused, we are not satisfied when even one case of abuse occurs. We make every effort to prevent the abuse of children in our communities, as well as in our care.” Rogers said the investigation started last year with the accumulation of 36 sexual abuse reports since July 2013. The goal was to discover whether adequate steps were being taken by the Department of Health and Human Services to prevent and respond to abuse of youth in the state’s care.  But when she and others dug into the reports, and asked for more data, they ended up with 50 cases, even after weeding the 36 original cases because some were not state wards or former state wards.  "That was surprising to us," she said. "All of these kids had been abused and neglected or in juvenile justice. ... And then they're abused and neglected while the state is their parent." Some children reported the abuse occurred in a foster home, in an adoptive home or when they were under state guardianship. Some were in the juvenile justice system or in a home licensed by the department or at a Youth Residential Treatment Center.  Among the 50 abused children and youth in the report, 27 were state wards and youth in residential placements and 23 were in adoptive or guardian homes. They ranged in age from 4 to 18 when abuse was disclosed. In each case, the abuse was reported to the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline. The investigation also discovered cases beyond the 50 that were either screened out incorrectly, not investigated properly and so not substantiated. Others they just couldn't gather the needed evidence.  Rogers said estimates show about 38 percent of child victims disclose sexual abuse, some years later, but others not at all. Research shows only 4 to 8 percent of disclosures are false. Child sexual abuse generally includes everything from rape to molestation, sexual touching and coercing or persuading a child to engage in any type of sexual act. It includes exposure to pornography, voyeurism and sexual talk by phone or internet.  Sen. Merv Riepe, chairman of the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee, gave approval for Rogers to release the report to the public. Riepe said it was "extremely important" that it be made public, because the only way to solve a problem is to talk about it.  "It will be a top priority for all of us," he said.  The state must have zero-tolerance on the issue of sexual assault, he said. At the same time, he acknowledged that 99 percent of children in the state's custody get good and safe care. But even one case is not acceptable. The department has been receptive to the recommendations made by the inspector general, he said. What needs to be done is being done.   During those three years covered by the investigation, there were 1,284 substantiated victims of child sexual abuse statewide, according to DHHS. The agency does not track how many of those children were involved in the child welfare system, Rogers said, but research shows youth in the system are at higher risk than the population at large.  Among the 50 abused children and youth in the report, 36 were abused by adults, 11 by other youth and three by both, Rogers said. Half of them were sexually abused by caregivers — foster and adoptive parents, guardians or facility staff. All were known to the children and had established relationships with them.  The cases involved sexual assault by fathers, foster brothers, foster fathers, a foster mother, adoptive fathers, other state wards, uncles, unrelated older men and women, older brothers, grandfathers, group home workers and a therapist.  Advertisement Play Current Time 0:00 / Duration Time 0:00 Remaining Time -0:00 Stream TypeLIVE Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% 00:00 Fullscreen 00:00 Unmute Playback Rate 1 Subtitles subtitles off Captions captions off Chapters Chapters Some of the youths were developmentally disabled or had mental illness. "I feel like the biggest thing is the attitude about sexual abuse," Rogers said.  Caregivers and professionals at times dismissed or never reported disclosures, Rogers said, because they assumed troubled children were lying or “acting out.” Inaction after concerns were reported left some children exposed to continuing abuse.  "They (caregivers and professionals) just have this harmful attitude about sexual abuse," Rogers said.  In some cases, disclosures were assumed to be a recollection of sexual abuse that occurred in the past, but then never fully investigated, she said. For some youth in the juvenile justice system, disclosures were treated as another example of the child breaking rules, defying authority, seeking attention or causing trouble.  Some children and youth were blamed by caregivers and system professionals for causing the sexual abuse they suffered, or their reports were minimized, the report said.  Rogers said a number of adults and system professionals did not report allegations to proper authorities even though the law requires it. Also, some calls to the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline were screened out, preventing investigations and leaving children vulnerable to ongoing abuse. The investigation discovered instances in which hotline workers incorrectly determined youth sexually abusing other youth did not meet the definition of child sexual abuse, the report said.  The attitudes contributed to errors and issues that left the system unable to effectively prevent and respond to abuse of youth in its care, she said.  When the state becomes the parent to a child, how does a caseworker talk to that young person about sexual abuse, secrets and what's private, and finding trusted adults? "People need to know that this happens and we should be able to talk to kids about it in a developmentally appropriate way," Rogers said. "It's very tricky."  The office of inspector general called for the department to foster a culture of zero-tolerance toward child sexual abuse.  The impact of such abuse can be lifelong, Rogers' report said, with a heightened risk for physical and mental health diagnoses, academic problems, risky behaviors, and a possible negative impacts on lifetime earnings.  The inspector general's office made 18 recommendations to the DHHS. The department accepted 14 of those, it said.  “Preventing and responding to sexual abuse of children is not, and cannot be, the responsibility of DHHS alone. It is a community problem, which will need solutions and action from many in our communities,” Rogers said. She hopes the report and recommendations to DHHS, in addition to the action of Nebraskans, will help make needed improvements so that children are better protected, she said.  “DHHS appreciates the thoughtful work of the Office of Inspector General. We have carefully reviewed the inspector general’s report and looked specifically into the recommendations,” Wallen said.  Of the 18 recommendations in the report, the department is committed to incorporating 14 into its best practices, three with modifications, Wallen said. Of the remaining four rejected recommendations, one requires compliance with standards not appropriate for child-caring agencies, he said, and the other three endorse policies, plans or assessments previously implemented by DHHS, and in operation. "We put our trust in our foster and adoptive parents to provide a loving and positive home,” Wallen said. “We are fortunate to have very committed and caring people who are helping children be their best.” Like what you just read? Subscribe today for the best in-depth coverage of local news, sports and entertainment. View options Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or jyoung@journalstar.com.  On Twitter @LJSLegislature. Child Sexual Abuse Report Summary, 2017 Shelly Kulhanek 6 hrs ago (0) State responds to child welfare report on sex abuse The Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday it was the source of initial sexu… Recommendations Some of the Office of Inspector General for Child Welfare recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS accepts recommendation unless otherwise noted):  * End the practice of screening reports referred to law enforcement as not meeting definition of sexual assault when law enforcement declines to investigate, even though it meets DHHS definition. Ensure all allegations are investigated. DHHS will review the practice of screening reports referred to law enforcement. * Enhance training on sexual abuse for hotline staff, especially the dynamics of youth abusing other youth. * Create a process to fulfill state law to assess for risk of harm and provide services when reports of sexual abuse are referred for law enforcement investigation alone. DHHS rejects. It already assesses for risk and determines next steps. * Provide additional guidelines and training for meeting preponderance of evidence for substantiation of cases.   * Meet the caseload standard required by law for initial assessment and ongoing case management. * Adopt specific protocols on providing children developmentally appropriate education to prevent sexual abuse and exploitation.   * Review and revise training on child sexual abuse for DHHS staff. * Strengthen foster care licensing to remove inappropriate and unsuitable homes.   * Include sexual abuse prevention training for foster and adoptive parents. DHHS rejects. It is included in training. It will explore better educating youth at time of placement. * Improve recruiting to ensure foster homes are prepared to meet the needs of children. * Ensure adequate staffing for residential child-caring agency licensing operations. DHHS rejects. It has met requirements to inspect, license and investigate these agencies. * Adopt policy and timelines on tracking, opening, investigating and taking action on possible violations by residential child-caring agencies. DHHS would modify to clarify existing policies and if necessary adopt new ones.  Source: http://journalstar.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/inspector-general-victims-of-sex-abuse-verified-in-years-in/article_9c5cc0dc-9d4c-56ba-a31f-8ab0c1fe88da.html
AGN EXCLUSIVE: Former Congressman Bill Sarpalius details suffering abuse at Boys Ranch When Bill Sarpalius was a teen, he lived at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch with 35 others in a dormitory overseen by two house parents.     Also at the home for troubled or parentless youths was a dairy barn. That’s at least one of the places where the former U.S. congressman said he was abused when he was a resident there from 1960 to 1967. “I had been sexually abused by boys, by some of the older boys,” he said in an interview with the Amarillo Globe-News. “It was some big boys that were in the dairy barn, and they took me into the feed room, and that’s where it happened,” he said. “It was a back room, where they kept the cow feed.” SEE ALSO Editorial: Transparency is next step for Boys Ranch Boys Ranch acknowledges, apologizes for decades of physical, sexual abuse from ’50s to ’90s Sarpalius — who represented the Texas Panhandle for eight years in the Texas Senate and then six in Congress — is perhaps the most prominent in a growing number of men who say they were severely mistreated at the residential care facility 36 miles northwest of Amarillo. Sarpalius came to Boys Ranch when he was 13 years old; he could not read and had previously suffered from polio. He said he was “tall and skinny and behind in school — and a prime target to be bullied.” He said he received excessive physical punishment at Boys Ranch, recounting a time a staffer tied him and another boy up to chin-up bars and “probably spanked us a little more than we should’ve been.” But Sarpalius said most of the abuse he experienced there was from other students, since the ranch at the time was a place where judges sent violent youth offenders. He characterized the conditions at the time as “violent boys versus kids that had nothing.” “They had about half the kids who committed violent crimes and half of the kids came from places that had no home, like me,” he said. The head of the ranch recently apologized in a written statement after allegations of abuse made by former residents were made public by The Guardian, a British newspaper, and the Child-Friendly Faith Project, an Austin nonprofit advocacy group. Abuses allegedly occured from as early as the 1950s through at least the 1990s. “For those who left Boys Ranch having experienced abuse of any form, I am truly sorry, both as the leader of this organization and as a man,” Dan Adams, Cal Farley’s president and CEO since 2004, said in the statement. “It is for these reasons that regulatory oversight and strength-based models of care in this field evolved, and Cal Farley’s strives to be a leader in observing both.” Out of the shadows Child-Friendly Faith Project, which is advocating for a group of former Boys Ranch residents who say they were abused and have emotional issues stemming from that abuse, praised Sarpalius’ decision to come forward. “As we have seen with the #MeToo movement, when prominent, well-known individuals acknowledge that they have been victims of abuse, it empowers survivors who have previously been afraid to tell their stories out of shame or fear they will not be believed or they will be dismissed or rebuked,” Child-Friendly Faith Project founder Janet Heimlich said in a statement. “Many Cal Farley survivors, as children, tried to speak out and tell adults they were being abused or had witnessed abuse, only to be rejected and sometimes punished,” she wrote. “We are grateful to Mr. Sarpalius for his courage and compassion.” The nonprofit doesn’t allege ongoing abuse, but has pushed for Cal Farley’s to more publicly and actively confront the years of alleged abuse at the ranch, which has housed more than 9,000 youngsters since it opened in 1939. Boys Ranch is open to at-risk children ages 5 to 18 and currently supports about 250 boys and girls. It has its own K-12 school, Boys Ranch Independent School District. Despite protests from the group, Boys Ranch recently moved ahead with the naming of a dormitory after Lamont Waldrip, a longtime ranch employee and superintendent who some accused of harsh abuse. Waldrip died in 2013. “It wasn’t nothing for him to give you 50, 60 licks and make your a— bleed through your Levis,” said Rob Waldrup, who lived at the ranch from 1964 to 1969. Waldrup, 66, said his time there, marked by vicious beatings, has left him with emotional and anger problems that led to stints in jail. But Sarpalius and others former residents interviewed by the Globe-News say they admired Waldrip and said the naming should stay because it also honors his family. “Roger Waldrip he meant the world to me,” Sarpalius said. “He gave me my first spanking.” Jimmie Boatwright, the 65-year-old president of the Cal Farley’s Alumni Association Board of Directors and a resident at the ranch from 1966 to 1970, said Waldrip really cared for the boys, but he admitted punishment at Boys Ranch was extreme. “You’ve got to realize corporal punishment was everywhere. There was a different mentality at the time,” he said. “But some people took it too far, that I agree.” Changing rules Sarpalius, who has stayed in close contact with the ranch over the years, said he isn’t angry with his treatment, and he credits his success to his time at the ranch. “I had a teacher who went out of her way to teach me how to read, and if it hadn’t been for Boys Ranch, I would’ve never accomplished what I’ve accomplished,” he said. “I don’t ever regret going there,” he said. “There was some bad, but there was a whole lot of good.” Sarpalius also emphasizes that the ranch has dramatically improved over the years, and he attributes the rough conditions to a lack of state regulation during that time at the ranch. The state passed licensing laws in 1975 that added regulatory requirements for all childcare facilities. Over time, Boys Ranch also shifted away from being a destination for violent youth offenders and added professional social workers to its staff. Sarpalius said he hopes the stories and allegations from years ago don’t bring down the organization. “The Boys Ranch of today is not the Boys Ranch of 50 years ago,” he said. Controversy at Boys Ranch highlights evolution of organization Tales from the Ranch Sarpalius said stories of his time at the ranch will be shared in an upcoming book, “The Grand Duke from Boys Ranch,” which he said is set for release in April. A description of the book says it chronicles Sarpalius’ “harrowing challenges” at Boys Ranch through his time in Congress, when his efforts fighting for Lithuanian independence in 1990 earned him that country’s honorary title of grand duke. Sarpalius, who now lives in Maryland and does some lobbying and public speaking, said he hoped the book would open up more opportunities for him to tell his story and encourage people “they can make something of their lives, regardless of what environment they’re in.”  Source: http://amarillo.com/news/local-news/2017-12-23/agn-exclusive-former-congressman-bill-sarpalius-details-suffering-abuse
Senator calls for more oversight of child welfare system JOANNE YOUNG Lincoln Journal Star Dec 29, 2017 Updated Dec 29, 2017 (LINCOLN — A Lincoln state senator is calling for more oversight of Nebraska's child welfare system to address child sexual abuse of state wards and those adopted from foster care. Sen. Kate Bolz said Friday she will request that a special oversight committee be formed by the Legislature. And she will ask for performance and financial audits of the child welfare system. Inspector General Julie Rogers issued a report this week after a nearly yearlong investigation that showed 50 verified child and youth sexual abuse victims in a recent three-year period. That number could actually be higher, she said. The investigation also discovered cases beyond the 50 reported to the child abuse hotline that were either screened out incorrectly or not investigated properly. For others, officials just couldn't gather the needed evidence. The investigation also showed attitudes toward sexual abuse of youth in state care that concerned her and her staff, Rogers said, including "problematic attitudes" among system professionals and caregivers toward child sexual abuse and children in the state's care. Among the 50 abused children and youth noted in the report, 27 were state wards and youth in residential placements and 23 were in adoptive or guardian homes. They ranged in age from 4 to 18 when abuse was disclosed. Advertisement Play Current Time 0:00 / Duration Time 0:00 Remaining Time -0:00 Stream TypeLIVE Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% 00:00 Fullscreen 00:00 Unmute Playback Rate 1 Subtitles subtitles off Captions captions off Chapters Chapters Some children reported that the abuse occurred in a foster home, in an adoptive home or when they were under state guardianship. Some were in the juvenile justice system or in a home licensed by the department or at a youth residential treatment center. Bolz will formally request the audits during the first week the Legislature is in session, she said. The session begins Wednesday. She will also introduce a legislative resolution to call for a special oversight committee. "As a state senator and representative on the Children’s Commission, I believe it is essential that we move forward with increased oversight by the legislative branch to promote the safety and best interests of children in state care," Bolz said in a news release. "I call on my colleagues to join these efforts.” Bolz said Rogers' report illustrates unacceptable performance of the child welfare system. Coupled with the inspector general’s Sept. 13 report outlining problems related to child welfare caseloads, workloads and workforce, and the recent request for significant additional investment in the child welfare system, Bolz said, it creates concern regarding its overall well-being. Source: http://columbustelegram.com/news/state-and-regional/senator-calls-for-more-oversight-of-child-welfare-system/article_c2921e6a-af03-5b1d-a3c3-dab09b573339.html
Neighbors raise concerns about school for troubled youth Posted: Jan 02, 2018 3:30 PM PST Updated: Jan 02, 2018 6:17 PM PST By Matt Campbell matt.campbell@wfsb.com By Kaitlyn Naples Newport Academy is the school raising concerns in Bethlehem (WFSB) BETHLEHEM, CT (WFSB) - Some in the quiet town of Bethlehem say they're dealing with a bad neighbor. They say a school for troubled youth is changing the dynamic in town and on Tuesday they held a meeting to discuss what can be done about it. Newport Academy is at the center of the controversy. Parents from all over the country pay tens of thousands of dollars to send their children to the school, with the hopes of seeing some positive changes. However, neighbors don't have many nice things to say. “It's just been a nuisance for the entire town,” said neighbor Cynthia Radauskas. She is one of the closest neighbors to Newport Academy. The school helps youth who have had difficulties in traditional school environments. In the school's promotional video, they say they use various therapies to treat students and tout their 5 to 1 student to teacher ratio. Neighbors said it's been nestled on Double Hill Road for several years, but recently, they say, the community has been negatively exposed to what's happening on campus. “It used to be a nice, quiet town, everybody got along. There was no theft, or worry about locking your doors or leaving your keys in your car overnight, now you have to lock your doors while you're in the house,” Radauskas said. On Tuesday night, at the selectman's meeting, neighbors voiced their concerns. Emergency services said they are being stretched too thin, and that's because the school accounts for 20 percent of calls. "Went into the Painted Pony, jumped over the bar, grabbed a couple bottles of vodka and ran off and drank them down. When we got to him, he was totally comatose," said Peter Dzielinski, of the Bethlehem Ambulance Association. That was just one of the stories that came out of the meeting on Tuesday. "We're basically giving someone a ride to the hospital. It's almost become like a taxi service," Dzielinski said. "You'll find them laying in the middle of the road, stealing cars, escaping all over town," Radauskas said.  Radauskas says the school's mission is noble, they're just looking for more accountability. “They really need to keep their kids confined to their property. Have security to keep them there,” Radauskas said. "Youths in town, from Newport Academy, had stolen my wallet out of my own car. We were told that by the state police," said Lori Szumigala, of Bethlehem. The biggest issue residents and town officials have is keeping the students on campus. They say runaways have been seen sitting in the road, trespassing and even committing more serious crimes. “The worst call we've had was the theft of the vehicle,” said CT State Police Trooper Como D'Elia. He said that car was found near Yankee Stadium. He said calls to the academy have doubled in the last year, and said it seems to correspond with the enrollment also doubling to over 50 students. Representatives for the academy in California said in a statement "We do welcome any constructive discussion with the town on how we may best serve the needs of the teens of Connecticut. Facility closures over the past few years have led to a lack of availability of treatment for teens in Connecticut and we are actively working to fill that void." Newport is one of the biggest taxpayers in town, but the first selectman says safety is the priority and if things aren't cleaned up, he'd rather have cows occupy the space. While the town and the academy have had conversations in the past, there's no word on when the next one will be.  Source: http://www.wfsb.com/story/37177585/neighbors-raise-concerns-about-school-for-troubled-youth
Lawsuits describe sex crimes and cover-ups at Missouri ranch for troubled boys A Christian ranch near Branson is being sued over allegations that three residents were sexually assaulted by other residents in 2009 and 2010. Giacomo Bologna, GBOLOGNA@NEWS-LEADER.COM Share This Story Tweet Share Share Pin Email Comment A Missouri ranch for troubled boys covered up rapes and sexual assaults committed against young boys in 2009 and 2010, according to lawsuits filed by three former residents. Some boys fondled, molested and raped younger boys, the lawsuits say, while the ranch ignored the abuse and sometimes punished boys for reporting it. According to the lawsuits, Lives Under Construction viewed sexual abuse as consensual acts between residents and fired an employee in retaliation for making a hotline call about it. There was a "culture of pervasive sexual assault," the lawsuits say. An example of some of the stained glass that was made at the Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch in Lampe, MO. (Photo: Andrew Jansen/News-Leader) Lives Under Construction, a Christian residential facility for troubled boys near the Arkansas border, denies these allegations.  "Some people will be able to differentiate truth from fiction, and some can't," ranch founder Ken Ortman said. "We invite anybody who wants to know (the truth) to eat with us, visit with us." The ranch has been the focus of controversy before. It came under intense public scrutiny in 2013 when two boys ran away from the ranch to a nearby residence, where they bludgeoned and stabbed to death an elderly couple. While the 2013 double murder was highly publicized, it is unclear if any news agency has reported on the trouble at Lives Under Construction four years earlier. The lawsuits filed by the former residents — in addition to a wrongful-death lawsuit filed after the double murder — paint a sordid picture of the rustic ranch in Stone County. Staff members were unqualified, the boys were too dangerous and advice from state officials was ignored, the lawsuits say. Records of sexual abuse described in the lawsuits might exist in juvenile court records, but those records are sealed. The News-Leader has asked a judge to unseal those records. In the meantime, internal ranch documents and criminal court records obtained by the News-Leader have opened a window into investigations conducted by state and local authorities in the fall of 2009. That includes the full investigative records of a rape committed at the ranch. Ken Ortman talks about the Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch in Lampe, MO. in a pasture with a group of buffalo. (Photo: Andrew Jansen/News-Leader) The records say several months passed before authorities were told that a 9-year-old boy was raped by his 19-year-old roommate. According to reports written by investigators from the Missouri Department of Social Services, staff members were aware of sexual contact between the two roommates but did not act, despite state law that requires child care workers to report possible instances of abuse. The lawsuit said that when a ranch employee eventually made a hotline call about sexual abuse, the ranch immediately fired the staffer in retaliation. The ranch denies this. Other ranch documents from 2009 — including emails sent by the ranch's founder and minutes from the ranch's board meetings — have become public through a separate lawsuit against the ranch. Those emails show anger and frustration with law enforcement during the course of multiple investigations. In one email, Ortman, the ranch's founder, wrote that he believed juvenile officers had a "vendetta" against the ranch. Emails appear to say the agency intended to remove about five boys from the ranch and charge them with sexual assault. Minutes from a 2009 board meeting appear to say a state lawmaker intervened on behalf of the ranch to quash an investigation by a state agency. According to the meeting notes, the interdiction was successful.   The News-Leader was unable to find any of this information — including the 2009 rape — ever reported by any news outlet. Ortman said those lawsuits are only allegations, and he disputed that the rape ever took place. Ortman said state investigators have never found a substantiated claim of neglect or abuse against Lives Under Construction. He said a 2010 substantiated claim of neglect was later overturned on appeal. Still, Ortman said people will read these allegations and treat them as facts. "It's trying, because you work to do the best you can and develop a good reputation," Ortman said.  Past News-Leader reporting shows state authorities have temporarily stopped the ranch from accepting new residents five times in the past, but Ortman said corrections were made and resident intake always resumed. From humble beginnings to a million-dollar nonprofit According to Ortman, 69 years old and white-haired, the boys' ranch would not be in operation today were it not for the will of God. Ortman was a dairy farmer three decades ago when he stood in a barn in South Dakota. He said he felt God calling him to open a ranch in southern Missouri for troubled boys. Ortman stuck a piece of metal wire into a bale of hay, prayed and went to bed. The next day, he said he found the wire bent at a 90-degree angle. A miracle. CLOSE Ken Ortman talks about his decision to open LUC Boys Ranch. Andrew Jansen Ortman recently spoke with the News-Leader at his ranch, explaining how he and his wife moved to what was intended to be their retirement property a few miles north of the Arkansas border in Lampe. The ranch has grown from humble beginnings to a sprawling property with barns, livestock, machine shops and a small schoolhouse.  