or Murder? page
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Fager (c) 2000
fair number of kids have attempted suicide or contemplated suicide.
We cannot leave them alone . . . We had one instance where a young
lady tried to hang herself with a towel in the bathroom."
Bill Oliver, Straight's national executive director
in the other Straights
don't believe it. I'm sitting here at work, trying to keep
the tears from coming down my face. Not about Jamie, but
about everything that
happened. It's like ripping a scab off an old wound. Right
now I just hurt so much. As I was reading that letter, I
was remembering all the shit that happened to me and the
others. I am being overwhelmed now with waves of rage, hurt,
hatred and deep, deep pain. Man, I thought I was over it!
Isn't 12 years enough time? Because that was ME! I attempted
suicide three times in Straight. And it was fucking BULLSHIT!
Everything they did, it was just criminal! I almost did
not SURVIVE. How can people DO that? This is supposed to
happen under Hitler or Stalin, NOT in America, godammit!"
H., a former client of Straight-Detroit reading
Brian Bell.'s posting about Jamie on the Straight
Alumni Internet forum. (From another post
John stated, "Funny, even though I've
had problems with depression most of my life, I
never did that [attempted suicide] before or after
Straight, only while I was in there.")
actually been afraid to reach out to anyone from there -
I've heard Vietnam vets and ex-cons suffer the same anxiety.
For me, it's a fear that someone's going to say "you
fucked me up for life when you were a staff member".
Still, I did my best, and if you're one of those
people, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to, and I really was trying
That place put kids - fucked up kids - in charge
of other kids' lives.
been to a therapist.
In the U.S. an advanced college degree is required
to do what I did with a single year of drunken college.
Getting a D in psych 101 didn't make me a therapist."
M., client, staff in Straight-Springfield and Boston
my point of view, in order to save my son, I allowed Straight
to take over my home, my marriage, my job, my friendships,
my relationships with other family members and my
I had five kids in my house, even when Chip was set
back on first phase.
They were growing boys and ate well here.
We took out a second mortgage on our house (just
to buy food,
a former Straight parent and poster to Straight,
know when I left Straight I felt so bad that I just wanted
to stay stoned all the time. My drug use was how I dealt
with my craziness and I was really crazy. You know trying
to hang myself, wandering around the streets at all times
of the night, etc. Yes, I was a mumbler Yeah, but I was
told all those things after I left Straight and still I
put a belt around my neck and jumped off a jungle gym. Fortunately
the belt broke. . . you know one one of those stretchy 80's
belts. I'm better now. I was about 21 at the time. I was
one crazy "muther" fucker for many years . . .
am amazed I've come out of it as well as I have."
[not his real name], a former student in Straight-Saint
The Oakton Institute has been investigating the status of a
former client from South Carolina who was in Straight-Atlanta.
We are happy to report that we heard from this person who is alive
and well--but is still troubled by Straight.
Lisa D. had been in Straight-Orlando
in the late 1980s. An informant told this writer that she had
been sexually abused by someone close to her before Straight.
After Straight she got married and had three children. There were
domestic problems and she left losing custody. On February 18,
2001 Lisa called all of her friends. She was sobbing because it
was her son's birthday and she could not see him. My informant
says that that night Lisa started breaking beer bottles and cutting
herself. She hung herself on February 19, 2001 in a hotel in Deland,
was in Straight-Atlanta. Here he recalls the story of Jamie C.
(last name withheld by author) in an eMail he sent me. This
report is un-substantiated. Please write the author if you
have any information on this at firstname.lastname@example.org
night I was a newcomer staying at this kid's Wayne's house.
We had finished our MI's and so Jamie, my oldcomer and me
went to the bathroom for showers. I remember Jamie went
first. My oldcomer and I were going over my MI when we heard
a tremendous thump in the bathtub. My oldcomer yanked back
the shower curtain and face down lay Jamie. Ashen and blue-lipped.
He was under so much stress he just wanted to die. He had
fucking tried to drown himself in the shower. Having had
first aid training during an EMT class just before entering
Straight, my learned instincts took over. I yanked Jamie
from the shower and started CPR. He still had a pulse, but
was not breathing. My oldcomer yelled for his mother who
was a single parent. Following Straight protocol she dialed
Straight instead of calling 911. She was kept on the phone
until I had sucessfully resuscitated Jamie. I carried
Jamie to the "phaser bedroom" and lay him on the bed.
Meanwhile Straight sent another 5th phaser over to "help"
supervise. The next day in Group Jamie was confronted. Fried...grilled...
for well over 3 hours. I was even made to stand up and tell
him how I felt. I started off telling in front of the Group
of 92 phasers that I was hurt. But someone set me straight
and called out, "No Brian... that's not how you felt...
you are angry... Tell Jamie how angry you are at him !!!
Tell him how mad he makes you!! Tell him he's worthless
for doing that!!!!" So, as instructed, I did. That just
fed into the Group's frenzy. Over and over, this person
who had just attempted suicide less than 12 hours before,
was being told how worthless he was. Theraputic? I think
not. At that point, Jamie totally gave up. He would not
conform to the program at all. I don't blame him either.
Later that same day, an oldcommer ran his knuckles down
Jamie's back in order to get him to sit up straight. (This
was an all time favorite: to run your knuckles down someone's
spine up and down as hard as you could in order to get them
to sit up straight. I must have been the Groups favorite
recipient of "knuckle" therapy because even though I had
then and still suffer from low back disc degeneration, no
one at Straight believed me. And even though it was physically
impossible for me to keep my back arched and sit up straight,
I was the poster child for receiving this painful abuse.)
Anyway, when they did this to Jamie, (and mind you it hurt
like hell to have it done to you) Jamie jerked. The Group
who was already fired-up over Jamie's suicide attempt, threw
Jamie to the floor. He was screaming. God he was screaming
in pain. I have never heard a scream like it in my life.
It was more of a loud crying shriek. It was haunting. The
whole time, with counselors yelling in his face, "Did it
feel good?" "Do you want to 'act out'!" "Hope it hurts Jamie!!!!"
FUCK!. Why????. Then I think most of us that were within
20 people of him heard the snap. The sound of a bone being
dislocated at the elbow. Then silence, I guess after the
sobbing, Jamie's poor helpless body had finally gone into
shock. He was back that evening in Group, with hissling
and support bandages... Everyone pretty much left Jamie
alone, at least for a few days.
I remember after I was home and my mother was on the phone
with another Straight mom. I remember the somber look on
my mother's face as she told me that Jamie had committed
suicide. I still feel to this day that maybe there was something
I could have done... Should have done.... And even to this
day, I feel and share Jamie's pain."
Stone tried to warn his untrained counselors at Growing
Together that he was suicidal. But they thought he was
just being manipulative. Later he committed suicide by
taking some pills and then placing a plastic bag over
In memory of Jeff Leugers-- an All American
January 1993 Travis Stone, a student in Growing Together, a Sembler-based
synanon still in operation in Lake Worth, Florida, told his peer
counselors that he was feeling "depressed and overwhelmed,"
and would commit suicide if sent back to jail. But his unqualified
counselors discounted him as only being manipulative. Six months
later, perhaps afraid he would be turned in for having a girl
friend, Mr. Stone committed suicide by placing a plastic bag over
his head. The official state report says that a tragedy might
have been avoided if program officials had acted upon Mr. Stone's
The author has been corresponding
with a man named John who had been in Straights in Texas and California
from 1988 to 1990. I have learned from him that Dan Brown,
his host brother from Straight-Southern California, committed
suicide within a year of graduating from that program.
Danny and Jeff.
Danny [not his real name] will never forget the night of November
19, 1982 when his friend and junior staff member Jeff Leugers
told him he would be Seventh Stepping. Both Danny and Jeff would
go on to become President of their local Seventh Step Society
in Cincinnati. Danny had been old for a Straightling. Amazingly,
he had breezed through Straight-Saint Pete in less than a year--and
without a setback. Danny feels that he did have a substance
abuse problem and for almost 20 years he was grateful to Straight
for turning his life around. He even started a popular Internet
discussion forum to reach out to former members of Straight,
and he started writing a book on his memoirs on Straight.
But one day he had a flashback while writing and it suddenly dawned
on him that he had carved on his body while in Straight.
