The Montel Williams Show on teen rehabs,
Jan 18, 2005
(c) 2005 by Wesley Fager
See Montel's trailer with Straight survivor Samantha Monroe 20 years later. trailer

If this is your first visit to this site having just seen The Montel Williams investigative report on teen rehabs, you are probably wondering whether Straight, Inc. is still in operation, how widespread was the abuse, who is responsible for the abuse, and what you can do. From 1976 to 1993 Straight, Inc., a Pinellas County, Florida-based corporation, was the largest juvenile drug rehabilitation chain in the world. Probably as many as 50,000 white teenagers entered the program. Samantha "Sammie" Monroe (the guest Montel interviewed who had been in Straight) was not the only kid severely abused at Straight. Read Leigh Bright's declaration of torture; the torture of Marcie Sizemore; the torture of Bobby; the torture of a boy named Donald. Straight was founded and operated by Melvin and Betty Sembler. As our country adopts the Turbin Torture Amendment you should be advised that George W. Bush appointed Melvin Sembler as the current US Ambassador to Italy! Ambassador Sembler brags on his state department web page that he and Betty successfully treated 12,000 Straight graduates. One reason for Straight's popularity was its endorsement by Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and the president's father, George H. W. Bush.

the Internet brings down an ambassador

The Montel Show aired a devastating segment on Straight on Jan. 18, 2005. The very next day, Jan. 19, Ambassador Sembler announced in The St. Petersburg Times that he was stepping down. We don't know whether the White House called him or whether he saw the writing on the wall himself. (In fairness to Mr. Sembler, there was a rumor floating around Washington a month ago that the President was going to reshuffle ambassadors and Sembler was on the list to come home.) Four lingering questions remain:

  1. How long will George Bush take the heat and let him stay?
  2. Will the Florida Holocaust Museum continue to let him hide behind its skirts?
  3. How many other heads will roll since Sembler, in his share the blame mentality, has talked the president's brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his wife Columba into joining Straight Foundation's (now known as DFAF) Advisory Board along with the likes of Florida's Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings, Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala, the butcher, the baker (St. Petersburg Mayor Richard Baker, that is) and the candlestick maker?
  4. How much longer does Mr. Sembler intend to drag PumpGate through the news by filing a seemingly endless series of court motions to postpone?

It has taken the efforts of hundreds of loyal readers like you, and the Internet, to keep the story alive until a major media source heard you. Thanks to all for a job well done!

Straight, Inc. closed in 1993 on the heels of state investigations and law suits [the FBI investigated Straight in 1993 for alleged financial fraud but no indictments were handed down], but Straight Foundation, Inc., the education arm of Straight, continues to operate as a national and international drug policy think tank under the name Drug Free America Foundation. The president's brother, Governor Jeb Bush, and other high-level Republicans serve on DFAF's Advisory Board. Today Betty Sembler and other former Straight officials are directors for Operation PAR, another Pinellas County, Florida-based drug rehab program. PAR has never been accused of abuse. There are many second-generation Straights still in operation (see flow chart [1]) and some of these have been accused of abuse (See Orlando Weekly on SAFE, New Times on Growing Together, Kids of North Jersey, sodomy in Growing Together host home.)

You can reach Ambassador Sembler at the US Embassy-Italy, main switchboard (+39) 06.46741 or Public Information Office, or at his place of business The Sembler Company, (727) 384-6000. You can reach Betty Sembler at Operation PAR, 1-888-PAR-NEXT. If you are an attorney or aid for Ambassador Sembler tell him that Ken Kay informed The Montel Show that WWASPS denies all charges and ask the ambassador if he will make any public statement about the show. As for sending your kids overseas Montel said this, "any parent that signs his kids over to another and lets that other take his kids out of country has committed a crime." Amen and thank you, Montel!!! If you are Sammie Monroe (or her sisters) or the former WWASPS clients and parents who appeared--thank you for a job well done.!!! Author Maia Szalavitz tied it all together--no one could have done a better job in the few moments she had. We eagerly anticipate her forthcoming book. To all others: there's a discussion forum on Straight here. Also there are three protests scheduled for this quarter. Check back to the main page for details. Come join the protests!

1. Straight, Inc. (1976 - 1993) was a destructive, mind-control cult. Many Straight officials formed their own Straight-like programs as Straights closed. There continues to be other juvenile drug programs that use some parts of the Straight clinical method. This is not to say that any or all of these others programs are abusive or that they are mind-control cults, but we do list them under theStraights to mean that they use some Straight-perfected, therapeutic methods.