early 2000 Doctor V. Miller Newton, Ph.D.2 and
his consulting psychiatrists settled with a former client of KIDS of North
Jersey for $4.5 million for abuses she says she sustained there.
Shortly thereafter Doctor Newton closed his KIDS program in New Jersey
and he is currently residing in Florida. He has changed his name
to Father Cassian Newton. Father Newton had previously been the
national clinical director of Straight(1)
[and his wife Ruth Ann had been the associate director of Straight-St
Petersburg] before he ran his own chain of abusive Sembler-based
synanons in New Jersey and elsewhere around America. Father Newton
and Ruth Ann left Straight in 1983 when the Straights (and sometimes he
personally) came under a deluge of civil suits for falsely imprisoning
and for intentionally abusing children. Also there were criminal investigations
in 1983 of two Straight facilities in Florida. Under these circumstances,
Dr. Newton moved to Hackensack, New Jersey and set up his own Straight-like
program. But almost immediately there were similar allegations of child
abuse at the Hackensack program. By 1990 Bergen County prosecutors had
accumulated a considerable case load of complaints against Newton's program
when Newton changed the program's name and moved to Hudson County and
continued to operate under a special license for his unique program for
another ten years in spite of mounting charges of child abuse--including
criminal convictions of four of his counselors and additional criminal
charges against one of his already convicted counselors!
|Miller Newton and the Straight Legacy, 1980 - 1983.||The following alleged events preceded the departures of Miller
Newton and his wife Ruth Ann Newton from Straight in 1983. In front of hundreds of other kids, Miller Newton
grabbed 15 year-old Leah Bright by her hair, threw her on the floor, said 'I want this girl the fuck out of my group,' and
sentenced her to no sleep from Saturday afternoon to Monday night--80 hours.(2) When Ms Bright told her
old comer in
private that she felt suicidal, she says she was made to wear a sweat shirt with the word PSYCHOTIC on it!(3)
1990 Karen Norton was awarded $721,000 for being abused at Straight. She testified that Newton had thrown her
against a wall.(4) Marcie Sizemore was in Straight between 80-82. She says she was beaten and thrown against a
wall.(5) In Feb 82 Straight-Atlanta settled with 3 kids represented by the ACLU who claimed they were suffering
"inhumane treatment".(6) The Florida state agency responsible for overseeing drug rehabilitation programs was
Health and Human Services (HRS). An HRS report in April 1981 found that teenage clients at Straight had been
threatened by administrative staff members with being either court ordered into Straight or being committed to a mental
institution unless they voluntarily entered Straight. Several former clients reported to the Saint Petersburg Times in
1981 that they had been treated similarly by Straight staffers.(7)
On July 17, 1980 Michael Calabrese went to Straight
to visit his brother. He claims he was detained for 9 hours by Straight staffers who threatened to retain him for two
years with a court order unless he voluntarily signed himself in. He says he got into a shouting match with Miller
Newton (Newton was Straight's Administrative Director in July 1981) during this intake.(8)
Acting on a complaint on
September 30, 1980 Florida state health officials (HRS) interviewed a male juvenile client at Straight-St Pete whom
they found being held against his will for treatment for a drug problem he did not have. Straight released this minor.
An investigation by HRS responding to a complaint by an Orlando woman on March 4, 1981 found that her son was
being held against his will at Straight. (She had previously filed a Writ of Habeas Corpus to get her other son out.)