Unexpectedly, he started hearing more and more stories
of abuse at Straight on his own web forum. It has taken
a long time, but Danny is beginning to understand that there
was abuse at Straight and he is not happy about it. Today
he still feels grateful to Straight for giving him some tools
like the 12 Steps and the Serenity Prayer to help him cope with
addiction, but beyond that he admits that an incident at
Straight almost cost him his life. Soon after his
graduation from Straight Danny was an officer of Straight's
Seventh Step Society. At that time he engaged in a
one-time sexual encounter with an old high school sweet heart.
"I knew that what I did was wrong and knew that I should
tell someone, but I was too scared of the consequences to
come forward. The paranoia was unbearable. I even thought
at one point that the girl I had sex with would actually
call Straight and tell them what we did. After about 4 weeks
on Staff, I couldn't take it anymore and confessed. I was
taken to the Assistant Director's office and told that I
had no Staff responsibilities, had to attend 7th Step Raps
and tell everyone there what I did, and started writing
Even after getting my responsibilities back, it took me
a while to realize it, but it became clear that the other
Staff Members didn't support me anymore. I even think that
some Staff members thought I should've been terminated for
what I did. My own Junior (the person that was responsible
for helping me become a Junior Staff member myself) point
blank told another Staff member that he was going to bust
his ass and help John, another Trainee with his own Junior,
become the next Junior Staffer. I was devastated.
That's when the depression, loneliness, and suicidal ideation's
began. Sitting in the parking lot at the end of a long day
at Straight, tears streamed down my face. Pulling out of
the parking lot, I started thinking about pulling my car
directly into the path of an oncoming tractor trailer on
SR 28. I thought about this almost daily. Everyday I had
to work at Straight, I dreaded. I was yelled at almost constantly.
Getting Rap idea's approved became nearly impossible. One
time, after I assisted in a Pull Conference, I told my Junior
that the person was going to cop-out that night. He thought
I was crazy. The next day, when I saw his name on the cop-out
list, I said out loud, "I knew it, I knew he was going to
leave." My Junior heard what I said and questioned me. When
I explained that I knew this person was going to cop-out,
he confronted me and asked why I hadn't said anything to
anyone? I told him that I had... "I told you!" I yelled.
He, of course denied it, knowing that his failure to act
upon such information would get him in hot water too. We
argued so loud that it got the attention of a Senior Staff
Member. When he asked what was going on, my Junior said,
"[Danny] failed to report a possible cop-out." &n! bsp;
I was furious and began to argue even more. I was eventually
asked to leave the office. Later that day I was demoted
to 5th level Trainee. My Junior denied that it had anything
to do with the discussion we had earlier, but I knew better.
This was the kind of thing that went on daily and it just
became too much. The other Trainee's stopped talking to
me and now, I felt like a man without a country. The depression
got so bad, that at times, I left the group room and went
to an Intake Room or a bathroom and cried. No one ever saw
me or knew how bad things were for me. I tried to act like
every thing was all right. I even started to believe that
I really wasn't ready to be a Junior, because that's what
I was told all the time.
After a messy two week leave of absence, I left Staff. Almost
immediately, the loneliness, depression and thoughts of
suicide vanished. I knew it was time for me to move on,
and I did."
Meanwhile Danny's friend
Jeff Leugers had a relapse and was sent down to Straight-St Pete
where once again he Seventh Stepped. In fact, after Danny left,
Jeff took over the job as President of Danny's local Seventh Step
Society. It is believed that Jeff may have had some underlying
mental health issues when growing up, but you wouldn't suspect
it by looking at him. Jeff was a good looking blond hair guy with
a full set of teeth. They say he was an all American boy. But
like Danny, Jeff also had thoughts of killing himself. Only Jeff
did it. One day he went home and wrapped himself up in a sheet
to confine the mess. As he lay there he shot himself dead with
a powerful handgun.
The Oakton Institute is
investigating the alleged suicide Rob H. who attended Straight
Cincinnati and who allegedly committed suicide after Straight.
Rob had attended Anderson High School in Anderson, Indiana.
It is reported that he hung himself in his mother's backyard and
that he mentioned Straight in a suicide note.
The Oakton Institute is
investigating the alleged suicide of Dane W. who attended Straight
Cincinnati and who allegedly committed suicide after Straight.
It is reported that he died of carbon monoxide poisoning in his
mother's garage and that he mentioned Straight in a suicide note.
Dane had attended Highland High School, also in Anderson,
Indiana, however preliminary data does not indicate Dane's
death and Rob's death occurred near enough together to be ruled
a double suicide.
The Oakton Institute is
investigating the alleged suicide of a former client from
Straight - Cincinnati named Paul.
Brian Neal, a Canadian,
was in Miller Newton's KIDS program in New Jersey before becoming
a counselor at Alberta Adolescent Recovery Center (AARC)--a KIDS
spin-off program. He left AARC and later hung himself.
Dr. Dean Vause, who operates AARC, spoke at Brian's
Kimberely Fee recalls Ryan
K. sitting passively in Group, not-motivating, because he really
had nothing to motivate about. He was just a kid, without a sordid
past, who wound up in Kids of North Jersey. Kim says that she
thought of Ryan often because he simply did not belong in Kids,
and yet, she feels, Kids made his parents believe he was such
an awful child. "He was so scared and timid all the time," Kim
writes in 2002. Ryan had been in and out of institutions and jail
since he left Kids. In early 2002 Kim was informed that Ryan had
hung himself. The Oakton Institute is investigating the death
of Ryan K. If you have any information on this suicide, please
let us know.
Phil Winograd was in Kids
of Bergen County in the 1980s when he was transferred with 18
other clients to the new franchise in El Paso, Texas. At one point
Phil and his family had been featured in an article in an El Paso
newspaper which had praised Kids for bringing Phil's family back
together. Phil graduated Kids and became a senior staffer before
being sent back to the New Jersey program on a graduate refresher.
Tragically, Phil later died of an overdose of prescription medications
at his parent's home.
The Oakton is investigating
the suicide of Albert Perez, a former client of Miller Newton's
expansion program--Kids of El Paso. Albert did not graduate Kids,
but he got a GED after leaving Kids. He resided in El Paso at
the time of his death.
The Oakton Institute is
investigating the suicides of Ron Hill and of his father. The
Hill's were from Indiana and were described by those who knew
them as the ideal, all American family. But Mr. Hill committed
suicide around 1996. And then two years later, his son Ron committed
suicide in his car behind the pawn shop where he worked. It is
believed that this death occurred in Glendale, Arizona.
The Oakton Institute is
investigating the possible suicide of Richard B.--probably
formerly in Straight-Boston.
The Oakton Institute is
investigating the possible suicide of Andy M. from South Carolina,
formerly a client at Straight-Atlanta.
Vancil may have closed Straight down at the outset
after he reported a gang beating to the Saint Petersburg
Times. Prominent citizens including a judge and
the man who would become chief of police investigated
Bob Marshall who was the state's principal investigator.
Mel Sembler, AO, admitted that Straight board members
complained to the Secretary of Health about Bob
Marshall's investigation of Straight. Jerry Vancil
disappeared and Bob Marshall was fired.
[Photo: Saint Petersburg Times.]
has been reported to me that between July 18, 1988 and May, 1990
a very pretty girl with curly hair had made third phase at Straight--Dallas
and was then finally allowed to go home and not be monitored. And
that at her home, which may have been in Colleyville, Texas, she
hung herself. And there are other are other alleged suicides
and accidental or suspicious deaths of
former students from Straight-like rehabs that we are investigating.
Here are some of them. From the KIDS program in New Jersey: Tracey
B--an apparent overdose. David Sc.--automobile accident. Rachel
R. (often touted as one of KIDS' best success stories) died of an
"epileptic attack" in the bathtub. Another David Sm. (KIDS
c. 1994) killed in an auto accident. A former male client who shot
him a few years ago. Shirley C., a staff member from KIDS of Salt
Lake allegedly committed suicide c. 1999. There is a report that
David Su. and a boy named Wayne may have committed suicide.
There's the story about a former client in the 1980s who either
killed his girlfriend or her kids. The story is that the newspaper
account was shown to clients who were told the same would happen
to them if they left the program. There's a report that a kid who
was in Straight-Dallas killed himself after his experience there.
