Thought Reform and the Destruction of Young Egos
This Press Kit is provided to give media
representatives a quick look into what the fuss is all
1974 the US Senate published a report that likened the
methods of a juvenile drug rehabilitation program in
Florida called The Seed to the brainwashing methods used
by North Korean soldiers on American prisoners of war
during the Korean War.
(Paradoxically, The Seed had been funded by a
grant from the US government�s National Institute on
Drug Abuse [NIDA]).
That report was a primary reason for the
closing of all Seed expansion programs including the one
in Saint Petersburg, Florida where local
multi-millionaires Melvin and Betty Sembler had a son
spite of the Senate report which included a statement by
clinical psychologist Jeffery J. Elenewski, Ph.D.
stating: �I have
also interviewed children who made suicide attempts
following their running from the Seed.
Overwhelming feelings of worthlessness,
hopelessness, and despair were in evidence,�
Melvin and Betty with other Seed parents opened their
own Seed which they called Straight, Inc.
Just before they opened Straight an article
appeared in The Saint Petersburg Times which told the
story of a 16 year old girl who had become so
demoralized in The Seed that she had slit her wrists in
the bathroom with a razor she had concealed in her
pants. Seed staffers had been able to convince the
little girl not to tell her parents about the aborted
suicide attempt because they told her she had not really
wanted to kill herself�but only to get attention.
Surely Straight planners were aware of
psychiatrist Robert J. Lifton�s seminal work on
thought reform in which he states, �Some prisoners may be brought by their severe anxiety and depression
to the point of suicidal preoccupations.�
Because of the dangers of driving a child to
suicide through severe degradation and humiliation,
Straight resorted to issuing plastic razor blades, to
clipping new comers� fingernails, and to observing its
young prisoners 24 hours a day�even when they wiped
themselves on the toilet.
Nevertheless the body carvings and suicide
attempts came in droves.
From a piece of plastic broken off a chair to
biting the inside of one�s mouth or tongue.
When a kid did manage to harm himself he was
laughed at by his peer Group.
They shouted at him and sang teasing songs to him
and told him he just wanted attention.
Straight was so destructive that a half dozen
board members left within the first 16 months of
operation with one of them making a public statement
implying Straight was worse than The Seed.
was plagued with reports of child abuse all during its
17 years of operation and yet Straight became the
biggest, and one of the most destructive, juvenile drug
rehabilitation programs in the world.
A major reason for this success is the backing of
Straight by prominent Republicans like Ronald and Nancy
Reagan and George Bush.
This was due to political influence buying by
Straight founder Mel Sembler. Another reason for
Straight�s success was successful advertising through
the media such as a favorable special report by NBC
News, and by articles in �Readers Digest�, �The
National Geographic� and �The Ladies Home
Journal.� A made-for-TV movie was produced.
Another reason for Straight�s success was the
failure of Pinellas County states attorney James T.
Russell to prosecute Straight and its officers (Russell
had brought The Seed to Pinellas County and one of his
deputies was on the board of directors for Straight) and
the collusion between
Pinellas County judges and policemen and
one point the state social services was investigating
Straight for child abuse when a citizen�s committee
was formed to investigate the state�s investigator.
Prominent on that committee was a county judge
and the man who would become chief of police.
The state�s investigator was fired and Straight
kept its license. And
that is just one of many instances of collusion.
Another reason for Straight�s success is former
White House Drug Czar and founding director of NIDA
Dr. Robert L. DuPont, Jr.
As director of
NIDA Dr. DuPont had administered the grant to The Seed.
After Dr. DuPont left the government
he became a paid consultant for Straight who
the country as an expert witness defending Straight in
many of its civil suits for child abuse. Straight�s national research director Dr. Donald Ian
Macdonald became the White House Drug Czar, and Drug
Czars Martinez, Bennett and Turner have been favorable
planners read accounts on brainwashing and applied these
techniques to little kids.
