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CULT info, the journal of the Leo J. Ryan Education Foundation, features a 3 page story on Straight, Inc. President-elect Bush to exempt churches from licensing requirements for social programs 

Straight gets $300,000 federal grant

TV WAMI of Miami expose on SAFE, Inc.  of Orlando  sparks picket Father Doctor Miller Newton and team to pay $4.5 million as KIDS of North Jersey closes Foiled snake attack
Alleged gang rape attempt at Growing Together foster home August 8 is Betty Sembler Day in Florida The Republican Party and the Straights

 The Leo J. Ryan Education Foundation features a story on Straight, Inc.  

Volume 2, No. 2 (Fall 2000)  of  CULT info,  the journal of the Leo J. Ryan Education Foundation, carried a three page story on the Straights titled Straight at What Price?  Does Mind Control Continue at Drug Rehabs for Children?  The story was written by Wesley Fager.     back to In the News index


Miami's WAMI News investigative report  of Straight legacy  SAFE sparks a picket

click on the WAMI video segments:

Richard Bradbury (the man who closed Straight down under the name Straight) is back leading the November 2000 picket of SAFE, Orlando.   Listen to Richard on the horn with Loretta Parrish, Director of SAFE, Inc., and check out the picket photos:

Contact the  picket committee at Safe@Fornits.com  for details.


    WAMI TV news segment on SAFE-Orlando sparks a picket.   

In response to a two-part expose of the Sembler-based synanon called SAFE, Inc. in Orlando, Florida by TV station WAMI in Miami and in response to one's family story,  A Woman Named Alba,   claiming it has been ripped apart by SAFE, Inc  a general picket of that juvenile therapeutic treatment program was conducted on November 24, 2000.     Surprisingly,   SAFE was  endorsed,  in writing,  by Florida Governor Jeb Bush just prior to the segment's release even though he had been warned that the station was looking at alleged abuses at SAFE. Straight co-founder Betty Sembler,  who still runs Straight Foundation under its new new name,  Drug Free America Foundation, was Jeb Bushes finance co-chairman.  Her husband Mel Sembler,  another Straight co-founder and a big contributor to George, Sr.'s presidential campaign,  is the  finance chairman for the national GOP.   Former President George Bush  is an an ardent Straight backer which should come as no surprise to cult watchers  since he has been a paid mouthpiece for the Moonies.  Besides his father,  Jeb Bush's mother, Barbara, and his brother, president-elect  George W. Bush, Governor of Texas,  have also worked closely with Straight lending support to Straight Foundation which now calls itself  the  Drug Free America Foundation, Inc.   


On November 24, 2000 picketers flew-in from around the country  to protest the treatment of clients at the Sembler-based synanon in Orlando called SAFE, Inc.  From left to right, Ginger Warbis (a former student in Straight-Sarasota), Kimberly Fee (a former student in KIDS of Bergen County), Richard Bradbury (a former student and counselor in Straight-St Petersburg),  Barbara (a former parent in SAFE,  Inc.) and Cliff (just a concerned citizen).  The cameraman had been in The Seed.

The November 24 picket of SAFE included representatives from three generations of  The Seed  including representatives from The Seed, Straight-Springfield, Virginia, Straight-Cincinnati, Straight-Saint Petersburg, Florida, Straight-Sarasota, Florida, SAFE, Inc. and KIDS of North Jersey,   plus Jodi James and Scott "Bullhorn" Bledsoe representing the drug policy reform movement.  Three protesters flew in from out of state, the furthest being from Michigan. Thank you Kathy Martin and Ginger Warbis for organizing this event and a special thanks to Alan Cohn and station WAMI for a job well done.