There is a young woman who was in the process of suing Straight-Dallas
when she was killed in an automobile accident. There is a
report of a former client of Straight - St Pete who jumped to his
death off a bridge c. 1998. Peter C., a former student turned
counselor at Straight - Boston, was stabbed to death by a friend
as they argued who would sit in the front seat. Gregory McDonald
graduated from Straight - Boston in 1986 and was killed in a motorcycle
accident the next year.
Jerry Vancil escaped
from Straight around 1977 and got to a reporter of the Saint Petersburg
Times and told of a beating he had received in a timeout
room by numerous old comers. The Times investigated and got statements
from several of the alleged old comers who admitted that a confrontation
had occurred but not like Jerry Vancil had stated. It was Jerry
Vancil who had attempted to beat them all up so they had to protect
themselves. State health official from Florida's HRS Robert G.
Marshall investigated the matter and publicly stated that if the
allegations proved to be true it would become a criminal matter
and be given over to the State Attorney's office. And then Jerry
Vancil just disappeared. Straight could have been closed down
at that time based on Jerry Vancil's story and others beginning
to emerge, but the state's star witness just disappeared. Bob
Marshall said that without a witness there was no case. The state
of Florida did not look for Jerry Vancil and as far as I know
Jerry Vancil has never been seen again, dead or alive. Jerry Vancil
is from Tennessee. If you have any information on Jerry Vancil,
please contact me. If you have any information on these or any
other suspicious deaths or suicide attempts involving students
or former students of Straight-based synanons please contact the
author. I will respect your confidentiality in these matters.
teens literally become 'violence addicts as a result of
subjective perception of a 'high' in the feelings of anger
Doctor Miller Newton
demonstrates to impressionable minds that there are violent
methods of dealing with frustration."
Dr. Bruce A. Epstein, pediatrician and former Straight
the end of the year, we'll have 2,500 kids
straight in Saint Petersburg."
Seed founder Art Barker addressing The Saint Petersburg
Bar Association Monthly Luncheon on September 5,
in his 1995 book Adolescents: Guiding Youth Through
the Perilous Ordeal, Father Doctor Miller
Newton acknowledges that people can be addicted to violence!
[p.145] In it he recognizes two basic causes of adolescent violence
and aggression. His first cause is that many kids become violent
in response to physical or psychological threat. This man, who
placed thousands of kids in an environment where they were in
constant threat of physical violence
and psychological torture and where they had to administer physical
violence and psychological pressures on others in order to advance
themselves, admitting that that kids in such an environment can
become addicted to violence. The other cause, Dr. Newton
writes, is based on personal power needs. "These teens
literally become 'violence addicts�", he writes,
"as a result of subjective perception of a 'high' in the
feelings of anger and rage." I do not
discount for one moment the rush or high a person might feel bungi
jumping, parachuting or even punching someone in the nose,
but it is the Straights themselves that are teaching
violent highs. What kind of a
clockwork orange is this
Friday evening when I was in the cult they were passing the microphone
around to all us parents to give us a chance to blast our
children. This one lady took the cordless mic and just barely
got out the name Joey [name changed] when all of a sudden this
big kid, I mean like about 230 pounds, solid, stood up and screamed
to the top of his lungs: "fuck you mother",
"you bitch", "I hate you", "fuck you",
"fuck you", "fuck you." He was
screaming violently. Blood curdling screams. He was
filled with rage, this huge boy. The student on his right
tried to grab him, then the one on his left and the one behind
him and in front of him. The fifth phasor guards around the perimeter
moved in. Kids and even adult counselors started piling on, holding
his arms and legs; hands over his mouth. In all, a mass
of about 15 kids had ganged-tackled him and sat in a pile on top
of him. They could have subdued Mohammad Ali by the sheer weight
of boy-power. We parents were terrified. I mean the screams
were really blood curdling. This kid, in my opinion, had he been
alone with his mother at that time, would have beaten her to death
with his bare hands. I later found out that that boy had been
transferred to one of the special extension apartments run by
kids down the block at Chelsea Square. A new sense of urgency
came over all of us parents after that incident. "Look
what drug use had led this one kid to," we thought. Years
later I tried contacting this child-man to tell him we didn't
know. That had I known then what I now know I would have come
to his aid in the free-for-all. That it had not been drugs that
had led him to violence against his own mother, rather it had
been Straight. But the child-man did not want to correspond with
me. Later I learned that Straight had recognized his special abilities
as an interrogator and had allegedly turned him into one of their
"spitters." Today I know that this kid was so angry
with his mother for having placed him into Straight where he was
systematically abused that he could have killed her. I do believe
he would have killed her had he been alone with her on that night.
But suppose he had escaped. Suppose he learned to fake it and
harbored all that hatred until the day he made phase so he could
have been alone with her. Then what Mr. Sembler?
Could Dr. Rosenberg be right? Can homicide be suicidal depression
have been ripping families apart since 1976. Do you believe a child
could be so upset with his parents for having placed him or her
into a Straight that he could kill them? How about former Straight
- Dallas student Timothy Nixon? In 1990 he took a baseball bat and
beat his mother to death with it, spattering the walls and floor
with her blood. He and his brother then wiped up the blood from
the floor and walls and placed her bludgeoned body in the trunk
of her car and rode around town asking his friends if they wanted
to take a ride. He was planning the murder of his father when he
was arrested. Timothy is now serving 99 years in a Texas prison.(31)
above is a petition from the state of Texas to Straight
- Dallas for the medical records of Straight's former student
Timothy Nixon. Note the state simply says "the
crime is extremely serious."
A person has posted on our discussion forum that a former client
at Straight - Cincinnati or Straight - Detroit left Straight and
murdered his grandparents. The evidence clearly shows that Straight
teaches kids to be ultra-violent
and that the Straight experience, in some cases, can drive a person
to kill himself or to kill his loved ones. But is Dr. Rosenberg
right when he says that homicide might be suicidal depression
turned outward? Can the Straight experience lead to out and
out murder? Former Straight - Saint
Petersburg client, 32 year-old Michael Gallagher, who had a long
history of crime, had been on medication to control his sex drive
when he followed a woman into the ladies room in a bar on Jul
10, 1995 and threatened to rape her at knife point, fled, tried
to break into several nearby homes, charged a cop with a PVC pipe
and was fatally shot.(30) Bradley
Martin spent two years at Straight-Springfield never progressing
beyond fourth phase. After he got out he allegedly went on a killing
spree killing a man in Pennsylvania and another person in Utah.
He was on the TV show America's Most Wanted. Today he is
on death row in Pennsylvania for the 1993 slaying of a Pennsylvania
man.(29) Richard Bradbury and
I have been working with his appeals team in an effort to spare
his life, asking the court to consider Bradley Martin's Straight
1983, defending Straight's position on accompanying kids into
bathrooms, Straight's national executive director Bill Oliver
fair number of [Straight]
kids have attempted suicide or contemplated suicide.
We cannot leave them alone . . . We had one instance where
a young lady tried to hang herself with a towel in the bathroom.(32)
Richard Bowman, apparently
the husband of Growing Together's [a Straight-spinoff program
in Lakeworth, Florida] executive director Micky Bowman said it
a teen will stand by while a newcomer uses the toilet. That
makes sure the newcomer does not escape through the bathroom
window or try to commit suicide. They're not sitting there
Haven of Atlanta, Georgia was in Growing Together. He says
that he was always contemplating "how to kill myself"
when he was in there.(32.1)
Suicide attempts are very commonplace at the Straights.
Coincidentally Straight's national research director, pediatrician
Dr. Richard Schwartz, conducted a NIDA funded study to determine
why so many female teenagers were cutting on themselves. His results
are published in the 1989 report "Self-Harm Behavior (Carving)
in Female Adolescent Drug Abusers."(33)
In sworn court deposition while he was Straight's national clinical
director, Dr. Newton once stated:
any time about a third of the young people in the program
had made suicide attempts in the past.(34)
Even Father Newton acknowledges
that depression is the leading cause of suicides. In his 1995
book Adolescence: Guiding Youth Through the Perilous Ordeal,
for which he received a Ph.D. in neuropsychology, Miller Newton
acknowledges that, "Current standards in psychology and counseling
fields state that depression is the primary cause of both suicide
attempts and suicide completions" [p. 154] Further on
in his book Newton talks about a 15 year-old girl named Peggy
who had been suicidal and diagnosed as schizophrenic at a local
county mental health hospital. During admission to his KIDS' program
they discovered her primary problem was really drugs and alcohol.