As of October, Ortman said 18 boys were residing at the ranch, which brings in about $1 million of annual revenue. Tax records show that revenue is almost entirely made up of donations and grants. Ortman said numerous boys have been ordered by judges to attend the ranch. Many boys are sent by parents who no longer feel they can control their sons, Ortman said. When other facilities would give up on some boys, Ortman said Lives Under Construction gives them a family atmosphere. The boys attend Bible study, learn trades and shovel manure if they break the rules. When they arrive at the ranch, residents are taken off psychiatric medications. According to Ortman, hundreds of troubled boys have been positively impacted by the ranch in Lampe. According to criminal court records, Noel Nickel was 19 years old when his stepfather sent him to Lives Under Construction from Colorado in early 2009. Nickel shared a bedroom with a 9-year-old boy, court records say. In one of the dorm rooms at the Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch, one rancher has many photos of friends and family posted while another doesn't have any. (Photo: Andrew Jansen/News-Leader) The boy, who is now an adult, is one of the plaintiffs in the case against the ranch. His lawsuit alleges he was placed in the same bedroom as Nickel "on the theory that it was beneficial for the younger boys at (Lives Under Construction) to be paired with older boys/men as mentors." Police say one night in early 2009, Nickel pulled the 9-year-old’s clothes down and raped him. Nickel eventually pleaded guilty to statutory sodomy and was sentenced to seven years in prison. A resident of the ranch told investigators in 2009 he saw Nickel and the 9-year-old in bed together, court records say, and another boy described seeing Nickel molest the 9-year-old, apparently on a different occasion. Court records say that Nickel left the camp before summer 2009, but that didn’t mean the sexual assault stopped for the 9-year-old. The 9-year-old told investigators that after he was raped by Nickel, two other boys separately forced him to touch their genitals and that he was also pressured by three residents to perform oral sex on them, according to court records. The 9-year-old boy allegedly said he told staff members about some of the sexual misconduct. Noel Nickel (Photo: Missouri Department of Corrections) Court records say Nickel also told the investigator that staff was aware of sexual contact between him and the 9-year-old boy. Nickel allegedly told investigators that staff would call him perverted or a “chomo” — a slang term for a child molester. The investigator wrote in his report that staff "kept pressing the issue about him doing something with a little boy and he got 'f---ing mad and he got irritated.' Nickel stated he almost got 'into it' with one of the staffers, named Red. "Nickel described Red as being big, with long red hair and a scraggly beard and tattoos," the investigator wrote. That staff member, Gerald “Red” Pierce, also spoke with a state investigator, according to court records. Pierce denied knowledge of the rape, court records say, though when asked about having Nickel share a room with the 9-year-old, Pierce said it was "probably not the best idea." According to court documents, Pierce said he witnessed sexual contact between the 9-year-old and a different resident. Pierce said he reported it to his superiors but no one else. The investigator told Pierce that he was a mandated reporter and should have alerted authorities to the sexual contact, court records said, but Pierce did not know he was a mandated reporter. A mandated reporter is someone required by law to report suspected child abuse, neglect or exploitation. Cheryl Curtis volunteers in the kitchen at the Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch in Lampe, MO. She is part of an organization called Servants on Wheels Ever Ready out of Kansas that travels and volunteers in exchange for a place to hook up their RV's. (Photo: Andrew Jansen/News-Leader) “This is not a cover-up deal, we want these kids to have peace in their hearts,” Pierce told an investigator. Pierce spoke with the News-Leader in a phone call in December. He said he worked at the ranch for more than five years. Pierce denied ever saying that he saw sexual contact between residents and called allegations against the ranch a "witch hunt."  When asked if he knew what a mandated reporter was, Pierce said he did not and asked a reporter to explain the term. Pierce emphasized that he knows nothing about the rape committed by Nickel. "The word rape was never used the entire time I was on or near the ranch," Pierce said. "Ever." As a part of that 2009 rape investigation, the 9-year-old boy was interviewed by a child advocate for about 40 minutes in September 2009, records say. Near the end of the interview, the 9-year-old asked if investigators would speak to Ortman, and, according to court records, the child advocate said yes. “Good, I want Ken to know,” the boy allegedly said. Ortman told the News-Leader in October that he was never interviewed by police in connection with the Nickel rape case and does not know the facts of the case very well. A painting hangs near the dining room at the Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch in Lampe, MO. The painting was turned into a postcard that didn't sell very well for them. (Photo: Andrew Jansen/News-Leader) Ortman suggested that the 9-year-old boy may never have been raped. Nickel was not very smart, Ortman said, and could have been coerced into a false confession. According to court records, a forensic examination conducted on the 9-year-old showed he had anal scarring consistent with penetration. Reached by phone in December, Ortman said he's not convinced the scarring came from Nickel, saying the boy had been sexually assaulted before coming to Lives Under Construction. Still, emails sent by Ortman in the fall of 2009 to board members of the ranch appear to show he was aware of sexual contact and misconduct involving at least five boys at the ranch. Those emails — as well as other documents produced by the ranch — have recently been made public as exhibits in a wrongful-death lawsuit over the 2013 homicides committed by two runaways. The documents show that in November 2009, Ortman was apparently upset with Stone County authorities and wrote that juvenile officers were “bent on destroying the ranch.” Emails from sent by Ortman in 2009 say Stone County juvenile officers intended to take three boys away that fall and charge them with sexual assault.  It's unclear what happened to those boys, because juvenile court records are sealed in Missouri. Mark Stephens, the judge who handles Stone County's juvenile court, has not responded to multiple phone calls and a written request asking if he would unseal juvenile cases pertaining to Lives Under Construction. As the Department of Social Services continued its investigation in the fall of 2009, Ortman wrote in an email that investigators told him “they are trying to prove we have sexual abuse occurring here every day with every boy... We need to decide our next steps to protect our boys and Ranch from being run over by authorities … Be praying that Satan doesn’t destroy everything that he wants to right now.” Documents say a parent of one of the boys reached out to a state lawmaker — David Sater, then the chairman of the House appropriations committee. The message "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." is written on the wall above where boys at Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch hang their jackets. (Photo: Andrew Jansen/News-Leader) Lives Under Construction board meeting minutes say Sater met with four people at the Department of Social Services and determined the state agency had overstepped its boundaries. “At the end of the conversation all four became very cooperative and decided to stop the investigation. This was an answer to our prayer,” the secretary wrote in the meeting minutes. Sater confirmed to the News-Leader he met with Department of Social Services officials after hearing the ranch was being “harassed,” but he did not recall encouraging anyone to stop an investigation. A state investigator who worked on the case declined to comment. Another state investigator named in court records said he did not remember the case. A spokeswoman for the state agency said elected officials regularly contact Department of Social Services staff on behalf of their constituents. She said she could provide few additional details. By the end of 2009, internal records from Lives Under Construction say the investigations were over, and Ortman presented a document to board members titled: “Plan of Action when Regulatory Agencies are Attacking Us.” Ortman told the News-Leader that Sater interceded on behalf of the ranch in 2009, but only after the state investigation was completed. The Department of Social Services was still refusing to let the ranch accept new residents, Ortman said, and Sater helped convince them otherwise. Ortman said Lives Under Construction does not hide anything and couldn’t if they tried. Hundreds of volunteers stop by the ranch each year to help out, Ortman said. One year, 816 volunteers visited the ranch, he said. “We can’t keep any secrets here,” Ortman said. The News-Leader spoke with Cody, a 17-year-old graduate of Lives Under Construction who was visiting the ranch in October when a reporter and photographer came to meet Ortman. Cody said he had problems with lying and stealing before coming to the ranch. He said he spent more than three years at the ranch, developing a work ethic through raking leaves, mowing grass and taking care of animals. Cody also praised “skills before pills” — the ranch’s practice of taking every resident off of their psychotropic medications. Ortman, whose degree is in wildlife management, said any boy who truly needs medication would be given medication, but that's never been necessary. Documents from the Department of Social Services show the agency has repeatedly advised Lives Under Construction against this practice, but Cody said his life is better without medication. Cody said he is much more social now and looking forward to going to college. “There’s no way my life would be the way it is now without the ranch,” Cody said. Ortman said Cody’s experience is similar to hundreds of other boys who have completed the ranch’s program. After 2009  According to Ortman, officials from the Department of Social Services have told him that they receive a relatively small number of hotline calls about Lives Under Construction and even encouraged him to drop his ranch's state licensing, which it did in 2015. The state agency will still investigate hotline calls made about Lives Under Construction, but the ranch is no longer subject to twice-yearly visits by state officials. Ortman said they will also have more leeway when it comes to screening potential residents. Ken Ortman tries to get a group of cows to come to the fence at the Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch in Lampe, MO. (Photo: Andrew Jansen/News-Leader) The News-Leader could not confirm those claims as Rebecca Woelfel, a spokeswoman for the state agency, said records of hotline calls are not public. Woelfel, who refused to speak with a News-Leader reporter on the phone, did not respond to a question asking why an official might suggest that Lives Under Construction drop its state license. It's unclear why anyone from the Department of Social Services would want the agency to have less regulatory authority over Lives Under Construction.  Since 2015, Ortman said Lives Under Construction has operated under a religious exemption in Missouri law. While the state maintains a public list of the more than 100 licensed residential facilities, Woelfel said the Department of Social Services does not maintain a list of residential facilities that claim a religious exemption. It is unclear how many children in Missouri are currently housed in unlicensed residential facilities like Lives Under Construction. Randy Cowherd, a Springfield attorney, is representing the three former residents who claim they were sexually abused at the ranch. Cowherd is also representing the Brooks family, whose parents were murdered by runaways in 2013. They filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2016. Cowherd told the News-Leader after a 2017 court hearing that the family wants Lives Under Construction to either be shut down or have its leadership overhauled. The people who were on the board at the time of the 2009 rape and the 2013 murders have since resigned. They, too, are defendants in the four lawsuits facing the ranch. One former board member, Robert McDowell, has already settled the wrongful-death lawsuit, separate from the ranch. Court records show he agreed to pay $500,000.  Jack Herschend, a former board member and a co-founder of Silver Dollar City, was among the hundreds of people who attended an open house at the ranch in October, according to the Stone County Gazette. Herschend is among those named in the lawsuits. He spoke positively of a tree-selling program he helped start at the ranch, the paper reported, and attendees ate barbecue, toured the ranch and watched skits performed by the boys currently living there. Recent tax forms for the nonprofit ranch show Lives Under Construction is almost entirely funded through donations and grants, raking in more than a million dollars some years. In 2015, the ranch raised more funds than any other nonprofit on Give Ozarks Day, an annual day of charitable giving organized by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. The News-Leader reported Lives Under Construction received 186 donations totaling $71,809. Lives Under Construction released promotional videos on YouTube earlier this year, highlighting the ranch's Christian teachings and its independence from the government. In one video, a staff member praised the ranch's commitment to its residents. "(Lives Under Construction) is a place that’s never gonna give up on a boy and they’re never gonna kick a boy out," he says. "We tell our guys that this is a safe place to make mistakes.” Source: http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/crime/2018/01/03/boys-ranch-had-history-runaways-sexual-assaults-before-teens-killed-cou-2013-murders-committed-nearb/758751001/
Family Sues Residential Treatment Facility Over Death of Loved One January 02, 2018 10:41 PM The family of Matthew Nick has filed a lawsuit against the drug and alcohol treatment center Metro Hope Ministries. The non-profit residential treatment center is located in South Minneapolis. Advertisement Nick's family acknowledges that he struggled with addiction for years. He was two months into a seven month program at Metro Hope when he died in the facility in January 2014.   His sister, Katie Nick, filed a wrongful death suit.  The complaint contends the center didn't take "reasonable steps to ensure Nick's safety and didn't have keys to the communal bathroom, which hindered access and supervision." Matthew Nick, left, Katie Nick, right Courtesy of the Nick family According to the lawsuit, Nick was found locked in a bathroom with eight syringes and heroin nearby. A current patient at the center who doesn't want to be identified feels like the facility offers real help and lasting hope. "There's no negligence I know that for sure," he said "This is a wonderful place." Nick's sister said she filed a lawsuit to create awareness.  "They knew Matt had a methamphetamine habit, knew of his heroin habit," Todd Young, the family's attorney said. "And on the day Matt died they knew he was acting unusual." Katie Nick said she understands her brother signed a waiver when he entered the center.  She wasn't aware of any other deaths at the same facility, but given that nearly 2,300 Minnesotans have overdosed and died since 2000, she took her fight to save future lives to court. "I want awareness because this is an epidemic and this is sad," she said. "I just don't want it to happen to other families." Peter Gregory is an attorney with Bassford Remele, which represents Metro Hope Ministries. Aas a faith-based drug and alcohol recovery program, Metro Hope Ministries' mission for the past 90 years has been to promote healing and hope for individuals struggling with addiction, particularly for those who have exhausted other treatment options.  Metro Hope has denied the allegations in this lawsuit.  Because the matter is currently in litigation and because of resident confidentiality, Metro Hope is unable to comment further at this time."  Source: http://kstp.com/news/family-sues-residential-treatment-facility-over-death-of-loved-one/4727816/
Connecticut boarding school settles sex abuse lawsuits Associated Press Facebook Twitter Print Email HARTFORD, Conn. –  A Connecticut boarding school has made payouts to settle two lawsuits by former students alleging they were sexually abused by faculty members in the 1980s, an attorney said Thursday. The plaintiffs had accused the Indian Mountain School in Salisbury of failing to stop teachers and the headmaster from inflicting abuse on young boys, including sodomy, voyeurism and forced masturbation. The terms of the settlements are confidential. "The amount of money although confidential is meaningful and it is a start to closing this very sad and very tragic chapter in my clients' lives," said Antonio Ponvert, an attorney for the plaintiffs. A statement issued by attorneys for both sides said the settlements allow the school to focus on its role of educating children. "The school also remains steadfast in its commitment to prevent a recurrence of the misconduct on its campus in the 1970s and '80s," said Joseph White, an attorney for the school. Indian Mountain settled five similar lawsuits in the 1990s. No criminal charges were ever filed. A 50-page police report filed in 1992 detailed misconduct by English teacher Christopher Simonds and a former headmaster, Peter Carleton, but concluded the statute of limitations had expired. Simonds, who was fired in 1985, and Carleton are dead. The school enrolls students in pre-kindergarten through ninth grade and charges up to $59,600 a year.  Source: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/01/04/connecticut-boarding-school-settles-sex-abuse-lawsuits.html
Tracy group home counselor accused of child molestation Police think there may be more victims SUpdated: 6:27 PM PST Jan 3, 2018 KCRA Staff TRACY, Calif. (KCRA) — A group home counselor was arrested Tuesday for sexually abusing a juvenile, Tracy police said. Nolan Bradly, 34, was taken into custody around 8:30 a.m. on three counts of child molestation, police said. Advertisement Police said Bradly was working at a Tracy group home when they got reports of the molestation. Detectives gathered enough evidence during the investigation to arrest Bradly. No other details about the case were released. Police said the investigation is ongoing. Investigators are working to figure out if there are other juveniles who were inappropriately contacted by Bradly while he worked at the Tracy group home. Anyone with information is urged to call the Tracy Police Department at 209-831-6533.  Source: http://www.kcra.com/article/tracy-group-home-counselor-accused-of-child-molestation/14586693
State looks to close Hanna Boys Center PAUL PAYNE THE PRESS DEMOCRAT | January 3, 2018, 4:53PM | Updated 2 hours ago. License revocation proceedings have begun against Sonoma Valley’s embattled Hanna Boys Center following a year of controversy in which a former top manager was charged with molesting four children, a second employee was accused of having sex with a youth and the facility was slapped with numerous civil lawsuits containing further allegations of abuse. A six-page complaint filed late last month by the Community Care Licensing Division of the Department of Social Services seeks to stop the 73-year-old, Catholic Church-based center on Arnold Drive from operating as a group home while stripping its former clinical director, Kevin Scott Thorpe, of the ability to ever work in a state-licensed facility again. Thorpe, 39, of Rohnert Park was arrested in June after a former resident came forward alleging Thorpe sexually abused him over a five-year period. An investigation turned up three more former residents who claim Thorpe molested them at the facility and during off-site, solo outings, in incidents dating back to at least 2006. Thorpe, who also ran a youth ministry program as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, remains in jail awaiting a February preliminary hearing with bail set at $1.8 million. Now, the complaint from state regulators filed Dec. 21 will be assigned to an administrative law judge who will hear evidence and issue a ruling, said Michael Weston, a Department of Social Services spokesman. The facility was the subject of five complaint investigations last year and received eight citations, including two classified as posing an immediate risk to health and safety or a personal rights impact. A hearing date has not been scheduled. “When the department is seeking to revoke a license that would be the highest degree of action the department can take,” Weston said. Hanna Boys Center officials plan to contest any revocation. Brian Farragher, executive director, said lawyers will respond with a list of corrective steps taken over the past six months to make sure the facility is safe for its up to 100 at-risk youths. Among the steps was a retraining of staff and residents on recognizing signs of sexual abuse and installing GPS devices in facility vehicles to track the transportation of minors, he said. “We’re confident we will be able to work this out,” Farragher said. “It’s been an important place for thousands of kids over the years. The current kids and families see us as a crucial resource for them.” Hanna Boys Center, founded in 1945, is associated with the Santa Rosa diocese of the Catholic Church. Bishop Robert Vasa, who sits on the governing board, did not return a call Wednesday seeking comment. In their complaint, state group home regulators claim Thorpe “regularly sexually molested” seven children over a more than 10-year period. They blame the center for failing to protect the personal rights of the children and failing to provide adequate supervision. They also allege the center knew about the inappropriate relationship between another employee, Angelica Malinski, and the 17-year-old but did not take steps to prevent it. The facility came under scrutiny beginning early last year after it was revealed that Malinski, then 22, was charged with having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 17-year-old boy. She was fired, and her misdemeanor case is pending. Most Popular Stories Damaged PG&E equipment found near origins of North Bay fires Body found in Santa Rosa Denny’s bathroom ID'd 1st new home rises from ruins of Coffey Park Court rejects county's appeal in Andy Lopez wrongful death case Oregonians can pump their own gas, and some are freaking out Months later, Thorpe’s predecessor, 31-year-employee Timothy Norman, filed a whistleblower lawsuit, alleging he was wrongly fired for complaining about a lack of supervision over minors involved in bullying. That case is ongoing. Then in June, Thorpe, a former youth counselor and caseworker who replaced Norman, was arrested on two felony counts involving lewd and lascivious acts against a minor. Related Stories Hanna Boys Center official faces new molestation charges Hanna Boys Center clinical director in court on child-sex charges Deputies say there may be other victims of Hanna Boys Center molest suspect That minor was 23 when he told detectives he’d been abused by Thorpe numerous times from 2006-2011, when he was 13 to 18 years old. The alleged incidents occurred on campus and at Thorpe’s then-Sonoma home. Subsequent investigations led to more allegations from three other former residents. Thorpe now faces 34 felony and two misdemeanor counts.  Source: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/7831682-181/state-looks-to-close-hanna?artslide=0
Suit: Missouri ranch for troubled boys covered up sex abuse Originally published January 5, 2018 at 9:29 am Updated January 5, 2018 at 11:15 am 1 of 2 This Oct. 17, 2017 photo, shows the entrance to the Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch in Lampe, Mo. A lawsuit filed on behalf of three former residents of the southwest Missouri ranch for... (Andrew Jansen/The Springfield News-Leader via AP) More Share story By The Associated Press The Associated Press LAMPE, Mo. (AP) — A lawsuit filed on behalf of three former residents of a southwest Missouri ranch for troubled boys accuses the Christian residential facility of covering up allegations of rapes and sexual assaults. The lawsuit, filed in October and detailed Thursday in the Springfield News-Leader , alleges that in 2009 and 2010, some older boys sexually assaulted younger boys at the Lives Under Construction rehabilitation camp in Lampe, near the Arkansas border. The lawsuit says the ranch ignored the abuse, delayed contacting authorities and even punished some boys for reporting it. The ranch’s founder, 69-year-old Ken Ortman, denies the allegations and says state investigators have never found a substantiated claim of neglect or abuse. “It’s trying, because you work to do the best you can and develop a good reputation,” Ortman said. Featured Video Beautiful, mad art until the end (7:18) Most Read It’s not the first time the ranch has faced scrutiny. Two teens who ran away from the ranch in 2013 pleaded guilty to killing an elderly couple at a home nearby. Lawsuits filed over the deaths of Paul and Margaret Brooks said ranch staff members were unqualified and advice from state officials was ignored. The two teens are serving life prison sentences in the deaths of the Baldwin, Michigan, couple. Ortman was a dairy farmer in South Dakota three decades ago when he said he felt called by God to open the ranch. Today, it has barns, livestock, machine shops and a small schoolhouse. Some boys are sent there by their parents, others by courts. Tax records show that most of the annual $1 million in ranch revenue comes from donations and grants. As of October, 18 boys lived there, attending Bible study and learning trades. If they break rules, they shovel manure. Psychiatric medications are not allowed. Ortman said hundreds of troubled boys have benefited from their time at the ranch. Records of sexual abuse, if they exist, are sealed in Missouri’s juvenile court. The News-Leader has asked a judge to unseal records related to the ranch. The lawsuit filed in October cites a “culture of pervasive sexual assault.” The newspaper did obtain internal ranch documents that include investigative reports after a 9-year-old boy was raped by his 19-year-old roommate in 2009. The Missouri Department of Social Services said ranch staff members were aware of the allegations but did not immediately contact authorities, according to those records. The lawsuit said that when an employee eventually made a hotline call, the staffer was fired in retaliation. The ranch denies that allegation. ADVERTISING The newspaper cited an email in which Ortman wrote that he believed juvenile officers had a “vendetta” against the ranch. Ranch board meeting minutes after the 2009 investigation showed that David Sater, a Republican who at the time was chairman of the state House Appropriations Committee, met with four officials at the Department of Social Services. Sater determined the agency overstepped its boundaries. “At the end of the conversation all four became very cooperative and decided to stop the investigation. This was an answer to our prayer,” the board secretary wrote in the meeting minutes. Sater, now a state senator, confirmed that he met with agency officials after being told the ranch was being “harassed,” but he did not recall encouraging anyone to stop an investigation. A state investigator who worked on the case declined comment.  Source: https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/suit-missouri-ranch-for-troubled-boys-covered-up-sex-abuse/
R.I. agrees to settle lawsuit alleging improper treatment of children in state care  In this 2009 photograph, Judge Nettie Vogel holds up a photograph of 3-year-old T.J. Wright at the sentencing in Providence County Superior Court of Gilbert Delestre for the murder of T.J. in 2004. T.J.’s death, at the hands of Delestre and T.J.’s aunt Katherine Bunnell, spurred the lawsuit against the state over alleged DCYF failures. [The Providence Journal, file] By Tom Mooney Journal Staff Writer Monday Posted at 11:28 AM Updated at 4:30 PM Share The settlement agreement requires the state to implement measurable and verifiable improvements in protecting the children in its care. The lawsuit was spurred by the 2004 beating death of Thomas “T.J.” Wright, 3. The boy had been beaten to death in an unlicensed foster home by his aunt and her boyfriend after he spilled milk and yogurt on a carpet. PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island on Monday officially agreed to settle a decade-long civil lawsuit that alleged systemic failures in the state’s child welfare system. Children’s Rights Inc., a New York-based advocacy group, first sued Rhode Island in 2007, alleging that the Department of Children, Youth and Families, through mismanagement, excessive caseloads of its social workers and a lack of funding, had allowed some children in foster care to be molested, abused and shuffled from home to home. The settlement agreement, filed in U.S. District Court, requires the state to implement measurable and verifiable improvements in protecting the children in its care. If it doesn’t, a third-party monitoring team, including the state’s Child Advocate, can ask the federal court to intercede. Sara Bartosz, a lawyer for Children’s Rights, said the lawsuit and its proposed settlement, which still needs a federal judge’s final approval, was about restoring “basic and fundamental” procedures into Rhode Island’s child welfare system. Related content Report calls for DCYF to make immediate changes in wake of child deaths December 20, 2017 DCYF in the spotlight: Forum explores grim realities for R.I. kids in state custody October 11, 2017 Forum explores DCYF problems; speakers include key players, those who grew up in foster care October 11, 2017 “It was not about delivering a Cadillac instead of a Chevrolet” in social services, she said. The suit was focused on assuring that the child welfare system met “constitutional minimums” — where allegations of abuse and neglect are properly and promptly investigated and social workers are not so overwhelmed with huge caseloads that they can’t visit each child at least once a month and file timely case plans. The settlement, Bartosz said, will also force the state to recruit and license more foster homes — where children are more apt to thrive than in group homes or communal settings — and to work harder to keep siblings in their care together. Bartosz said she was confident the state would meet the settlement’s mandates, several of which DCYF Director Trista Piccola has been advocating and implementing in recent months as settlement talks have continued in federal court. Those new initiatives include hiring almost 100 additional front-line social workers and investigators — positions that were already funded in the DCYF budget but, for reasons even Piccola said she couldn’t understand, had not been filled prior to her arrival last January. “I couldn’t wrap my head around why we would allow those vacancies to occur [when] we are completely reliant on front-line staff,” she said Monday. “It was one of those things I was surprised by: if there is a budget [for those positions] why don’t we just fill them? You can’t do this work sitting at a desk in an office.” In some ways, said Piccola, the lawsuit and its proposed settlement “is irrelevant to me. These are things we should be doing whether there is a lawsuit or not because they are so basic and fundamental to good child welfare.” In terms of the cost of implementing the settlement, “I’m still evaluating at this point,” Piccola said, since its ultimate cost is now entwined with the agency’s staff budget and many other recommendations don’t require more resources. Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced the settlement agreement Monday morning. In a statement, he said, “This settlement is the result of years of many individuals working towards the goal of establishing a child welfare system that puts the well-being and safety of the children first and foremost. ... The agreement will serve as a road map for the improvement of DCYF and its care of children.” The settlement lays out benchmarks that must be met by certain deadlines across the agency’s programs, beginning this year. (It does not involve the agency’s behavioral health or juvenile justice divisions.) In some instances, the agency simply must follow state laws or its own regulations, which for years apparently were ignored. The case was first brought in June 2007 by then-Child Advocate Jametta Alston and Children’s Rights Inc., whose lawyers said previously that the lawsuit’s intent was to force Rhode Island to keep promises it made to improve the system. The lawsuit had alleged that the agency inadequately investigated abuse and neglect charges and relied on unlicensed foster homes for the vulnerable children in its care. The origins of the lawsuit lie in the 2004 beating death of 3-year-old Thomas “T.J.” Wright. The boy had been beaten to death in an unlicensed foster home by his aunt and her boyfriend after he spilled milk and yogurt on a carpet. Children’s Rights Inc. has filed similar lawsuits in a dozen states. Rhode Island’s proposed agreement differs from all other settlements in that it gives DCYF autonomy — through its director, Piccola — to make the agreed-on changes, rather than requiring a court-assigned special master. — tmooney@providencejournal.com (401) 277-7359 On Twitter: @mooneyprojo Source: http://www.providencejournal.com/news/20180108/ri-agrees-to-settle-lawsuit-alleging-improper-treatment-of-children-in-state-care