On March 16, 1981 state officials Terrell Harper and Marshall met with Miller Newton and two female clients who had
recently escaped from Straight-St Pete but had been returned. In the presence of the state officials Newton threatened
the two girls that they could be "sent to a mental institution," and then told one of the girls he was considering advising
her parents to take her to a treatment program in Georgia where she could be "locked-up for 6 months" on just her
parents signature. HRS removed one of the girls the next day. The other child was removed three days later by her
mother at the recommendation of a court appointed guardian ad litem. State investigators found that the locks to the
bedroom doors where these girls sleep--a Ms. M's home--had been reversed to lock from the outside.(9)
|Arletha Schauteet attended a sibling interview on Oct 23, 1981 in order to see her brother. She was held against her
will until April 21, 1982. At one point she had escaped only to be kidnapped, in a violent 30 minute struggle, by her
mother, two adult males, and a woman and taken back to Straight. At one point she says Miller Newton told her that if
she persisted in saying she was held against her will, "the state of Florida would take over and put my mother in jail for
kidnapping." Detective Brown from the Sanford, Fl Police Department secured her release. [Judge C. Vernon Mize
signed a preemptory Writ of Habeas Corpus in the interest of Ms. Schauteet, the date is smeared, but appears to be
1982.] On Jan 19, 1983, an 18 year-old student intern in the Seminole County's sheriff's office named Hope
Hyrons (photo top next page) attended a sibling interview so she could visit her brother. They tried to make her sign
herself into Straight. She resisted, and she was made to walk and hitch hike back to Longwood, Fl--a 2 hour drive
away. A month later she was kidnapped by her mother and father and two strange men and carried to Straight. She
fought to get out of the intake room and was restrained. When she told her captors her legal
rights were being violated, she says Rev. Miller Newton walked in and said, ""Well, I don't
give a damn about your legal rights." Two days later a social services official secured her
release. Newton and Straight settled out-of-court with her in 1983.(10)
On June 19,
Fred Collins, Jr, a B level engineering student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, (Fred now has
a Ph.D. in mathematics) attended a Straight sibling interview in order to visit his brother. Fred
was detained in a room with guards at the door for 7 - 10 hours, refused permission to go to
the bathroom by a group of kids who related to him their stories of perverted sexual activities
and drug addiction, trying to persuade him to admit to same. He finally consented to sign in
for a 14 day observation period. [Thirteen years later, Marilyn Kearns' intake at Kids of North Jersey sounds
remarkably similar to the experience of Fred Collins, Arletha Schauteet, and Hope
Hyrons. Ms. Kearns alleges that when
she was 23 years old, she attended a sibling interview at Kids, preliminary to visiting her sister. She says she was held in an
intake room for hours until she agreed to sign up for treatment herself! [from author interview] ] Four and a half months later, 20 - 25
pounds lighter, Fred escaped from Straight. In a 1983 trial in which Miller Newton testified, Fred was awarded
$220,000 for false imprisonment.(11)
|The following 1983 civil
immediately preceded Newton's
Daniels sued Straight-St Pete
for driving him insane; Aug--Newton and Straight-St Pete
settled separate suits with
Arletha Schauteet and Hope Hyrons.(12) Aug--Martin
Brashears, an adult, sued
Straight-Atlanta for false
Williams sued Straight-Sarasota. Sept--Benson Williams sued Straight-Sarasota for beatings, pulling him by hair,
hanging him by his underpants to a bedpost, and for torture.(14) Sept--Florida state's
attorney office for Sarasota
County released a damning 600 page criminal investigation of Straight-Sarasota including statements from
current/former counselors of kidnappings, false imprisonments, threats of being court ordered unless client voluntarily
enrolls, enrolling clients who were not drug dependent, hair pulling, neck grabbing, throwing against walls.(15)
Straight-Sarasota voluntarily closed so state dropped its investigation. Principal investigator, assistant state attorney
David Levin would later say ". . . it was child abuse and torture--was directed by Miller Newton".(16) On
Sept 3 a boy named Charles was brought to Straight. Charles had been kidnapped in Albuquerque, New Mexico by two
private detectives hired by his mother, and placed in leg irons. A Florida judge later ruled his release because proper
commitment procedures had not been followed, and because the judge found no evidence of drug addiction or
abuse.(17) In Oct--Michael Keen sued Straight-St Pete for false imprisonment(18) and Jacqueline A. Stallings sued
Straight-St Pete for physical assaults and false imprisonment. She eventually won case #83012161C1 for Straight
committing a "malicious act" against her.(19) On Nov 15, 1983 Newton and wife resigned from Straight.(20)
|Miller Newton and Kids of Bergen County, 1984 - 1990.||
In May 1984 Newton opened Kids of Bergen County (KBC) in Hackensack, N.J. as a Straight-like program. He also started the Straight-like franchise Kids Center of America with affiliates in El Paso, Salt Lake City and Yorbi Linda, Ca. By 1985 county prosecutors were receiving complaints of abuse. Between 1987 and 1988 Texas officials found kids being hit, pushed, assaulted, deprived of sleep, soiling their pants, and denied bathroom privileges at Kids of El Paso. At the California franchise, authorities found that kids were being denied bathroom privileges. In Dec 1988 Bergen County Superior Court dismissed charges against Miller Newton for criminal restraint and involuntary servitude.(21) In April 1989 Bergen County prosecutor's office found black eyes, strip searches, sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, and denial of right to leave when some clients reached the age of 18. A third of clients at KBC were Canadians.(22) Newton withdrew his application for a license days before a public hearing in 1989 saying he intends to move to new location in Bergen County.