He writes that he had to wait out and extinguish her "hospital
developed" behavior before treating her. At KIDS they worked
on her "self esteem" and her "sexual excitement"
associated with "drug use" image. Now she has graduated
magna cum laude from college in music.[pp.211-213] The message
is that Kids of North Jersey is also a treatment center
for treating adolescent suicides!
is a tough love parent's association in Northern Virginia
founded by former Straight parent Joyce Tobias in the early
1980s and staffed by many former Straight volunteer parents.
The Virginia State Police is a frequent sponsor of PANDAA.
PANDAA has worked hard to put pressure on county judges for
stiffer sentencing in drug related offenses. Bill Burns, a
Straight parent on President Reagan's staff, hosted STRAIGHT
TALK, a weekly radio talk show on drugs which was advertised
in PANDAA's newsletter PANDAA
Besides promoting Straight and books for Straight's Dr. Robert
DuPont and Dr. Miller Newton, PANDAA
is chock full of articles by Straight's Bob DuPont, Harold
Voth [affiliated with DFAF], Will Knisely and Richard Schwartz.
The article above appeared in the June 1993 issue of
and is by Father Doctor Miller Newton. He writes, "Of
course, some suicide attempts are 'non-serious.' That is,
the attempts are ill-considered efforts to feel better about
one's self by being the center of people's attention. Unfortunately,
young people are neither pharmacologists or surgeons. Consequently,
these 'non-serious' attempts sometimes result in accidental
death." But then he also writes that 100,000
automobile accidents occur each year involving juveniles which
don't involve other automobiles. "These accidents,"
he writes, "cannot be explained by road conditions,
weather conditions, or mechanical failure. Although there
is seldom a suicide note, these accidents should be considered
as adolescent suicide attempts." Why that just does
not make sense. If many kids die from apparent suicide attempts
which were really just attention getting behaviors gone awry
as Newton writes, then how can he say that all traffic accidents
involving youths which can not otherwise be explained are
suicide attempts. Why can't some of these also be just attention
getting behaviors too?
allows psychological autopsy of suicide vctim to see if she was
driven to suicide by mother
that most of the reported suicide/suicide attempts discussed in
my report are related to Straight - Springfield, Virginia in the
1980s and 1990s. This is because the author lives in that area and
has better collection resources there than elsewhere about the country.
Since it is virtually impossible for anyone to find data on suicides,
especially juvenile, anywhere, the author assumes that there are
many other as yet undiscovered psychoses, suicides, and murders
involving former Straight clients--both in the Washington, DC area
and in other areas of the country where abusive Straight-type programs
have operated. No one knows how many kids have gone through Straight
and its look-alike programs, but perhaps there have been as many
as 20,000 to 35,000. In light of the high number of suicide incidents
related to Straight students, one can't help but wonder about the
unusually high rate of juvenile suicide incidents reported in areas
where Straight has operated. Consider:
According to statistics
from the National Center for Health Statistics, in 1987 the
Tampa Bay area (Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas Counties)
had the highest suicide rate in the country.(35)
It's not just because of the large number of retirees there
either. The juvenile suicide rate in Pinellas County rose
130% between 1980 and 1986.(36)
A 1992 study found that 1 out of 4 girls in neighboring Pasco
County attempted suicide in 1991 (national average was 10%).(37)
And in neighboring Hillsborough County the juvenile suicide
rate rose from 3 in 1980 to 9 by 1987.(38)
19 youths committed suicide in Pinellas/ Hillsborough Counties
in 1989 [up to nine of these were gay.](39)
Straight operated its founding center, Straight-St Pete, in
Saint Petersburg, Florida in Pinellas County from 1976
In 1986 a Straight-like
program called Outreach was opened in Cape Coral, Florida.
Next year in 1987 a community task force was put together
to find out why 19 youths aged 14 - 17 had attempted suicide.
[I have no data whether any of these youths were at Outreach,
nor do I have any data showing that Outreach was an "abusive"
In 1988 the National
Center for Disease Control launched a study on juvenile suicides
in Cobb County, Georgia because its suicide rate of 14.7 for
every 100,000 was 3 higher than the state average, and 2 times
higher than the national average. Straight-Atlanta, operated
in Marietta, Georgia in Cobb County.
Richard Schwartz, medical research director for Straight-Springfield,
noted in an article for Straight's newsletter EPIDEMIC
, Vol 6, that suicide
was the fifth ranked cause of death of American teenagers
in 1964, third in 1978 and second in 1983. But Straight had
started operating in late 1976 and had centers in Cincinnati,
Springfield, Virginia, Saint Petersburg and Sarasota by 1983.
Suspiciously, the rise in juvenile suicide rates coincide
with the rise in the the number of Straights.
there is sufficient evidence for the federal government to launch
a national-level study to determine the extent to which the Straights
have caused an increase in juvenile suicides since 1976.
So what you can do to help? Click here
and help us make the National Center for Disease Control
and the American Association of Suicidology aware of
our data. They're the experts. How will they
know to investigate unless we tell them about the potential problem.
the Straights, their clinicians, executive directors and board members
have a civil liability for the suicide of current or former clients?
1989 13-year-old Shawn David Wyke hung himself in his Lake Wales
home in Polk County, Florida. One witness later testified in court
that prior to the suicide she had witnessed Shawn Wyke in the bathroom
at McLaughlin Junior High School where he tied a football jersey
around his neck and tied the other end to the top of a bathroom
stall. The witness testified that she told James Bryan, dean of
students at the school, about the incident and that he promised
to take care of it. The issue became one of in loco parentis
or one of having responsibility over a minor under one's supervision.
Carol Wyke, Shawn Wyke's mother, sued POLK COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD,
Max Linton, individually and as Principal of McLaughlin Junior High
School of Polk County, and James Butler, individually and as Vice-Principal
of McLaughlin Junior High School of Polk County.
suit was brought in federal court by Clay Rood, Ms. Wyke's attorney,
on the grounds that the boy's civil rights had been violated arguing
that the school district should have had a suicide prevention
program. The case went to trial in 1995 but the judge threw out
the civil rights violation part. That left a simple negligence
case. Did school officials know that Shawn was suicidal and fail
to do anything about it? School official James Bryan denied that
he had been told of the prior suicide attempt at school. But the
jury did not believe him and found for the plaintiff. Ms. Wyke
was awarded $500,000. But in a strange quirk the jury found that
Mrs. Wyke and Helen Schmidt, a "grandmother" figure
in whose home the boy was living also shared in the blame. Thus
they found the school, Ms. Wyke and Ms. Schmidt each equally liable
for 33 1/3 % of the loss each and Ms. Wyke was awarded 1/3 of
$500,000 or $165,000. The school board appealed but lost the appeal
in November 1997 in the United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh
Circuit. Here is the appeal.(40.1)
insist on in loco parentis for all newcomers through third
phase, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Abusive Straights drive
kids to carve on themselves and to have suicidal ideations. Many
Straight kids try to kill themselves and the Straights seldom
tell their parents or state health officials. How many former
students from a Straight-like program either tried to kill themselves
or expressed a desire to like Leah Bright, but their parents were
never informed and neither were state health officials as in the
case of Travis Stone? How many of those, like Travis Stone, went
on to kill themselves?
United States government has frequently considered cases of massive
civil rights violations and human rights violations that occurred
several years ago. Look at the case of American Indians for one;
or that of Japanese American citizens interned in World War II
for another. Internationally, look at German reparations to Jews
after World War II. This web page has done a fair job already
in showing that the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department, the
Saint Petersburg Police Department and certain Pinellas county
judges abetted Straight in its efforts to run a private jail for
kids in violation of their civil and human rights. If you have
any additional information, including precedent cases, of why
the Straights should be held accountable for destruction it has
caused please let the
kids are forced to verbally and/or physically brutalize other
kids in the program as a condition of Seventh Stepping so that
they can one day graduate--the same as their counter-parts in
Chinese Seventh of May Schools. Their parents, usually clueless
as to the real nature of the Straights, are grateful to
the Straights for saving their child and are eager
to pay back by doing volunteer work for the Straights
and sometimes taking paid positions. These duped people should
be exempted from any liabilities. But what about program clinicians
who knew they were abusing children? What about program directors
who ran the camps in spite of ever growing press of the abuses?
