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Ambassador de Sade

Posted by Perry on November 09, 2005 at 14:22:23

I came across this extremely interested article regarding the former U.S. ambassador to Italy, Melvin Sembler, who was appointed by the current president. While the article does contain some criticisms of the president, I am not posting the link for that reason, but for the information it contains on what some cult experts refer to as a cult-like drug rehabilitation organization, STRAIGHT, Inc. For newcomers to this site who are unfamiliar with the chatboard rules, please keep partisan politics out of any ensuing discussion. In that regard, I should point out that the abuses perpetrated by STRAIGHT employees against young people occurred throughout both Democratic and Republican administrations.

What I find particularly striking are the similarities between the abusive methods of re-education and rehabilitation used by both STRAIGHT and The Family, under the guise of saving their children. Also, the time frames are very similar, as STRAIGHT operated from 1976 to 1993. Leadership response to allegations of abuse are also very similar, i.e., they deny abuse and claim that they are saving the young people not abusing them. Expert spin-doctoring. And even though STRAIGHT was shut down, the same people merely started up similar programs with benign sounding names, just like TF has done by operating under a myriad of names and programs.

Below I’ve copied several of the more pertinent paragraphs from the article for those who don’t have time to read it in it’s entirety.

“For 16 years, [Melvin] Sembler, with his wife Betty, directed the leading juvenile rehab business in America, STRAIGHT, Inc., before seeing it dismantled by a breathtaking array of institutional abuse claims by mid-1993. Just one of many survivors is Samantha Monroe, now a travel agent in Pennsylvania, who told The Montel Williams show this year about overcoming beatings, rape by a counselor, forced hunger, and the confinement to a janitor's closet in "humble pants" -- which contained weeks of her own urine, feces and menstrual blood. During this "timeout," she gnawed her cheek and spat blood at her overseers. "I refused to let them take my mind," she says of the program. The abuse took years to overcome.”

“… a coast-to-coast trail of human wreckage had ensued during STRAIGHT's reign from 1976 to 1993 -- its survivors claimed physical, sexual and psychological trauma. The Web sites and have collected many of their stories. Posts Kelly Caputo, an '88 alumna: "I don't think I will ever be the same. My every thought has been violated, confused, degraded and warped."”

“Melvin Sembler's Jekyll-and-Hyde empire appealed to parents with cheery pamphlets bearing pictures of happy and reunited families that had put their horrible pasts behind them.”

“Even Princess Diana had graced the clinics with a visit, celebrating STRAIGHT as a humanitarian institution. George H.W. Bush named the program among his "thousand points of light." But many called it Hell.”

“Taking in new kids without much discrimination -- many addiction-free -- STRAIGHT staff assured parents that a variety of troubled teens could benefit from their brand of discipline.”

“Vanished from home and school, the newcomer would enter the care of a "host home" overseen, at night, by the same counselors up in her face by day. Over the months, patients like Samantha Monroe earned back basic privileges like speaking or, in the distant future, going to the bathroom alone, without an ever-present minder's thumb in the belt loop -- literally. The counselors were themselves STRAIGHT kids, who had been molded into drug warriors in the heat of humiliation. They'd learned to play along and join the winning side, becoming the hall monitors and the muscle that enforced the rules.”

“[STRAIGHT is] a group characterized as a destructive cult by top authorities on cult abuse ranging from Steve Hassan of the Freedom Of Mind Center to the late Dr. Margaret Singer of UC Berkeley, an expert on the abuse of American servicemen in the Korean War whose expert testimony was used to close a facility in Cincinnati. Bradbury, the whistleblower, concurs, saying the program modified his personality into something monstrous. Bradbury attended the St. Petersburg, Florida clinic. "You don't understand what they did to these kids," Bradbury told AlterNet. "They put stuff up my butt."”

“But you wouldn't know from Sembler's State Department biography that his claim to fame has such a shoddy legal record. The program has the honor of being described as a "remarkable program" in his bio, and it credits STRAIGHT with saving 12,000 kids.”

“Though Sembler's clinics were shuttered, the spirit of STRAIGHT lives on as a flourishing model for drug rehabilitation. That includes offshoots run by former STRAIGHT staff, such as the Orlando STRAIGHT spin-off, SAFE, which was described by 16-year-old Leah Marchessault in 2000 as "something from the Twilight Zone" in a report by Florida's WAMI TV station.”

“Despite their cheery names -- SAFE in Orlando, Florida; Kids Helping Kids of Cincinnati, Ohio; Growing Together of Lake Worth, Florida -- these barely regulated warehouses cry out for oversight. Hungry for recruits, they appeal to the fears of parents by warning a child will die on the streets if uncorrected by their methods.”