Testament to Abuse at Narvin Litchfield’s Dundee Ranch academy in Costa Ricca 2003—abusive teen behavior modification center that was shut down…
By Cody Seth Crawford
My life began as an uneventfull birth at a local hospital in Portland Oregon, on September 26 1986 I was a good baby as my mother puts it. I was not a crier and would sit where I was put. I was the second male child of two proud parents, Ted and Robin Crawford. My dad worked at Boeing as a machinist and my mom was still working real estate selling mobile homes. I was the first Newberg school district kid to be put into early intervention. (Special Ed.) in 1991 for unspecified central auditory processing disorder’s. School was tough for me as I was always the butt of jokes and it seemed like people would just choose me as a easy target for their frustrations. Fast forward to when I was eight and lucked out by getting big role in a movie! I was cast as Michael Cunningham in the Hit NBC miniseries “DEAD BY SUNSET” 1995. I also did a lot of radio and television commercials, and was a cast member of the Portland Opera for 2 years.
I did not start drinking until a neighbor that owns a vineyard and was trusted by my family would give me wine mixed with kool aid when she would volunteer to watch me and my brother…We ate cheese pizza and got smashed..and I was only nine. I subsequently was abused and did not report it at the time. My father took my movie money and split the day before my tenth birthday.. All the abuse was kept hidden from my mom, who does not drink. This went on until I was 11. I was 13 when I started using Cannibis to calm my anxiety and fears .. At the time I thought of it as a medicine that kept me stable as I had a new diagnosis of NON VERBAL LEARNING Dissability,, My friend channing Hammonds introduced me to the drug. I was in 8’th grade and the only student that was in special ed. And the nova program(talented and gifted) at my school..I was doing a special project on medical marijuana for the Nova class and got in too deep into the druggie culture at the school.. I was arrested for distributing! My name was associated with cannabis so I was to blame. I was no longer able to self medicate away my life problems with cannabis(pre-trial drug testing), so I switched back to alcohol.. This was a horrible mistake. My friend channing lived a rougher life and came from a broken home. It was not a great leap for us to steal the first couple of cases of wine from the Red Barn tasting room on the Maresh Winery in Dundee Oregon. We each had a motive, mine was to suppress pain and take back from my abusers, channings was money(he sold his part he did not drink). We stole wine from the same place three times. This was all one summer in 2001. My drinking increased and four more teen boys were subsequently involved in stealing alcohol with me.
I finally got to trial and all the charges were stacked so high I saw no exit. I had been in and out of the Yamhill county detention lock up more times than I could count by then. But My mothers sister Jamie Baxter offered hope! Jamie and Jeff(her husband) told a wonderfull story of therapeutic youth reform through the wonderfull WWASP program(world wide association of spaecialty schools)…I was rooting for it too, since Judge Collins gave me an option of graduating the wwasp program before my 18’th birthday or be award of the state till I was 21. Jeff Baxter testified in Collin’s courtroom about how the wwasp program had saved his own son steven(my cousin) and how I would not receive corporal punishment. And how all my special needs would be met! The program had a representative testify over the phone as the Judge looked through the glossy pamphlet about Dundee Ranch. I was so hopefull that I would finnaly get the therapy that I so desperately needed! Reality check, my mom was court ordered to pay 2,000 a month in tuition when she had lost her job. I was released from juvenile hall and my mom and sister drove me to sanfrancisco where I got a passport in only two days. Then I was on a plane to Sanjose Costa Ricca. I was positive and so hopefull.
My first day at Dundee, after driving for what seemed like hours in the middle of a huge jungle and past smoke spewing volcanoes and crossing a mountain range the climate was like someone left the shower on highest heat and shut the door. I was sweating, and had on shorts, My mom and sister were not allowed to examine the school , they only got to see the preplanned show they put on for all parents and officials. I said good bye and that I loved them.. Narvin Lichfield ; Mr Bailey and Locksley and Conrad had the control now. I was always trained to make eye contact with the people around me(special education) this was the first thing I was in trouble for since it was against the rules at Dundee. We ate nothing but rice and beans and water( I had not earned the privaledge of meats and juice) I was in shock at the conditions. I was new and lowest level so I had a bunk in the hall,no airconditioning, no mosquito nets, and we slept under a tin roof. There was bats and birds and all maner of insect that lived with us. As I recall the ( dorms I was in housed over 100 boys) It was about 7o feet by 25 or so. The upper level students had rooms that slept from five to 8 students and they had fans or airconditioners mounted in the windows..The windows with bars on them. We shared a toilet that was regularly clogged..There was no soap to wash my hands, and no toilet paper most of the time and we would use old magazines or worksheets that you would have to do when vilating one of the many rules. We did line count first thing in the morning and before lights out..All students were required to walk in line formation to the front parking lot and Hollar our number in order. We had forty five seconds to a minute to jump out of our bunks and get our shoes on and be at that count..twice a day. The upper level students were allowed to give us punishments, there were many cases of intimidation and black mail of first level students. Our education was a complete skam! The textbooks were nothing more than very badly photocopied textbooks with many of the pages unleagable and any color chart in theme made absolutely no sense! I was promised I would be allowed to use my special education laptop for my diagnosis of AUTISM. This was stopped by upper level students complaining to Daniel (family representative) that it was unfair that I was allowed to type assignments on the computer.