What about board members whose names are in the the news who lend
their names to these places so they can increase their revenues?
does suicide become murder?
on Straight has documented numerous incidents of death attempts
and deaths involving Straight students caused by negligence, cruelty
and the psychological destruction of children's minds. Here are
a some precedent cases where those responsible for the death--by
suicide--of others have been prosecuted and sometimes convicted.
On October 30, 1987 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida a trial by jury
found Ms. Theresa Jackson guilty of child abuse resulting in
the death by suicide of her 17 year-old daughter Tina Mancini.
Ms. Jackson had forced her daughter to dance nude at a topless
bar so the mother could live off the earnings. This was a third
degree felony. Another applicable precedent set in this case
is that Broward County Circuit Judge Arthur Franza allowed expert
testimony as to "state of mind" of the dead girl to be entered
into evidence when he allowed Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Douglas
Jacobs to testify about his 'psychological autopsy" of the dead
In 1989 in Dallas assistant district attorney Cecil Emerson
looked into whether mind control can be blamed legally for contributing
to the deaths over the past 12 years of 8 followers of Terri
Hoffman, mystical leader of the Conscious Development of Body,
Mind and Soul movement. Relatives of ex-followers had claimed
in lawsuits that Hoffman influenced their kin to kill themselves
after they had given her or willed her their possessions.(42)
October 1996 a French court convicted Jean-Jacques Mazier,
the former head of the Church of Scientology in France, of
second degree murder and fraud for his role in the suicide
of a member of that church.(43)
Straights and the Charles Manson Legacy.
Early next morning (August
12) Manson sought her out. She was to put on a
straight dress, then take a message to . . . Sybil
Prosecutor Bugliosi explaining why the state's star witness Linda
Kasabian waited 3 days after the murders to flee Spahn Ranch [Helter
Skelter, p. 389]
A world-renown thought
reform specialist once stated: "You can convince anybody
of anything if you just push it at them all of the time. They
may not believe it 100 percent, but they will still draw opinions
from it, especially if they have no other information to draw
their opinions from." Do you know who that thought reform
specialists is? It is Charles Manson speaking at his murder trial
which began in June of 1970. Actually Charles Manson has a special
place in our story. In August 1969 Charles Manson took his band
of middle class and above white teenage boys and girls and young
adults out for two evenings of brutal murder the likes of which
the world had never seen.
The Establishment had long held that psychedelic drugs made kids
disobedient and made them lust for sex--maybe even worse. And
now our suspicions had finally been vilified. Drugs not only make
kids lethargic and sex craved; drugs turn kids into cold- bloodied,
ruthless killers capable of stabbing pregnant women and little
babies. Exactly five days after the La Bianca murders and nearly
2,000 miles away, tens of thousands of "pot smoking"
kids, "high on LSD" assembled for a rock n� roll concert
in a place called Woodstock, New York Some of these kids were
long-haired hippies. But then too, there were many from good high
schools and colleges--all apparently using drugs! Two months later,
after his daughter jumped out of a window to her death while high
on LSD, television personality Art Linkletter was at the White
House meeting with President Richard Nixon when he, Mr. Linkletter,
agreed with the president�s summation that his [Art Linkletter�s]
presence, "gives a lie to the idea that this is something
that simply happens to the poor. It is moving to the upper middle-class
and so forth." Art Linkletter told the president, "Diane
was not a hippie . . . she was well educated . . . from a family
. . . that has been
seen many organizations in the rehabilitation and prevention field.
STRAIGHT is one of the best. You couldn�t go straighter than to
go with STRAIGHT if you want your dear ones off of drugs. STRAIGHT
is straight with me. Art
Linkletter, from a Straight brochure, 1989
were in my nose and my mouth and my throat, choking me, strangling
me. Tapeworms, larva, grubs, disintegrating my flesh, crawling
on me, consuming me.
The best seller
Go Ask Alice published in 1971 sold 3 million copies.
Copies of it were always laying around Straight. The book
is reportedly the real-life diary of an anonymous, middle-class
15 year-old, heroin using teenager. The above quote talks
about a bad LSD trip she had. In another passage Alice walks
in on her boy friend finding that drugs have driven him
to have sex with a male friend. The world will never know
who Alice is. Whether she was who she said she was or whether
she was a man working for the drug rehab industry, the world
will probably never know that either. Fact or fiction the
book continues to make money for the Straights.
Six months after the Manson killings and 2000 miles away in Fort
Bragg North Carolina an Army doctor named Captain Jeffrey MacDonald
brutally murdered his wife and two young children and staged the
crime scene to look as if drug crazed hippies were at it again.
[Author: as a young Army intelligence officer I happened to move
onto Castle Drive across the street from the crime scene six months
after the murders.] The last of the Mansonites were apprehended
by December 1969 and in the three months between December 26,
1969 and March 20, 1970 Time magazine and its popular subsidiary
Life (a picture magazine, now People Magazine) ran
a series of often seemingly unrelated, yet very disturbing articles
about juvenile drug addiction in America. Further fuel was poured
on by Reader�s Digest. Though Time-Life quoted drug
abuse experts from around the country, by far the majority of
its sources (and statistics) came from New York City and from
three doctors in particular. [You�ll have to read my book to find
out more.] In the spring of 1970 President Nixon called all the
nations� governors together for an historic meeting in Washington
D.C. where he told them that drugs were no longer just in the
ghettos, but had spread to the middle class and were "no
longer limited to any one region of the country."(44)
It would take a year before
The Family by Ed Sanders was published and another three
before Bugliosi�s Helter Skelter. They would have some
answers as to how Charles Manson was able to persuade affluent
American kids to murder for him. From Sanders and Bugliosi we
learn that Manson was a murderer who used a variety of tools to
get his people to do his biding. Sex and fear were two tools.
Isolation, repetition, and religion were others. Drugs was another.
According to Dr. Richard Blum, former director of the Psychopharmacology
Project at Stanford University and a former consultant for the
Center for Drug Abuse at the NIMH, writing for Look magazine in
April 1970 "drugs don�t cause violence: people do. . .
No drug can put murder in a man�s heart, but if murder is already
there, the drug might help unleash it." [Look, 4-7-70,
p. 59] Straight adopted many of Manson�s control mechanisms. Sex
was a highly controlled activity in both the Manson cult and in
the Straight cult. Both cults fostered violence. Both Charles
Manson and Mel Sembler kept kids away from their parents. Isolation
was used by both men. Bugliosi tells the story of a young woman
leaving Manson�s cult who did not know that Richard Nixon had
been elected president several months before so controlled was
access to TV�s and newspapers. A woman has posted on our discussion
forum that when she escaped from Straight-Orlando she did not
know that George Bush had been elected president several months
earlier. There were no clocks on Spahn Ranch and Straight treatment
rooms allow no clocks either. Charles Manson was trying to start
a war with the black race and Straight targeted the children of
affluent white parents. I discuss Manson�s control devices at
more length in my book, but for now I�ll simply say that Charles
Manson�s followers killed because that�s what he wanted them to
do just like many of Jim Jones followers voluntarily committed
suicide because that�s what Jim Jones wanted them to do. But in
June 1970 parents did not know that. In June 1970 they did not
know that Jeffrey�s MacDonald�s family had not been murdered by
"drug-crazed" hippies at all. It would be years before
they learned that Kimberly and Kristern Macdonald had been slain
by their own father. By then it would be too late.
From August 9, 1969 when
the first Manson murders occurred until April 19, 1971 when Charles
Manson, Susan Adkins, Leslie Van Houten, and Patricia Krenwinkel
were sentenced to death for those murders, the American public
and world public had been bombarded with news about these "drug-crazed"
hippies who had committed those heinous acts. It had been the
longest murder trial in American history and the most expensive.
Of the 92 seats in the courtroom, including those reserved for
the judge, DA, defense, and security, 55 were reserved for reporters.
NBC and CBS television reporters were there as well as reporters
from many American newspapers and magazines like The Washington
Post, New York Post, Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, Time,
Newsweek, US News and World Report, L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune,
Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram, and Daily News. International
reporters were there from La Stampa, Il Messaggereo, Deutsche
Presse-Agentur, France Soir, Toronto Star, London Daily Express.