Jennifer Woolston alleges in sworn court deposition that she
escaped from Kids of Salt Lake City
in Aug 1989 [when she was an adult], but was later kidnapped by her mother, father, a male
parent, and a police officer who told her she was under arrest for a felony. They took her to the
male parent's home, had her stripped searched and locked into a room. Later she again tried to
escape by climbing from a window, fell and broke bones in her feet and arms, dislocated her
shoulder, and damaged cartilage and/or ligament in booth knees. She says she was denied
medical treatment for an hour until program counselors arrived to take her to a hospital. The
program released her only after receiving a Writ of Habeas Corpus on Sept 21, 1989.(23) [Ms.
Woolston is not the first to be injured during an escape attempt from a Straight-like program. In 1978 a 13 year-old girl named
Misereck jumped/fell 4 stories in an escape attempt from a Straight-St Pete foster home requiring her to have metal
surgically placed in her back. Straight settled with her in 1981 while Miller Newton was there. Several people have alleged that
KIDS' client Carlos Cenado broke his leg after a scuffle or fall during an escape attempt occurring at a Kids of
foster home. Several allege that he was sent to a hospital but not allowed to eat hospital
food, rather food was brought in from KIDS. (Kids of North Jersey
is the follow-on program to KBC.) ] Newton's franchises started closing under state investigations. After Kids of Southern
California closed in 1989, Straight of Southern California started operating out of the same facility.
Bergen County prosecutors escorted clients out of KBC. In
1989 CBS's West 57th Street aired a damaging segment on KBC.
Former staff member Christy Johnston said Newton told
a staff member, "Bring her in her and scare her and if she hits you, hit
her back." She says they wound up rolling on the ground with Newton
saying, "I'll turn my back." Tony Mitchele's hospital
records show he was bleeding from the scalp and having blurred
vision after being dropped on his head during a rap. When
became an adult Tony left KBC, but later staff member Tony
Kozakiewicz was arrested for trying to kidnap Tony back into the
program. According to former staff member Christy Johnston,
charges were dropped after KIDS promised Tony Mitchele that it would never take him back if
he promised not to press charges. In 1988 Larry Clay a legal adult in his
state of Texas, was led out of KBC by an FBI agent with a subpoena.(24) In August 1990 (after
the West 57th Street
report on KBC) 20 county officials descended upon Kids of Bergen County questioning kids about abuse.(25)
|Miller Newton and Kids of North Jersey, 1990 -
Bergen County prosecutors moved on KBC in August 1990, Newton moved
his operations to Hudson County, New Jersey, changing the program's
name to Kids of North Jersey (KNJ), but retaining the old IRS #. Former
KBC staff member Alexis Zdanow recalls an incident back at
KBC c. 1988 where two rebellious clients who were brothers were taken into
an intake room where he and others "threw 'em around, flung 'em around, but I was told by the higher staff, 'You have to do that, you know, Doc
Newton says it has to be done. . .'"(26) Later, in 1993, at KNJ three
counselors--Carlos Lugo, Michael O'Connor, and George Clemence--were convicted of beating
17 year old Channery Soto. Michael O'Connor, who admitted to beating Soto, said that beatings
were routine at KNJ and that he had even been beaten himself. Judge Emil
DelBaglivo--the Secaucus trial judge--publicly remarked that it was "almost unbelievable" that the director of the program, a man with "supposedly " strong
credentials, would allow and condone the use of violence. "We find the institution highly questionable and someone
should look into it," he said. "We think there's something radically wrong."(27) Newton stayed, Judge DelBaglivo was
transferred to another township.