I was accused of smuggling in marijuana! Mr. Locksley claimed to have found three cannabis seeds in my belongings. Instead of fighting them I had learned to go along with the program. So I wrote a 15, ooo page S.A. in pen about how I had smuggled it in and what were my intentions. I consider it the greatest work of fiction I could ever write. I was not allowed a meal or restroom breaks until I completed the S.A. This was more than one day, but Mr. .Locksley helped me with the content and told me specifically what to write. Then I was put into Observation placement for one day… it is a little shed with two bare rooms about 7×7 and my face was pushed into human excrement by one of the staff.I was not allowed to look to see who. I was then made to kneel on my knees with my nose on the wall for the rest of the day. I was not allowed water and there were little stones that hurt to kneel on so much. I remember crying and being told that was punishable too. I also have a knee disorder that is genetic and is called Osgood-Schlatter Disease that made this worst. I survived the punishment and was allowed to attend my first and only “SEMINAR”. The seminar was led by a red haired woman that appeared to be late forties /mid fifties.I had trouble telling if she was a she even. I remember beating the floor with a towel and cussing about how much I hate my parents (this was required of all Dundee students) we were screaming, crying, and forced to do this if you wanted to graduate. The girls we never saw were at the same seminar( in the computer lab) and were made to get up on the little “stage” and admit to being sluts and prostitutes , to call themselves bitches and whores! The audience was encouraged to join in.and did cheerfully. I had never read the lord of the flies but this was it! I was partnered up with a young woman. (About 14) that whispered to me she was raped at the school by staff. I was so concentrated on my own program that I did not do anything about this and knew to keep silent, don’t look people in the eyes and just stare at the ground.
I was sick the whole time at the place, with some form of dysentery. I received no medicine for this and sometimes was not given my allergy medicine( I was allergic to rice) I had an asthma attack every day during forced exercise in front of the calm looking swimming pool. I remember MR. Baily say “look children, the nice cool water. You will never get to touch it” We did one to three hour workouts depending on the mood of the staff and if it was to unbearable for the staff to even sitting drinking ice water watching us. I would hear other kids screaming and begging for help from the observation placement, when they would return they would be silent and sometimes have many bruises on their body and face. We were not allowed access to a phone, my grandma was dying and I got one phone call of about 3 minutes, and they hung it up once I told her that it was bad there. The school was shut down and raided by the Costa Rican’s shortly thereafter and I was told I could leave. So I first left on my own through the jungle. I was caught by Mr. Locksley and Conrad (Jamaican staff/enforcers) they caught up to me in a mango grove. I picked up a tree branch then dropped it. Conrad and Locksley were on me and slapping me in my face… They got a call on their warlike talkie and I was put on the back of a motorcycle and driven to the school again. This time I got right off at the gate and ran to the Costa Rican police and he looked just as shocked at the situation. There were kids running loose, staff chasing kids, upper levels chasing lower levels with sticks. I saw a Costa Rican woman and asked her to save me. I walked out the front gate past the armed guard with for other kids. We all jumped in the back of the PANNI truck which was driven by the woman. Me and C.J. jumped out at the first town and flagged a taxi, the Taxi driver knew we had no money and only drove us to a little bar. We asked them for Water. We got real ice water! The police and the woman pulled up and we got back in the truck. I remember throwing my Dundee Ranch shirt out on the dirt road… A Farwell to that chapter of my life.
Me and the others were sent to a police substation were we all tried to call home. I do not believe any of us got through. It was nighttime now and we were loaded into a range rover that was set up for search and rescue. The one girl with us was intimately involved with one of the other boys now so they had a nice drive it would seem. We were taken to a children’s shelter, given a happy meal each and me and CJ went to the park right up the block to find a payphone, I remember a costariccan man trying to talk Spanish to us that had followed us from the shelter. At the park Cj met a drug dealer and bought a joint for a handful of skittles the police had given him. We stood there smoked it right in front of the PANNI worker. I was calmed down then and wanted to get more happymeals. Me and CJ were transferred to a Bars on everthing child orphanage in San Pedro. To me I thought it was a prison and a little boy from Jamaica that was there who was the only English speaker told me about how he was there for two years and had not seen his parents the whole time. I asked if he wanted to come, He said he was afraid. He was a big help and held my belt while I twisted it around the bars to the laundry room, I used a wooden leg I tore off the bunk beds as a leverage device. I had to strip nude to slip through. I then found myself locked in another room with no windows to get through, there was a metal roof however and I piled washing machines on washing machines and kicked with everything I had. It was noisier than a storm! I got through and jumped from the edge of the roof over a razor wire fence which was a 12 – 14 foot drop. I was out to find the United States embassy, and was praying to be reunited with my family. I was not reported missing by wwasp or the costariccans for ten days… I met my mom at the airport along with some journalist I had contacted through a Good Samaritan Named Isaac Wabe that was my street guide for the week.
This is a very simple condensed history of my time at Dundee Ranch.