Harold Frediani was covering for Harpers, the Village Voice and
Der Spiegel. In the hallway outside the courtroom was a table
with ten telephones some with direct hookups to newspapers. There
was also a wire-service teletype machine with an operator at the
ready to type of dispatches. [The Family by Ed Sanders, pp. 398
- 399.] The media hype began with the murders in August 1969 and
continued hammering away at our daily lives, every day for the
next year until reaching a crescendo in June 1970 when Charles
Manson finally went to trial.
From August 1969 till June
1970 when the Mansonites finally went to trial, the press had
told us nothing but that drugs make kids want to cut open pregnant
women and stab their babies. In its last issue of 1969 (December
26) Time magazine ran an article called "Why Did
Walter Die?". It was the tragic story of 12 year-old
Walter Vandermeer from Harlem, "the youngest child on record
to die from heroin in the city." He had been wearing a Snoopy
sweatshirt bearing the words, "I wish I could bite somebody
. . . I need a release from my inner tensions." A week
later the January 1970 Reader�s Digest carried two articles
back-to-back. I. Marijuana: How Dangerous Is It? which
contained an insert article condensed from Life titled
Should Marijuana Be Legalized (the answer was no). The second
article was II. The Horrors of Heroin. The message from
the titles alone was if you smoke marijuana then you�re flirting
with heroin. In February the Reader�s Digest carried an
article by Art Linkletter titled, "We Must Fight the Epidemic
of Drug Abuse!," in which he wrote, "Today the
shadow of the tragedy that struck us looms over every family regardless
of education level, regardless of wealth or position, regardless
of everything." On February 16, 1970 Time reported
in an article titled "The Junior Junkie" that
drug abuse was moving from ghetto kids to the children of the
middle class and gave examples of kids as young as 11 and 12 selling
and using heroin. Two years later Robert DuPont�s predecessor
as Drug Czar Dr. Jerome Jaffee would say, "Along with
the increased interest [in psychoactive substances], we
have seen a phenomenal rise in the number of articles and books
dealing with the topic--leading more than a few cynics to speculate
that the public concern is due more to articles than the growing
use of drugs.
It all came to a head in
June of 1970 the month Charles Manson went to trial. In May, just
days before, Narconon, the bizarre drug treatment program affiliated
with the Church of Scientology, was incorporated in Los Angles
to service drug users. And in June 1970, the same month Charles
Manson went to trial, a former comedian named Art Barker incorporated
The Seed in Fort Lauderdale to service the kids there. Of course
Straight grew out of The Seed and so a cult that had been created
to keep affluent white kids from becoming drug-crazed, murderers
wound up running a reign of terror that has out-lived the Manson
cult 30 times over and is now may be responsible for causing many
times the deaths as the Manson cult which had led to its creation
in the first place!
| Suicide and Double
got so hard to breathe and I could feel my blood seeping
out of my body. It really smelled bad. I reached over to
get a cigarette and could see the blood spurting out of
me. . . The paramedics arrived real quick [after
being discovered 2 hours later] and found no pulse or
heart beat. But I was still conscious . . . It turned out
I missed my heart by 1/4 of an inch, punctured my lung,
hit an artery and lost half the blood in my body. It was
3 hours between the time I pulled the trigger until the
medi-copter took me to the hospital. . . aThis
is George's accounting of how he hit an artery coming directly
out of his heart and watched the blood spurt out for 3 hours
and yet survived to be cared for by Straight!
the "self"!) is examined, and if it is ridiculous, the person
is ridiculed. He is often laughed at by the group for certain
acts. When he begins to laugh with the group at himself,
he is considered to be on the road to recovery." SYNANON:
The Tunnel Back (p. 384) by Synanon board member and
UCLA Professor of Sociology Lewis Yablonksy
County's Sunshine Skyway Bridge, notorious for
suicidal jumpers. Did it claim at least one Straight victim?
1990 Pinellas County deputy sheriff David Fisher, MS (now
PhD) wrote an article titled HIGH
SCHOOL SUICIDE CRISIS INTERVENTION.
In it he tells the story of how Dixie Hollins High School
in Pinellas County formed an effective suicide crisis intervention
team after a double suicide at that school triggered a rise
in the number of reported suicide threats. In his report Dr.
Fisher has but one footnote. That footnote references the
report Teenage Suicide: Symptom or Disease by Straight-Springfield's
medical research director Dr. Richard Schwartz, MD. That article
had been the feature article of EPIDEMIC,
Vol 6, Straight's newsletter which is titled:
Teenage Suicide: Symptom or Disease?
A smoking handgun completes the title. Dr. Schwartz's work
is actually on page 4 and titled SUICIDE:
A Pediatrician's View. Now in his amazing article
on juvenile suicide Dr. Schwartz's notes that a medical
doctor once wrote that there is no typical profile "of
a suicidal adolescent," but there are "two major
types of behaviors which may signal an impending suicide
attempt." And he tells us what those two behavior types
and preoccupation with death."
And then Dr. Schwartz gives us what he calls the four symptoms
apathy, boredom, loneliness, or dejection.
But Straight made kids sit around
all day long for years with nothing to do. No home work,
no sports, no TV, no games. Nothing but pure apathy.
They're lonely, friendless, beaten down and dejected.
concentration and scholastic underachievement.
But how can you concentrate
when you're sleepy, hungry and have to go to the bathroom!
Scholastic underachievement? At Straight there is no
education at all. None, period at certain stages.
disorders. (overeating or poor appetite) or sleep disorders
(difficulty falling asleep or excessive sleepiness during
the day). Straight
kids are starved on special peanut butter choker sandwiches
and denied sleep at night.
communication. The young person may be unable to express,
even to loved ones, the source of his/her distress.
. . You may be suicidal
at Straight but you are forbidden to communicate that
or anything else about your present state of mind to
your own parents.
is this Dr. Schwartz, 1984
Double Speak or what? What kind of a
clockwork orange is
this man preaching? He says that apathy can drive a kid
to suicide when Straight bores a kid. He says impaired concentration
can lead to suicide when Straight deprives him of sleep.
He says eating disorders can lead a kid to suicide when
Straight starves him. He says impaired communication with
loved ones can lead a kid to suicide when Straight forbids
any communication with one's parents. These are the four
symptoms of depression. Dr. Schwartz says the other behavior
type is preoccupation with death. In his seminal
work on brainwashing Robert J. Lifton gives the 12 psychological
steps involved in the thought reform process. Step 4 is
THE BREAKING POINT: TOTAL CONFLICT AND THE BASIC FEAR. Lifton
states: This is the point at which physical and mental
integration break down. Some prisoners may be brought by
their severe anxiety and depression to the point of suicidal
preoccupations and attempts. Dr. Schwartz is a member
of the American Psychiatric Association, The American Society
for for Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Academy
of Psychiatrists in Alcoholism and Addictions. How could
he not know about Robert J. Lifton's world-renowned psychiatric
study on brainwashing? How could he tell parents that kids
filled with a preoccupation with death could become
suicidal and then let Straight brainwash them?
in that newsletter is the front page story of a Straightling
named George. George was a pot head who had shot
himself a month ago, but is now happily recovering at Straight.
Opening the glossy magazine is a two-page picture-spread
of a young boy sprawled dead on a bed, a bottle of pills
by his side. This article is by Sergeant John H. Bocchichio,
the Public Information Officer of the Pinellas County Sheriff's
Department no less. Sgt. Bocchichio gives some sound advice
to parents to keep them from being suicidal, "My
best advice to parents is to spend more time with your children."
He wrote this to a parent audience which is forbidden from
spending time, any time, with their children! Dr. Schwartz
had written, "Any suicide attempt must be taken
seriously. A tormented, depressed adolescent must be helped
to believe that someone will listen empathetically . . ."
You got Dr. Schwartz saying any suicide attempt must
be taken seriously and you got Straight child psychiatrists
heeding Dr. Newton's advice that not all suicide attempts
are actually suicide attempts rather they are just children
trying to be the center of attention, so Straight kids laugh
at them and scream at them. In the case of Travis Stone
you have him telling his child psychiatrists that he might
be suicidal but they just think he wants attention so they
ignore him and then he kills himself!