In January 1998 KIDS counselor Patricia Logan was convicted (apparently of simple
assault) for an assault against
client Celena Moore (daughter of Ethyl Moore).(28) Her case stemmed from one of many criminal complaints brought
against KIDS counselors in 1996. One 1996 charge is against counselor George Clemence, who has already been
convicted for the 1993 Soto beating, for assaulting Michael Siculietano. Secaucus prosecutors dropped charges
without Siculietano's knowledge.(29) Another 1996 charge was made by Marilyn Kearns (age 23) who claims she was
kidnapped and held against her will at KNJ. She names Miller Newton in her complaint of being held against her will.(30)
Also in 1996 KNJ graduate and program counselor Heather Strachey filed counter charges against Marilyn Kearns,
but later sent a letter dropping the charges. Other, apparently outstanding, criminal charges involving KNJ filed in
Secaucus in 1996 include Ethyl Moore against Erin Moss and Jenny Logan (she's already won a conviction against
Patricia Logan, apparently Jenny's sister). [ Jennifer Logan is listed as one of the defendants in Jennifer Woolston's
civil suit against KIDS of Salt Lake City in 1989, previously discussed.]. Other 1996 charges include: Andrea Jones
against Erin Moss; Sharon Tyler against Miller Newton; and Chrysis Johnson against Miller Newton. In 1996
Juvenile Judge Thomas Zampino in neighboring Essex County secured the release of John Shaw from KNJ after a
private interview with him.(31) In 1996 two local TV stations broadcast damaging exposés on
KNJ. Bill Goldberg, a licensed
therapist in Tenafly New Jersey, has treated several former KNJ clients.(33)
|INSURANCE FRAUD|| In
agreed to pay $45,000 to the federal
government to settle charges of 254 fraudulent
insurance claims. Psychiatrist Raymond
Edelman says KNJ used his rubber stamp after
he left program for fraudulent claims.(34),(35) In
December 1996 KNJ apparently lost or settled a
1996 civil case with Roger Rossano for
fraudulent insurance charges. KNJ's 1994 tax
returns shows Miller Newton earning $106,712
and Ruth Ann Newton, his wife and assistant
director at KNJ, making $54,520. The
phone book listed a PO box address for KIDS. Mysteriously, if you
were a parent with a kid in trouble and called them,
they would not tell you where they were located!
1989 at the request of the New Jersey
Department of Health, Newark Administrative Judge
Edith Klinger released a damaging 53 page study of KIDS
of Bergen County in which she stated, "Many
of the deficiencies . . create hazards to health
and safety." In spite of this finding New
Jersey's Department of Health decided to grant KIDS its
own special license. [Dr. Newton had served on the
New Jersey Substance Abuse Advisory Council in
1989.] What Newton did do was to change the
program's name and pop open in neighboring Hudson County
securing a "special" certificate to operate
from Commissioner of Health and Human Services Len
Fisher. Around the time New Jersey was giving
Miller Newton a special license, Dr. King E.
Davis, Commissioner of Mental Health for the state
of Virginia was being personally sued by a former client
of Straight because the state had been granting Straight
an annual license to operate in spite of overwhelming
allegations, and substantiations, of abuse. [WWOR
(UPN), Channel 9, I-Team News, two part report on KNJ,
|Rebecca Erlich and the closing of KIDS||In
2000 Miller Newton and his consulting psychiatrists
settled for $4.5 million with a former client named Rebecca Ehrlich
who claimed she had been mistreated at KIDS.(32)
Ms. Erlich's attorney Phil Elberg of Newark, New
Jersey has thus secured the biggest money
settlement ever against a Straight or descendent
Straight program. The KIDS program in New
Jersey closed in 2000 and Reverend Doctor Virgil Miller
Newton moved back to Madera Beach, Florida changing his
faith to Orthodox Catholic. The
best I can determine, it was sometime in early 2001 that
Reverend Virgil Miller Newton changed his name to Father
| views on
for a video commentary by Dr. Newton giving his views on child
Newton's Academic Credentials
|| Click here
for a link to the academic credentials of Father Doctor Miller
of KIDS' facilities
||Click here for photos of KIDS' operating facilities.|
|You are the
since April 10, 2002
|End notes on KIDS of North Jersey||
1. Miller Newton became an assistant director at Straight on January 15, 1980, though he was a parent member before that. His resume shows him as the director of Straight, St Pete in 1981. In a press release on July 13, 1982 Board Chairman Mel Sembler announced that Miller Newton had been officially appointed as Straight's national clinical director on or about July 4, 1982. However, he told reporters that much of the clinical responsibilities for Straight were already being handled by Newton. Even Newton boasted that, "The local programs are responsible to me. That was going on before. [Source: St. Petersburg Times, July 14, 1982, p. 3B.]