Aurora residential facility employee charged with sex assault of minor staying at center Kane County Sheriff's Office Darius Jones Darius Jones (Kane County Sheriff's Office) Hannah LeoneAurora Beacon-News Privacy Policy A Chicago man knew the Aurora resident he's charged with sexually assaulting through the private residential treatment facility where he worked in Kane County, prosecutors said Monday. Darius Jones, 38, of the 3600 block of West Montrose, is charged with three counts of criminal sexual assault, each alleging he assaulted a victim younger than 18 and at least 13 years old, over whom he held a position of trust or authority. The criminal complaint filed in Kane County Circuit Court states the sexual assaults took place between Sept. 1, 2017, and Jan. 2. The Kane County Child Advocacy Center investigated. Jones is listed in custody at the Kane County jail, where he was booked Saturday, with bail set at $150,000 with 10 percent to apply for bond. He's next due in court Friday before Kane County Circuit Judge Linda Abrahamson and has been assigned to the county public defender, records show. Conditions of Jones' bond include no contact with the alleged victim or victim's address, 998 Corporate Blvd., Aurora, which is the address of Sequel Youth Services' Northern Illinois Academy. According to the academy's website, it's an Illinois Department of Children and Family Services-licensed 75-bed psychiatric residential treatment facility for male and female children and young adults, ranging in age from 6 to 21. Residents at the facility come from Illinois and other states, and have mental illnesses, autism with mood disorders or mental illness combined with neuro-developmental delays, according to the academy's website. The academy's executive director, Carolyn Willandt, did not immediately return phone and email messages Tuesday regarding the case and Jones' employment status. hleone@tribpub.com Twitter @hannahmleone  Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/aurora-beacon-news/crime/ct-abn-sex-assault-residential-facility-st-0109-20180109-story.html
Lawsuit Over Drugs for Missouri's Foster Kids Proceeds A federal judge is allowing parts of a lawsuit over Missouri's use of prescription drugs for foster children to proceed. Jan. 13, 2018, at 10:51 a.m. Lawsuit Over Drugs for Missouri's Foster Kids Proceeds Share × ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal lawsuit alleging the Missouri Department of Social Services has failed foster children by prescribing psychotropic drugs and not providing proper oversight of the medications will be allowed to proceed, a federal judge ruled. Attorneys for Children's Rights, the National Center for Youth Law and Saint Louis University School of Law Legal Clinics filed the lawsuit in June on behalf of several Missouri children currently or formerly in foster care. They are asking a federal district judge to order Missouri to implement systemic changes to reduce the potential overprescribing of the drugs. U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey this past week preserved claims in the lawsuit alleging that the state violated foster children's due-process rights regarding medical records and prescription drug data, The Springfield News-Leader reported . She dismissed some claims related to informed consent procedures and possible violations of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act. A trial is scheduled for Jan. 14, 2019. "There are clearly plausible allegations that (the Missouri officials) ... actually knew of the serious risk of harm," Laughrey wrote. "Yet they have not adopted any systematic administrative review because (Missouri) can't find the medical records of the children. But the absence of the medical records itself creates an unreasonable risk of harm and the Defendants are aware of that risk as well." The lawsuit claims psychotropic drugs are often prescribed as "chemical straight-jackets" for some of Missouri's 13,000 foster care children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or conduct disorder, even though there are few or no federally approved uses for the drugs among children. The plaintiffs also contend little research has been done on how the drugs affect children's brains and the drugs could cause dangerous side effects, such as suicidal thoughts. The lawsuit alleges that the state doesn't provide enough oversight of psychotropic medications and keeps shoddy medical records for children in foster care, making it difficult for foster parents to properly administer medications. One of the plaintiffs is a 12-year-old girl who was allegedly given up to five drugs at once, and her caregivers "had three different understandings of what daily dose of a particular psychotropic medication she was to receive, and they had no medical records to resolve the confusion," Laughrey wrote. She began acting aggressively after a prescription change, but her caregivers didn't make the correlation between her behavior and the medication change, the judge wrote. After a volunteer contacted the girl's doctor, she was taken off the medication and her aggressive behavior ended, Laughrey said. Attorney General Josh Hawley's office, which is representing the Department of Social Services, "will continue to work with DSS as the litigation moves forward," said his spokeswoman, Loree Anne Paradise. Previously, lawyers in Hawley's office contended physicians provided untimely, "low-quality" records in response to state requests. "These unsuccessful efforts are not the equivalent of criminal recklessness, particularly when the cause of failure was physician non-compliance," the state argued, and "attempts to twist these efforts into evidence of deliberate indifference strains common sense and raises the chilling possibility that state agencies should forego attempts to systematically improve for fear of constitutional liability should they not immediately succeed." ___ Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com Source: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/missouri/articles/2018-01-13/lawsuit-over-drugs-for-missouris-foster-kids-proceeds
Senate committee hears testimony for Foster Care Child Bill of Rights Saturday, January 13, 2018 Fostering Change: Alliance for NH Foster Parents Government 1 CONCORD, NH – On January 11, 2018 the Senators of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony from state representatives, stakeholders, child advocates, DCYF and Fostering Change: Alliance for NH Foster Parents. Members of the committee asked many thoughtful questions of each speaker to learn about the needs of foster children and to better understand the need for a Foster Care Child Bill of Rights in NH. One of the state’s foster parent associations provided the following written testimony to the committee in support of this bill. The Alliance empowers foster parents to help make changes in foster care. Our mission and who we are embodies the “assumptions, beliefs, and goals” that guide this foster care children’s bill of rights. Section I. of this bill highlights the need for children of all ages to be protected from all forms of trauma and abuse, while safeguarding “healthy growth and development.” Infants and toddlers are the most vulnerable when permanency cannot be established in a timely manner. This bill helps ensure that children will be given a permanent home as soon as possible, whether by reunification or adoption. Time is of the essence in establishing permanency within the twelve-month requirement, as stated in the Federal Adoption & Safe Families Act (ASFA, 1997). Passing this bill is important because failing to do so, increases a child’s risk for irreparable physiological and psychological damage. Children under three years of age are most susceptible, as their brains are more formable during this period of development. Trauma experts maintain that trauma is initiated by the very act of removing a child from their home. Dismissing or ignoring child growth and development theories in any permanency process imposes great harm, yet all too often this is happening in New Hampshire. A long-term foster placement compounds the likelihood of increased damage and contributes to additional trauma, especially for young children. We support Section II.b of this bill that all children, youth and adolescents need and deserve “permanency” and a life of “well-being.” The evidence-based research indicates that even toddlers who experience emotionally related trauma have difficulties learning to trust and to form secure and healthy relationships for years to come. This is absolutely preventable. SB385 captures the essential need for developmentally focused trauma informed care for children of all ages. We need you to help prevent children from being re-traumatized while in state care by passing this bill. The inclusion of 170-G:20 Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard will state that the rights of children in foster care exist within the context of the reasonable and prudent parent standards. Incorporating this language ensures that a foster parent’s observations and information about their foster child will maintain the health, safety, and best interests of that child. We’re asking the Senate Committee to vote for this bill and make it possible for children to receive the most optimal care and protection in a timely manner. Thank for your commitment to improving the quality of lives for New Hampshire’s children, youth and adolescents. NH citizens can also support the Foster Care Child Bill of Rights by signing a petition that will be used for further testimony as the bill progresses through legislation. Fostering Change: Alliance for NH Foster Parents is an independent foster parent association in the Granite State that is dedicated to improving NH’s child welfare system. They aim to give foster parents a stronger voice in child abuse and neglect cases in efforts to help children return home to safe and healthy environments. Find them on Facebook or Twitter to learn more and to help support foster care reform.  Source: https://manchesterinklink.com/senate-committee-hears-testimony-for-foster-care-child-bill-of-rights/
BCSO looks for possible victims of sexual assault at foster facility By KRQE News 13 Published: January 12, 2018, 5:39 pm Updated: January 12, 2018, 5:40 pm  (KRQE) – Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deputies are looking for possible victims after a man was arrested for raping a teen in foster care. Deputies say a 17-year-old girl came forward saying 21-year-old Servando Barriga has sexually assaulted her. Barriga’s parents run a treatment foster care facility where they say a teen was staying. Deputies say Barriga admitted to having sex with the teen and engaging in inappropriate behavior with at least one other foster child in the past. Servando has lived at the home, which has been a foster facility for about 20 years, and has had contact with foster children that whole time. If you have any information about any other victims, call BCSO.  Source: http://krqe.com/2018/01/12/bcso-looks-for-possible-victims-of-sexual-assault-at-foster-facility/
State worker charged with sexual contact Kim Langston Kim Langston Quill Staff Reporter Jan 15, 2018 0 Facebook Twitter Email FILE PHOTO 11 remaining of 12 Welcome! We hope that you enjoy our free content. Facebook Twitter Email Print Save Lorin Ellen Trick, 22, of West Plains, has been arrested on Texas County charges of sexual contact with a student and sexual conduct with a prisoner or offender by a probation or parole officer or employee of a jail, prison or correctional facility. Both charges are felonies. Trick was employed with the Gentry Residential Treatment Center in Cabool, a juvenile detention center operated by the Missouri Division of Family Services. She was arrested at 4:36 p.m. Friday in West Plains and transferred to Texas County Jail at about 6:50 p.m. As of Monday morning, Trick remains jailed in Texas County with $250,000 bail, according to the Texas County Sheriff’s Department. More details of the charges are unavailable due to government offices being closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Source: https://www.westplainsdailyquill.net/news/local/article_db33d4b0-fa41-11e7-ab8b-f7753fccfb2c.html
Expensive 'scientifically proven' scheme to support troubled teens across UK makes them MORE likely to commit crime Around 30 councils and health trusts across Britain use multisystemic therapy  Workers in children's services, mental health and youth offending have been trained in the programmed which sees them provide 24-hour support  Supporters of MST say the scheme saves money by reducing the likelihood of a teenager being placed in care and youth custody in the long term  But this claim appears to be in stark contrast to a study by DoE and DoH  By Anthony Joseph for MailOnline Published: 06:01 EST, 17 January 2018 | Updated: 06:19 EST, 17 January 2018An expensive 'scientifically proven' scheme to support troubled teenagers across the UK makes them more likely to commit a crime, a study has found. Around 30 councils and health trusts across Britain use multisystemic therapy (MST) to tackle anti-social behaviour by those aged 11 to 17. Workers in children's services, mental health and youth offending have been trained in the programmed which sees them provide 24-hour support, for around three to five months.  +2 Copy link to paste in your message Around 30 councils and health trusts across Britain use multisystemic therapy (MST) to tackle anti-social behaviour by those aged 11 to 17 Supporters of MST say the scheme saves money by reducing the likelihood of a teenager being placed in care in the long term. But this claim appears to be in stark contrast to a study, which was funded by the Department for Education and Department of Health.   The trial tracked 684 families with a troubled child, half of whom were assigned to MST and half who were given conventional support, according to The Times.  The results, published by Lancet Psychiatry, found after 18 months that 43 young people from the group given MST (13 per cent) were taken into care or custody compared with 36 from the control group (11 per cent).  The report concluded: 'The findings do not support that multisystemic therapy should be used over management as usual as the intervention of choice for adolescents with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour. 'The medium-term gain from multisystemic therapy relative to management as usual was limited in terms of effect on antisocial behaviour, with some suggestion that multisystemic therapy led to an increased risk of criminal activity in individuals who were fairly low-risk in terms of the factors assessed in this study.'  +2 Copy link to paste in your message Workers in children's services, mental health and youth offending have been trained in the programmed which sees them provide 24-hour support, for around three to five months Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5278873/Scheme-support-teens-makes-likely-offend.html#ixzz54V37sXhy Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
Government Watchdog Warns Of Group Home Dangers by Michelle Diament | January 18, 2018 A staffer at a group home lifts a resident from her bed. A new federal report finds that change is needed to improve the health and safety of group home residents. (Tyson Trish/The Record/TNS) FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInPinterestEmail Injuries, serious medical conditions and even deaths of those with developmental disabilities living in group homes often are not looked into and go unreported, federal investigators say. An audit of three states found that officials routinely failed to follow up on incidents ranging from head lacerations to loss of life in violation of federal and state policy. The issues are believed to be systemic affecting people with developmental disabilities residing in group homes across the country. That’s according to a joint report issued Wednesday from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, Administration on Community Living and Office for Civil Rights, which is recommending policy changes. Advertisement - Continue Reading Below The report stems from a 2013 request by U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who was alarmed by newspaper reports of widespread abuse and neglect of group home residents in his state. After the inspector general’s office found serious problems in its review of Connecticut, the office conducted similar audits of Massachusetts and Maine. In each state, investigators identified emergency room visits from group home residents, then determined if the incidents were reported to the state and, if so, what action the state took. The inspector general’s office found that group homes often failed to report incidents to state officials. But even when states knew, up to 99 percent went unreported to law enforcement or other authorities for investigation. “Each state was somewhat unique, but what was similar across the states was that there were gaps in policies and procedures so that when an incident occurred, they could make sure that it was identified, investigated, corrected and reported,” said Megan Tinker, senior advisor for legal review at the Office of Inspector General and an author of the report. Aside from the three states that were audited, investigators said that recent media reports from 49 states citing health and safety problems in group homes suggest the issues are pervasive. The Office of Inspector General has additional audits underway or planned in another six states, Tinker said. Citing the “magnitude of the danger for beneficiaries,” the Office of Inspector General worked with the Administration for Community Living and the HHS Office for Civil Rights and other federal entities to develop recommendations for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and states to address the holes in existing policies and procedures. The report released this week is a culmination of that work and includes model practices for states to develop better oversight. In addition, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should take steps to help states address problems by forming a “SWAT” team and taking action when problems are identified in order to ensure the safety of group home residents, the recommendations indicate. “CMS is working directly with the three states specifically examined by the OIG, and is working with department partners to distribute tools, information and any other necessary assistance to all states to ensure that quality care is being provided to all Medicaid beneficiaries,” the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a statement to Disability Scoop. “The suggestions found in this report are being carefully examined for further action by the agency.” Despite the problems identified, Tinker said many group homes are great places. “If people are looking at a group home for their loved ones, we think it’s important to spend time at the group home and to ask questions and make sure it has the right policies and procedures in place,” she said. “What do they do if something goes wrong?”  Source: https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2018/01/18/government-group-home-dangers/24603/
California abuse case sparks calls for home-schooling oversight Chris Kenning 4 Min Read (Reuters) - Lawmakers and advocacy groups are calling for more oversight of home-schooling after a California couple using this method of education was charged with torturing their 13 children. FILE PHOTO: News media gather outside the home of David Allen and Louise Anna Turpin in Perris, California, U.S., January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo The number of U.S. children educated at home has doubled to about 1.7 million, or 3 percent of the nation’s school-age population, from 1999, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Sponsored Even so, most states do not require inspections or in-person testing that could help uncover abusive situations, said the Massachusetts-based Coalition for Responsible Home Education. More than 380 cases of severe or fatal child neglect have occurred since 2000 in families involved in home-schooling, according to the group. “We would not say abuse is more common among home-schoolers, but when it does occur, there are fewer safeguards, less to stop it from spinning out of control,” said Executive Director Rachel Coleman. The organization has called for requiring annual contacts by outside officials and background checks for parents who run home schools. Some home-schooling groups oppose these measures. David Turpin, a 57-year-old engineer, and his wife, Louise, will go before a judge on Thursday. They are charged with nine counts of torture and 10 counts of child endangerment in connection to their children, aged 2 to 29. Police said they found the children in filthy conditions, some shackled to their beds, when a 17-year-old girl escaped and called 911. In this case, the father had registered his house as the private Sandcastle Day School and listed himself as the principal. His children were the only students. Turpin’s parents told ABC News that the children would memorize long passages of the Bible. Neighbors said they were rarely seen outside the home. The California Department of Education said it was “sickened” by the incident but, by law, it was not authorized to monitor, oversee or inspect such schools. Parents running private home schools only have to register with the state. A combination photo of David Allen Turpin (L) and Louise Ann Turpin as they appear in booking photos provided by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department in Riverside County, California, U.S., January 15, 2018. Riverside County Sheriff's Department/Handout via REUTERS “My first thought was: How did this many kids get lost in the system?” said Sherryll Kraizer, founder of the Coalition for Children, an advocacy group. “One of the things that was interesting was he set up his own home school so the kids were accounted for and not really seen by anybody.” ‘LACK OF OVERSIGHT’ The Virginia-based Home School Legal Defense Association said states do not mandate welfare or safety visits at home schools. Coleman said most home-school regulations focus on educational testing, with only a few states, including New York, requiring in-person contact with educators or others. “I am extremely concerned about the lack of oversight the State of California currently has in monitoring private and home schools,” said Assemblyman Jose Medina, who represents Perris, the town where the Turpins live. The state politician said in a statement on Wednesday that he was looking into introducing legislation for oversight but did not provide further details. Mandatory contacts with outside health or education workers could help, Coleman said. She also said more states could adopt laws such as those in Pennsylvania, which does not allow home-schooling by those convicted of violent crimes, and Arkansas, which bars it when a registered sex offender resides in the home. But Home School Legal Defense Association President Mike Smith said his association opposes new regulations. “Should all the innocent home-school families, who do a great job, should they be intruded upon because of this family?” he said. “I think the answer is no.” Past efforts to regulate home schools have faced fierce resistance from groups that in recent decades have also rolled back rules, said Chris Lubienski, an Indiana University education professor. More accountability can be balanced with parental rights, Lubienski said. “I think people would agree we all have a responsibility for the kids like (the Turpins).” Reporting by Chris Kenning in Chicago; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Ben Klayman and Lisa Von Ahn   Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-california-captives-homeschool/california-abuse-case-sparks-calls-for-home-schooling-oversight-idUSKBN1F721R
Juvenile runaways from Provo treatment facility lead police on high-speed chase in stolen car Posted 5:18 pm, January 18, 2018, by Mark Green, Updated at 06:52AM, January 19, 2018 Facebook Twitter Reddit Pinterest LinkedIn Email Juvenile runaways from Provo treatment facility lead police on high-speed chase in stolen car UTAH COUNTY — Police say three juveniles who ran away from a treatment facility in Provo stole a car and led police on a high-speed chase that ended in a crash in Spanish Fork Canyon Tuesday night. According to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, police attempted to make a traffic stop near Center and Main streets in Spanish Fork around 10:40 p.m. Tuesday. The suspects fled and a pursuit ensued that went down Center Street and continued onto SR-6 and into Spanish Fork Canyon. The suspects fled at speeds in excess of 110 mph. Police say the suspects drove into oncoming traffic during the pursuit and eventually lost control and crashed the vehicle near mile marker 186 on SR-6. Two teens, ages 16 and 17, fled the scene on foot while a 13-year-old remained in the car. The other two juveniles were taken into custody about 30 minutes later after officers using infrared located them on the hillside. Police later determined the three juveniles were reported as runaways from a residential treatment facility in Provo around 8 p.m. Tuesday night. The boys told police they stole the car from a parking lot in an industrial complex west of Geneva Road in Orem. The owner of the car, who was working at the time, didn’t know his car had been stolen until police contacted him. The vehicle is considered a total loss. Police say the 16-year-old initially stole the car but later switched places so that the 17-year-old was driving during the chase. Police say the teens planned to drive to Las Vegas. Authorities say the 13-year-old boy didn’t want to be involved in the car theft or the chase, and they said the teen tried to stop the older boys. The older boys were treated at a hospital for injuries they suffered while tumbling down an embankment after the crash, and afterward they were booked into a detention center. The 13-year-old was returned to the residential treatment facility. Source: http://fox13now.com/2018/01/18/juvenile-runaways-from-provo-treatment-facility-lead-police-on-high-speed-chase-in-stolen-car/
