Saturday, December 23, 2017

A prison camp manager is always responsible even if he is only following guidelines

A jury in Iowa found that Benjamin Trane was responsible for executing the curriculum and methods outlined by the now defunct WWASP-organization. WWASP (The World Wide Association Of Specialty Programs and Schools) ran a franchise where people who wanted to run a boarding school which included behaviorial training of both parents and children, could buy not only a complete guide how to do it, but also marketing packages, transport teams who could collect teenagers from their beds at home and transport them to the boarding school in handcuffs and shackles, accounting so parents could set up payment plans, schoolbooks and other needed equipment for schooling and training seminars for parents and the teenagers.

Benjamin Trane took over Midwest Academy from Brian Vaifanua just like when 7-11 managers take over a already existing shop. He continued to run the boarding school based on existing guidelines used at many boarding schools in the WWASP system for many years. He did not attempt to stop running the school after the old guidelines and that got him convicted in court.

You are legally responsible when you run a boarding school basically as a prison camp. When District Judge Mark Kruse read the verdict, there was absolutely no doubt in the judgment from the jury.

Benjamin Trane will receive his sentence sometime in 2018. That sends a strict message to everyone who decides to buy into the entire franchise or only parts of it. Officially WWASP does not exist anymore, but there are schools around the United States where they use a level system where the teenagers have to earn right to better food, right to speak to their parents, right to unstricted communication with their peers and punishment using isolation rooms. There are schools out there who use seminars for parents and the confined teenagers which tricks them into believing that life in general are restricted and life should be lived in a certain way.

So maybe WWASP is not that dead. They might receive money for running a lot of services - just not the entire package labeling a school a WWASP school.

The judgment is a milepoint

It is not the first time authorities have tried to make a bording school manager responsible:
  • The authorities in what is now known as the Czech Republic tried to bring Glenda and Steven Roach to justice. However they managed to escape the country with some help from people from the local American embassy before they could go to court and the police in Brno had to drop the investigation.
  • The authorities in Costa Rica tried to convict Narvin Lichfield after the raid on Academy of the Dundee Ranch. However he was successful in securing jobs to all the potential vitnesses among the employees at other schools abroad and some of the teenagers who could have testified against him were in fact locked up at other boarding schools when they returned to the United States.
  • The authorities in Mexico and Nevada settled with closing Casa by the Sea, the High Impact boot camp and Sky View Christian Academy

Two times before a manager has been convicted on his individual actions:

In the case of the Royal George Academy and Darrington Academy the managers were sentenced due to their own violent behavior. Randall Hinton and Richard Darrington both ended in prison. However their judgment did not include whether the guidelines in their schools in general was abusive.

This time part of the verdict is based on the acceptance of the general guidelines which were a punitive level system and the use of isolation rooms.

That is a vital point in the judgment.

That means that no person - al least in the state of Iowa - can buy into such a franchise and believe that they are above the law. They will be held responsible.

Are all the people in this case responsible for the ordeals of the teenagers then held to justice?


Ken Kay, Karr Farnsworth, the Lichfield brothers and some unknown money men made good money setting up those schools. Parents all over the country still pay off of the mortage, they took in their houses believing that they had to do this in order to save their children. Parents who in many cases lost their children afterwards due to mental issues left untreated or self-medication in order to deal with the burden of the posttraumatic stress discorder as result of their stay at these schools.

The money men continued to live good lives knowning that they got away with it. People like Benjamin Trane were rightfully convicted but they were in fact people who could be sacrificed because the franchise system itself was not convicted.

Of course the line of people who are willing to buy into the full franchise is now short but some people unable to get jobs in other lines of work might be tempted to establish a school. (Benjamin Trane had no training counseling teenagers, so in fact you could pick anyone on the street to become a boarding school manager).

So there is a very good reason for human right organizations to continue to monitor new boarding schools and treatment facilities. It could very well be a facility who is using what is now a banned set of guidelines into how to run a punitive boarding school with a behavioral program for the students.

The monitoring of this line of business will continue and it is only a question of time before the next facility will be brought down.


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Who was responsible at Midwest Academy?

It is Ben Trane who is on trial. He was the director. But he is also the fall-guy. The money is gone to the people who designed the entire setup. All the time there has been a plan what to do if the authorities ever intervened. Why? Because the designers and owners of the school system had tried to have their schools locked down so many times in several countries and states that they from day one had an emergency plan what to do when the authorities intervened, not if the authorities intervened. Google WWASP and you will learn that the real owners had schools closed down in Nevada, Costa Rica, Mexico, Samoa and the Czech republic.

We have to remember that Midwest Academy was founded shortly before the authoritis raided Casa by the Sea, which is mentioned on several blogs:

You learn that the sructure used at Casa by the Sea was basically the same as used at Midwest Academy. Still more than 10 years went by from the date where the authorities in Mexico called it a stop to the time when the authorities in Iowa raided Midwest Academy. It left the owners plenty of time to construct a financial setup where there would be no money for victims when the school closed down.

So the money are now being controlled by two firms named Midwest Twister and Prestige Funding. Maybe. Because for more than 3 decades the money men had been hiding in Utah. One of the people behind the system even worked for Mitch Romney when he unsuccessful ran for presidency in 2012. We are talking of people high in the system, who have milked families for 3 decades into believing that they had a solution for so-called at-risk teenagers, if the families had the money to pay for treatment.