But Straight devised slick ways to disguise these
methods to protect themselves from criminal prosecution.
For example, they starved kids by giving them
were fed thick peanut butter sandwiches (without jelly),
and nothing but. Breakfast, lunch, dinner for up to a solid month, until even
a kid would say��give me another peanut butter
sandwich and I�ll vomit.�
Thus he did not eat and was starved.
Chinese thought reformers keep their students in
did not do this as it would be bondage.
Instead they had Group pick fights with a kid and
then have five or six kids sit on the child covering
every part of his body
to the point the child struggled to breathe. Many have complained that they thought they were going to smother
to death. Another popular restraint was to have five or
six kids dig their fingernails into the pressure points
of arms and legs until circulation was cut off and limbs
went numb. Spitting
and making kids defecate on themselves came right out of
the brainwashing manuals.
Straight kids would spit in one another�s face
and the spit would be allowed to dry causing skin
such a demoralized state it is little wonder that many
kids resorted to carving or attempted suicide
Melvin Sembler is now our ambassador to
his confirmation hearing he told the Senate,
�Other than our children, nothing was more
rewarding than this effort [founding Straight].�
Leugers did not fair so well.
He graduated Straight and even became president
of his local Straight Seventh Step Society in
Cincinnati, but then one day he wrapped himself up in a
sheet to prevent messing up the place and shot himself
dead with a hand gun.
Fred Collins became a man in Straight in
he turned 18, Fred tried to leave but he was held
against his will until he escaped and was awarded
$220,000 by a federal jury.
By the time Steve Mathews turned 18,
Straight had understandably relaxed its policy on
imprisonment of adults.
Steve just walked right out and nine months later
he walked right out of a motel window to his death�the
same way Straight graduate Christine Stottlemeyer
did it. Straight
board member Joseph Zappala became our ambassador to
Spain even though he spoke no Spanish and was but a high
school graduate. Samantha
Monroe was more qualified to be an ambassador than Joe
fleeing Straight-Sarasota Samantha learned French and
graduated from a university in France.
She says that when she was in Straight some women
found her in a closet sitting in her own feces.
She says she tried chewing the inside of her
mouth trying to kill herself to escape her
She had her nervous breakdown in 2000.
But at least Zappala was better educated than
Duane Rholfs who never even graduated from high school.
Duane had made fifth phase in Straight and like
so many others had been set back for rule
infractions�he had had a relationship with a girl.
In his senior year Duane and a male friend ran a
hose from his car exhaust to the cabin and committed
board member Harry Spear who founded cable�s Home
Shopping Network got
the concessions for the summer Olympics in Madrid just
Zappala had been ambassador.
Tom Hughes wasn�t an ambassador but he still
loved his son Gregg.
Problem is Straight would not let him see his own
son; he had to get a writ of habeas corpus to do
time was short for Tom and his boy. The
next year Greg Hughes hung himself.
Bill and Dylan are still insane after their
Straight experiences in Virginia, but Kay H.
has been relived of her schizophrenia after
Straight-Atlanta. Her mother finally took her out
when it became apparent she had been admitted at age 12
only for the money. Kay heard voices. One
day she walked in front of a car killing herself. Ironically Straight Foundation president Walter
Lobenberg went on to found the Pinellas County Holocaust
Museum. Matt Hunter and Jamie C. were caught up in
Straight�s own Holocaust and committed suicide after
their experience there.
Lisa D. hung herself in 2001.
Jeb Bush named August 8, 2000 Betty Sembler Day
after his finance co-chairman for her work with youths
on drugs, but her work with Paul Riffle was a dismal
escaping the hells of Straight Paul took a gun and shot
himself dead while Straight was suing his mother into
Timothy Nixon celebrated BSD.
He�s still alive you know.
One day after he got out of Straight in Texas he
took a baseball bat and splattered his mother�s brains
and guts all over the wall.
He will be in prison for the rest of his life.
But not Bradley Martin.