[Note:  A "synanon" spelled with a small "s" is a therapeutic approach developed and perfected in the 1950s and 1960s at Synanon Foundation, later Synanon Church, whereby addicts aid in their own recovery by shouting brutal, verbal indictments at one another. They are the basis for most modern-day, confrontational synanons which are today euphemistically called confrontational-type "therapeutic communities". A Sembler-based synanon is a synanon developed at Straight, Inc. in the 1970s for kids in drug rehabilitation. ]     back to In the News index


Father Doctor Miller Newton and team to pay $4.5 million



In 1983 Dr. Miller Newton,   then Straight's national clinical director,  left Straight on the heels of two state criminal investigations and amidst mounting civil litigations,   to form his own Sembler-based synanon called KIDS of Bergen County in New Jersey.  Click here   to see his 18 year reign as one of the world's acknowledged authorities on addictions and compulsive behaviors.  Click Closure for a Quack Victim to see how Rebecca Erlich,  one of his former patients, finally ran him out of town.    back to In the News index


President-elect Bush to exempt church-run social programs from state licensing


Narconon,  the drug treatment program tied to the Church of Scientology,  boasts of the largest drug rehab treatment facility in the world at Chiloco, Oklahoma.  In the  early  1990s state health regulators in Oklahoma refused to license Narconon.  But then, amidst a big debate,  just out of the blue,  the state legislature in Oklahoma decided to change the law.  The new law said   if you can't get licensed by Oklahoma authorities   then we'll still let you operate if you can get  certified by an  out-of-state licensing body.  And that is just what Narconon did.  They got a license from CARF in Arizona.  The Newkirk Herald alleged of possible associations between CARF and some Scientologists.  CARF, incidentally,  also licenses the Sembler-based synanon Growing Together in Lakeworth, Florida.  

Now George W. Bush has found another creative way to license drug rehabilitation programs which can't pass state muster as stated in this first bullet of his drug policy from a Straight Foundation (now calling itself DFAF) writeup.  There was a church-related drug rehab program in Texas that could not pass state health regulations to operate a drug rehab program,  so he passed a law that exempts church-based rehab programs from state scrutiny.  George W. says that if he is elected he will have churches exempt from state oversight of running rehabilitation centers.  You would have thought that he would have learned from Ronald Reagan.  At President Reagan's inaugural speech he introduced Father Bruce Ritter as  one of the nation's "unsung heroes" in the so-called "War on Drugs."  Father Ritter,  then a Catholic priest, was the founder of Covenant House, a charitable organization that took in homeless kids,  "exploited" kids.  I don't  know what he did with the little girls.  But do you know what he did with the little boys.  He had sex with many of them!  Or maybe from Jim Jones' People Temple which resorted to the extreme method of saving its drug addicts from addiction by having them commit suicide.  Maybe George W. should read Ronald Enroth's book Churches that Abuse or Alexia Parks' book An American Gulag and learn about some fundamentalist, Christian-based boarding schools.  You know Straight's former national clinical director Father Doctor Miller Newton might have a problem getting a state license to run a juvenile drug rehab program anywhere in the country considering  his reputation for running abusive programs,  but George W. Bush is giving him an opportunity to practice his bizarre treatment techniques on kids under the name Man of God!   See George W. Bush on exempting church-related drug rehab programs from state scrutiny here.    back to In the News index


Straight gets federal grant for $314,539 from the Small Business Administration


And you think the U. S. Government's Small Business Administration is tasked to ensure minorities get their fair share.  

Straight Foundation which now calls itself the Drug Free America Foundation (DFAF) in collaboration with PHR Associates, Inc. and Drug and Alcohol Testing, Inc. was awarded a $314,539 grant by the The U.S. Small Business Administration in December 2000.   The grant is to help 200 small businesses in the Tampa area to setup drug-free workplaces.  Straight, Inc. always boasted that it did not accept government funding but this was not true.  The Seed,  Straight's predecessor, was run by a huge NIDA grant plus smaller grants from LEAA,  the U.S. government's  Law Enforcement Assistance Agency.  After the U.S. Senate accused   The Seed of brainwashing kids,  LEAA promised not to fund any more drug rehab programs, but a few months later LEAA was already funding Straight startup money of $100,000 in two grants.  Straight stopped receiving LEAA grants when it was accused of violating federal law in the use of that money.  