It was a well-planned close down operation. Given that these men does not waste resources, every chair, every table, every computer and even left-over uniforms will be used again in another so-called school. Nothing is too small for them to be used again.

When Valerie Anne Herron died after falling to her death from the second floor at Tranquility Bay in Jamaica, her belongings were given to new students. Uniforms, pencils and unused notebooks. Some of it still with blood on.

About a month after the incident, I was working in transitions with Karen and Sherry, cleaning out the supply closet (this closet held hygiene supplies for students as well as uniforms for new students) and I found 4 of Valerie’s uniforms, folded neatly, ready for a new girl to adopt. Only 1 was missing, the one she died in. It shocked me and reminded me of books I have read about concentration camps, where the dead peoples uniforms are reused and passed on. We talked to the staff in charge of supplies, and he said there was nothing wrong with the uniforms, they had only been used once, and that we needed to “chill now man”.

It has and will always be about the money.

Ben Trane, former Midwest Academy director, testifies (The Hawkeye)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Properly legal in one state, illegal in another

When you follow the trail against Ben Trane from the former Midwest Academy, you notice that methods which are standard at most programs in Utah, is now critized in court in Iowa.

One point which is hight-lighted is the level sysem.

Food at Midwest Academy was used as punishment according to the prosecutor.
“Level 1 had certain restrictions,” said Timmins. “Food was a privilege there. So as a Level 1, you could not eat catsup and mustard and you could not have the salad dressing at the salad bar. You had to earn condiments.”

It is basically the same at Turn-about Ranch used in Dr. Phil Shows. When a teenager enters Turn-about Ranch, they are housed in a modern heated cabin enjoying the same food as teenagers on higher level. Their food is also basic.

A testimony from a former Turn-about Ranch residents tells us that:
They eat breakfast (oatmeal, cooked over their personal camp fire in an old coffee can), lunch ("trail mix," which is shredded coconut, Cheerios, and raisins), and dinner (which can vary from beans & lentils to Ramen noodles, depending on availability and behavior).

Then the Level one teenagers are also met with restrictions on who they are allowed to communicate with. This is what is writen about Midwest Academy:
“As a Level 1, you couldn’t talk to people. There were certain people you could talk to… but Level 1's were not able to talk to each other. They weren’t allowed to talk to staff. It was part of the discipline.”

What are said about Turn-about Ranch?
During this time they are not allowed to talk (except to ask for water or food) and are forbidden to sleep except when the staff tells them to.

It is basically the same. Again at Turn-about Ranch we see the attempt of isolating the newcomer from the rest of the teenage population at the facility. It is a gruesome mental method used to break down the teenager so they can force the teenager into making kind of confessions making the stay at these private teenage prisons justified.

There is a reason that isolation in any form is considered close to torture. Most humans are social creatures. They do not have the mindset so they can bare isolation for longer periods. In justice systems they learned this the hard way when they designed early prisons. In the start they believed that isolating prisoners from each other forcing them to wear hoods which covered their faces while they were out would make them repent and become good people. These methods were abolished as the prisoners became insane. Keeping in mind that a counselor was murdered at Turn-about ranch and another hurt when a teenager could not bear the isolation any more, why are such methods then still allowed in Utah?

Communication with the outside world was also restricted. Why limit the communication with the parents, the people who are paying for the stay. Parents could not drive by any weekend and talk to their child. Communication were limited to letters, letters which were screened so the employees could ask for a new version of a letter if it was too complaining.

It is basically what allowed the alleged abuse Ben Trane is on trial for. In 2012, Denmark introduced "the law of a child". In Denmark teenagers in group homes are allowed the use of cell phones from day one. It serves two purposes. The child can call the state hotline preventing abuse. The child can be tracked using the cellphone if the child runs away from a group home. The child and the parents can maintain and repair their relationship.

The background for "the law of a child" was tragic. On the island of Laesoe a male employee has sex with a girl who was isolated due to some rules at a group home. The confession of the male employee was secretly taped by the girl and she also keep part of her clothes with his semen on.

The Danish court system handed down the most severe sentence the system allowed them. 60 days in prison suspended. It demands an explanation. In Denmark social standards are very much enherited. People from low-income families, immigrants and people who were placed in the social system are at the bottom in the court system. When they are charged, their names are made public unlike people with money who can afford lawyers where their names are secret until the courts have ruled. So the victim in the sex-case was from a low-income family and the employee a local respected man. 60 days was a severe sentence given the circumstances.

It left the Danish politicians with only one option. To abolish use of isolation for children when possible. Only when we are talking crimes like terrorism and use of guns, the court can rule for isolation.

I believe that the state governments of both Utah and Iowa should rule against any use of level systems where food and social isolation are used.

Use of isolation does not result in positive change. The most smart of the teenagers learn that they just have to play along and wait until they are 18 so they can continue their lives as they did before the stay.

The other kids leave such places damaged and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. The suicide rates among people who suffered time during their teenage years are alarming high. The number of former inmates in these places who dies of medical overdoses also.

They are basically good for none but of course good for drama in television shows like Dr. Phil when the teenagers are dragged out to a car by handpicked thugs while the teenagers are screaming about not forgiving their parents. It is a sick culture.

It needs to be stopped and it is up to the politicians to save teenagers from ending up at such places. The real question is whether they are prepared to do that when jobs are brought to an area. Ask your local polician this question over and over again until you get an answer.


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