Let me make this simple. For 17 years Melvin and Betty Sembler operated Straight, Inc., the biggest chain of juvenile drug rehabilitation programs in the world. But Straight abused thousands of kids. For ten years a man named Ray Bradbury, who was a former Straight client turned Straight counselor, worked to close Straight and to expose the abuse. He finally closed Straight in 1993 but there were no convictions. But politically savvy Melvin Sembler gave the Republican Party a lot of money and in return President Bush (both of them) made him an ambassador. Today he is Ambassador to Italy.
Always working to document the Straight holocaust, Ray Bradbury has rummaged through the Sembler's discarded trash when placed on a public street. Through the years Bradbury claims he has found sensitive government information--and a penile pump which Ambassador Sembler claims belongs to him. In an effort to bring attention to the plight of Straight survivors, Bradbury placed the pump for sale on eBay and the Sembler's promptly sued as is their right. Leonard Englander, the Sembler's attorney, says that Bradbury's action "serves no legitimate purpose." But, the growing story has made it to the Washington Post, the front page of the Saint Petersburg Times, ABC News in Tampa, and countless web pages and blog sites.
On August 26, 2003 Pinellas County Circuit Judge Walt Logan signed an injunction against Ray Bradbury at the request of the Semblers. Six months later Judge Logan served on a dinner committee with Melvin's son Brent and his wife Debbie. The dinner was for the Florida Holocaust Museum's Awards Banquet. That museum was founded by Straight's former president Walter Loebenberg. Mel and Betty have been prominent on the board of the museum. Six months before Logan's injunction on Bradbury, and in a matter unrelated to Straight, Judge Logan issued an injunction to shut up another man who claimed to be exposing fraudulent activity of another wealthy Englander client.
Englander has scheduled Bradbury for deposition four times, and four times he has canceled the deposition. Apparently Englander realizes that if Bradbury is to be deposed, then the Semblers will be too. But how can they answer a question like, "When is the first time you learned of child abuse at Straight and what did you do to stop it?" Well, so much for background, now for the latest. On July 29, Judge Anthony Rondolino (the trial judge) signed an Order for Mediation for PumpGate. He gave both parties 10 days to decide upon a date to do the mediation. On August 11 attorneys Ana-Maria Carnesoltas and Leonard Englander filed a motion with the court to defer mediation giving, as part of the reason, that "the Semblers are currently in Italy, where Melvin Sembler is serving as U. S. Ambassador. They are not expected to be in the United States for the next several months."
But the Oakton Institute is in possession of some notarized affidavits. Three are by citizens from England, Israel and the United States who are working on a motion picture documentary on Straight. They tried to track down Ambassador Sembler for an interview at the Republican National Convention. Unable to contact him there, they affirm that on September 1, 2004 Jodie Alexandra Taylor, the English citizen, called a certain residence in Pinellas Park, Florida and spoke to a woman identifying herself as Betty Sembler. According to the affidavit the woman identifying herself as Betty Sembler stated she was in Florida at that time and getting ready to go back to Rome. The other two persons assert that they heard the conversation over a speaker phone. The fourth affidavit is by Ray Bradbury who asserts that on September 14, 2004 he contacted John Dwyer, Minister Counselor for Public Affairs for the US Embassy in Rome and asked him whether Ambassador Sembler had attended the Republican National Convention. According to the affidavit, Mr. Dwyer said, ""I do not know the answer to that question but I can tell you he was in the United States at that time on private business."
Seems to me that Betty Sembler hosted a luncheon for Laura Bush at the 2000 convention and Mel was one of Florida's three Republican delegates in 96. Hard to imagine a Republican National Convention without Mel and Betty Sembler. And that's where the story stands. They told the court they would not likely be in the United States to do the mediation "for the next several months." If they have ever been back to America since their August 11 statement then they have a really big problem. Just where, oh where is Mel and Betty anyway?