DMN Investigates: Troubled Timberlawn psychiatric hospital is closing before the state can shut it down Filed under Investigations at 23 hrs ago Share Facebook Twitter Email Written by Sue Ambrose Sarah Mervosh Miles Moffeit Get Daily Dallas News Headlines Don't miss a story. Like us on Facebook. Like Dallas News' Facebook Page Get Unlimited Digital Access Your first month is less than a dollar. $0.99for first 4 weeks Subscribe Now Timberlawn psychiatric hospital says it is voluntarily closing its doors, just a week after state officials threatened to shut down the century-old treatment center because it was too dangerous for patients. “Our intention to close Timberlawn comes after completing a comprehensive, careful review,” chief executive James Miller wrote Thursday in a letter to staff obtained by The Dallas Morning News. He later issued a similar statement to The News, saying that the hospital’s owners had decided to shutter it in December, before the state threatened to yank its license and fine it $600,000. Timberlawn is appealing those sanctions. It’s unclear exactly when the last patient will leave Timberlawn, which was once a premier mental health facility but in recent years has had safety problems, including sexual assaults. An employee who answered the phone Thursday said the hospital was still accepting new patients. Timberlawn Closure Letter 1 18 2018 DocumentCloud Contributed to DocumentCloud by Sarah Mervosh of The Dallas Morning News View document Miller told federal health officials that the hospital will close on Feb. 1, or as soon after that as possible, said Bob Moos, a Dallas spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Timberlawn is responsible for transferring patients to other hospitals, according to Carrie Williams, spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Only 15 of the hospital's 144 beds are currently filled, she said. Miller cited a decreased patient population as one reason for the hospital’s closure, along with the increasing availability of beds at other facilities and the cost to refurbish aging buildings on the Timberlawn campus, most of which are vacant. He also said management is confident that Timberlawn has fixed its safety problems and now complies with federal regulations, though the results of the latest government inspection on Jan. 10 were not yet available. As The News has detailed, children and adults trying to recover from trauma, depression or other mental conditions have gone to the hospital in East Dallas for help -- and found danger instead. In 2014, a suicidal woman was left alone and killed herself. In 2015, a woman reported she was raped by another patient. And last fall, a 13-year-old girl who was a victim of past sexual abuse reported that a another teen patient came into her room one night and raped her. The News does not typically name victims of sexual assault. Inspectors found that on a night when there was just one mental health aide to watch 16 kids, the 17-year-old boy slipped into the girl’s room unnoticed. The two were placed in rooms next to each other, despite the fact that a doctor had warned the boy needed to be watched for sexual aggression. At the time, the hospital was on probation with state health officials for its previous breakdowns in care. The company that owns Timberlawn, Universal Health Services Inc., is the largest operator of mental health facilities in the country -- and is facing a slew of government investigations, including a federal criminal fraud probe. Since 2012, the company has closed two residential treatment centers for adolescents, in Virginia and Illinois, that faced regulatory sanctions. Last August, Massachusetts regulators closed Westwood Lodge hospital after a long series of problems involving safety and patient care. Universal Health Services Inc., which owns Timberlawn, is facing a slew of government investigations, including a federal criminal fraud probe. (Ashley Landis/Staff Photographer) Universal Health owns at least five other mental health hospitals in North Texas, according to its website: Hickory Trail Hospital in DeSoto, Millwood Hospital in Arlington, University Behavioral Health of Denton; Mayhill Hospital, also in Denton; and Garland Behavioral Hospital. A 2016 data analysis by The News found that of 154 Universal Health hospitals, more than a quarter were plagued by serious safety problems. A spokeswoman for Universal Health did not respond to multiple requests for comment Thursday. As Timberlawn's safety problems have worsened over the last three years, its role in the Dallas-area mental health network has faded. It had been one of the few hospitals to treat large numbers of children and teenagers, but other facilities with a broader range of medical services are now taking in more of those patients, Dallas mental health experts say. "Timberlawn represented a century-and-a-half-old model of care that we really don't need,'' said Andy Keller, chief executive officer of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute in Dallas. The state oversees more than a dozen standalone psychiatric facilities in North Texas. Some general hospitals also have psychiatric units. Colette Riel, whose sister committed suicide at Timberlawn in 2014, said she was glad that the hospital’s closure means no one else will get hurt at Timberlawn. Her sister, 37-year-old  Brittney Bennetts, was known to be suicidal when staff left her alone; she hanged herself on doorknobs that the hospital knew posed a risk. But Timberlawn’s closure is just “a drop in the bucket,” Riel said. “What about the parent company that owns all of these hospitals nationwide and their record and recklessness?” Source: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/investigations/2018/01/18/dmn-investigates-troubled-timberlawn-psychiatric-hospital-closing-before-state-can-shut
Concerns remain over Southington proposal to limit police calls Concerns remain over Southington proposal to limit police calls Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. Police have been called to the facility on several occasions. The five-bedroom, two-bath house is one of four short-term assessment and respite homes operated by Bridge Family Center of West Hartford. Dave Zajac, Record-Journal January 18, 2018 06:17PM By Jesse Buchanan, Record-Journal staff Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google+ Email Facebook Twitter Google+ Email SOUTHINGTON — Town leaders have doubts about a new ordinance that would levy fines for excessive police calls, saying it could discourage legitimate calls for help without curtailing activity at a group home on Birchcrest Drive that prompted the law under consideration. Neighbors and town officials have complained that police are frequently called to the group home for runaway children and other problems. The town’s Ordinance Review Committee is considering fines for excessive police calls, but has struggled in drafting the details. Lingering issues include defining an excessive number of calls, and whether fines could create legal liability for the town. Committee members said group home workers are required by state law to notify authorities when problems arise and that fines wouldn’t keep them from calling. Cheryl Lounsbury, a former town councilor and committee chairwoman, said she wants to continue collecting data on the subject but has doubts that the proposed law will solve the problems at Birchcrest, and could even create new ones. “I don’t believe in making laws that you can’t enforce,” she said. “I can’t see putting in a law you can’t enforce.” Advertisement At an ordinance committee meeting Wednesday, Town Attorney Carolyn Futtner said the town could be sued if a resident didn’t call due to fear of fines and suffered harm because they didn’t get police help. Even if the level of excessive calls were set high enough so most people wouldn’t hit them, Lounsbury said residents may still be hesitant to call. She’s worried about seniors, disabled residents, and victims of domestic abuse, all groups that could require frequent police help. The Birchcrest Drive home provides around-the-clock supervision for girls who have been removed from a home by the state Department of Children and Families or who don't have a home. Most often they're sent into foster care in two months or less. Bridge Family Center, the home’s operator, is a DCF subcontractor.  Deputy Police Chief William Palmieri presented information at this week’s meeting showing calls from the home have decreased in recent months. Patricia Queen, a Board of Education and ordinance committee member, said The Bridge , as the home is called, has added staff, including a 20-hour per week therapist. “There have been changes made at the group home that may or may not be able to help the situation,” Queen said. “It certainly seems to have some positive effects.” She shared some of Lounsbury’s concerns about the proposal for fines and questioned whether it would improve the situation. Several neighbors who attended an ordinance committee meeting last month urged the committee to implement fines. Lounsbury said she’s talked to area residents who have noticed things improving and are pleased with changes made by The Bridge. Others are still unhappy. “Nothing will satisfy them except the house going away,” Lounsbury said. Queen was glad that neighbors came forward, saying they shed light on a situation that needed to be addressed both for the neighborhood’s quality of life and for the girls at the group home. “These neighbors are shining a light on a problem in this house that DCF needs to address,” she said. “These are children in this house.” Police, neighbors, town leaders, and Bridge officials began meeting regularly during the summer. Queen and Lounsbury said this communication has helped the situation. The ordinance committee will take up the excessive calls proposal in April. Lounsbury said she’d like to give the issue a few months to determine if police calls continue to drop. jbuchanan@record-journal.com 203-317-2230 
Twitter: @JBuchananRJ  Source: http://www.myrecordjournal.com/News/Meriden/Meriden-News/Southington-ordinance-committee-considers-fines-for-too-many-police-calls.html
12-Year-Old Girl Found Dead at DC Boarding School "It's really sad that at 12 years old you feel like the only solution is to take your life" By Pat Collins and Andrea Swalec Published 4 hours ago | Updated 14 minutes ago  A 12-year-old girl was found dead Tuesday inside a boarding school in Washington D.C. The body of the child, a seventh-grader, was found at The SEED Public Charter School of Washington (SEED DC), police said. Her death is being investigated as an apparent suicide, police sources tell News4. Parents at the school were called and told to pick up their children.  Keana Bedney-Wallace, the parent of another student at the school, spoke outside the school about the tragedy.  Child Found Dead at DC Charter School A 12-year-old girl was found dead in a boarding school in D.C. after an apparent suicide, police sources say. News4's Pat Collins has the developing story. (Published 3 hours ago) "It's really sad that at 12 years old you feel like the only solution is to take your life. It's heartbreaking," she said. "I'm a mom of five, and I couldn't imagine. I pray for the family, that they get through this." D.C. police responded to the school on the 4300 block of C Street SE, near East Capitol Street, for a report of an unconscious person. The child was found dead in her dorm room.  The parents of two students at the school told News4 their children told them the girl had been bullied. The school did not respond to an inquiry about whether the child had been bullied. Earlier in the day, the school issued a brief statement. "We are deeply saddened to report that a SEED DC student unexpectedly passed away this morning. This is of course a terrible tragedy for the family first and foremost, as well as for the entire SEED Community," the statement said. "We ask that you respect the privacy of the family and of our community of scholars and teachers in their mourning." Opened in 1998, SEED DC is a public, college-preparatory boarding school that serves 370 students in grades six through 12. Ninety-one percent of its graduates have enrolled in college, and 80 percent are first-generation college students, the school's website says.  Source: https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/12-Year-Old-Girl-Found-Dead-at-DC-Boarding-School-470755333.html
I-Team: Drug rehab center bills patient's insurance nearly $1,000 a day for drug testing High billing could drive up health insurance rates Adam Walser 11:23 PM, Jan 22, 2018 11:10 AM, Jan 23, 2018 Share Article x Point of care drug tests that identify marijuana, cocaine, opiates and methamphetamine are available for less than $20, with a 99 percent accuracy rate. But one Tampa Bay area drug rehab billed patients' insurance plans $1,200 for initial tests, then $3,400 to confirm results. One patient was billed more than $30,000 for drug testing in just 31 days. Point of care drug tests that identify marijuana, cocaine, opiates and methamphetamine are available for less than $20, with a 99 percent accuracy rate. But one Tampa Bay area drug rehab billed patients' insurance plans $1,200 for initial tests, then $3,400 to confirm results. One patient was billed more than $30,000 for drug testing in just 31 days. RIVERVIEW, Fla. — Residential drug treatment centers are doing big business as the opioid epidemic continues to grows. Facilities routinely charge patients' insurance thousands of dollars a day for treatment. But the ABC Action News I-Team uncovered not all of those charges are justified and may be helping to drive up insurance rates for everyone. “I went on a bender. By the time it was done, I was in handcuffs in the back of a sheriff's car,” said Rachel, a registered nurse from Florida’s East Coast who didn't want to give her last name because she worries it might affect her job. Rachel sought help last year, after years of substance abuse and depression issues.   High school teacher arrested for sending nude photos to 15-year-old boy she met through Xbox One “A 1-800 number popped up on the internet and I said 'alright, call it,'" she said. The number belonged to American Addiction Centers (AAC) which is one of the nation's biggest rehab companies. “They have a team that looks for clients. They have a 1-800 number that's always ready to go,” said retired sheriff’s deputy Michael Isom, who is the former Transportation Manager for River Oaks Treatment Center in Riverview — one of three Florida-based AAC facilities. “The most important thing are the numbers. Keep the money coming in,” said Isom. “That was the biggest thing, was do you have insurance?” Rachel said, describing her call with a company representative. “I gave them my id number, my group number and everything. And they were like 'hey, we can take you.'" Rachel said they arranged to send an Uber to pick her up and transport her to River Oaks within hours of the call. At River Oaks, AAC billed her insurance, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas, more than $30,000 for drug tests in just 31 days. AAC says it is their policy to test patients on their arrival, 48-hours later, randomly and whenever they leave and return to the facility. RECOMMENDED: Read more I-Team Investigation stories “We take them out for a haircut which is right across the street, they got to come back and do a urinalysis,” said Isom. “I take 20 out, they got to come back and do a urinalysis. All this is getting billed.” What is called a “point of care” drug test is readily available over the counter and tests that screen for marijuana, opium, cocaine and methamphetamines boast 99-percent accuracy rates and cost less than $20. One purchased by the I-Team at Wal-Mart includes free confirmatory lab testing for positive results. Healthcare Bluebook says the fair price for a professional drug screening in Tampa is $152. This type of test is conducted in a doctor’s office, a hospital or a lab.  Source: https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/local-news/i-team-investigates/i-team-drug-rehab-center-bills-patients-insurance-nearly-1000-a-day-for-drug-testing
Drug treatment center had more than 400 calls to 911 in 2 years Staff alleges rehab unprepared for emergencies Adam Walser 6:41 PM, Jan 23, 2018 Share Article x River Oaks Residential Treatment Center has more than 400 calls to 911 in two years. Former staff member and patient say when administrative staff left for the day, remaining employees were not always able to keep control of patients or address emergencies. Center charges patients' insurance tens-of-thousands of dollars for treatment. Copyright 2017 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. River Oaks Residential Treatment Center has more than 400 calls to 911 in two years. Former staff member and patient say when administrative staff left for the day, remaining employees were not always able to keep control of patients or address emergencies. Center charges patients' insurance tens-of-thousands of dollars for treatment. RIVERVIEW, Fla. — The I-Team reported how River Oaks Residential Treatment Center in Riverview billed patients' insurance policies tens-of-thousands of dollars for frequent drug tests, potentially driving up insurance costs. But that’s not the only issue there. A former patient and a former manager says there are concerns about staffing levels, that can affect patient safety there. “We don't have any fences. No fences. They can come and go as they please,” said former River Oaks Treatment Center Transportation and Security Director Mike Isom.   High school teacher arrested for sending nude photos to 15-year-old boy she met through Xbox One Isom said he often had to pick up patients who wandered away. “It is very frustrating,” Isom said. The 140-bed center, owned by American Addiction Centers, one of the nation’s biggest rehab companies, charges patients' insurance tens-of-thousands of dollars for abstinence-based treatment. But Isom says many patients didn't play by the rules.  “They would just walk out, walk down the street. Walk right here to the 7-11 go in there, pop a cold one. Pop a cold 40,” he said. Former patient Rachel says other patients bragged about using drugs or alcohol. “We all knew and we knew the ones who did it. They had no shame in saying I ran down to the gas station, I got me some 4 Locos,” she said. Records show there were 433 911 calls from River Oaks in less than two years. Most were made at night, on weekends or during holidays, when most administrative staff was gone. Calls included medical emergencies, assaults, mentally ill patients and missing persons. “It would really make me angry. Because I’m legitimately here trying to get coping mechanisms to help me get sober, and this was not conducive to that,” Rachel said. River Oaks declined an interview, but said in a statement "We have worked extensively to reduce our impact and use of these services." “Outside of the administrative staff, River Oaks is similarly staffed on evenings and weekends as compared to weekday shifts. This includes a team of RNs, LPNs, Therapists, Case Managers, BHTs, BHT Supervisors and a Nurse Manager. Physicians and other Medical Providers are also onsite 7 days per week. Key administrative staff also provide 7-day, 24-hour on call coverage,” the statement said. But Isom says River Oaks often didn't have doctors or psychiatric staff after hours to handle mental health emergencies.  “They're psychotic. They're out of their mind when they come off that plane,” he said. “They're coming from all across the country.” In December 2016, a patient from Illinois was detained for causing a disturbance at Tampa International Airport when he arrived at 1:30 a.m. Isom says surveillance video at River Oaks showed he was agitated when he arrived there an hour later. “You can see the client, along with the behavioral tech, walking up and down the hallway. You can see how stressed he was,” Isom said. A report from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office says that at 3:15 a.m., the patient walked out of admissions building, followed by an employee in a golf cart. That employee watched him step in front of a moving vehicle on Boyette Road, which struck and killed him. The patient's family has hired an attorney. River Oaks said, in a statement, “While we cannot discuss any specific individual due to federal confidentiality laws, we can share that the administrative rule under which we operate sets forth our coverage obligations… each facility shall have a physician on call at all times to address medical problems and to provide emergency medical services. River Oaks meets or exceeds all of its staffing requirements.” If you have information you’d like to share with the I-Team about your experience with residential drug treatment, please contact us here.  Source: https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/local-news/i-team-investigates/drug-treatment-center-had-more-than-400-calls-to-911-in-2-years
Rhode Island Child Advocate Slams Group Home Agency Rhode Island's child advocate says the state should cut ties with a group home in Pawtucket because it provides substandard care. Jan. 24, 2018, at 12:15 p.m. Rhode Island Child Advocate Slams Group Home Agency Share × Share on Facebook Post on Twitter Post to Reddit Email Share in LinkedIn Share on StumbleUpon Share on Google Plus PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The state should cut ties with a group home in Pawtucket due to its substandard car, Rhode Island's child advocate said Tuesday. Jennifer Griffith released a report recommending state welfare officials stop placements to the Blackstone Valley Youth and Family Collaborative. Griffith's report follows the indictment of former Blackstone counselor Reysean Williams, who prosecutors say used the company's van to operate a sex ring. Williams' attorney said Wednesday that his client denies involvement in sex trafficking. Blackstone operates two homes in Pawtucket for up to nine male youths, ages 16 to 21 years old. Griffith's report says Blackstone failed to report drug and alcohol abuse by residents and violence. It also reportedly uses banned aversion therapy. Griffith says the cooperative didn't monitor residents and provided false documents. "I cannot find one strength in this program," she said Wednesday, calling the care "substandard and unacceptable." ADVERTISING inRead invented by Teads Blackstone's Executive Director Daniel Brito didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Williams is the longtime boyfriend of Brito's niece, according to the Office of the Child Advocate. The report also alleges that sexual offending youth were placed with developmentally disabled and non-offending youth and that more than 90 percent of the employees do not meet the minimum requirements for working with youth in the care of the Department of Children, Youth and Families. Griffith said she will discuss the report with the DCYF director, who would decide whether to discontinue placements to the cooperative. Source: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/rhode-island/articles/2018-01-24/rhode-island-child-advocate-slams-group-home-agency
Berea man indicted for abuse occurring at group home for disabled children, adults Register Staff Report Jan 25, 2018 A Berea man has been indicted by a Lee County grand jury on abuse charges. Jason Brennan, 34, no address or image available, is accused of physically assaulting a patient when he worked at a home for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The indictment, returned Jan. 19, alleges that in May 2017, Brennan entered an adult resident's room, held the resident against a wall by his neck and slapped him across the face, according to a press release from the Kentucky Attorney General's office. Brennan was indicted on a class C felony charge of knowingly abusing or neglecting an adult. If convicted, he could be sentenced to five to 10 years. The indictment comes after an investigation by AG Andy Beshear's Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse with assistance from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Adult Protective Services, the press release states. The tip line for reporting allegations of patient abuse, neglect and exploitation (877-ABUSE-TIP) is available 24 hours. Brennan's arraignment is scheduled for Feb. 16 in Lee Circuit Court. An indictment does not indicate guilt, only that grand jurors believe the state has enough evidence to proceed with prosecution.  Source: http://www.richmondregister.com/news/berea-man-indicted-for-abuse-occurring-at-group-home-for/article_4c652eca-0228-11e8-b0f8-07a16ed8e180.html
Two young women with disabilities sexually assaulted at Minnesota group home Two victims, both 20, had disabilities that kept them from reporting the attacks.  By Chris Serres Star Tribune January 29, 2018 — 4:38pm Patrick Arthur Jansen, 58, an overnight staff member at a Sauk Rapids group home, has been charged with assaulting two female clients with disabilities. He has admitted to having sexual contact with them more than 300 times. Text size share tweet email Print more Share on:Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+ Share on Pinterest Copy shortlink: Purchase: Order Reprint A male caregiver who worked the overnight shift at a Sauk Rapids group home has been charged with sexually assaulting two female residents who were unable to report the assaults because of their disabilities. Police believe the abuse occurred over an extended period of time last year, and that the two women, both 20, could have been victimized "as many as 300 times," according to a state investigation issued last week by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Patrick Arthur Jansen, 58, told police that the sexual contact was done "to make them happy" and "enrich their lives." Benton County Attorney Philip Miller called the incidents "horrific" and said even the investigating officers were upset. "It's deeply troubling because of the vulnerability of the victims," Miller said. The two victims are diagnosed with autism and were not able to report the abuse because they have limited verbal skills and were not able to defend themselves, according to the state report. The women were residents at a four-person group home operated by Dungarvin in Sauk Rapids and are not identified in the reports. More than 14,000 Minnesotans live in such group homes, where they are particularly vulnerable to neglect and abuse, according to a 2015 Star Tribune investigation. Many of these homes are in remote rural settings, placing residents hours away from relatives and friends who might assist with their care and check on their well-being. Jansen has been charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct, both felonies, and is being held at the Benton County jail in Foley. He is scheduled to make his first appearance in court Tuesday. A spokeswoman for Dungarvin, a Mendota Heights company that provides housing and other supports to people with disabilities in 14 states, declined to comment on specifics of the case, citing privacy concerns. In November, staff at the Dungarvin home noticed that one of the two victims was behaving abnormally, according to the state report. The woman, who had no previous history of destructive behavior, ripped up two of her pajama pants and stopped organizing her toys as she had previously done, group home staff told state investigators. Weeks later, a staff member entered the home at night to retrieve a phone and discovered Jansen sitting on a mattress in the living room with the second victim. Later, Jansen boasted that he planned to take one of the two women on a trip with him to Mexico. Concerned by the strange conduct, the staff member spied on Jansen one night through the group home's bedroom windows. He spotted Jansen touching one of the women inappropriately and immediately called 911 from his cellphone while standing outside the home. When officers from the Sauk Rapids Police Department arrived near midnight, they found the victim touching Jansen's upper thigh and feeding him ice cream with a spoon while sitting with him on a mattress. He was immediately arrested. Jansen admitted to police that his relationship with the two women "had been getting progressively more intimate" over time, according to the criminal complaint. He told police, "It was only meant to make them happy, enrich their lives too. ... How would you feel if you couldn't experience love or romance your whole life?" Jansen ultimately admitted having sexual contact, including digital penetration and oral sex, with both women on multiple occasions, according to the criminal complaint. State investigators found the facility was single-staffed during the overnight hours, which meant that Jansen was the sole employee in the home between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. As part of his job, Jansen slept on a mattress on the living room floor down the hallway from the two women's bedrooms. DHS has disqualified Jansen from providing direct care under state-licensed programs. The home completed an internal review and determined that its policies and procedures were not followed. Nationally, the rate of serious violent crime, including rape, robbery and aggravated assault, for persons with disabilities is more than three times the rate for persons without disabilities. One in five violent crime victims with disabilities believed they were targeted due to their disability, according to a report last year from the U.S. Department of Justice. Nancy Fitzsimons, a professor at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and chairwoman of a state committee on abuse of vulnerable adults, said the Sauk Rapids case illuminates the need for greater public awareness of violence against people with disabilities. Group home residents, she said, should receive training on how to identify inappropriate behavior and report abuse. "This abuse went on far too long," Fitzsimons said. "If people have limited verbal skills, we need to give them more effective ways to communicate when they are harmed."  Source: http://www.startribune.com/two-young-women-with-disabilities-sexually-assaulted-at-minnesota-group-home/471646883/
Man admits to assaulting two students at former Berkshire County school January 29, 2018 07:20 PM A man from Watervliet pleaded guilty on Monday to assaulting two students at the former Eagleton School in Berkshire County. Isaac Harris-El was sentenced to one-year probation and several other charges against him were dismissed. Advertisement – Content Continues Below The Eagleton School closed in 2016 after Massachusetts revoked its license. Harris-El was among several employees accused of abuse at the residential treatment center for boys with emotional and behavioral problems.  Source: http://wnyt.com/news/man-admits-to-assaulting-two-students-at-former-eagleton-school-berkshire-county/4763603/
Boarding school teacher fired over student relationship Originally published January 30, 2018 at 11:42 am Updated January 30, 2018 at 1:12 pm Share story By The Associated Press The Associated Press POMFRET, Conn. (AP) — A teacher has been fired from a private school in Massachusetts over allegations he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with one of his students at the Connecticut boarding school where he taught previously, school officials said Tuesday. The teacher, John Becker, was accused of having the relationship with a student at Connecticut’s Pomfret School, where he taught for four years through last spring. The Northfield Mount Hermon school, where Becker began teaching in the fall, said in a letter to the school community that Becker was fired Friday after it learned of the allegations. School head Peter Fayroian said that Becker denied having a sexual relationship with the girl but that its investigation found he had crossed boundaries. The head of the Pomfret School, J. Timothy Richards, said it had no information about such a relationship before he learned of the allegation from the Massachusetts school. The school has hired an outside investigator, he said. Connecticut state police are also investigating.  Becker did not respond to a phone message seeking comment. The Pomfret School disclosed in 2016 that an independent investigation had found four teachers likely engaged in sexual misconduct as far back as the early 1970s. In response, the school stepped up teacher training on sexual harassment. “This news is particularly shocking to me given the amount of attention that Pomfret has directed over the past few years to teacher training around sexual harassment and maintaining appropriate boundaries,” Richards said in a letter to the school community. “Like all employees, Mr. Becker participated in this training, which makes this matter all the more troubling.” A background check Northfield Mount Hermon did before hiring Becker did not turn up any related issues, Fayroian said, and the school is currently speaking with students who were connected with Becker in case any boundaries were crossed with them. Source: https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/boarding-school-teacher-fired-over-student-relationship/
