Straight-Saint Petersburg, Florida
Alleged Abuses at Straight-Saint Petersburg.
Almost immediately there were complaints of child abuse
which would continue to plague Straight for the next 17
years. Board member Theodore Anderson, who had
donated the original building, was among six board
members who resigned from Straight within the first 16 months of its opening.
At his resignation he had remarked:
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.
SOME OTHER ABUSES AT STRAIGHT-ST PETE BY DECADES.
1990s. R. S. alleges that he was taken to the hospital after being beaten at Straight along with another boy who was beaten so badly that he suffered a concussion. *Jane Doe and her brother are former Straightlings who went on to become staff members. Later she claimed that she was beaten at Straight and that her brother suffered emotional abuse. *J. D. and his wife allege that their daughter was beaten at Straight-St Petersburg. *Michael T. Keen sued Straight-St Pete for forcing him to enroll in Straight even though he claimed he was neither addicted to or using any drugs. *J. Y. suffered depression after Straight. *Straight lost its suit against J. D. (#85001827CI) for committing a "wrongful act" against him.
1980s. When Reverend Doctor2 Miller Newton left Straight in the early 1980s to setup his own Straight-like chain in New Jersey, he left behind this trail of abuse accusations. His flagship program, Kids of North Jersey, finally closed in 2000 after 17 years of allegations of abuse and some criminal convictions of his counselors, culminating in a $4.5 million out-of-court settlement with one former client. All of his expansion programs closed under state investigations including his Kids of Southern California which closed amidst a state criminal investigation in 1988. Straight immediately moved into the facility and was closed a year later by the state for criminal child abuse.
Marcy Sizemore filed an affidavit with Fairfax Virginia Circuit Court saying
that while she was being "marathoned" by six girls at Straight-St-Pete
she was taken to the bathroom and made to stand on her feet for 9 � hours while
they verbally abused her, beat her, punched her, threw her against the wall, and
placed their fingers under her collar bone and twisted the bone. Two girls held
her arms while a third repeatedly ran across the room and rammed her head into
her stomach. She passed out twice and was kicked and forced back on her feet.
When she asked for water, they poured it on her head. *In 1987 HRS received a complaint that a kid ran from Straight only to be brought
back in handcuffs by a sheriff deputy. *Leigh Bright (from sworn court deposition) says she was picked up and thrown
to the bathroom floor, pulled up by hair till head numb, made to pull excrement
out of toilet with a paper towel. She says that Straight�s director Miller
Newton grabbed her by her hair and threw her and had her kept awoke for 80 hours
straight, and that she was denied medication. Not surprisingly, she began to
think of killing herself, and when she admitted this to an old comer she says she
was made to wear a shirt with PSYCHOTIC on it.
R. D. alleges that in June 1989 he was thrown to the floor and knocked unconscious. He was carried to the hospital which did a cat scan, administered three stitches, and determined he had a concussion. This was only one of approximately five concussions Mr. Dietz says he received at Straight, all requiring hospital visits. J. M., a 1989 Straight graduate, confirmed Dietz�s allegations in a letter he wrote to HRS.
L. T. was admitted to Straight in 1989 for depression. He was restrained on numerous occasions for refusing to admit to drug usage even though a drug test 4 days prior to entry was negative. A doctor found contusions, bruises and a sprained back. Bryon Schouppe of Florida Protective Services and a Straight staffer confirmed that L. T. had been restrained.
1970s. Jerry Vancil, age 17, escaped in 1977 and went to the press. He claimed he was beaten by several old comers who after the beating hugged him and told him they loved him Several old comers confirmed the incident but said they had not beaten Jerry. One said they had only patted him with their hands; another said that Jerry was hitting them. The state opened an investigation but closed it when Jerry Vancil, disappeared. The author has found no trace of Jerry Vancil (dead or alive) since his disappearance. *A woman named Brenda came forward in 1991alleging she had been one of the first clients at Straight in 1976. She says the only drug she used before Straight was marijuana--twice--but because of her treatment at Straight, which included being restrained in a straight-jacket, she lost her self esteem and turned to heavy drug use.