You got Dr. Schwartz saying that depressed kids may become
suicidal and then Straight depresses them!
You got Straight board member Dr. Bruce Epstein,
like Schwartz a pediatrician, saying, "From the
onset, spanking as a means of behavior control seems doomed
to failure. The emotional wounds that it inflicts far outlive
the physical wounds. It humiliates the dignity of the child,
alienates the parents and, in fact, may encourage retaliation"(28.1)
And you got Dr. Miller Newton saying
that kids can become addicted to violence and then he has
them beaten! You
got Sergeant Bocchichio telling
Straight officers, counselors and parents alike that a suicidal
kid should talk to his parents when Straight specifically
forbids a child from talking to his own parents!
Parents like Tom Hughes who was forbidden from even looking
at his own son. Tom Hughes and his wife Barbara were divorced
when she put their son Gregg into Straight. On April 10,
1984 Thomas R. Hughes joined the list of many parents who
had to file a writ of habeas corpus to see their own child.
Straight forbade Mr. Hughes from seeing his son and time
with his son was especially precious to Mr. Hughes because
they didn't have much time left. You see Straight denied
this man his constitutional right to see his own son and
next year was too late. His son Gregg Hughes was one of
the two Robertson High School students who hung themselves
Go back and look
at the suicides that I have identified from former Straight
students. Notice that a large percentage
of them were in Straight-Springfield. There is a reason
for this. I live in the northern Virginia area where that
particular treatment camp had been located. It is very difficult
to uncover a suicide, more especially that of a youth. A
child dies and an obituary might give the date of the funeral.
That's it. When two kids commit suicide in a pact, the newspapers
will do the story if they know about it as in Chris Kelly
and Duane Rholf. Straight's newsletter had a mention of
the death of Duane Rholfs, which it rarely does. Detective
work by me led to the discovery that he had been involved
in a double suicide. I investigated the double suicides
of Gregg Hughes and Jon Guyton for three years before
an internet informant I'll call Joe told me that he had
been a student at Robinson High School when Gregg Hughes
and Jon Guyton died and had been called into a guidance
counselor's office and asked if he was OK since both of
the dead boys had been in Straight and the counselor knew
that Joe had also been in Straight. Joe did not know the
two boys. I have subsequently confirmed by a reputable source
that Gregg Hughes had indeed been in Straight. I am still
working on confirmation of Jon Guyton. If you check the
newspapers around the country, double suicides by juvenile
males just don't occur that frequently. Fairfax County,
Virginia had two double suicides of teenage boys in an 18
month period. Both incidences had at least one former Straight
student involved and there is a plethora of other suicides
of former Straight students who had been forcefully treated
at Straight. I have reported on the deaths of former Straight
students from Straight - Springfield using the meager resources
I have available. I predict that there are more in this
area and I suspect that I have just scratched the surface
on the total suicide-related deaths from all the Straights.
This is now a police matter and I encourage the reader to
join with me to make law enforcement and other government
agencies like the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta,
Georgia aware of this apparent problem.
Serial killer Ted Bundy left his special marks. Teeth bites,
handcuffs, young white women, brunettes, a Volkswagon near
the scene. The Sons of Sam killers followed a pattern.
Young attractive, white girls, lovers lanes, murders occur
near Satanic ritual evenings, single shot to the head at close
range. So too should we look back at old suicides and suspicious
accidents of American young people. Was the victim white?
Young: aged 11 - 35? Male? Did he have a reputation at some
point in his life for using drugs? Was it a double suicide
of white males? Did it occur in an area where a Straight has
operated or continues to operate? Did the victim not finish
high school? Or finish late? Or receive a GED? Was his parents
upper middle class or above? Was he quick tempered? Did he
attend AA Meetings? Carve on himself or herself? Had he or
she been in a Straight? Did he fear he had a sexual identify
problem? Could he have suffered from undiagnosed post traumatic
stress syndrome? Did the victim have a poor relationship with
his or her parents? Deputy David Fisher
of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department started off his
article informing us that a double suicide at Dixie Hollins
High School in Pinellas County triggered a rise in the number
of reported suicide threats. This is precisely the footprint
of a Straight serial suicide that must be investigated. A
double killing of high school age kids in an area where Straight
operated. I know that Pinellas County law enforcement officials
will be skeptical of all this because they are part of the
problem themselves. They will probably want to point to the
Sunshine Skyway bridge, a high rise bridge down there notorious
for suicidal jumpers, and ask, if Straight drove any of our
kids to suicide then why hasn't any former Straight student
jumped from it? Actually around 1999 a former Straight client
did jump to his death off it. It may have been Brendan K.
In November 2000 Rodney Kibler, 30, had entered into a suicide
pact with his friend, Arthur "Bill" Clark, 28, both
of Saint Petersburg, Florida. Kibler jumped to his death first,
but a police officer arrived and managed to talk Clark out
of it. There is a report that a Kim K. had been a student
in either the Saint Petersburg Straight or the one in Sarasota
and had married another straight student. That they both became
police officers her husband shot and killed Kim K.
It's uncanny when you hear of some bizarre suicide by an American
youth to learn that some how an associate of Melvin and Betty Sembler
might be linked to the story.
March 11, 1987 Lisa and Cheryl Burgess, Thomas Rizzo and Thomas
Oltonfour, four teenagers from Bergen County, New Jersey committed
suicide by automobile exhaust fumes. Exactly one month and
one week later former Straightling Duane Rholfs and his friend
Chris Kelley committed suicide by automobile exhaust fumes.
Regarding the four deaths in New Jersey, Miller Newton, Melvin
and Betty's former national clinical director at Straight,
made an immediate press release blaming drugs even before
the coroner's autopsy. Fair Oaks Hospital in New Jersey also
called a press conference to sound the dangers of teen drug
use, but the spokesperson was taken aback when a reporter
asked him whether one of Fair Oak's former patients had not
been one of the deceased kids. In fact, Thomas Olton had been
a patient at Fair Oaks Hospital. The nation-wide drug rehabilitation
program for the Fair Oaks was the brain child of Dr. Mark
Gold. In the 1980s Fair Oaks ran a national-level TV ad advising
us to call 1-800-COCAINE if you had a loved one in trouble.
Turns out if you called in and had a good insurance plan you
were referred to one of their hospitals at $1,000 a day, but
if you did not you were given the number for your local city
social services department. The front page of Straight's newsletter
Vol. 10 carried this statement by Arnold Washton, a psychopharmacologist
at Fair Oaks. "Crack is the most addictive drug known
to man right now. . . It is almost instantly addictive."
That statement scared the hell out of Straight parents. [Washton
had made a statement about the addictiveness of crack cocaine
in the March 17, 1986 edition of Newsweek, the veracity of
which has been in question.] Straight had two drug czars associated
with it, another drug czar is apparently associated with Fair
Oaks. Today Dr. Mark Gold is a director on Save Our Society
(SOS), another Betty Sembler charitable organization, this
one to save us form drug use.
1983, in Plano Texas, over a short period of time five teenagers
committed suicide. No Straight wasn't there in those days
but Straight's national clinical director showed up to see
what was happening. His inquiry led to the establishment of
Straight-Dallas and within five years Timothy Nixon got out
of that treatment camp and beat his mother to death with a
disarming good looks play in her employer's favor as she meets
with journalists to defend one wacky juvenile treatment program
after another. This time it was the Lippman Family Center
in Broward County, Florida run by another charity the Lutheran
Services Florida. In July 2000 a 15 year old boy named Anthony
Dumas tied a belt around his neck and hung himself from his
bunk bed. Program officials walked in and saw him hanging
there, still alive and just stared at him. Youth care specialist
Sandra Trotter allegedly took six Polaroids of Dumas as he
hung there dying and somebody called 911. The police arrived
and cut him down. Today the boy is apparently brain dead.
The attractive woman is Joy Margolis, spokesperson for Lutheran
Services of Florida. "Taking pictures like that that
is not our practice because nothing like this has ever happened
there before", said Ms. Margolis. For years until
it closed down under charges of child abuse, Joy Margolis
had been Melvin and Betty's mouth piece for Straight, explaining
off to newsmen one charge of child abuse after another.
what are Mel and Betty up to these days to save America's youth
from drugs. For one thing they still run Straight Foundation,
Inc. (Straight's education arm) only now under the name the Drug
Free America Foundation. George W. Bush and Barbara Bush have
been actively involved with the charity. The DFAF claims that
it is working to help develop drug policy for the incumbent president.
