theStraights dot com
What this site is about and
who maintains it
This site deals with mind-control cults and other controversial groups, particularly juvenile drug rehabilitation programs, especially juvenile synanons (more popularly known as juvenile therapeutic communities). Specific emphasis is placed on Straight, Inc. and its derivatives though we make no claim that all second-generation Straights are necessarily destructive or even cult-like. Straight, Inc. (now called Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. which no longer treats addicts, but is a major player in shaping domestic and international drug policy) was founded in 1976 in Saint Petersburg, Florida by Mel Sembler, the US ambassador to Italy, and his wife Betty. The Seed, a federally funded juvenile treatment program and Straight's immediate predecessor, was accused by the US Senate of using methods like those of North Korean brainwashing on America servicemen during the Korean War. The US Senate directed the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) which was then headed by Dr. Robert DuPont (the second US drug czar) to require Seed parents and clients to sign statements acknowledging they were participating in human experimentation. After he left NIDA Dr. DuPont became a paid consultant for Straight. In its day Straight was the world's biggest adolescent drug rehabilitation program, and also one of the most destructive. Straights were either closed by state authorities or voluntarily closed facing criminal investigations and civil suits almost everywhere they operated.
Straight claims to be based on Alcoholics Anonymous but in the beginning Straight bastardized the 12 steps into its own unique, 7 step program. Straight claims to be Toughlove®, but Phyllis York, the founder of Toughlove®, denounced Straight's brutal methods. Straight is a synanon or therapeutic community where addicts aid in their own recovery, but Straight was rejected by the Therapeutic Communities of America. Straight claims to use Rational Behavior Therapy (RBT). Indeed, Dr. Maxie Maultsby who invented RBT was on Straight's advisory board and many Straight pamphlets carried Dr. Maultsby's endorsement. But Dr. Maultsby stopped endorsing Straight after he learned of the abuse. In fact he agreed to be a panelist at the Saving Our Children from Drug Treatment Abuse conference in 2001 which was put together largely by survivors from Straight. The New Jersey Law Journal calls one second-generation Straight a cult and brands the Straight treatment method medical quackery. Noted cult expert Steve Hassan calls another second-generation Straight a, "destructive, mind-control cult." Dr. Bruce K. Alexander of Simon Fraser University calls Straight's methods "brainwashing." In July of 2003 Reverend Doctor V. Miller Newton, Straight's former national clinical director, settled with a former client for $6.5 million for abuse she sustained at his second-generation Straight. He is listed by a group that tracks abusive priests. The ACLU sued Straight for abusing children.
Floridas Bureau of Criminal Justice Planning and Assistance found that many cases of child abuse at Straight had been substantiated; that though Straight received federal grants it had disguised client fees as donations; that in its first 18 months of operation Straight had enrolled 450 youths but only one had been black; that Mel Sembler had violated federal conflict of interest regulations because federal grant money was to be used for "salaries only" but Straight had put the money in a single bank account along with other Straight funds at First Bank of Treasure Island. Worse still, Mel Sembler was on the bank's board of directors! A 1993 Florida state IG report on Straight concluded that Mel Sembler had probably interfered in a state attempt to close Straight for abusing children. In spite of all this Straight became the world's largest synanon. This was due in large part to an excellent advertising and marketing department which was buttressed by endorsements from prominent politicians who endorsed Straight in return for campaign contributions. Ambassador Sembler bought his way into politics. George Bush and Nancy Reagan were avid Straight supporters. Over forty former clients have committed suicide and we want to know why.
Finally, this page examines the strange relationship between the Republican Party and controversial groups such as Scientology, the Moonies and Straight, Inc.
Who maintains this site? theStraights dot com is the publication arm of the Oakton Institute for Cultic Studies. This on-line newspaper is written as a public service for the purpose of educating the public on the dangers of destructive therapy programs. The newspaper is written almost entirely by it's editor Wesley M. Fager of Oakton, Virginia. Mr. Fager does all of the web page design and construction himself using Micromedia's Dream Weaver 4. Mr. Fager's recruitment and involvement in the Straight cult is documented here. Mr. Fager's biography is here. Mr. Fager has been a guest speaker at national and international conferences on destructive rehabilitation programs. Mr. Fager is the author of the on-line book .