Ex-Tucson group home worker gets 8 years in prison for child porn By Caitlin Schmidt Arizona Daily Star Caitlin Schmidt Jan 29, 2018 Updated 9 hrs ago Facebook Twitter Email Taylor Ray Freeman Courtesy of Pima County Sheriff’s Department Facebook Twitter Email Print Save A former employee at a Tucson foster group home will be spending the next eight years in prison and be subjected to state supervision for the rest of his life, a federal judge ruled Monday. Taylor Ray Freeman, 28, was arrested last February after he told an undercover police officer in Australia that he was sexually interested in children and had explicit photos available for trade. Freeman sent an image to the officer, and Homeland Security agents traced it back to his Tucson home, arresting him on federal charges of distribution and possession of child pornography. In June, he accepted a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which agreed to drop the distribution charge if Freeman pleaded guilty to the two counts of possession. Freeman was facing prison time ranging from 60 to 136 months. In court Monday, U.S. District Court Judge James Soto said authorities downloaded more than 440 images and videos from Freeman’s computer and cellphone. While his attorney, Nicki DiCampli, said she was not objecting to the term recommendation by Adult Probation Services, she said she didn’t find the calculation reasonable. “No one can dispute that those images are horrendous, and no child should be put through that,” DiCampli said “The maximum sentence seems unreasonable based on the plea and who my client was.” DiCampli argued that Freeman had no criminal history and supported his ex-girlfriend and their young son. Freeman had an addiction to pornography that resulted in his becoming desensitized to the explicit images of children that would “pop up” on his computer when he accessed regular pornography sites, DiCampli said. Freeman’s court-ordered psychosexual exam determined that he was at a moderate level to re-offend, DiCampli said. “He’s not trying to blame anyone else. He made these choices,” she said. “But he needed help.” Advertisement Play Current Time 0:00 / Duration Time 0:00 Remaining Time -0:00 Stream TypeLIVE Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% 00:00 Fullscreen 00:00 Unmute Playback Rate 1 Subtitles subtitles off Captions captions off Chapters Chapters Freeman also addressed Soto, his shoulders hunched over as he spoke into the microphone, taking long pauses between each sentence. “I’m disturbed by my own actions and I’m ashamed,” he said. “I was just so lost.” Soto’s brow was furrowed throughout Freeman’s statement, during which he wavered between accepting responsibility and detaching himself from the situation. “None of it was real at the time. I was falling into this fictional pattern and detaching from it,” he said. “I never want to be put in this situation again.” Soto interjected. “Let’s be clear. You put yourself into the situation,” he said. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carin Duryee said Freeman was not an unintelligent guy and that it seemed like he was saying things that might be the right things to say. “But he misses the point,” Duryee said. “He’s sexually interested in young girls and I don’t hear responsibility for that yet.” Duryee said Freeman told his girlfriend that he was posing as a predator to conduct his own investigations, and referenced emails Freeman sent to the undercover police officer in which he talked about his attraction to several young girls under his care in the group home. Freeman also sent the officer nonsexual photos of the girls he described, Duryee said. His seeking employment around young children, especially a job that required him to live in the group home 24 hours a day, sets him apart from most defendants, who try to avoid temptation, Duryee said. “If you’re trying to stay away from chocolate, you don’t go work in a chocolate shop,” she said. Soto sentenced Freeman to 97 months in prison and imposed 16 special conditions recommended in the pre-sentencing report, which included providing a DNA sample, being placed on the state’s sex-offender registry, polygraphs to determine if he’s compliant in his probation, sex-offender treatment, no use of social networking sites or computers with internet access and no contact with children except his own. Freeman was also ordered to pay $9,000 in restitution — $3,000 per victim — which he’ll begin paying while he’s in prison at the rate of $25 every three months. Freeman was hired in 2013 by local nonprofit TMM Family Services, according to Arizona Department of Child Safety records.  Source: http://tucson.com/news/local/ex-tucson-group-home-worker-gets-years-in-prison-for/article_7e75c65a-8623-5286-afe0-49631529c660.html
Neighbors cheer closing of facility for troubled kids in Hawthorne Posted: Jan 31, 2018 2:20 PM PST Updated: Feb 01, 2018 10:54 AM PST Close X Embed Video Code Link to Video buffering Replay Neighbors cheer closing of facility for troubled kids in Hawthorne More Videos Westchester pharmacies report shortage of flu medicine 'Dreamer' from Pearl River recounts attending State of the Union Loved ones honor fallen FDNY firefighter Turn to Tara: New medical research linked to incurable brain disease Scientists: Massive untreated sewage leak discovered in Rye Tuckahoe dad says bullying led to daughter's suicide Yonkers day care center to close next month Yonkers police: 4-month-old baby found dead in apartment Neighbors cheer closing of facility for troubled kids in Hawthorne Yonkers day care center to close next month Rockland students raise money for elementary school in PR Neighbors cheer closing of facility for troubled kids in Hawthorne Neighbors cheer closing of facility for troubled kids in Hawthorne FBI in public fight with Trump over releasing Russia memo Neighbors cheer closing of school for troubled kids in Hawthorne Neighbors cheer closing of school for troubled kids in Hawthorne Westchester/Hudson Valley Sportscast, Jan. 31 Officials: Hawthorne Cedar Knolls will close. Neighbors are cheering the closing of a residential facility for troubled kids in Hawthorne. At a public meeting in Mount Pleasant Wednesday night, authorities unexpectedly announced the closure of the embattled Hawthorne Cedar Knolls Residential Treatment Center. Run by The Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services,  the center is housed on a campus with two other facilities that cater to troubled youth. When problems arise, mostly from Cedar Knolls, it's fallen to local police, officials say. “The police department, they're over there daily, sometimes two or three times a day," says Mount Pleasant Town Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi. People who live in the Linda Avenue neighborhood have been calling for the closing for quite some time, and the protests have increased after recent reports of runaways and violent incidents involving students. There is also the issue of students easily getting off campus. There was an incident last week where a 17-year-old allegedly broke into a house and confronted the owner with a box cutter. The family was not hurt, but that seemed to be the last straw. "God knows what really could've happened," says Sean Pickering, the homeowner who came face-to-face with the runaway teen in his Thornwood home last week. "The hardest part was explaining to the kids what had happened without scaring them too much as well." People who spoke with News 12 say they understand that some children treated at the home come from horrible situations, but they say changes had to made for everyone's safety. "They need to be in a more controlled atmosphere for everyone's safety," says Heidi Banziger, of Thornwood. The Residential Treatment Center is expected to close by the end of summer. Students are expected to be transferred to another facility in New York City. While Hawthorne Cedar Knolls Residential Treatment Center will close, the other two facilities will remain open. A spokesperson for the campus says that the Hawthorne Cedar Knolls Union Free School District is not closing.  A statement reads, in part, “The Cedar Knolls Academy, Achieve Alternative High School and Linden Hill programs are open and will continue to provide educational services. The Hawthorne Cedar Knolls Union Free School District is a New York State Public School District and separate from the Jewish Board.” Source: http://westchester.news12.com/story/37397976/neighbors-cheer-closing-of-facility-for-troubled-kids-in-hawthorne
Substance-abuse treatment center closes in Hellam Twp. without warning  David Weissman, 505-5431/@DispatchDavid Published 3:22 p.m. ET Feb. 1, 2018 | Updated 6:14 p.m. ET Feb. 1, 2018  Safe Haven Treatment Services closed its York County inpatient substance-abuse and detox facility without warning last month, about a year after opening. The 29-bed center — made up of 11 detox and 18 residential beds — in Hellam Township launched in January 2017 and was contracted with the York/Adams Drug and Alcohol Commission to provide detox and rehabilitation services, according to Audrey Gladfelter, commission administrator. That contract stipulated that Safe Haven was required to give the commission advanced warning if it was closing, according to Gladfelter, who said that didn't happen. More: New inpatient substance-abuse center opening Instead, Gladfelter said she heard during the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 25, that Safe Haven had contacted another inpatient facility about taking some of its clients. Gladfelter said she then contacted a company official early Friday, Jan. 26, and was told they were closing and that there were only a handful of residents left to be transferred. The commission had minimal interaction with Safe Haven because the facility was primarily treating people with private insurance, but Gladfelter said she's disappointed to see the facility disappear during the current heroin/opioid crisis. "We encounter individuals every week where we have to (send them) outside the county (for treatment) — sometimes hours away," she said. There were 128 confirmed heroin/fentanyl-related overdose deaths in York County during 2017, according to the York County Coroner's annual report. More: Heroin-related deaths in York County spike in 2017 despite reduction efforts More: As opioid crisis grows, judge aims for solutions, settlement Gladfelter said it's "pretty unusual" for an inpatient treatment provider to close so abruptly, though she was told by a company official that a financial backer had dropped out suddenly. Safe Haven still operates an outpatient center in York City and several recovery houses around the county. Company officials did not return a call requesting comment. Buy Photo Michelle Olmeda, executive director, and Adam Kiracofe, president, of Safe Haven, a new in-patient drug treatment facility located at 5849 Lincoln Hwy. in Hellam Township. Safe Haven will host an open house Wednesday, December 14 and will officially open in January. Friday, December 9, 2016. John A. Pavoncello photo (Photo: The York Dispatch) The facility, at 5849 Lincoln Highway, was last inspected by the state Department of Health on Nov. 6   as a result of an on-site complaint investigation by the Division of Drug and Alcohol Program Licensure, according to online records. The inspection notes that the facility was without running water for a five-day period in early November, and they failed to follow their own emergency procedures by evacuating residents to a proper substitute facility during that period. Records pertaining to inspections at the center have been requested by The York Dispatch via the state Right-to-Know Law.  Source: https://www.yorkdispatch.com/story/news/local/2018/02/01/substance-abuse-treatment-center-closes-hellam-twp-without-warning/1087615001/
Texas youth prison workers arrested amid abuse investigation By PAUL J. WEBER and CLAUDIA LAUER | Associated Press Facebook Twitter Flipboard Print Email AUSTIN, Texas –  Investigators looking into the Texas youth prison system that has been upended by abuse and misconduct allegations arrested four current and former corrections officers Thursday on charges that include excessive force, theft and document tampering. A fifth Texas Juvenile Justice Department employee is also wanted but remains at large, the Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement, bringing the total number of juvenile correction workers facing criminal charges in the past year to at least nine. A 10th former correctional officer was convicted in July on charges of having sex with youth in custody. The unfolding crisis is the second time Texas' juvenile corrections agency has been rocked by scandal. Lawmakers overhauled the system in 2007 and shuttered lockups after authorities believed at least 13 boys in custody had been sexually abused. A spate of new allegations is again raising fears. Among those arrested Thursday was Morsello Hooker, a 31-year-old corrections officer at a rural West Texas lockup. He's accused in court documents of picking up a 15-year-old who was lying on his back and slamming him on the ground. The teenager said he was slammed down on his head and another correctional officer told investigators he saw Hooker use "a lot of force," according to court records. Hooker was released Thursday from Brown County Jail on $5,000 bond. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney and a phone number listed to him was disconnected. His arrest comes more than a month after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the Texas Rangers, the state's top criminal investigators, to delve into the state juvenile system that holds about 1,400 youth offenders in five lockups across the state. In recent weeks, Abbott has also replaced the leader of the agency and an independent ombudsman, a position that was created in wake of the Texas juvenile lockup scandal a decade ago. "Misconduct on the part of employees entrusted with the responsibility of protecting our youth will not be tolerated," Abbott said in a statement. "Today's announcement is one of many steps being taken to ensure that employees at the Texas Juvenile Justice Department are held accountable for their actions, and I am pleased with the progress being made." Texas' juvenile system today is far smaller than it was at the height of the previous scandal, when the state had more than 5,000 offenders in lockups. But the department has long struggled with turnover and finding qualified correctional officers. Hooker had been on the job a decade before the alleged body slam that led to his arrest, according to agency spokeswoman Carolyn Beck, while the other three arrested Thursday had been on the job for less than three years. They are Derrick Goodman, 56; Shannon Hoaglen, 41; and Derrick Day, 39. All worked at a North Texas lockup in Gainesville and were charged with official oppression. It was not immediately clear whether they had attorneys. ___ This story has been corrected to show that the last name of one of the defendants is Goodman, not Goldman. ___ Lauer contributed to this report from Dallas. ___ Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber  Source: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/02/01/texas-youth-prison-workers-arrested-amid-abuse-investigation.html
Man accused of abusing boy in special needs group home Posted: Feb 01 2018 04:48PM MST Video Posted: Feb 01 2018 05:22PM MST Updated: Feb 01 2018 05:49PM MST PHOENIX (KSAZ) - A Valley man who worked as a caregiver at two group homes has been arrested and accused of assault. Desmond Washington was employed by Lintoc Care, a group home for special needs juveniles in Chandler, as well as by the Guild Care Group in Mesa, a group home for developmentally disabled adults. According to court documents, in early December, while Washington was bathing a child at Lintoc Care, someone could hear screams and what sounded like hits coming from the bathroom. When the boy came out of the bathroom with Washington, another caregiver told detectives he was covered in abrasions and bruises. In a medical check up days later, nurses noted his genitals were also bruised.   It was also found that Washington was also under investigation by Mesa Police, for an incident at the group home in Mesa. According to that police report, Washington is accused of badly beating a resident, repeatedly punching him.  Source: http://www.fox10phoenix.com/news/arizona-news/man-accused-of-assaulting-special-needs-patients
Opinion: Former foster child says DFCS should be last resort Opinion: Former foster child says DFCS should be last resort opinion By Richard L. Jackson 0 Posted: 6:47 p.m. Friday, February 02, 2018 Imagine your earliest memories as a child were your mother and father behaved differently than your friends’ parents. They didn’t care for you like they should. They had a drug or alcohol problem. Perhaps the happiest day of your life was when mom or dad said they wanted to get help for what troubled them. But instead of joy, this event turned to terror. As they went off to treatment, strangers barged into your home and took you away instead of sending you to a grandparent or other relative. Unfortunately, some children have been neglected and abused by their parents and immediate action is necessary by the state Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS). In other cases it is not. The trauma from being taken from your home as a young child or teenager creates psychological damage that resembles post-traumatic stress disorder. It leaves a scar with a child for the rest of his life. It certainly did for me. That’s why if Georgia can find an alternative route for parents who have issues and sincerely want to get help, then legislation now before the General Assembly could keep families intact and create incentives for parents to work on their sobriety. House Bill 159, now before the Georgia Legislature, is best known for its revision to the state adoption code. But it also includes an important new provision found in 41 states that allows parents, through a power of attorney, to give temporary guardianship to relatives or other qualified adults for up to one year. This important language — known as the Supporting and Strengthening Safe Families Act — also allows non-profits and churches to recruit volunteer foster parents who can step in as temporary guardians and care for these children right in their own communities. When children are taken into foster care, they are usually placed in the care of paid guardians who are complete strangers. In most counties in Georgia, there aren’t enough foster parents available to care for these children. As a result, siblings are split up or children are shipped to live with guardians far away – sometimes hundreds of miles from home, school, church, relatives and other support systems. As of December 2017, 14,000 Georgia children were in DFCS custody – a number that is steadily on the rise due to the opioid crisis. Nonprofits and churches are uniquely qualified to assist with the growing number of foster children at no cost to the state. To prevent children from ever winding up in state custody, they can offer family counseling, drug rehab and financial assistance when parents are out of work. But under traditional foster care, churches that provide foster parents are not allowed to assist biological parents – a link that needs repairing with this legislation. No child ever wants to become a ward of the state. And this proposal to extend a power of attorney will not work for cases of abuse or neglect. But the state will save millions of dollars it currently spends on children in DFCS if it can rely on relatives or the faith community to step in when drug addicted parents truly want help. I will always be thankful that DFCS was there for me 50 years ago. However, if that little boy had a choice to have his mother work with church volunteers versus being placed in a government system, there is no doubt I would have rather had the former. Government can never take the place of a parent or loving relative. As a former foster child, I can say it’s time for those of us who have lived in dysfunctional homes to speak out for these 14,000 Georgia children. They have been removed from the little stability they have left in their lives. As we saw in the State of the Union, President Trump highlighted how those in our community will step up to help these children if given the opportunity. The president commended a New Mexico police officer and his wife for convincing a pregnant drug addict living on the streets to allow them to take custody of, and then adopt, her unborn child. The mother is now in treatment and working on her sobriety. New Mexico law allowed the mother to give the policeman and his wife temporary custody until the adoption was finalized without oversight by DFCS. If the same policeman and his wife lived in Georgia, this temporary custody — which led to an adoption — may have never happened. I appreciate Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s leadership and support from the Georgia House in passing the Supporting and Strengthening Safe Families Act. They recognize that government is not always the solution to our foster care challenges, and DFCS should always be the last resort. Richard L. Jackson, chairman and CEO of Jackson Healthcare of Alpharetta, was removed from his mother’s care at age 13 and remained in foster care until a young adult.  Source: http://www.myajc.com/news/opinion/opinion-former-foster-child-says-dfcs-should-last-resort/zcKh3ivT0WG2IupwXJb2YI/
Arrest stirs memories of abuse Story Comments Print Create a hardcopy of this page Font Size: Default font size Larger font size 33-year-old Tracy man Imagine these poor kids, they don’t have anybody. ... Just feeling completely hopeless that nobody’s going to help them and nobody cares. And then we leave monsters to take care of them.” Posted: Friday, February 2, 2018 9:30 am Arrest stirs memories of abuse By Michael Ellis Langley Golden State Newspapers | 0 comments When one Tracy man heard about the recent arrest of a former counselor at a Valley Oak Residential youth group home in Tracy for sexual crimes — the second such case in two years — he was angry, because the same things that happened to him as a child were still going on. His mother left him at age 4, and he became a foster child and a ward of the state, bouncing from home to home for 14 years until he aged out of the system as an adult. Subscription Required An online service is needed to view this article in its entirety. You need an online service to view this article in its entirety. One of those homes was a youth group home in San Benito County. “There wasn’t no Mary Poppins working there when I was there,” he said this week in an interview given on the condition that his name would not be used. “I would sometimes talk to the workers there, but I never, kind of, trusted them. I would just say things and talk. I never expected anything good to come out of it. I never felt safe or secure by sharing the things that I would tell them, because they never did anything anyways.” He said the homes he was familiar with would house five or six kids from 6 to 16 years old who were supervised by three or four counselors. The first time he ended up in a group home, it was 1996. He was 12. “There was three ladies working there. One was probably like 19 years old, the other one was probably 24-25 and then there was like the mom — she was probably 36. She had kids of her own and was probably the most normal out of all of them,” he recalls. It was from the woman in her 20s that Jake learned how dark things can get for kids in group homes. “She would sometimes come in high and get kids to kiss each other and stuff. Who knows how it made them feel. I know I felt real weird about it,” he said. “She would also try to put makeup on us too, which was really weird. Eventually I would just let her do it because she would just ask so much. Like really being pushy about it. She would kiss on us. Touch over our genitals over our pants — you know what I mean.” He said that if she was assigned to the overnight shift, the attention was worse and she would perform sex acts with the boys. “It was almost just like, ‘OK, this is what she wants to do. Whatever,’” he said. “Nothing ever happened to her. The other workers would walk in and probably got a weird sense something odd was going on but never did anything about it.” He lived in the home for eight months and said the events he described happened almost daily. Three years later, at 16, he was back in the same group home. “Now there was different people working there and there was one particular girl and she’s the one that was really getting close with the boys,” he said. “She would try to get us to hook up with the other girls that were in there. It was always a weird thing of them trying to get us to mess around with the other kids. And also mess around with us too.” It affects him still. “They were supposed to be giving us structure. Caring for us. But instead, they came there to get their jollies out,” he said. “If a woman does something that reminds me of those women, it sickens me. It would be perfectly OK for them to do it now that I’m an adult, but it makes me feel like a child again.” He said he has to read about relationships, both sexual and friendly, to try to understand them. “I have a hard time connecting with people because of that,” he said. “That’s all I can go by is books that I’ve read from other people’s experiences. What the world tells you you should be feeling. And I know I didn’t feel like that. It was just empty, cold.” He has found a way to live with what happened to him. He lives in Tracy with his wife of 12 years and their newborn child and goes to work every day — a normal life if viewed from the outside. But he said he has no friends, no other family, and he began sobbing with angry tears as he imagined himself back in the place of kids in group homes like Valley Oak Residential. “Imagine these poor kids, they don’t have anybody,” he said in a choked voice. “A 6-year-old kid, does not have a mother or a father. Sitting in a home, all scared just with nobody. Nobody at all. Just feeling completely hopeless that nobody’s going to help them and nobody cares. And then we leave monsters to take care of them.” He believes some adults prey upon the kids’ isolation and need to connect. “The life that I’ve lived, I am a little bit jaded. It’s just that this has been going on for so long, you know what I mean. Everybody knows those kids exist and nobody’s done anything about it,” he said. “The system’s in the same place it’s always been. Kids are getting taken advantage of. There’s sex trafficking going on with orphans and foster kids.” On Jan. 2, Tracy police arrested 34-year-old Nolan Jason Bradley, a former counselor at the Valley Oak Residential youth home in Tracy. He is awaiting trial on one criminal count of lewd acts upon a child, one criminal count of sexual penetration by a foreign object, and six criminal counts of oral copulation of a person under 18. According to court documents, the alleged abuse began when the boy, a resident at Valley Oak, was 15. Ariana Gonzalez Salas was also a counselor at the Tracy home and was convicted on June 28, 2016, of sexual battery of a young male resident. She was 25 and the boy was 16. She was sentenced to one year in jail and is now out. Valley Oak Residential, which is based in Manteca, was asked for an interview about how it screens staff members and supervises them once hired. A representative named Gregory Potts sent the Tracy Press a short email in response. “Our agency follows all state, federal, and local laws regarding employment and training,” Potts wrote. “Due to ongoing litigation, we are not at liberty to elaborate.” The Tracy man who shared his story did so in the faint hope that the community would make lawmakers do something to change the system and protect children. But he’s not confident that his neighbors will act. “Well, I’m a realist and I know the people in Tracy, they already got their plates full. Everybody’s too busy. They’ve got their own kids,” he said. “I don’t really know what I could tell them, honestly. I might get a little rise out of them, but will anyone do anything? I highly doubt it. It’s been going on forever. Everybody knows these kids exist, but no one wants to talk about them.” Contact Michael Ellis Langley at mlangley@tracypress.com or 830-4231.  Source: http://www.goldenstatenewspapers.com/tracy_press/news/arrest-stirs-memories-of-abuse/article_f344e6e4-07b5-11e8-9b36-fbcb81c7f986.html