Meanwhile Florida's governor Jeb Bush , whose finance co-chairman
was Betty Sembler, has openly endorsed SAFE, a Sembler-based synanon
in Orlando. In 2000 Governor Bush of Florida, who refers to Betty
Sembler as Mrs. Ambassadorable, declared her birthday to
be a special day in Florida, in part for her work with Straight.
After laws were passed authorizing the government to give financial
aid to programs which had established Employee Assistance Plans
or EAPs, Straight's newsletter EPIDEMIC
a big promotional article for EAPs. Today, Straight's former paid
consultant Robert DuPont assists businesses in setting up EAPs from
his offices in Maryland and Chicago. Even Straight now called the
DFAF assists employers in the Tampa Bay region in setting up EAPs.
Wood and Associates is a competing EAP services provider in Tampa
which deals with "sexual identify" problems and crisis
intervention such as suicide besides providing assistance for employees
with drug and alcohol problems. Is the DFAF addressing "sexual
identity" problems and suicide issues too?
County Florida has a team called the JAC which is intended to
serve as a "one-stop shop" for intake, assessment (including
suicide assessment) and follow-up, of youth taken into custody
by law enforcement officers. The planning team includes organizations
like the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office; the Florida Department
of Children and Family Services (DCFS), The Pinellas County School
Board; the State Attorney's Office and Operation PAR. Operation
PAR had been setup by Republicans in 1970 to meet the 1970 drug
threat that led to the formation of The Seed and of Narconon also
in 1970. Where Straight tried to meet the needs of affluent white
kids, Operation PAR serviced lower income blacks and was priced
accordingly. Straight's former executive director Randy Ratliff
went on to work for Operation PAR and Betty Sembler is now a director
there. In 2000 when Florida's Governor Jeb Bush announced his
$60-million drug control plan, he made the announcement at the
Shirley D. Coletti Academy for Behavioral Change, a PAR residential
treatment center for juvenile offenders. Rebecca Wade is a PAR's
nurse educator. She has publicly commented that, "the
lack of an education and jobs are what hold addicts back. It's
a vicious cycle. It's hopelessness. . . [mothers] receive
counseling and advice on sexual trauma. They also attend classes
on depression "(46)
According to writer Shelly
Sigo of Bizjournals.com/tampabay, besides his keen business acumen
one of the reasons for Mel Sembler winning the "prestigious"
Florida Enterprise Medal from the Merchants Association of Florida
Inc. in 1999 is because Mel Sembler is known as a "drug warrior".
Mel Sembler joins good company with the winners of that medal
too. Take for example fellow multi-millionaire John Sykes of Sykes
Enterprises Inc. in Tampa. In 2000 John and Susan Sykes gave $36,000
to Republicans and Mel and Betty Sembler only gave $35,000. The
Crisis Center of Tampa Bay is a charity dedicated to mental wellness
and suicide intervention in the Tampa Bay area. It's building
was donated by John and Susan Sykes.
CAN YOU DO?
F. Horan, Jr. Commonwealth Attorney for Fairfax County Virginia.
He let them go in 1992 not knowing their true colors. Is
it too late for him to take action now?
Call for Action.
Through the years the Straight's have been expert at dodging
state criminal investigations, often voluntarily closing down amidst
criminal investigations in many states. And the politically connected
Straights have often enjoyed special relationships with state prosecutors.
Pinellas County Florida prosecutor James T. Russell may have been
forced by public pressure and Congressional inquiry to investigate
Straight on numerous occasions but he never once prosecuted Straight
except for the one counselor he sent to prison for sexual molestation
of minors. And yet his counter-part in neighboring Sarasota County
was prepared to indict them there when they decided to voluntarily
close. Prosecutor Russell had invited The Seed to Florida and, Allen
Alweiss, one of his principal assistant states attorneys was on
Straight's board. When Straight's former national education director
Dr. George Ross was criminally prosecuted in Kentucky for charges
relating to his own program called Possibilities Unlimited, Ross
was successfully represented by former Commonwealth of Kentucky
attorney for Fayette County Larry Roberts. Which brings us to the
man in the photo. He is Robert F. Horan, Jr., Commonwealth
Attorney for Fairfax County, Virginia. I have been told by a Fairfax
County police detective that Straight was under criminal investigation
when it voluntarily closed in Fairfax County and hopped over the
state line into Maryland to setup operations there without bothering
to get a license. I was told that someone on high in Fairfax County
had said that the state had decided not to prosecute because the
main thing was that "we got them out of Virginia."
To me, if that 's true, it's like saying to Straight, if you want
to abuse Virginia kids then take them over to Maryland, but we'll
prosecute if you abuse one more Virginian in Virginia!
1972 attorney Ronald Goldfarb wrote a book on prison reform titled
Jail the Ultimate Ghetto in which he called for synanon-style
programs for drug rehabilitation to be used in the nation's prisons.
His reviewer on his section on synanons was White House Drug Czar
Bob DuPont who went on to become a paid consultant and expert witness
for Straight. It was Bob DuPont and Ronald Goldfarb who led
the defense for Straight in its 1983 loss to Fred Collin's.
In his book, Goldfarb name's just one jail and its administrator
as a model for the entire country. Robert Horan's jail for Fairfax
County Virginia. can Straight really be all that bad when Ronald
Goldfarb and Bob DuPont are behind it. If they glorify you in
a book, how can you be hard on them. I don't know.
But I do know that through the years Robert Horan has refused to answer
any of my registered letters to him to discuss these delicate issues.
International has been looking at juvenile boot camps since 1994 when
two youths from New York fled a boot camp in Canada and committed
I think somebody ought to investigate the double Dixie Hollins High
School suicides in Pinellas County Florida as well as other suicides
of juvenile suicides down there. And I think Robert Horan should
investigate suspicious suicides of kids in Fairfax County starting
with Jon Guyon who committed suicide by hanging within days
of his friend Greg Hughes who had been in Straight. Had Jon
Guyon also been in Straight as has been reported to me by a very reliable
source? And also starting with Annandale High School seniors
Eric Ragland who committed suicide on September 17, 1987,
Shane Benson who committed suicide on September 30, 1987 and
William Wakefield who shot himself on or about October 28, 1987. [See
The Washington Post headlines above.] All were
seniors at Annandale High School in Fairfax County. In
April 1987 Duane Rholfs and Chris Kelly, two seniors at George
Marshall High School had committed suicide. Duane Rholfs had been
in Straight. The next day a former female student at that high school
was killed in an automobile accident in Vienna, Virginia.
That summer a senior at Annandale High School was killed in an automobile
accident. In early September a former Annandale student was
accidentally killed by automobile exhaust fumes.
M.M another former Annandale student has told this writer that
when he was in Straight - Saint Petersburg, a search of
belongings did not uncover a razor blade. He said his treatment
there was so inhumane that he sliced his wrists with the intent
of killing himself. Former Straight-Springfield student Chris
Weiss, another Annandale student shot himself in 1985.
What you can do.
Professionals who study
suicide and prosecutors who investigate mysterious deaths need to
be apprised of our findings. Click here
if you want to help.
page has been on-line since 2000, but a page counter
was not added until May 6, 2002
visitor since May 6, 2002
4-27-1993, p. 3B, Section Tampa Bay and State
28.2 , SPT 8-10-92
32.1 Richard Bowman as quoted
in the Sun-Sentinel, March 26, 1990, Section B. The article identifies
Richard Bowman as a Growing Together parent from Jupiter, Florida.
Micky Bowman, executive director of Growing Together, is also from
Saint Petersburg Times, 5-10-95, Dateline Tampa, pp. 1B, 5B
44. Ladies Home Journal,
May 1970, p. 112.
45. New York Post, AMERICA'S
GULAG FOR CHILDREN by Daniel Jeffrey, 12-19-2000.
46. Saint Petersburg Times
Online by Bill Maxwell, 5-21-2000
web page is offered as a public service and as an educational resource
to those interested in learning about the potential dangers of abusive
Straight-based synanons. The page is the on-line publishing arm of
the Oakton Institute for Cultic Studies.