What do Mitt Romney, Bain Capital and the notorious Troubled Teen Industry have in common?… Sadly, quite a lot.
I wouldn’t consider myself a “Troubled Teen”… but as a kid diagnosed with ADD, I was struggling in school and my Mom was concerned for the future of my education. She decided to look for professional help and an opportunity for me to get a higher education.
Looking for a therapeutic boarding school on the internet she stumbled upon many options for teen behavior modification programs. Through an Educational Consultant (EdCon), she was recommended to a program called Casa By The Sea in Ensenada Mexico owned by WWASP, World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools or Teen Revitalization as it has become today. To this day I don’t blame her for her initial decision to reach out for help, but help isn’t what she found from WWASP… What she got was conned… and I was abused.
The problem is Casa By the Sea wasn’t the only abusive school out there and WWASP, now Teen Revitalization, is only one of the Multi-Million dollar corporations that make up the The Troubled Teen Industry. The Troubled Teen Industry is a global term for any privately owned teen detention facility, (some that accept government grants), that operate a “Tough Love” system and utilize the infliction of stress, humiliation, pain, isolation and over exercising as punishment for punitive rule violations. These “residential treatment facilities” commonly utilize pseudo-scientific methods, hire unqualified staff and operate under no clinical standards or child protective regulations.
What they are telling the parents is that tough love is what teens need in order to change but what you don’t know is how far these people take the punishments, and to what length they will go to humiliate you, brainwash you, and break you down in order to send you back home, just grateful to still be alive. I, myself was locked in dog cages for days, made to lay out on my face in the middle of the scorching desert sun, starved, burned, beaten unconscious and nearly murdered by a staff member who found a letter I wrote home describing the daily abuse. These people are child abusers, they are sick, they are perverted… and they are still operating programs today. Despite the multitude of allegations of abuse against the owners and current employees of the troubled teen industry, thousands of families are still getting sucked into these programs, controlled by fear, lies and the cult-like practices of a company who’s only real interest is to make an un-godly amount of money.
For more than a decade we have been monitoring and reporting on new abuses in the Troubled Teen Industry, so it’s no secret that abuse, both physical and sexual, as well as psychologically damaging practices are still being used in these facilities today. What you don’t know is why?… and how are these people STILL getting away with essentially torturing american children. To answer that, you need look no further than our front running Republican Candidate, Mitt Romney.
What’s Mitt got to do with it?
Mitt Romney is a Utah money man, turned politician, His “qualifications” for the job being his massive success in business with his former position of CEO, Venture Capitalist at Bain Capital. A company that regularly bought or invested in failing businesses, and squeezed whatever profits to be had out of them before laying off their employees and selling them off.
Two such companies that would be acquired by Bain Capital are Aspen Education Group, The parent company to another long list of notorious tough love schools, who have countless reports of abuse and even death… At least one of which, Mount Bachelor Academy, has recently been subject to a lawsuit alleging emotional, physical and sexual abuse. As well as, CRC Health Group, an all but too obvious marketing arm of Aspen. Although Mitt “retroactively retired” from Bain Capitol in 1999, his severance package seems to still afford him a special, more over, financial interest in the Troubled Teen Industry.
In 2007, Mitt Romney ran for President, boasting a massive campaign budget and a squeaky clean Mormon reputation, he looked like a sure bet to snag the GOP nomination. However, his dreams of the candidacy would be short lived, Feb, 7th 2008, Mitt Romney dropped out of the race, bowing to the near inevitability of his opponent Sen. John McCain. John McCain had a choice between Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin for his VP running mate, he chose Palin.