Siblings suffered gruesome abuse in foster care and the state ignored it, lawsuit says By Alexis Krell akrell@thenewstribune.com LinkedIn Google+ Pinterest Reddit Print Order Reprint of this Story February 04, 2018 05:32 AM Updated February 03, 2018 09:22 PM Siblings who say they were tortured, beaten and sexually abused in foster homes when they were children have sued the state of Washington, arguing that the abuse continued despite multiple reports of mistreatment. The siblings are identified by their initials in the lawsuit: M.M.A., M.A. and A.A. Their lawsuit doesn’t give an exact time line of the abuse or indicate how old they are now, but it says at least some of the abuse happened in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the siblings were placed in foster homes by the state Department of Social and Health Services. “Despite a number of referrals, complaints, and reports to DSHS indicative of abuse and neglect, including specific disclosures by the siblings indicating that abuse was taking place, DSHS failed to investigate in most instances, and when an investigation did occur, DSHS failed to do so with ordinary and reasonable care,” according to the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages. A DSHS spokeswoman said the agency would not comment on the pending litigation. According to the complaint, which was filed Jan. 16 in Pierce County Superior Court: Two of the siblings were sexually abused by a foster parent in one home, and the state failed to properly investigate, even though one of the children and a neighbor reported abuse and neglect to a social worker. Children living in another foster home where the siblings were assigned killed themselves, and the state also had reports of abuse and neglect connected to those parents. One of the siblings was tortured at that home, where she lived from about 1984 to 1989. The foster parents made her grab live electrical fence wires, eat rotten food and rub lotion on her foster mother’s body. They also beat her with wooden spoons and with branches they made the girl find outside. They also backhanded her in the face while wearing rings, deprived her of food and shaved her head. They also beat one of the other siblings, deprived him of food, and held his head underwater until he almost drowned. Those foster parents also encouraged other children in the home to abuse two of the siblings, who were sexually assaulted by other youths there, according to the lawsuit. DSHS employees’ visits to both foster homes were “infrequent, at best,” the lawsuit said. Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/crime/article198204604.html#storylink=cpy 
Ex-foster child of convicted pedophile files $15M claim against Arizona DCS By Caitlin Schmidt Arizona Daily Star Caitlin Schmidt Feb 4, 2018 Updated 4 hrs ago Facebook Twitter Email David Frodsham Sierra Vista police Facebook Twitter Email Print Save A former foster child who spent 12 years in the home of a man convicted of child sex crimes has filed a $15 million claim against two state agencies, saying they failed to protect him from years of physical and sexual abuse. The claim, filed Wednesday by Tucson attorney Lynne Cadigan on behalf of “John Doe,” names as defendants the Arizona Departments of Child Safety and Economic Security, the directors of both agencies and several employees. DCS, when it was known as Child Protective Services, was once an agency under DES control. The claim by “John Doe,” who recently turned 18, details more than a decade of abuse that highlights the state’s “failed child protection practices and policies,” according to the document. Darren DaRonco, a DCS spokesman, said it’s the agency’s policy not to comment on pending litigation. John Doe went to live with foster parents David Frodsham and his wife at their Sierra Vista home in 2004 and remained in their care until 2016, when federal agents arrested Frodsham for “operating a pornographic pedophile ring based in the home,” said the claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit. In December 2016, Frodsham was sentenced to 17 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of child sexual abuse and pornography. John Doe was identified as one of the victims in the federal case. “David Frodsham utilized the State of Arizona and the foster care system to funnel innocent, vulnerable children into his home, so he could run a pedophile ring,” the claim said. Frodsham physically and sexually abused John Doe “countless times” and also acted as the young man’s pimp, prostituting John Doe to other men in exchange for money. The claim said Frodsham often participated in the sexual encounters as well and “helped enable a network of pedophiles in the Sierra Vista area” who repeatedly abused John Doe. In addition to physical abuse by Frodsham, John Doe also endured beatings and neglect by Frodsham’s wife, the claim said. “(Frodsham’s wife) knew the sexual abuse was occurring, at times walking into the room as it was happening, yet took no steps to stop it,” the claim said. The claim said Frodsham’s wife routinely beat John Doe. She refused to buy clothes for John Doe or feed him, screaming at him every time he would complain or try to protect himself, according to the claim. The Frodshams forced John Doe to live outside the house most of the time, and when they left for work, they’d lock him out of the house. He was left with a bike to travel to a convenience store in case he needed to use the restroom, the claim said. The neglect and abuse was documented by DCS, but still continued, the claim said. “The foster and other children ... were forced to eat hot sauce as punishment, handcuffed to the bed all night, locked outside the home and locked in closets,” the claim said. “John Doe and the other boys were beaten with fists, brooms, belts and other objects to the extent that medical care was frequently required.” In an internal DCS document obtained by the Star, one caseworker noted in March 2007 that the Frodshams admitted to handcuffing John Doe one night, after he had gotten out of his room. “The Frodshams did not hide the fact that they used the handcuffs and notified the agency immediately,” the progress report said, adding that the only “corrective action” to be taken against the Frodshams would be a review of policies and a “stern warning that this is inappropriate behavior and against policy.” The progress notes document other instances of abuse, with witnesses reporting seeing Frodsham’s wife slapping her foster children in the face and forcing them to go to bed without dinner.  DCS had access to more than 38 police reports from the Frodsham house, dated between 2002 and 2016 — all prior to Frodsham’s arrest for child abuse. “The state should have reviewed these as part of their licensing of the foster/adoptive parent program,” the claim says. “John Doe complained to (DCS) over 16 times and nothing was done.” DCS also documented at least 10 abuse and neglect complaints against the Frodshams between 2002 and 2015. “Children in abusive homes rarely can report the abuse, as if they do they are beaten again,” the claim said. “This is exactly what happened to John Doe.” DCS should have intervened because John Doe was “completely vulnerable” to the Frodshams and helpless against their abuse, according to the claim. In addition to police reports and DCS documents, there was also information that showed that Frodsham was an unsuitable foster and adoptive parent, the claim said. Frodsham briefly worked with the Department of Defense in Afghanistan, but was kicked out and relieved from duty due to sexual harassment and a military assessment that shows he had an “unalterable personality disorder,” according to the claim. If John Doe had been the biological child of the Frodshams, the state would have removed him from the home based on the allegations of neglect and abuse, according to the claim. “Instead, the state left John Doe in the foster/adoptive home, and the Frodshams received a monthly stipend from the state to abuse him,” the claim said. The claim provides a list of 10 ways in which DCS and its employees failed to prevent John Doe’s abuse, which includes gross negligence and deliberate indifference by failing to investigate the claims of abuse and neglect in the Frodsham home. “There were numerous deliberate and negligent failings in the state in this case, as despite constant DCS presence and reports and complaints, the Frodshams were allowed to traffic their children for sex and pornography, abuse and beat the children in horrific ways, and yet blame it all on the children,” the claim said. John Doe has both physical and emotional scars from his years of abuse and will continue to suffer “permanent and devastating” emotional damage, the claim said. In addition to the $15 million the claim is seeking, John Doe also wants to change the way DCS operates and send a message to the state to protect children in its care, according to the claim. ”The Department of Child Safety must be held accountable for the abuse this child has suffered,” Cadigan told the Star. “How could such horrific abuse occur on their watch?” The state entrusted vulnerable children into Frodsham’s care and paid him “substantial taxpayer funds” while he trafficked those foster children into his pedophile ring, Cadigan said. ”This case is one of the worst cases of neglect and torture I have seen in my 35 years of experience,” Cadigan said. “The suffering this child has endured is unimaginable.”  Source: http://tucson.com/news/local/ex-foster-child-of-convicted-sierra-vista-pedophile-files-m/article_9f3986c0-8f05-5ec3-9562-ade05a18be1c.html
Oregon's scathing child welfare audit is no surprise for foster parents: Guest opinion Updated 8:30 AM; Posted 8:30 AM The author, at right, argues that he and his husband, Ben West, (left) found the number of cases that state foster-care workers had to juggle to be a stumbling block to the care that kids were provided.(Stephanie Yao Long/2014) 138 shares By Guest Columnist By Paul Rummell The results of the Oregon foster-care system audit are in, and they are more horrific than anyone could imagine - unless you work in or with foster care. For those of us who have seen firsthand the staff turnover, low morale and nonexistent support for foster parents, the audit serves as recognition, finally, of the dire circumstances our most vulnerable population must contend with if they seek state intervention and protection. The findings come as no real surprise to me or my husband. Almost a decade ago, we became foster parents to help an underserved population and to gain experience as parents for when we decided to build our own family. The decision to become foster parents changed our lives. It set the course for the work we chose, the activism we focused on and ultimately, helped us create the family we now have. But we saw how flawed the Department of Human Services' foster-care system is, and the audit findings bear those out. The report highlights three major areas of concern - systemic problems including chronic mismanagement, an insufficient number of available foster families and years of understaffing - and makes 24 recommendations. Simply put, the agency doesn't have enough people to meet the needs of Oregon's children in crisis. This has led to an unfathomable downward spiral of attrition that itself is the reason for a yearly budget drain of about $28 million. That's what it takes each year to train newly hired caseworkers. The ideal would be to retain staff and use the $28 million dollars for improved programs for children, higher payments for foster families, and promotion of foster parents. The money also could be used to recruit more case workers to alleviate the load on existing staff. As foster parents, we found the number of cases that workers had to juggle to be a stumbling block to the care that kids were provided. We had several foster kids placed with us who saw their state-assigned case worker less than once a month. One child was deliberately separated from his sibling, regardless of a policy that they should be kept together. The caseworker, who was close to retiring, didn't seem to care that he was ripping two children's lives apart. He made false promises that the two would have full visitation opportunities, and then stopped returning our calls. Generally, we felt some caseworkers seemed apathetic because they were overloaded with cases. It seemed commonplace for them to promise care or assistance, but not follow through. On many occasions, caseworkers were dishonest, promising things they couldn't provide to placate us, as foster parents. This created animosity and distrust. We also saw the agency push to reunify foster children with their families, even when workers admitted the families hadn't fully met the criteria for reunification. Due to lack of funding to ensure compliance with family treatment plans, it was commonplace to send kids back home - only to have them return to DHS in a vicious cycle. With a lack of foster care providers and caseworkers, the problems we saw could only have gotten worse.  We decided to quit foster care, becoming another foster-care statistic. Once we adopted our son, the best thing for our family was to remove ourselves from the culture of distrust we'd experienced. We devoted our time to making sure our son had the attention he finally deserved. There is a culture within the agency that needs to change, and that comes from the highest levels. Managers resort to bullying their caseworkers to force results. Caseworkers suffer from burnout, leaving fragile and vulnerable children to suffer greater injustice within a system that is supposed to protect them. It is no surprise to us that this important audit was a priority for Secretary of State Dennis Richardson. Richardson and his wife adopted their eighth daughter from foster care, and his experience resonated with us. We supported him in the election because of our belief that he would work to reform issues within the system. This audit is a culmination of that work. Oregon's children deserve much better and we are happy that Richardson and his team of auditors have highlighted areas that need improvement. Let's hope our governor and Legislature are listening. With the start of the new 2018 legislative session, I really hope our elected officials make our children a priority. Paul Rummell and his husband, Ben West, adopted their son through foster care and were plaintiffs in a lawsuit that successfully challenged Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage. They live in Wilsonville. Source: http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2018/02/oregons_scathing_child_welfare.html
Student dies on campus of Wahpeton boarding school By Amy Unrau on Feb 7, 2018 at 10:28 p.m.  WAHPETON -- A student has reportedly died on a school campus in Wahpeton this week. The Circle of Nations Indian school tells us a 12-year-old girl was found dead Tuesday night around 8:00. The superintendent says the girl did not die of natural causes, but there is no danger to the community, according to the Wahpeton Daily News. Her body is undergoing an autopsy and police are investigating. In a statement, the school said: "It's difficult for all of us to face the death of a young person. During crises situations such as this, providing support to our students and staff is our primary priority." The school has brought in counselors for those in need.  Source: http://www.wday.com/news/4400408-student-dies-campus-wahpeton-boarding-school
Arizona Department of Child Safety faces claims of $37M over abuse Back-to-back claims: Kids were abused in foster care, and DCS dropped the ball Mary Jo Pitzl, The Republic | azcentral.com Published 1:32 p.m. MT Feb. 8, 2018 | Updated 3:07 p.m. MT Feb. 8, 2018 CLOSE Reporter Bob Ortega outlines The Republic's series examining the Arizona Department of Child Safety, the issues with the state's child-welfare system and how to improve it. David Wallace/azcentral.com One claim alleges a decade of horrific abuse and neglect; another documents that a registered sex offender lived in a foster home and abused a young girl. Two claims filed against the Arizona Department of Child Safety in the past two weeks allege the agency failed to protect children in foster care(Photo: David Wallace/The Republic) CONNECTTWEETLINKEDIN 1 COMMENTEMAILMORE In May 2016, a 7-year-old girl was sexually abused while in foster care.  The man who assaulted her, known to her as "Papa Joe," was convicted last year of sexual conduct with a minor and sentenced to 20 years in prison.  Now, her attorney is seeking $22 million from the state for the failure of the state Department of Child Safety to properly vet her foster-home placement and keep her from harm.  Foster child, sex offender lived in same home  A new notice of claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — filed with the state Wednesday describes that harm in graphic detail. Attorney Robert Pastor says DCS officials knew or should have known that the child was living in a home west of Phoenix where Jose Egurrola, a registered sex offender, was living.  Jose Egurrola (Photo: Arizona Department of Transportation) "In fact, the State of Arizona did know because the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicle (sic) and the Arizona Department of Public Safety documented that Jose Angel Egurrola was a convicted sex offender, living with the foster mother," the claim reads. The child is not identified in the claim, to protect her privacy and that of her family. Pastor said the girl has since been reunited with her biological mother. Now age 8, she has been acting out, getting into fights with other children at school, showing fear of sleeping in a dark room and exhibiting anxiety and depression, Pastor said. READ THE CLAIM: Click here or scroll to the end of the story  ONE GIRL'S STORY:  A horrifying journey through Arizona foster care  The filing comes after a notice filed last week on behalf of a former foster child in Tucson who alleged more than a decade of abuse from his foster father. That claim, which seeks $15 million in damages from the state, states the boy was repeatedly physically and sexually abused by his foster father over the 12 years he was in the home. He also was pimped out by his foster father to a pedophile ring that operated out of Sierra Vista, the claim states. His foster mother also beat him, and the family continually neglected the boy's needs, the claim states. DCS has declined to comment on the claims, citing the potential litigation. Both of the claims allege failings in how DCS administers foster-care licensing. FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn From CPS to DCS: A look at Arizona's struggling child-welfare agency  Fullscreen Post to Facebook Posted! A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. Arizona Child Protective Services caseworker Wendy Rosenberg meets a 4-year-old boy whose mother was taken to a psychiatric hospital after threatening to commit suicide. Police officers put the child in their vehicle while waiting for a CPS representative to arrive.  Nick Oza/The Republic Fullscreen An Arizona Child Protective Services caseworker escorts a family with the help of Phoenix police on Feb. 28, 2012. State officials and child-welfare experts say a growing number of kids in foster care indicates underlying problems are too much for one agency to handle.  Nick Oza/The Republic Fullscreen A young boy eats an apple while staying at the Crisis Nursery in Phoenix. Child advocates, care providers and case managers say the beating death of 6-year-old Jacob Gibson is shedding light on an Arizona child-welfare system in crisis, starved by budget cuts and crippled by staff turnover, low morale and crushing caseloads.  Pat Shannahan/The Republic Fullscreen A 3-year-old girl throws a tantrum while laying down on the floor in the preschool area of Child Crisis Arizona in Phoenix on January, 28, 2016. The shelter houses nearly 30 children 0 zero through 8, who are primarily brought in from the Arizona Department of Child Safety. The children stay at the shelter an average of six to nine months.  David Wallace/The Republic Fullscreen The shadow a 2-year-old boy is seen at Child Crisis Arizona on January 28, 2016. The shelter houses nearly 30 children ages 0 through 8, who are primarily brought in from the Arizona Department of Child Safety. The children stay at the shelter an average of six to nine months.  David Wallace/The Republic Fullscreen A 5-year-old boy sits at a picnic table at a park at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix on March 1, 2016. The boy lives at Child Crisis Arizona in Phoenix, a shelter that houses nearly 30 children ages 0 through 8, who are primarily brought in from the Department of Child Safety. The children stay at the shelter an average of six to nine months. An adult supervisor took five of the children on a walk to the park at Maricopa Medical Center, which is next door to the shelter.  David Wallace/The Republic Fullscreen A 2-year-old is examined for bruises, marks or scrapes at Child Crisis Arizona in Phoenix on March 1, 2016. The boy is leaving the facility for the afternoon to see a parent, and every time a child leaves and returns to the facility to see a parent or guardian, his body must be checked. The shelter houses nearly 30 children ages 0 through 8, who are primarily brought in from the Arizona Department of Child Safety. The children stay at the shelter an average of six to nine months.  David Wallace/The Republic Fullscreen Phoenix police Detective Gregory McKay was hired in September 2012 to oversee a new investigations unit handling the most serious child abuse and neglect cases.  Tom Tingle/The Republic Fullscreen Phoenix police Detective Greg McKay (left), who heads the Office of Child Welfare Investigations, talks to Arizona Department of Economic Security Director Clarence Carter on Oct. 17, 2013, during the meeting of the Child Protective Services Oversight Committee. Carter heard presentations from the state Department of Economic Security, which oversees CPS, on the foster-care system, the progress of a special-investigations unit and how $60 million in new funding is being spent.  Nick Oza/The Republic Fullscreen Arizona Department of Economic Security Director Clarence Carter said he wasn't aware of the thousands of uninvestigated child-welfare cases discovered in 2013.  Nick Oza/The Republic Fullscreen Arizona Department of Economic Security Director Clarence Carter and hearing co-Chair Rep. Kate Brophy McGee listen as Charles Flanagan, chairman of the C.A.R.E. team. addresses an Arizona legislative hearing of the Child Protective Services Oversight Committee at the state capital on Monday, December 16, 2013. The purpose of the meeting was an update on the more than 6,500 non-investigated CPS cases by both the Department of Public Safety and the C.A.R.E. team.  Charlie Leight/The Republic Fullscreen Gov. Jan Brewer addresses a joint session at the Arizona State Capitol Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. Brewer announced during her State of the State address Monday that she has signed an executive order abolishing Child Protective Services, replacing it with a stand-alone, cabinet-level agency. The new agency will be steered by Charles Flanagan, who is heading up the independent CARE review team Brewer created to look into thousands of uninvestigated child-abuse reports.  Rob Schumacher/The Republic Fullscreen Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signs into law, then holds up Senate Bill 1002, which provides about $60 million in additional funding to cover the cost of adding more than 160 new staff, from caseworkers to police investigators, to the new Department of Child Safety during the signing ceremony on Wednesday, May 29, 2014, at the State Capitol in Phoenix, Ariz. The new department is the successor to the troubled Child Protective Services, whose demise followed the revelation last fall of nearly 6,600 reports of child abuse and neglect that had been set aside and marked "not investigated."  Rob Schumacher/The Republic Fullscreen Gov. Doug Ducey (left) picked Greg McKay on Tuesday, February 10, 2015, to lead the Department of Child Safety, despite McKay's lack of administrative experience. DCS now is seeking a 20 percent budget increase. Ducey has given McKay a “clear mandate" to make changes at the child-welfare agency as he sees fit. But a lack of stability among the agency’s top brass calls into question McKay’s leadership.  Michael Schennum/The Republic Fullscreen Maribel Ontiveros talks about the day the police came to take her children. They were returned six days later by Arizona Department of Child Safety caseworkers who said they'd made a mistake. The photo was taken in Ontiveros’ Phoenix home, October 28, 2016.  Mark Henle/The Republic Fullscreen Maribel Ontiveros talks about the day the police came to take her children. They were returned six days later by Arizona Department of Child Safety caseworkers who said they'd made a mistake. The photo was taken in Ontiveros’ Phoenix home, October 28, 2016.  Mark Henle/The Republic Fullscreen Maribel Ontiveros talks about the day the police came to take her children. They were returned six days later by Arizona Department of Child Safety caseworkers who said they'd made a mistake. The photo was taken in Ontiveros’ Phoenix home, October 28, 2016.  Mark Henle/The Republic Fullscreen Maribel Ontiveros shows a video of the day the police came to take her children. They were returned six days later by Arizona Department of Child Safety caseworkers who said they'd made a mistake. The photo was taken in Ontiveros’ Phoenix home, October 28, 2016.  Mark Henle/The Republic Fullscreen A portrait of the Garcia family (from left): Maribel Ontiveros, Irving Garcia (16), Carolina Garcia (9), Antonio Garcia and Christopher Garcia (13), November 2, 2016, in front of their Phoenix home.  Mark Henle/The Republic Fullscreen Maribel Ontiveros (left) speaks about the Arizona Department of Child Safety during a protest against DCS outside of their office on Monday March 21, 2016, in Phoenix, Ariz.  Courtney Pedroza/The Republic Fullscreen Christopher Garcia (right) and his mother Maribel Ontiveros (left) hold signs during a protest against the Arizona Department of Child Safety outside of the DCS office on Monday March 21, 2016, in Phoenix, Ariz.  C From CPS to DCS: A look at Arizona's struggling child-welfare agency In the case of the young girl, records show Egurrola registered as a sex offender, listing the foster-home address, two days after the child was placed there. DCS is required to check the backgrounds of all adults in a foster home, and to do periodic checks.  Although Egurrola was not on the registry — in violation of his parole — when the placement was made, Pastor said his presence should have been noticed in follow-up visits. MVD records included with the claim show Egurrola moved along with the foster mother from Surprise to Avondale, changing his address to the Avondale location in April 2016, one month before the sexual abuse. BIGGEST CHALLENGE, OPPORTUNITY:  DCS aims to keep more kids at home The claim alleges when DCS workers arrived to do periodic checks on the foster home, they did not enter the house to check out the living conditions, did not verify who was living there and did not interview the home's occupants. The foster mother reported the abuse to Avondale police as soon as the child told her about it, and ordered Egurrola to leave the home. Egurrola pleaded guilty to sexual conduct with a minor last April. A forensic examination conducted as part of the criminal investigation found his semen on the child's mouth, anus and vagina, according to the complaint.  CLOSE Arizona’s child-welfare agency says to call the child-abuse hotline if you reasonably believe that a child has been “abused, neglected, exploited or abandoned.” Wochit 3 dozen police reports ignored, claim says “John Doe (the pseudonym used for the child in the claim) complained to CPS/DCS over 16 times and nothing was done. Even more shocking, there were at least 10 abuse and neglect complaints documented by CPS/DCS between 2002 and 2015.” Attorney Lynne Cadigan, in a claim made by a former Tucson foster child against DCS In the Tucson case, the claim alleges DCS did not pursue more than three dozen police reports involving the home of David Frodsham, the foster father, over a period of 12 years. Those reports included calls made by the foster child himself.  "John Doe (the pseudonym used for the child in the claim) complained to CPS/DCS over 16 times and nothing was done," attorney Lynne Cadigan wrote. "Even more shocking, there were at least 10 abuse and neglect complaints documented by CPS/DCS between 2002 and 2015." These reports brought no change to the boy's welfare, Cadigan wrote. It was only when Frodshamwas arrested by federal officers for operating a pornographic pedophile ring out of his home that DCS removed the boy from the home. That's because the complaint by the federal investigators identified the boy as a victim of the pedophile operation. The back-to-back claims come as the state Legislature is considering a bill that would drop the requirement for foster and group homes to renew their licenses after their first two years of operation. Rather, Senate Bill 1046 would make the renewal process complaint driven; if a complaint were filed against a home, the state would be obliged to investigate if the operator wanted to keep the license valid. The bill passed the state Senate on a unanimous vote Monday; it now moves to the House of Representative for consideration. Meanwhile, the state has 60 days to review the claims and decide whether to accept them. If denied, the claimants can take their case to court. Reach the reporter at maryjo.pitzl@arizonarepublic.com and follow her on Twitter, @maryjpitzl.  Source: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-investigations/2018/02/08/back-back-claims-kids-were-abused-foster-care-and-dcs-dropped-ball/316817002/