After laws were passed in the late 1980s authorizing the federal government to give financial aid to programs which had established Employee Assistance Plans or EAPs, Straight's newsletter EPIDEMIC ran 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. Straight Foundation is using the SBA grant to assist employers in 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?  Ironically,  Straight, which has been chided for not having minority students, is now being funded by one of the federal government's watch-dog agencies charged to ensure that minority businesses get an equal opportunity.  back to In the News index


Foiled snake attack


A prosecutor in Maryland thought murder attempts with snakes went out with Synanon Churchback to In the News index



Sex abuse and the rights of children in Florida rehab programs

Police report of alleged homosexual gang rape attempt at a Growing Together foster home (The items didacted in black were done by the police, those in grey by the editor):




Sexual Abuse alleged at  a Growing Together-extension foster home.

In 1997 a former male client at Growing Together,  a  Sembler-based synanon in Lake Worth, Florida,  alleges that he was sexually assaulted by his four oldcomers.   Now just because a kid says he was abused in a Growing Together-extension foster home does not necessarily mean that the event happened. But it does question the wisdom of Florida officials for letting Sembler-based synanons operate foster home extensions because there have been abuses at Sembler-based foster homes, because Sembler-based foster homes have a long history of violation of fire and safety codes, and because Straight has a long history of reports of sexual abuses and physical abuses in Sembler-based host home extensions. In fact, politically-connected Straight was run out of Virginia in 1991 by state health officials. But not for 9 years of allegations of abuses starting with a $220,000 award to Fred Collins by a federal jury back in 1983 for false imprisonment. Virginia health officials finally did their job when the Commissioner for the Department of Mental Health, Dr. King E. Davis was personally sued after a kid claimed he had been sexually assaulted in a Straight-extension host home. The boy’s dad and attorney reasoned, OK Dr. Davis, this program has a trail of child abuse, including sexual abuse, and you continued to license them. So if somebody gets hurt, you will have to share in the liability due to your negligence.

Are teenagers really allowed to sleep behind a locked door and in their underwear? This went on at Straight all the time. Do you see the potential for sexual abuse? Suppose there is a fire. One former Straight parent once told Ed Bradley on Sixty Minutes who brought up this same issue 15 years ago that he had been told when he had asked the question himself about fires and the wisdom of locking kids in bedrooms that the kids would die in the gutter anyway. Without host home extensions, allegations like the one cited in this news release can not be made thus actually protecting Florida state officials (as well as other state licensing officials) and Growing Together officials too, as well as the children. (And oh yes, the host home parents in Virginia were sued too, so it protects them also.) Furthermore, it underscores the need for kids to have their constitutional right to call home or to call a state health official or to call an attorney, or to call Wesley Fager at the Oakton Institute for Cultic Studies collect at 703-281-4420, because if abuses can occur in churches and they have, or by police officers–and they have, or by one’s own parents–and they have, or by Straight officials–and they have, then abuses can occur in a Growing Together-extension foster home.

Isn’t it funny that in Florida a policeman apparently does not question the appropriateness of locking kids in a room. Isn’t it funny in Florida the police go out of their way to read a potential felon his constitutional rights but a kid in a Floridian drug rehab has no rights. If the policeman were to arrest the alleged perpetrators they would be allowed a phone call. But not the little boy. In a Florida drug rehab he can not call his own parents.  Perhaps these programs have something to learn from the criminal justice system.  Prison wardens are well aware of what may happen when a young inmate is placed in a cell with older inmates.  There has been a history in the American prison system where a guard discovers a young prisoner hung in his cell.  Why?  After being ganged raped by his cell mates,  feeling he has lost his manhood,  young prisoners often resort to suicide.   What is wrong with Florida? 