Bradley went on a killing spree after Straight
and even made America�s Most Wanted.
Bradley is sitting on death row in Pennsylvania.
And so it goes with Straight graduates and
copouts alike�MEL�S KIDS.
why are these former clients haunted all these years
later by Straight. It�s because of the forced, extorted confessions they had
to endure. Their
sex lives and total character were opened up for
examination and criticism by 200 screaming kids all at
have been mind-raped, violated, exposed, deflated.
You can kill a person doing that.
took in kids who were 12 and 13 who had experimented
with marijuana or beer, or who were addicted to harder
drugs, or who had used no drugs at all.
The two things they did have in common were they
were white and their parents could afford the price.
These kids were abused and tried to kill
themselves to escape the misery and humiliation. Negligently, Straight did not always inform a kid�s parents
that their child had made a suicide attempt while in
kids like the ones mentioned here killed themselves
Straight a program to help kids with drug addiction or
was it a pyramid scam to make money on the fears of
parents by having them involved in an endless series of
fundraising activities to raise money for Straight.
Actually Straight did take in nearly $100
The stated purpose of the fundraisers was so that
minority kids could receive treatment, but there were
hardly ever any minority kids there! That�s Sembler�s Third Paradox. Sooner or later parents realized that their kids
would never graduate at a reasonable time and so they
removed their child after having first paid a
substantial amount of money up front. For those few who graduated, they invariably became
counselors at Straight, or, at least, joined the Seventh
Step Society and went around to local high schools to
recruit new parents for the base of the pyramid.
parades their clients at public confessionals in Open
Meetings, PTA meetings and to the media.
These kids tell horrific stories of their prior
drug addiction and sex life and how Straight saved them.
Their audiences are expected to believe these
when these same kids escape and say they have been
abused, Straight officials will tell you that Straight
kids are liars and drug addicts and can�t be believed.
We call this Sembler�s First Paradox�where
you are to believe everything the kid says, unless he
escapes and says bad things about Straight.
This should not be confused with Sembler�s
Second Paradox which says these are druggie kids and
must be forcefully restrained by five to six old comers
when they act out in Group.
And then these same kids are sent home to a
foster home in the evening with only two old comer
escorts as if the kids only act out in the day
time�which is exactly when they do it because Straight
eggs them on.
bowed to the pressure of state criminal investigations
and civil suits and closed
in 1993, but former Straight officials opened up
their own Straight-like programs which are still running.
Why is it that there were 29 reported restraints
in one Straight expansion program in one month, but only
one reported restraint in all other juvenile rehab
programs in that county combined in the previous three
Why did three old comers gang rape a newcomer in
another Straight descendent program.
One boy was unable to get his penis in the
kid�s mouth; another boy shot-off in the youth�s
did Straight�s former national clinical director
settle with a client in 2000 for $4.5 million for abuses
she says she sustained?
name is now so synonymous with child abuse that Straight
Foundation changed its name in 1996 to its current
name--the Drug Free America Foundation.
Today DFAF is at the forefront of American and
international drug policy formulation.
are having a conference in Saint Petersburg Florida in
June to find out why these kids were abused.
To seek reimbursement from the state of Florida
for abetting Straight in its nefarious and illegal
get laws passed so that these programs can no longer
abuse our children.
To reexamine Florida�s Marchman Act which
allows parents to get their kids into treatment with the
effect of a court order.
you want to know what Straight was like, 60 Minutes did
a good analogy several years ago.
The program was doing a segment on animal rights.
A controversial TV commercial which had been
yanked by the networks was shown.
In the film some attractive models were strutting
down a runway wearing fur coats and mink stoles.
Suddenly as they twisted and turned members of the
audience started to become splattered with a red
the splatter increased
the audience realized that the red substance was
dripping from animals that had been poached in order for
ladies to wear fine coats.
Money and death.
(some personal stories):
Mel Sembler buying the Italian Ambassadorship: http://thestraights.net/news/index.htm#italy