Reverend Doctor2 Virgil Miller Newton, III,  formerly National Clinical Director for Straight, Inc.(1) and Alleged Child Abuse at Straight, Inc. under his Watch

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) In 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,  1982, 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)

David Levin, former assistant state prosecutor for Sarasota County, Florida, led the criminal investigation of Straight-Sarasota in 1983 resulting in the closing of that treatment camp.  The prosecutor's office in Sarasota  was publicly stating that the counselors doing the abuse at Straight- Sarasota had admitted under oath that they had been taught to do their abuse at Straight-Saint Petersburg. Statements from fellow prosecutors and Congressional inquiries about abuse at Straight forced James T. Russell to investigate Straight on numerous occasions,  but he never found any wrong doing.  [Levin is shown here from CBS' West 57th Street segment on KIDS in 1989.]

The following 1983 civil suits/criminal investigations immediately preceded Newton's resignation: May--Michael 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 imprisonment.(13) Sept--Larry 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) 

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.