back to In the News index 

The Republican Party and the Straights  
According to the book The Great Drug War the first time Fred Collins ever saw Straight was on NBC's News Magazine. "It all reminded me of a Moonie cult," said Fred at the time. [Later Mr. Collins, an engineering student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and making good grades, would visit his brother who was a student at Straight only to be shanghaied into Straight himself. A federal jury would subsequently award Fred Collins $220,000 for being falsely imprisoned at Straight.]  Twenty-five years ago you might have been in some airport or shopping center where you  were approached by a  college-age man or  woman selling flowers for their church. Their church may have been the Unification Church founded by South Korean Sun Myung Moon. They used to call themselves Moonies but they don't like that term anymore. Reverend Moon associated organizations have proven themselves quite capable and have helped Reverend Moon to have the money to keep his national-level newspaper, the Washington Times, afloat. In fact, he has been so successful that when fellow Christian Reverend Jerry Falwell ran into trouble on the mortgage of his Liberty Baptist College in Lynchburg, Virginia, he turned to Reverend Moon's money to bail him out. Maybe that's why you can see Reverend Falwell on the podium at a Moon-sponsored function from time-to-time.  People like Fred Collins might,  at one time,  have thought of it as a cult,  but how can it be a cult if Jerry Falwell of the Moral Majority associates with it?   Give credit to the old  Cult Awareness Network for enlightening us about the Unification Church  but that is now operated by the Church of Scientology.   The Washington Post did a feature expose on Reverend Moon and his Unification Church about a year ago,   but you won't see a similar article in the Washington Times.   George and Barbara Bush are big Moon supporters. They go around the world making speeches for Moon.   And if George Bush will reach into the pockets of a Korean-based, newage churchman  then it shouldn't surprise you to know that George's hands are in Mel Sembler's pockets as well.  The Republican Party has a penchant for cult money.  Here for the first time is an expose on the Republican Party and it's links to Straight brainwashing schools for white American children.    back to In the News index

August 8 is Betty Sembler Day in Florida


Who paid for the trip to Sweden?

According to this Straight Foundation press release dated August 7, 2000 (Straight Foundation now calls itself the Drug Free America Foundation) Florida's governor Jeb Bush declared August 8, 2000 Betty Sembler Day in honor of the matron from Saint Petersburg, Florida who has done so much to effect drug policy in America. From the press release it is noted that Mrs. Sembler was "one of the 10 founding members of Straight, Inc." Also noted is that she is vice-chairperson of DARE International and that she formed a DARE Foundation in Australia when her husband Melvin Sembler was ambassador to that country. 

In its heyday Straight gathered nearly a hundred million dollars by specializing in treating affluent white children for drug addictions. Straight detractors claim that many of the treated kids did not have true drug addiction problems but that their parents were white and that they could afford the payments. Melvin and Betty Sembler have stood steadfast through the years saying that they never received any compensation from their involvement in Straight. But when you're worth $36 million dollars what kind of meaningful compensation could you get anyway? How about having a holiday named after you? Does Florida celebrate Betty Sembler Day because of her involvement fighting the so-called War on Drugs, or is it because she was Jeb Bush's campaign finance co-chairman. After all the Sembler family has a history of buying political influence. In 1988 George Bush, Sr. named Straight co-founders Melvin Sembler and Joseph Zappala as U.S. ambassadors to Australia and Spain,  respectively. The nomination cited in part their work with Straight, Inc..  But these two men were also influential fund raisers for George Bush and,  personally,  each paid over $100,000 for their respective posts. What's it worth to be called former ambassador at a cocktail party or in a business meeting? 

For those of you who sold Christmas trees and cookies for Mel's Kids, what was your understanding for the use of that raised money? When Mrs. Ambassadorable (which is what Governor Bush calls the First Lady of American Drug Policy) took her trip to Sweden as part of an international drug policy conference  who paid her travel expenses?  Straight Foundation or her husband? That's what I'd like to know.  back to In the News index 

This web page is offered as a public service and as an educational resource to those interested in learning about the potential dangers of abusive, Sembler-based synanons.   The page is the on-line publishing arm of the Oakton Institute for Cultic Studies.