Kids in psych center say staff sexually, physically abused them. Why didn’t officials listen? By Fred Clasen-Kelly And Cassie Cope frkelly@charlotteobserver.com LinkedIn Google+ Pinterest Reddit Print Order Reprint of this Story February 09, 2018 02:55 PM Updated 1 hour 43 minutes ago In April, a 17-year-old with a history of suicide attempts and depression escaped from a south Charlotte psychiatric hospital. Staff members who caught him used unnecessary force, the teen said, and threatened to beat him up if he told anyone. At the same facility in September, according to court and police records, a teenage girl said she had sex with a staff member. A grand jury later indicted the Strategic Behavioral Center employee on a charge of statutory rape. Most recently, someone shattered a window on New Year’s Day and 10 children, as young as 12, broke out of the center, a police report shows. State investigative reports obtained by the Observer date to 2016 and reveal allegations of sexual and physical abuse, verbal abuse and failures by Strategic Behavioral Center to properly investigate or report serious accusations made by patients. Strategic is one of 37 licensed psychiatric residential treatment facilities in North Carolina where patients get round-the-clock care for severe mental and behavioral conditions. The incidents raise questions about whether the 60-bed facility on Sharon Road West near South Boulevard is properly treating and supervising children in its care, advocates for the disabled and lawmakers say. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has two open investigations into complaints against the hospital, including the January escape. The allegations have also drawn concern from critics about whether the state agency has acted swiftly enough to discipline Strategic and ensure the safety of its patients. Complaints from patients were documented by DHHS regulators. After learning about the state’s findings, three state lawmakers told the Observer they believe that DHHS failed to adequately oversee Strategic and keep children safe. One also said the hospital should be shut down. DHHS is responsible for licensing residential treatment facilities like Strategic and making sure that taxpayer money – which often pays for the services through Medicaid – is used properly. State Sen. Tommy Tucker, a Union County Republican who is a member of the General Assembly’s legislative oversight committee on Medicaid, criticized oversight by DHHS and said Strategic has been given enough chances to improve its performance. “They may need to move quickly to suspend this organization,” Tucker said. “You need to move these people to other places.” Poor results The Tennessee-based company that owns the hospital – Strategic Behavioral Health – operates treatment centers in six states, including three in North Carolina. The company says it has boosted quality by hiring an outside expert to conduct regular surveys to measure patient outcomes. While Strategic’s other facilities performed well, the Charlotte hospital suffered recently with problems in management, said Art Frankel, a UNC Wilmington social work professor who conducts the surveys. A quarterly survey from last year found 60 percent of patients returned to long-term psychiatric care within six months of discharge from the Charlotte hospital, Frankel said. In the past, the facility’s rate had hovered around the national average of 19 percent, he said. Roughly one in three patients visit emergency rooms for mental health issues within one month of discharge, another measure used to determine whether treatment was effective. That’s three times higher than the national average, Frankel said. “It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see this place was not doing as well as the others,” Frankel said. “Administration was not taking care of business.” Strategic refused to make company leaders available for interviews, but released written statements in response to questions from the Observer. Overall patient care meets national guidelines for behavioral health and rehabilitative services, Strategic said. “An important part of our commitment is to continually improve our performance,” the company said. “That is why we are one of the few behavioral health providers who contracts with the state that also engages an independent expert to evaluate our programs and track our outcomes on an ongoing basis. “We examine those reports, as well as feedback from state regulators, patient advocates, and others, and modify our programs so that we can best serve the youth we treat.” Strategic has temporarily relocated one of its top executives to Charlotte to help oversee operations. The company also hired a new chief executive officer for the Charlotte hospital. Asked about the DHHS investigation into the New Year’s Day patient escape, Strategic said it has sent the state a corrective action plan meant to prevent a repeat. That plan includes retraining staff and amending its admissions policy, the company said. “We have reviewed operations at our center, including two unfortunate recent incidents involving residents we admitted without realizing they were not suited for our level of care,” the company said. “We are making some changes so that we can most effectively and safely treat our patients.” Health and safety concerns Troubles at Strategic have existed since at least early 2015. In North Carolina, seven managed care organizations contract with providers to treat people who receive Medicaid, a joint state and federal health insurance program for the needy that covers the cost for most of Strategic’s patients. Cardinal Innovations Healthcare and Alliance Behavioral Healthcare have ended contracts with the Charlotte hospital, a move that advocates for the disabled and state lawmakers say should have raised red flags. Cardinal coordinates care for Medicaid recipients in Mecklenburg and 19 other counties. State leaders and others harshly criticized DHHS oversight of Cardinal last year after audits found alleged misspending, including taxpayer money used for high-priced parties and retreats, chartered flights and pay bonuses. Spokeswoman Ashley Conger said Cardinal stopped referring clients in April 2015 after concerns surfaced about quality of care and health and safety. Conger said Cardinal provided oversight and technical assistance to Strategic, but the hospital did not improve. Alliance Behavioral Healthcare serves clients who live in Durham, Wake, Johnston and Cumberland counties. A spokesman said Alliance stopped referring patients to the Charlotte hospital in July 2017 in response to substantiated complaints about quality of care. State Rep. Donny Lambeth, co-chair of the House Health Committee, said DHHS should have acted to stop other managed care organizations from referring children to the hospital. “DHHS has got to step up,” said Lambeth, a Forsyth County Republican and a retired hospital executive. “If there are repeated offenses they need to be dealt with or closed down. There are fundamental problems here.” State defends oversight DHHS spokeswoman Chris Mackey said in an email that each managed care organization is responsible for making its own determinations about health providers. The organizations are notified when the state suspends, revokes or imposes other sanctions against a facility’s operating license. Regulators have investigated 21 complaints against the Charlotte hospital since 2015, Mackey said. Strategic has drawn up corrective action plans when DHHS cited problems during past investigations, she said. The agency recently rejected an application from Strategic to add 40 beds to the facility for adults, Mackey said. Under that plan, officials would have transferred patients from a state hospital in Burke County to the Charlotte facility. Mackey said investigators have also recently visited Strategic multiple times to look into serious allegations reported in December and January. “If justified, there will be specific enforcement action taken,” Mackey said. “Since safety of the residents is the top priority, while we were on site, we verbally informed the facility about our findings so they could move forward with implementing an immediate corrective action plan.” ‘A lot has come to light’ Both supporters and critics say even the best-run psychiatric centers are bound to see trouble. Many patients suffer with serious conditions such as personality disorders and learning disabilities and sometimes behave violently. But the allegations against Strategic’s Charlotte hospital stand out, advocates for the disabled said. “During the past six months, at minimum, (Strategic) has committed numerous statutory and constitutional violations against the children it has admitted,” says a 2016 complaint letter sent to DHHS by the Council for Children’s Rights, a Charlotte nonprofit that provides legal services for Strategic patients and others. State regulators, who looked into complaints against the hospital in 2016 and 2017, found troubling accusations. Among them: ▪ In the April 2017 incident, investigators reported, a 17-year-old with a history that included three suicide attempts, childhood abuse and major depressive disorder escaped from the hospital grounds. When Strategic staff members caught him two blocks from the facility, the teen said, they used unnecessary force, tackling him and dragging him into a car. He also alleged that staff threatened to beat him up if he told anyone about being tackled, the report said. “I do not believe they had to tackle him,” a Strategic worker said in an interview, according to documents. “I have worked with the police department prior to this with the same staff and know them.” Two days later, the teen attempted suicide. Staff found him lying in front of a sink gasping for air and blue in the face. State officials concluded that the hospital did not properly report the suicide attempt to the state and did not investigate the circumstances. According to state regulators, a Strategic executive acknowledged the staff’s response to the incident was flawed. “A lot has come to light with your (state agency) investigation and we feel it is in the best interest that we self-report the suicide attempt and investigate the possible abuse reported upon his (Resident #1) return,” the executive said. “This event with (Resident #1) has opened my eyes to a lot of things such as our reporting processes, the need to dig deeper, and not taking things at face value.” ▪ In September, reports say, a patient suffering from depression alleged that a staff member physically abused him. The patient alleged that the worker had upset patients by calling them “b---hes and dumba---s,” so he decided to spit on the worker. That’s when he says the staffer slapped him and put him in a restraint hold normally used as a last resort when patients present a danger to themselves or others. Investigators watched video to determine whether the patient was abused, but said it was inconclusive. A day after the confrontation, the child’s mother said Strategic informed her about the restraint hold, but said she was not told about her son’s physical abuse accusation, reports say. State regulators found that the hospital did not report the alleged slap to a state registry within 24 hours as required. A review of Strategic records showed the patient spit and hit staff, but did not mention the accusation of abuse, the state said. Strategic said that DHHS investigated the accusations of abuse and ruled them unsubstantiated. The company also said it notified the state and the child’s family about the incident. But Strategic acknowledged that workers did not submit a report to the Health Care Personnel Registry within 24 hours. ▪ In the sexual assault case from last fall, court and police records say a teenage girl alleged that about 10 months earlier she and a Strategic staff member had sex. A grand jury in November indicted Lavic Williams on charges of having vaginal intercourse with a victim age 15 or younger. Williams, 28, has denied having any sexual contact with the girl, court records say. Prosecutors dropped the charges in December, saying they could not corroborate the victim’s account. ▪ DHHS spokesman Cobey Culton said regulators visited Strategic in January to investigate the New Year’s Day escape. Culton would not answer questions about the incident or provide a copy of reports. A police report says patients between the ages of 12 and 17 damaged property and assaulted someone before leaving the hospital about 10 p.m. Frankel, the UNC Wilmington professor, said he visited the hospital soon after the escape. One of the patients dismantled part of a wooden desk and the patients used the furniture piece to shatter a window and escape, Frankel said. He said it was a mistake to furnish a residential psychiatric center with furniture that can be taken apart. A balancing act Karen McLeod, president and chief executive officer of Benchmarks, a Raleigh-based trade association for behavioral health service providers, said that unsubstantiated allegations against Strategic and other providers should be viewed skeptically. Patients sometimes concoct phony stories about sexual and physical abuse to try to make trouble, McLeod said. That’s why state regulators work with operators such as Strategic who show a desire to improve instead of revoking their license, McLeod said. “If you close down every facility where something happens, you would have no facilities,” McLeod said. But state Rep. Verla Insko, an Orange County Democrat who has been a staunch advocate for mental health services, said the Strategic case reflects how DHHS might be too reluctant to revoke the licenses of psychiatric centers. “It calls for immediate action,” Insko said. “Something is wrong with the state if these places aren’t shut down.” Clasen-Kelly: 704 358-5027 Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article199343444.html#storylink=cpy 
This is how NC is punishing a psych center where kids say they were abused By Fred Clasen-Kelly And Cassie Cope frkelly@charlotteobserver.com LinkedIn Google+ Pinterest Reddit Print Order Reprint of this Story February 12, 2018 12:01 PM Updated 6 hours 16 minutes ago State officials have shut down admissions to a south Charlotte psychiatric hospital where children say they were sexually and physically abused, according to newly released documents. Investigators determined conditions at Strategic Behavioral Center put patients in “immediate jeopardy,” says a letter to Strategic from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. That means the state is recommending Strategic not receive money from Medicaid, a joint state and federal health insurance program for the needy that covers the cost for most of Strategic’s patients. Strategic is one of 37 licensed psychiatric residential treatment facilities in North Carolina where patients get round-the-clock care for severe mental and behavioral conditions.  The 60-bed facility located on Sharon Road West near South Boulevard cannot accept new patients until problems are fixed, DHHS said. NDHHS spokesman Cobey Culton said in an email that officials visited the hospital as recently as last week and more sanctions could be imposed, including a possible financial penalty. The moves come after the Observer made inquiries about accusations of mistreatment and a New Year’s Day incident in which 10 patients – as young as age 12 – shattered a window and escaped the hospital. On Monday, the chief executive officer for Strategic’s Charlotte hospital said in a written statement that the hospital is working with the state on an improvement plan and retraining staff. “Our highest priority is to provide safe, high-quality care to our residents,” Orvin Fillman said. “It is important to note that the DHHS recommendation on ending participation in Medicare and Medicaid would not go into effect if we submit a satisfactory improvement plan, which we fully intend to do.” Articles published Friday detailed allegations from patients, including a girl who says she had sex with a staff member. In another case, a teen said a hospital worker called patients “b---hes and dumba---s” and slapped him in retaliation for being spit on. A North Carolina mom also said workers at Strategic put her teen daughter in a “protective hold” at least 38 times during a five-month period. Research shows physical restraints can cause unnecessary trauma to patients who are already struggling. In a letter to Strategic dated Feb. 6, DHHS said the hospital’s failure to secure doors and provide proper supervision helped lead to the New Year’s Day escape and an assault on staff. Strategic did not communicate to its staff the patients’ histories of violent behavior or escape attempts, the letter said. The hospital “failed to implement policies and elopement precautions thereby creating an unsafe environment for the delivery of safe resident care,” DHHS said. “As a result, residents destroyed wooden furniture and made weapons which placed residents and staff in an unsafe environment.” Strategic is owned by a Tennessee company that runs mental treatment centers in six states, including three in North Carolina. Clasen-Kelly: 704 358-5027 Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article199655819.html#storylink=cpy 
Mayes County foster parent charged with rape of 15-year-old boy in her care By Sheila Stogsdill for the Tulsa World SHEILA STOGSDILL Feb 12, 2018 Updated 1 hr ago 1 Facebook Twitter Email Stephanie Cowan DOB 2-6-84 Facebook Twitter Email Print Save PRYOR — Four children placed with a Mayes County woman in foster care have been removed from her home after she was accused of raping a 15-year-old boy. Stephanie Cowan, 34, of Salina was charged Jan. 24 in Mayes County District Court with three counts of second-degree rape. She is free on $30,000 bail and set to return to court in March. Cowan, also a Pryor junior high school science teacher, was suspended and subsequently resigned from the school district when charges were filed, according to Superintendent Don Raleigh. The former teacher admitted to investigators she had sex and sexual contact with the teen on four separate occasions since he was placed in her care on Oct. 31, according to an arrest affidavit. Stephanie Cowan and her spouse were approved for placement by DCCCA Tallgrass Family Services on Jan. 19, 2017, said Casey L. White, Department of Human Services communications manager. DCCCA Tallgrass Family Services is licensed by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services as a child placing agency. “(The Cowans) completed and passed all of their required background checks and trainings prior to being approved,” White said. Three girls and one boy were placed with the Cowans, she said. All of the children have since been removed and placed in a safe home, White said. “We have many safeguards and checks in place to ensure safety of all the foster families we support,” said Jennifer Hethcoat, DCCCA director of communications. “All of these safeguards are not foolproof in predicting human behavior."  Source: http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/crimewatch/mayes-county-foster-parent-charged-with-rape-of--year/article_8777741e-bdd7-57ba-9768-046ef7595bf1.html
Native American boarding school abuse victims seek new law Originally published February 12, 2018 at 2:44 pm Updated February 12, 2018 at 4:29 pm Share story By JAMES NORD The Associated Press PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota lawmakers are considering establishing a three-year window for victims of childhood sexual abuse at Native American boarding schools to file lawsuits against organizations like schools and churches, a move that supporters say would allow survivors to have their stories heard. The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to debate a measure Tuesday that would create the new timeframe for victims to file civil claims and repeal a provision in state law banning victims 40 and older from recovering damages from people or entities other than the actual abuser. Louise Charbonneau Aamot is one of nine sisters who unsuccessfully sued over alleged sexual abuse committed before 1975 at St. Paul’s Indian Mission, a boarding school in Marty, South Dakota. The 67-year-old member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa said officials need to ensure it never happens again at any school or church. “We know that God’s with us on this journey. We’ve been through so much, and there’s so much pain,” she said. “But we’re hoping, you know, they listen to us this time.” The Associated Press typically doesn’t identify sexual assault victims unless they come forward publicly. Attorney Michelle Dauphinais Echols, the bill’s author, said it’s for “healing and justice.” Victims haven’t had an opportunity to have their cases heard on the merits of their claims, she said. The South Dakota Supreme Court in 2012 dismissed the sister’s and others’ claims against religious groups including the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls. The court found that the lawsuits were filed years after the applicable statute of limitations had expired and that the diocese wasn’t liable because it wasn’t responsible for the children. The new legislation would clarify that any person or organization engaged in the Native American boarding school system may be held liable for childhood sexual abuse. The bill’s original language would eliminate the statute of limitations, but an amendment aims to create a 3-year window for filing claims, Dauphinais Echols said. Christopher Motz, executive director of the South Dakota Catholic Conference, said the organization doesn’t have a position on the bill. Democratic Sen. Kevin Killer, the bill’s sponsor, said lawmakers have the chance to end “this sad chapter” of South Dakota history by giving people due process and their day in court. “I will fight till the day that I die,” Charbonneau Aamot said in 2015. “There is no child in this world that should ever go through what we went through.”  Source: https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/native-american-boarding-school-victims-seek-sd-law-change/
DCF forms statewide panel to analyze foster care failures exposed by 8 On Your Side investigation By Mark Douglas Published: February 12, 2018, 11:33 am Updated: February 13, 2018, 6:36 pm  HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — DCF Secretary Mike Carroll has formed a blue ribbon panel of experts to review foster care failures in Hillsborough County that we first exposed a week ago in our 8 On Your Side investigation. I really want to know why it happened and so to get to the issue of why, I need to put folks on the ground there to do a much better review of that Circuit (Tampa),” Carroll said on Monday. “Quite frankly, to know how we keep ending up here.” In an interview Monday from Tallahassee, Carroll made repeated references to our 8 On Your Side investigation that uncovered foster teens spending day after day crammed into the cars of caseworkers at a Wawa gas station on Waters Avenue instead of spending their time in school, therapy or a foster home. Eckerd, which hired Youth and Family Alternatives (YFA) to perform foster care services for 1700 children with nearly $10 million a year of your tax dollars, has also claimed YFA was turning foster kids loose in the community with bus passes on a daily basis –  because there was no other place for them to go. “You referenced some of it in your story about how some of them have different placements from night to night. That’s not a good practice either,” Carroll said. “In terms of a practice where you’re routinely bringing kids to a Wawa or they’re not in school or they’re not in placements at night, that’s totally unacceptable.” It turns out, that part of the investigation wasn’t much of a surprise to child welfare insiders. “That’s something we knew about, Eckerd knew about it, the folks on the ground knew about it,” Carroll said. “And that’s something I expect one of those systems issues that we work through.” RELATED STORY: Gov. Scott troubled by Hillsborough’s foster care failures brought to light by 8 On Your Side Carroll says his team of experts will start work this week and includes a number of people from around the state who are in a position to dig deep and determine what’s wrong with foster care in Hillsborough County. It will hold at least two public meetings and interview as many stakeholders as possible. The panel includes: Lee Kaywork, Retired CEO of Family Support Services of North Florida Linda Jewel Morgan, Senior Director of Strategic Consulting at Casey Family Programs John Cooper, CEO of Kids Central Karen Hill, Division Director of State Attorney in Circuit 6 (Children’s Legal Services) Frank Prado, Director of Operations of Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office Rebecca Kapusta, DCF Assistant Secretary for Operations Patricia Medlock, DCF Northeast Regional Managing Director Traci Leavine, DCF Office of Child Welfare Former Dependency Judge James Seals Carroll said the DCF Inspector General is also looking into the foster care failures, and last week – at DCF’s urging – Eckerd took action to terminate the YFA contract with 90 days notice and start an emergency search for another provider for more than 1,700 foster kids in Hillsborough. “Once we learned of this behavior, we took swift action,” Carroll said. “DCF has required Eckerd Connects to make immediate changes and in working with Eckerd Connects, DCF strongly recommended termination of the contract to immediately address this issue.” Carroll says whatever root causes the panel uncovers for the foster failures we exposed, he is the one who bears ultimate responsibility. “These kids are our kids,” Carroll said.”That responsibility comes right up to me…I don’t accept any of these failures.”   Source: http://wfla.com/2018/02/12/dcf-reviewing-hillsborough-foster-care-failures-exposed-by-8-on-your-side-investigation/
Former employee: Staff at youth psychiatric facility encouraged fights, were violent with kids By Stephanie Zepelin Published: February 13, 2018, 6:00 pm Updated: February 14, 2018, 9:18 am Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window) 649Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)649 Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) (WISH Photo) Related Coverage Indianapolis neighbors, police say kids are escaping a psychiatric treatment center INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — In November, an I-Team 8 investigation revealed a runaway problem at a local psychiatric facility. After that story aired, dozens of former employees and residents reached out to I-Team 8 to share their stories. We discovered even more problems at the Resource Residential Treatment facility near Fountain Square. I-Team 8 spoke with a former resident, a parent of a former resident, and a former employee of Resource. They shared different points of view, but the same messages and the same issues with Resource. Resource Residential Treatment facility calls itself a “life-changing psychiatric residential treatment facility for children and young adults in Indianapolis.” According to their website they address a variety of psychological issues like depression, anxiety, substance abuse and PTSD. Jeromy & Justin Jeromy Baden says a staff member pulled his adopted son out of his bed and called him a gay slur. (WISH Photo) I-Team 8 started investigating what was going on inside Resource when Jeromy Baden contacted us in the fall of 2017. His son, Justin, was in the facility from December 2016 to June 2017. “It’s heart-wrenching,” said Jeromy Baden. “You can’t put into words the feeling you feel.” Jeromy Baden’s adopted Justin, or “Bubba” as he calls him, about three years ago. “He had these wonderful, cute, chubby cheeks and this huge smile,” said Baden. But things with Justin weren’t always all smiles “He can go from being the sweetest kid to some violence,” said Baden. During one of those times, Justin ran outside telling the neighbors Jeromy hurt him, when Jeromy says he had only been trying to calm him down. The police were called and a judge ordered Justin to spend time at Resource. “I was thankful that he was going to a facility,” said Baden. Baden said he almost immediately went from thankful to concerned. During visits to the center for family therapy, he says he noticed parts of Justin’s therapy reports that concerned him. “It said that one time, two kids jumped him and beat him up and it was a while before the staff even got there to separate them,” he said. Baden says there were also incidents involving the staff – like the time a staff member pulled Justin out of bed and called him a homophobic slur. In all, Baden told I-Team 8 about four separate incidents and showed us emails between himself and Resource staff that confirm two of them. “You promise them you’re not going to let anyone hurt them and for months, I had to let him stay in a facility where he was being abused,” Baden said. “You lose faith in the system quite a bit.” Audrey Audrey Smart-Huxley said the staff wouldn’t let patients go outside for fear that they would run away. (WISH Photo) Audrey Smart-Huxley was also a resident at Resource, at the same time as Justin. She echoed his stories of violence. “Things happened where people would get jumped and be put in hospitals,” she said. She says staff gave them packets to complete in order to graduate the program, but there was very little direct guidance and therapy, and she’d rather go back to a youth jail than go back to Resource. “All day we just sat on a unit,” she said. “They never gave us anything to do. There were times we weren’t allowed to go outside because higher up people said we can’t go outside. We would go outside, like, maybe once a month…because they were afraid people were going to run.” Audrey says a majority of the kids inside Resource come by way of the criminal justice system – as was the case for her and Justin. “I was excited to leave,” said Audrey. Data from the state Numbers Resource gave the Indiana Department of Child Services reinforce Audrey and Justin’s stories of violence. From January through November of 2017 there was an average of more than 35 resident-on-resident assaults a month. Physical fights are one of the things facilities like Resource are required to report back to DCS. The data also reveals an average of more than 28 resident-on-staff attacks a month. There was an average of 81.9 kids per month at Resource from January-November 2017. We compiled these stats based upon data received from DCS: Resident-on-residents attacks per month in 2017 Resident-on-staff attacks per month in 2017 Average monthly number of residents OPTIONS TREATMENT CENTER 9 0.9 25.5 RESOLUTE ACQUISITION CORP 20.5 1.9 62.6 RTC RESOURCE ACQUISITION CORP 35.3 28.5 81.9   According to their website, Acadia Healthcare operates 579 behavioral health facilities in 39 states. They have seven in Indiana, and four in Central Indiana. We obtained data from DCS on the resident-on-resident attacks and resident-on-staff attacks for the other three Acadia facilities in Central Indiana. According to DCS, staff-on-resident attacks are typically reported to their hotline and assessed further. A former Resource employee who declined our request for an interview told I-Team 8 that Resource has been on a DCS plan of correction for about two years. We asked DCS and filed a Public Access request, but never got a response. “Sarah” “Sarah” was a nurse at the facility for two years. (WISH Photo) I-Team 8 also spoke with a woman spent two years as a nurse at Resource. She is still in the industry and spoke to us under a condition of anonymity, so we are calling her Sarah. “With concern for my own safety and knowing that is could possibly get bad and I could get really injured, I had to make the decision to put myself first,” said Sarah, ”which was not easy because I love those kids. And I stuck it out for two years because I loved those kids.” Sarah struggled with whether to talk with us, because she still respects some of the people who work at Resource, but she says a majority of the employees are young and vastly underqualified to work with kids struggling with major mental health issues. “The staff members would encourage the kids to fight for their entertainment,” she said. “They started making concessions, bringing in outside food, doing things they shouldn’t have been doing for the kids and that in turn would create drama. There was one incident where I was told a staff member had brought marijuana onto a unit.” Sarah said she witnessed several incidents where staff members were violent with the kids – and she’s told us she is aware of a male staff member who engaged in sexual activity with female residents. “The big riots were maybe once every few months, but there were restraints almost daily for the kids and the aggression is a daily occurrence,” she said. Sarah also said Resource does not use surveillance cameras. Neither Resource nor Acadia Healthcare would not confirm or deny this. We did our own survey and asked other residential psychiatric facilities in the state. Ten of the 11 facilities said they do have cameras – the other one would not say whether they have cameras, for safety reasons. Resource I-Team 8 reached out to Acadia Healthcare, the company that owns Resource, about what is happening there. They declined our request for comment and said they would pass our request along. We also reached out to Resource, and got the following statement from CEO Jessica Laymon: The Resource Team is comprised of many compassionate and dedicated staff who are committed to providing, not only for the daily needs, but also the treatment and healing of some of the area’s most vulnerable and traumatized youth. Chronic, long term abuse and neglect such as that suffered by many of the youth served in the Resource program, manifests as severe psychiatric and behavioral disturbances including self-harm, suicidal ideation, chronic desire to run away, aggression, and others. Resource has zero tolerance for patient harm and closely follows the High Fidelity model for zero patient harm. As such, Resource provides a multi-faceted training program along with job shadowing, coaching, and competency assessment to ensure all staff know and understand the important policies and protocols for providing safe, trauma informed care for this vulnerable population. This highly effective program touches every aspect of the Resource treatment program to ensure that patient behaviors are managed safely and in a trauma informed way, while intensive therapeutic interventions focus on reducing and extinguishing such behaviors. In the rare circumstances when staff do not follow defined protocols, Resource acts swiftly to ensure patient safety. Resource is committed to recruiting, securing, training, developing the highest quality staff in order to provide the excellent care these youth deserve.” “I think that light needs to be shown,” said Sarah. “I think something needs to be done and I want to be an advocate for those kids because there are many of them that can have a future if they have an advocate.” Jeromy Baden filed complaints with DCS about what his son says happened. Baden says he got a letter from DCS stating there was not enough evidence Justin was abused. But he wanted to speak out in hopes of preventing something similar from happening to other families. “I wont give up,” Baden said. “I’ll keep going. I’ll keep going until I fall over. It’s gotta stop.” Source: http://wishtv.com/2018/02/13/former-employee-staff-at-youth-psychiatric-facility-encouraged-fights-were-violent-with-kids/
