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.


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