Leigh Bright
by Wes Fager (c) 2001


Leigh Bright� was a Virginia teenager who was in Straight's re-education center in Saint Petersburg, Florida in 1982. Her story comes from her court testimony and from an accounting by Dr. Arnold Trebach in The Great Drug War. Ms Bright testified that she has arthritis and was having problems doing her exercises at Straight, Inc. in June 1982, so she was taken into a shower stall to exercise where she was marathoned [Bomb Squad] by staff and old comers who started pushing her around the stall. She testified that they picked her up and threw her to the floor. One girl pulled her up and down by the hair until her head was numb. She kept telling them she had to go to the bathroom, but they wouldn�t let her go. When they finally did, they kept trying to pull her off the commode as she was using it. When she had finished, she stated, a girl started twisting her arm until another girl told her to stop or she would break it. They made her use a paper towel to scoop her own feces out of the toilet. After three hours of this she was forcefully taken to stand before the GROUP of 600 Straight kids where kids would stand up and say she was no good. One old comer yelled for the GROUP to leave her alone when Straight�s national clinical director, Reverend Doctor V. Miller Newton went over and started screaming at the girl. Two girls came up and put their hands over Leigh�s mouth so she couldn�t breathe. Dr Newton, who was an ordained minister, in front of 600 kids, grabbed Ms. Bright by her hair and threw her to the floor stating, "I want this girl the fuck out of my GROUP." She was taken into the intake room where Dr Newton told the old comers to keep her awake until Monday night. Since this occurred on a Saturday, Ms Bright was kept awoke for 80 hours, during which time girls would push her and make her stand for 12 hours at a time all the while calling her a whore. Finally on Monday night she was allowed 3 hours sleep. On another occasion Ms Bright testified she had to stand through an entire rap with her back bent half-way to the GROUP. When she tried to bend her legs to relieve the ache five girls restrained her by putting her on the floor and sitting on her for over and hour.

Synanon Church, Straight's progenitor, had its own cult doctors (and attorneys). It was these doctors who performed the mass sterilizations on all the male Synanites. But if a Synanite kid had to go to a specialist off-site, the child was taken by a parent other than his own. Straight is a cult which places emphasis on recruiting parents with special backgrounds especially medical doctors, dentist, nurses, and attorneys. The child must be controlled at all times as to what he could tell an outsider. If a child gets sick then he is sent to a program doctor (preferably one has had one of his own kids in the cult so that he has been conditioned never to believe anything a "druggie" says bad about Straight.) Or the child is sent to a doctor accompanied by an adult program official or a parent other than his own, and escorted by a same-sex old comer who actually follows the sick child into the doctor's examining room telling the doctor the child is a "druggie", subject to violence, and she is there to protect the doctor should the client "act out". This logic closed down Straight-Southern California. When a big burly doctor was told this about a quite, little girl he told the old comer to take a hike. This big man just sort of felt he could protect himself from being beaten up by a little girl! Alone with an outsider for the first time the little girl told a chilling story of horror including having a sock crammed down her throat to silence her screams.

There is a third option. Especially abused students may be denied medical attention at all--or at least until their condition becomes life threatening or until a cult specialist doctor is recruited for her particular ailment. (And all the while attempts are being made to extort embarrassing, hand-written confessions from all the students which could be held against them should they reveal the abuses to a parent, a judge, or a medical doctor.) Ms Bright testified that she had a bladder infection when she entered Straight in May but Straight wouldn�t let her go to a doctor. Finally in June Straight let her see a doctor because she had doubled over and started crying. The doctor gave her a prescription for a vaginal infection but Straight did not give her the medicine until July. On another occasion she reported she had excruciating pain in her ears whenever she opened her mouth but again Straight would not let her see a doctor. When Straight finally did let her see a doctor, he said she had a bone problem and needed to see an orthodontist. In the meantime he told her to eat soft foods. Straight did not give her soft foods nor they let her see an orthodontist. Ms Bright remembered another girl who was not allowed to see an orthodontist. That girl, Ms. Bright reported, had such a bad problem with her braces that she went around with the entire wire sticking out of her mouth! [In an unannounced site visit by officials from Virginia�s Department of Mental Health conducted on February 14-15, 1990 client interviewee # 3 reported that she had had orthodonal surgery just prior to entering Straight and usually sees an orthodontist once a month, but had not seen an orthodontists in four months at Straight. Her teeth bleed when brushing, she reported, because she did not have a special toothbrush to use with braces. She reported to authorities that she believed she could not see an orthodontist until she made Phase 2.]

One day, Ms. Bright says, she related to her old comer that she wanted to commit suicide [not surprisingly]. Later, her old comer stood her up in front of GROUP and announced that Leigh wanted to commit suicide, whereupon GROUP started mocking her. After that, for almost a week, she was made to wear a blue shirt with he words PSYCHOTIC written on it. Whenever parents were around like at Open Meeting, Straight would make her take the shirt off. After that, Ms Bright testified, she never talked about suicidal thoughts to anyone.�

Dr. Newton has written a sworn statement acknowledging that he did once restrain Ms. Bright, but only because she had become "physically vicious". "I used only recognized restraint techniques, including a grip on the hair, which causes a person to release anything she is holding or biting," Newton declared.[1] Read here the log of complaints against Dr. Newton when he fled Florida in 1983. Read here about Dr. Newton's $11 million in settlements with former clients for abusing them in New Jersey. A watchdog group for abusive priests of the Orthodox Catholic Church of America lists Father Cassian (formerly known at Straight and Kids as Reverend Doctor Doctor V. Miller Newton).

1 St. Petersburg Times, 1-30-83, p. 1B.