During his run, one of his Romney’s biggest donors and his campaign’s utah financial co-chair, was WWASP’s owner Robert Lichfield, who also happened to be the primary defendant in a pending civil suit on behalf of over 350 plaintiffs suing for a long list of maltreatment including assault, willful negligence, sexual abuse and fraud. If that weren’t bad enough, by 2008 over a dozen WWASP facilities had been closed following investigations of abuse and multiple lawsuits and charges had been filed against WWASP including the conviction of WWASP staffer, Randall Hinton for assault and unlawful imprisonment. Robert Lichfield claims this is all in the name of God… seeing himself doing “God’s Work” and the survivors who oppose his program as “evil” and fueled by Satan.
Despite these issues, Romney kept taking his money and through his beneficiary of Bain Capitol he continues still to profit (and tremendously I might add) from the Troubled Teen Industry.
However as soon as word got out to the public, Romney had no choice but to ask Lichfield to step down from his position and a statement was released by Ken Kay, President of then WWASP:
“Governor Romney has asked Mr. Lichfield to step down and not be involved in any more fundraising until the lawsuit is resolved in the positive, which we are confident will happen,” Kay said via e-mail to the Radar Magazine
Fast forward to 2012, Mitt’s back and he’s got a whole new crew of cronies. Including his current financial co-chair and one of Romney’s biggest contributors, none other than the god father of the Troubled Teen Industry himself, Mel Sembler. Sembler is responsible for the starting of Straight Inc. one of the MOST notorious networks of involuntary drug rehabilitation centers which even in it’s closure in the early 90′s spawned the re-opening of multiple spin-off programs, (most closed, some still in operation today) all with the same “straight” model of brainwashing and systematic abuse. Today Straight has a new name, and a seemingly new direction, in it’s guise as the Drug Free America Foundation, as a republican Anti-Drug think tank.
Another interesting connection to Romney and the Troubled Teen Industry is through another one of his former campaign co-chairs, Paul Babeu, who stepped down amidst a scandal involving a threat to deport his gay lover. However his truly scandalous past lies in his days as headmaster of the troubled teen program, DeSisto School. While Babeu escaped any charges for the multiple accounts of abuse by former students, he was found to be involved in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 17 year old male student.
It seems that these interests don’t end at profit for the Romney’s, In 2011, at a campaign stop in Iowa, Mitt’s wife Ann Romney said working with “at risk” kids would be the cause she devotes herself to if she becomes first lady.
If Romney becomes president, our First Lady will support these teen torture camps… and make some pretty decent money off it as well. Just as Nancy Reagan did with Straight Inc in the 80′s. All the while, her husband will be vetoing any legislations to reform and advocate for kids currently detained in these facilities. Giving these corporations all the power they need to silence their victims, continue draining the bank accounts of desperate parents and abusing their children.
These people are running the scam of the century and our government is allowing them to do so with no accountability whatsoever. Because they operate in the private sector, and are able to operate without proper licenses, they are commonly out of the jurisdiction of state regulation, CPS and local authorities. Federal legislation to regulate these programs have been proposed, but are always thwarted because politicians are willing to keep children’s lives at risk in favor of less private sector regulations. This should be considered a states issue, but when states like Utah allow these programs to operate under the nose of the law without any regulation you have to call for a federal standard. They need to be stopped, not given a pass by our government just because they have financial ties to Mitt Romney. If Romney becomes president we can expect to lose any and all progress we may have made trying to pass regulation in the industry, not to mention the influx of the Romney’s support will put even more children at risk in these programs before we will ever be able to help them. As long as money can buy you a lawyer, a judge, a congressmen and even a president… These programs will continue to escape justice, and keep operating in the lucrative teen torture business of the troubled teen industry.
The question I now ask you is this… Can you vote for Mitt Romney knowing he profits from the torture of children and shows preference to special interests who have children’s blood on their hands?
Please take a moment to follow the links within this post, and these following related links to read more…
Mitt Romney’s Deep Connections to the Troubled Teen Industry - By Chelsea Maldonado
The Dark Side of Bain Success – Salon.com - Art Levine
New Abuse Allegations Arise at Drug Treatment Programs Owned by Bain Capital - By Maia Szalavitz
Romney, Torture and Teens - By Maia Szalavitz