2. Trebach, Arnold, The Great Drug War, p. 40. St. Petersburg Times, 1-30-83, p. 1B. Georgia Emmon's of Clearwater, FL witnessed the incident--St Petersburg Times, 1-30-83, p. 4B.
3. Deposition of Leigh Bright for Fred Collins, Jr. trial. March 7, 1983.
4. Baum, Dan, Smoke and Mirrors, p. 158; The Tampa Tribune, 11-11-90. Attorney Karen Barnett, 813-229-1111, handled Norton's case and three others.
5. St Petersburg Times, 1-30-83, p. 4B.
6. St Petersburg Times, 2-5-82.
7. St Petersburg Times, 4-23-81, p.1B. St Petersburg Times, 7-7-81, p. 6B.
8. St Petersburg Times, 7-7-81, p. B1.
9. This is a violation of Florida Statue Chapter 397.041
10. Trebach, Op. Cit., p. 57-59. For Writ of Habeas Corpus in interest of Arletia Schauteet see Newton's deposition for Fred Collins' trial, pp. 87 - 89.
11. Sarasota Herald Tribune, 6-9-83, p. 9A S.
12. Trebach, op. cit., pp. 57-59. St Petersburg Times, 1-30-83, p. 1B. Brandenton Herald, 8-4-83. The Herald cites settlements with a LuAnn Jones of Sanford and with Hope Hyrons.
13. St Petersburg Times, 8-11-83, p. 5B.
14. Brandenton Herald, FL, 9-17-83. Brandenton Herald, 9-8-83, p. B1. St. Petersburg Times, 9-7-83, p. 4B.
15. St Petersburg Times, 9-19-83, p. B1.
16. St. Petersburg Times, 9-19-83, p. b1. West 57th Street 1-21-89, "Kids of America: Caring and Concern."
17. Trebach, op. cit., p. 62.
18. Sarasota Herald Tribune, 10-9-83.
19. St. Petersburg Times, 6 -11-85. Straight settled with this Hillsborough County woman for $37,500.
20. St Petersburg Times, 11-15-83, p. B1.
21. Bergen County Superior Court, Docket # C883418, dismissed 12-6-88.
22. The Record 4-17-89. (The Record in Hachensack) Also assistant county prosecutor Fred Schwansede (201-646-2300).
23. Salt Lake City civil case # 890905826CV; The Record 10-24-89, p. b01. Also Woolston's attorney, Marcy Corporon at 801-328-1162.
24. West 57th Street, "Kids of America: Caring and Concern", 1-21-89 produced by James Stolz, reported by Meredith Vieira.
25. The Record , 8-15-90, p. b01. Also Bergen County prosecutor John J. Fahy (201-646-2300).
26. West 57th Street, "Kids of America, Caring and Concern," 1-21-89.
27. The Record, dateline Secaucus, p. d01, 12-24-93, author Neal Thompson.
28. Victor J. Herlinsky, Jr., (201) 343-6050.
29. Interview with Marion Siculietano, Michael Siculietano's mother, 10-30-97.
30. Interview with Marilyn Kearns, 10-30-97.
31. Telephone interview with Mara Curley, John Shaw's mother.
32. Hudson County, NJ case # L-4592-95.
34. The Record, 9-24-96, p. a04. N.J. insurance fraud investigators Mike Kennedy, Pam Cohen 609-292-4911. Also Louis P. and Hudson County prosecutor Edward Defazio, 201-795-6400.
35. The FBI investigated Straight in 1993 for insurance fraud. There have been no indictments to date. Contact FBI Special Agent Charlotte Brazil, St Petersburg, Fl.