Disability rights group blames state for boarding home deaths | KRQE News 13 Disability rights group blames state for boarding home deaths February 13, 2018 By KRQE News 13 under News Briefs ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A disability rights group says the state is responsible for at least two deaths in New Mexico boarding homes. Disability Rights New Mexico has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health claiming the agency has failed to license and regulate boarding homes, putting the disabled at risk of abuse and neglect. The group points to two deaths in a Las Vegas home in 2013. It also says the DOH failed to act on recommendations from a 2010 legislative study to establish better standards.  Source: http://krqe.com/blog/2018/02/13/disability-rights-group-blames-state-for-boarding-home-deaths/
Indictment: Nonprofit for troubled youth defrauded government of $400K Nonprofit meant to help troubled youth defrauded government of $400K, prosecutors say Matthew Glowicki, Louisville Courier Journal Published 6:07 p.m. ET Feb. 15, 2018 Gavel leaning against a row of law books(Photo: heliopix, Getty Images/iStockphoto) CONNECTTWEETLINKEDINCOMMENTEMAILMORE Employees of a Louisville nonprofit that contracted with the state to provide horse therapy and housing for youth in the juvenile justice system are accused of inflating participation numbers to defraud the government of more than $400,000. Clifford Wilkinson, a founder of the Bluegrass Training and Therapy Center, and program director Erica Bowen falsely claimed in more than 8,000 instances that youths had received services when they had not, according to a wire fraud and bribery indictment unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Louisville. It's unclear how many youths were actually helped by the programs.  Through its contract with the state's Department of Juvenile Justice, the center was reimbursed various daily rates for the services it provided to the youth. Between 2012 and 2015, prosecutors say, Wilkinson and Bowen forged signatures of teens on program attendance logs and forced youths to sign in to programming they never attended. The falsified attendance logs added up to more than $400,000 in payments in state money and federal grants.  Wilkinson and Bowen might have had help at the state level, as a juvenile justice employee, Shannon Anson, is named as a defendant in the case.  According to the indictment, the equine center would send its attendance logs to Anson, who would approve them for reimbursement. She was paid $50,500 between 2013 and 2015, the indictment said. A spokesman for the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, which oversees the Department of Juvenile Justice, deferred comment to the U.S. Attorney's Office. The nonprofit was founded in 2011 on a 20-acre site in the Valley Station area. It offered “equine day training” and transitional housing for youth in the custody of the state’s juvenile justice department to help them prepare for life after their sentence.  Kentucky Secretary of State records show the nonprofit was dissolved in late 2016.  A for-profit business, the Bluegrass Aquatic Rehabilitation and Training Center, also operates on the site and was founded by Wilkinson and employs Bowen. A call to the center Thursday afternoon was not answered, nor was a call to a number associated with Anson. If convicted, Wilkerson and Bowen could be sentenced to no more than 20 years in prison and Anson no more than 10 years. They are due to make their initial appearance in court before Magistrate Judge Dave Whalin on Feb. 22. Assistant United States attorneys Stephanie Zimdahl and Marisa Ford are prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General and the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. Reporter Matthew Glowicki can be reached at 502-582-4989 or mglowicki@courier-journal.com.  Read or Share this story: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/crime/2018/02/15/equine-nonprofit-defrauded-government-indictment/342682002/  
Former Amador Rodriguez Boot Camp employee accused of having sexual encounter with minor by CBS 4 News John Jacob Mendoza, 26, has been charged with sexual assault and improper relationship between educator and student--both second-degree felonies.(Photo courtesy of the Harlingen Police Department) A former Amador R. Rodriguez Boot Camp employee has been accused of having a sexual encounter with a minor. Harlingen police say they found 26-year-old John Jacob Mendoza with a 15-year-old girl in the backseat of a car in the early morning hours of Feb .11, according to a criminal complaint obtained by CBS 4 News. Both Mendoza and the teen were partially clothed at the time, according to the criminal complaint. The teen told police that Mendoza was her drill instructor at the boot camp and that they were planning to have sex before officers arrived, according to the criminal complaint. The Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department that oversees the Amador R. Rodriguez Boot Camp, however, tells CBS 4 News that the alleged victim was not a student at the boot camp. The department went on to say that Mendoza was not on-duty at the time of the incident. Mendoza has since been terminated and was charged with sexual assault and improper relationship between educator and student—both second-degree felonies. Read the Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department's full statement: The Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department has learned that an employee, while not on duty has been accused of and arrested for Improper Relations with a Minor and Sexual Assault. Due to the serious nature of the allegations, the employee has been terminated effective immediately. Since any accused individual is entitled to a presumption of innocence and in order to protect the identity and the privacy of the alleged victim, we are unable to provide further information at this time other than the alleged incident did not occur in any of our department’s facility(s)/programs and the alleged victim is not under the supervision of the Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department. The Department has and intends to continue to cooperate with all law enforcement and oversight agencies.  Source: http://valleycentral.com/news/local/former-amador-rodriguez-boot-camp-employee-accused-of-having-sexual-encounter-with-minor
Shocking scale of sexual abuse at UK boarding schools revealed by ITV documentary This article and video contain material you may find distressing An ITV documentary has revealed the true extent of sexual abuse at the UK’s boarding schools, with hundreds of people accused of carrying out sexual attacks in recent years and dozens of ongoing police investigations. In the Exposure programme to be broadcast on Monday, journalist and author Alex Renton - who was sexually abused as an eight-year-old by his teacher at one of the country’s top boarding schools - investigates the private schools that appeared willing to disregard children’s safety, with some failing to take action against predatory paedophiles who groomed and assaulted young boarders repeatedly - sometimes getting away with it for decades. Alex Renton was sexually abused as an eight-year-old by his teacher Credit: ITV Exposure Despite the years that have passed since Alex’s time at school, the reporting of abuse allegations is still not legally mandatory at all schools in the UK. ITV’s Exposure made a Freedom of Information request to every police force in the UK and 24 responded. The results showed: Since 2012, 425 people have been accused of carrying out sexual attacks at UK boarding schools Not every force could provide further details but at least 160 people have been charged so far. At least 171 of the total number were accused of historical abuse. Since 2012 at least 125 people have been accused by children of recent sex attacks at boarding schools. There are at least 31 ongoing investigations. Just over half of the forces responded, meaning the total figure is likely to be far higher. Credit: ITV Exposure (reconstruction) Boarding schools are among the most influential institutions in Britain – responsible for educating many politicians, judges and business leaders and 75% of Britain’s prime ministers. An estimated one million people in Britain today went to boarding school and approximately 75,000 children still board today in around 480 state and independent boarding schools. In the programme, a number of abuse survivors are interviewed, exposing the systemic failures that allowed paedophiles to go unpunished, in some cases permitting them to continue teaching elsewhere in the private and the state sector, preying on more vulnerable children. ‘I could smell the abuse’: Phillip’s story Phillip Witcomb was abused by his housemaster David Panter Credit: ITV Exposure One of the survivors of boarding school abuse who appears in the programme is Phillip Witcomb. In 1975, aged 13, Phillip arrived at Lucton School in Herefordshire – a school for children aged five to 18. His housemaster was a man named David Panter. Phillip told ITV Exposure how Panter began to abuse him in the showers. Phillip worked up the courage to tell the headmaster, Keith Vivian, what had been happening. So you describe it in your own childish way. And I remember this big hand, cause he had massive hands, Keith Vivian, coming down on my shoulder, ‘Now boy, now let’s stop telling stories. Run along to your class. Off you go, boy.’ And you’d get washed out the door. So, that is actually what happens. – Phillip Witcomb David Panter was jailed for indecent assault and gross indecency against seven pupils at Lucton School Credit: ITV Exposure Panter continued working at the school. The following year Phillip moved into a dormitory for older boys - away from Panter’s clutches. But three years later,now a school prefect, Phillip was told that Panter was still abusing the younger children. This little kid came out of Panter’s study. And he came out crying. And he just said to me, ‘Panter’s f***** me.’ And I could smell the abuse because abuse has a smell.” – Phillip Witcomb Phillip went to see Keith Vivian – the same headmaster who had refused to believe him years before. I just said, ‘No, I’m not backing down this time. If you don’t do something about I’m going to tell everybody.’ And it was quite interesting because nothing happened for quite a while in this last year and this carried on. And I went back again with the other house prefect. And he [Vivian] got angry with me…got very angry with me. Told me to go away and stop causing trouble. – Phillip Witcomb Phillip reported the abuse to Lucton School headmaster Keith Vivian The headmaster finally listened. By the next day, Panter was gone. His teaching career continued in the state sector. Exposure tracked down the headmaster who employed him at his next school – telling the programme he would have received a reference from Lucton School. In 2016, Panter was jailed for nine years for indecent assault and gross indecency against seven Lucton pupils. To avoid a contested trial, he was only convicted for the crimes he admitted. He pleaded not guilty to the allegations made by Phillip, which he still denies, as well as the allegations Phillip says were made to him by the younger boy. Lucton School told ITV Exposure that “our sympathies are with any survivors of non-recent abuse, however allegations from that period cannot be answered” because the school closed in 1985, and a new school was later opened under a trust which was “established as a new charity, a separate legal entity”. Lucton School in Herefordshire. David Panter continued his teaching career in the state sector after he left Lucton Credit: ITV Exposure The headmaster, Keith Vivian went on to become a vicar. He told Exposure he has “no recollection of any complaint made by Phillip”, but does remember when prefects came to him, and says he “asked Panter to leave the school premises immediately” and informed the school’s governing body. At no time would he not have acted immediately on such accusations”, but “it was not a police matter at that time”. What are boarding schools doing to prevent abuse? All schools are expected to have sufficient safeguarding arrangements to prevent abuse. These are checked in regular inspections. Exposure has analysed the most recent inspection report for every boarding school in England. When it came to safeguarding, one in ten schools either failed to meet national standards, or else didn’t meet the requirements needed to be given a rating of ‘good’. To find out what the industry is doing today to protect children, Alex Renton spoke to the Boarding Schools’ Association, which represents 90% of boarding schools: Credit: ITV Exposure (reconstruction) What I can say is that everyone who works in boarding today is professional, caring and doing everything they can to make safeguarding their number one priority. There's no doubt, that there was a period where some people at some schools experienced some appalling abuse. And it’s absolutely shocking. But in my experience, there isn't any school out there which doesn't want to listen to victims and, where it can, as quickly as possible, say sorry. – Robin Fletcher, Chief Executive of the Boarding Schools' Association Last year the BSA finally issued rules telling its members they must report any allegations of abuse, but say it is time for the government to make that law. Other leading organisations like the NSPCC, the Independent Association of Prep Schools and the Independent Schools Council told Exposure that they too support mandatory reporting for boarding schools. The government declined to give an interview but said that in 2016 they held a public consultation about whether it should be introduced, and they will publish its findings in due course. Boarding Schools: The Secret Shame – Exposure will be broadcast on Monday 19th February at 10.45pm on ITV. You can contact Alex Renton and the Exposure team in confidence at alex.renton@itn.co.uk If you have been affected by any of the issues raised you can find details of organisations able to provide help below: NAPAC offers support to adult survivors of all types of childhood abuse. Victim Support offers free and confidential services to anyone in England and Wales who has experienced sexual assault or rape now or in the past. You can call the Victim Supportline, which operates 24/7, on 0808 168 9111. Boarding Concern offers support to former boarders and boarding school survivors. Mandate Now is a pressure group that seeks the introduction of law requiring all staff who work in ‘regulated activities’ to report concerns about the welfare of a child. Alex Renton’s Stiff Upper Lip: Secrets, Crimes and the Schooling of a Ruling Class is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson Last updated Sun 18 Feb 2018  Source: http://www.itv.com/news/2018-02-18/shocking-scale-of-sexual-abuse-at-uk-boarding-schools-revealed-by-itv-documentary/
Majority Of Injuries & Critical Incidents At Group Homes For People With I/DD Not Reported News Report | February 18, 2018 A majority of injuries and critical incidents that occurred at group homes for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) in Connecticut, Maine, and Massachusetts were not reported to law enforcement or to state agencies, despite existing state regulations requiring such reports. In Connecticut, 99% of critical incidents were unreported. In Maine, 95% were unreported. In Massachusetts, 58% were unreported.  Source: https://www.openminds.com/market-intelligence/news/majority-injuries-critical-incidents-group-homes-people-dd-three-states-not-reported-law-enforcement-state-agencies-required/
Lawsuit: hundreds of foster kids harmed by being bounced from home to home Child advocacy non-profit Children’s Rights is suing DCF over the extreme shortage of foster homes in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. By Christopher O'Donnell 1 day ago Share via email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Facebook facebook Share on Twitter twitter Share via email email Share on LinkedIn linkedin Share on Google Plus google-plus Share on Whatsapp whatsapp Share on Pinterest pinterest Share on Reddit reddit × DCF Secretary Mike Carroll An international law firm and a children's advocacy group are suing the Florida Department of Children and Families for failing to provide adequate accommodation and care for foster children. Law firm Baker McKenzie and non-profit group Children's Rights on Tuesday filed the class action lawsuit against DCF on behalf of about 2,000 children in foster care in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. Between January 2016 and June 2017, more than 400 kids stayed in 10 or more different foster homes, known as placements, according to the lawsuit, which also names DCF Secretary Mike Carroll as a defendant. About 185 kids had 20 or more placements and 27 children were bounced between 80 and 140 homes during their stay in foster care. Children under the age of 6 have been housed in emergency shelters and group homes, and received care from shift workers, the lawsuit states. The instability that comes from being bounced from home to home "causes emotional, psychological, and physical harm," the lawsuit states. The frequent moves also mean many children with mental health issue are not getting the treatment they need, the lawsuit states. It calls for system-wide changes to be made to improve the level of care and accommodation. Placement has also been an issue in Hillsborough County where children were forced to sleep in unlicensed facilities including an office and teen rec center in 2016. After lead agency Eckerd Connects fired a contractor for leaving older children unsupervised, DCF last week ordered a state review of the county's foster care system.  Source: http://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/02/20/lawsuit-hundreds-of-foster-kids-harmed-by-being-bounced-from-home-to-home/
Former Hillsborough foster teen says she survived foster care failures exposed by 8 On Your Side By Mark Douglas Published: February 20, 2018, 7:25 pm Updated: February 20, 2018, 7:35 pm Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window) 775Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)775 Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Hope Austrie is 18 years old, enrolled in college and studying criminology. She’s planning a career in law enforcement and is a member of the Tampa Police Explorers. But as recently as a year ago, her most ambitious dream was a warm bed, a hot meal and someone who might listen to her story about life as a foster child in Hillsborough County.  “I wasn’t able to go to school, I wasn’t able to go to work. I was just able to sit in a van,” Austrie said. “I didn’t have a clean shower, I didn’t have a bed to lay in. I was a homeless person basically in a car. I was homeless.” Austrie called 8 On Your Side after our investigation exposed other foster kids spending their days, week after week, sitting in caseworkers’ cars in the parking lot of a Wawa gas station on Waters Avenue because they had nowhere else to go. We saw the same girl there week after week sitting in cars instead of school. That struck a chord with Austrie, who aged out of foster care last April after five years as a ward of the state “That girl was me,” Austrie said. “It felt like a cage.” She’s now living independently and attending HCC, but Austrie says her five years in foster care left scars on her soul that will be hard to forget. “It felt like I was in a dungeon and I didn’t have anybody to help me escape,” Austrie said. “Every night when I used to be in foster care, I would just be laying down and close my eyes and think – if just one person hears my story, what will happen in this world, what will happen to this agency If just one person hears me out.” She told us of bouncing between 20 or more homes during her five years in foster care, single night placements as far away as Orlando or Volusia County and spending many nights hungry and without the ability to take a shower or have fresh clothes because of her foster care instability. Austrie remembers the kindness of a few caseworkers who seemed to care about her, and many who did not. “They’re monsters, that’s how I see them – as monsters.” After giving birth at the age of 14 while in foster care, Austrie says she complained to DCF, the Inspector General and the private child welfare agencies the state pays to provide foster care in Hillsborough County such as Eckerd, YFA and Camelot. She railed about her own treatment and the inability to be with her daughter, who is now four years old and also in foster care. Austrie said no one acted on any of her complaints of mistreatment, even after she reported bruises on her daughter that she believed was the result of abuse in a foster home. “It makes me feel angry because it’s like there’s nothing I can do about it and I was in that situation,” Austrie said. She now tries to focus on the future and imagines a life with her daughter away from Tampa, the foul memories of her foster care and the abusive home life that made her a ward of the state in the first place. “My hopes and dreams for life are to become a police officer so I can protect and serve these kids and help them grow and become the person that they’re supposed to be in life,” Austrie said. DCF will soon send a panel of experts to Hillsborough for a top to bottom review of the foster care failures we helped expose in our recent Rides to Nowhere investigation. If Austrie could speak with DCF Secretary Mike Carroll who ordered the review, she says this is what she’d tell him: “Please, please do what you can to get the right people to help these kids. Otherwise its just going to be a revolving door.”  Source: http://wfla.com/2018/02/20/former-hillsborough-foster-teen-says-she-survived-foster-care-failures-exposed-by-8-on-your-side/
Drug rehab sued over fraud, exploitation, neglect and wrongful death River Oaks subject of I-Team investigation Adam Walser 7:21 PM, Feb 16, 2018 7:23 PM, Feb 16, 2018 Share Article x Widow files claim against a drug treatment center that is has been the subject of an I-Team Investigation. Copyright 2017 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Widow files claim against a drug treatment center that is has been the subject of an I-Team Investigation. RIVERVIEW, Fla. — A widow is seeking justice tonight against a drug treatment center that's part of an ongoing I-Team investigation. “There is an absolute lack of oversight, there's a lack of supervision,” said Tampa Attorney Jack Gordon. $7 Million jury verdict against American Addiction Centers rehab Drug treatment center had more than 400 calls to 911 in 2 years   Winter Haven church pastor arrested for improper sexual conduct with two minors I-Team: Drug rehab center bills patient's insurance nearly $1,000 a day for drug testing He is suing River Oaks Drug Treatment Center and its parent company American Addiction Centers, alleging their negligence led to his client's death. Graeme Hill flew to River Oaks from Illinois in December of 2016, hours after speaking to an AAC patient recruiter, who he spoke to during a mental breakdown.  “He was taken into custody at the Tampa Airport when he first arrived in Florida, because he was delusional, he was paranoid, he was essentially in a full-blown psychotic episode,” Gordon said. Instead of taking him to the hospital, the driver took him to River Oaks. “There was nobody who was qualified to otherwise perform an intake process to evaluate him,” Gordon said. He walked away from the facility and stepped in front of a car, killing him.   AAC didn’t respond to a request for a comment about the lawsuit, but they previously told us they always meet or exceed staffing requirements, by having a physician on call. “We don't have any fences. No fences. They can come and go as they please,” said former River Oaks Transportation Manager Mike Isom. He said he saw video of Hill from the facility’s security cameras on the night Hill died. “You can see the client, along with the behavioral tech, walking up and down the hallway. You can see how stressed he was,” said Isom. River Oaks bills patients thousands of dollars a day... but has hundreds of emergency calls in its two-year history. Last month, another patient shot himself with a stolen gun during a home burglary attempt.   “There's a significant danger, not merely to the patients who are traveling to the state of Florida to garner this treatment, but to the surrounding neighbors, to the surrounding Florida citizens,” Gordon said. Hill's widow is seeking a jury trial in Hillsborough County and damages in excess of $15,000. If you have information about a drug treatment center or sober home in the Tampa Bay area you’d like to share with the I-Team, contact us at adam@abcactionnews.com Source: https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/local-news/i-team-investigates/drug-rehab-sued-over-fraud-exploitation-neglect-and-wrongful-death
Residential treatment center closing in Auburn; up to 120 to lose jobs Updated 11:35 AM; Posted 10:57 AM Cayuga Centers, 101 Hamilton Ave. Auburn(Cayuga County) 0 shares By Elizabeth Doran edoran@syracuse.com, syracuse.com AUBURN, NY - A residential treatment center in Auburn in Cayuga County is closing, and plans to lay off up to 120 people, the center has announced. Cayuga Centers made the decision Wednesday to shut down the center at 101 Hamilton Ave. in Auburn after losing more than $2 million since July, the center said in news release. When all the residents have been discharged, up to 120 workers will have lost their jobs, said Edward Hayes, the company's president and chief executive officer. Officials at Cayuga Centers say the program will likely close within 90 days. The 166-year-old treatment center said it has had trouble attracting youths appropriate for its center. It does not, for example, accept sexual offenders, officials said. Most of the youth residences are off Hamilton Avenue in Auburn. The program is closing partly due to a drop in the number of young people who are being placed in centers like this, said David Connelly, chairman of the Cayuga Centers board. Placing troubled youth with suitable families appears to most effective, he said. Cayuga Centers continues to operate at its other programs in nine upstate NY locations and in New York City, Florida and Delaware. Connelly said they regret having to lay off people. "They have been working extraordinarily hard, heart and soul, to make our residential program work under increasingly difficult circumstances,'' he said.   Source: http://www.newyorkupstate.com/news/2018/02/resdential_treatment_center_closing_in_auburn_up_to_120_to_lose_jobs.html
 

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