Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network

Human Rights Defenders

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 1



Abduction and Detention - Escorting children to torture

Worldwide Abusive Residential Programs run by US NGO's

This problem of abuse in residential treatment centers  is not limited to the United States of America.  These abusive methods have been exported to many countries in the world. 

The World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools still operates overseas in spite of numerous investigations into their abusive practices, leading to shut down of many of the international facilities.  Immigration authorities, health and educational regulatory agencies overseas have filed numerous investigative reports of abuse of children and teens in these facilities leading to many being closed.  Yet these facilities still spring up again in another place sometimes in another country.

The Bergen KIDS program has been transplanted to Alberta Canada as The Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre (AARC).[i]  The Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre[ii], or AARC, is a drug rehabilitation clinic for teenagers and adolescents in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and is still operating an abusive program there.  AARC has been the subject of controversy in Canada over allegations of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse made by former patients; this has led to widespread protests against AARC, and calls for a government inquiry by Alberta's provincial New Democratic Party.[iii]  


US citizens had been transported over international boundaries and taken to facilities in Mexico such as Abundant Life. [iv] The children were found to be abused there.  Mexican immigration officials of the Instituto National de Migracion (INM) raided the facilities and deported the children back to the U.S.A.  Mexican authorities cited immigration violations for the clients but also immigration violations related to the staff of these facilities.  There was a lack of proper municipal licensing of these facilities and they had not obtained the requisite approval of health and education authorities in Mexico.  In addition the teen “clients” of these facilities described habitual mistreatment while being kept illegally detained without access to communication with the outside world.  In 2004 the Mexican government rounded up 590 US teenagers who were placed in institutions throughout Mexico without proper immigration paperwork.  These children were considered “troubled teens” by their American parents and were sent to these locked facilities for problems with behavior and parental authority. 

The Assemblies of God Church runs Teen Challenge.  Teen Challenge is an outreach of the Assemblies of God church which has its own centers in numerous countries. Teen Challenge alone operates two organizations that are international in scope – Teen Challenge U.S.A. International and Teen Challenge Global.  Teen Challenge Global is in 82 countries and has over 1,000 centers worldwide.  Currently Teen Challenge International USA is headquartered in Springfield, MO.[v]  Teen Challenge Global is headquartered in Columbus, GA.  Teen Challenge USA had grown to include 231 locations in the United States, including residential programs and evangelical outreach centers.  Teen Challenge USA International also has its own programs overseas as well and operates in a variety of countries including the Bahamas, Nauru, and the Philippines.

Teen Challenge is run by the Assemblies of God which also runs its own Credit Union which is located in Missouri. The Assemblies of God Credit Union has 13,883 members as of 2011 and reports assets of $93.3 million. It opened in 1951 and has 32 full time employees and 9 part-time. This is a state chartered natural person credit union.

These are the countries where Teen Challenge Global runs programs:

American Samoa, Angola (3 facilities), Argentina (2), Aruba, Australia (9), Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus (2), Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil (14), Cambodia, Canada (24), China (3), Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic (3), Denmark, Dominican Republic (2), Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France (2), Germany (20), Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland (6), India, India (7), Ireland (2), Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan (16), Kenya, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia, Latvia, Lithuania (5), Macedonia, Mexico (5), Moldova, Nepal, Netherlands (2), New Zealand, Norway (2), Pakistan (3), Paraguay, Poland (4), Portugal (8), Romania, Russia (14), Serbia (3), Singapore (4), Slovakia (3), South Africa (11), Spain, Swaziland (8), Sweden, Switzerland (3), Trinidad-Tobago, West Indies, Uganda, Ukraine (7), UK, Wales (8), UK, England (8), UK, Scotland (4), Uruguay (2), Venezuela

Teen Challenge is directly connected with Assemblies of God Church – both through management and also through financial connections even though they attempt to hide this association when trying to recruit clients for their centers. Jerry Nance is President and C.E.O.

 Teen Challenge Global is divided into seven regions with a director or representative for each region.

Latin America and Caribbean - Duane Henders; 1,250 beds in 102 centers in 17 countries.
Europe - Tom Bremer; 892 beds in 58 centers in 28 countries.
Africa - Doug Wever, 1,034 beds in 14 centers in 9 countries.
Asia Pacific - James Lowans; 357 beds in 51 centers in 9 countries.
Northern Asia - 30 beds in three centers.
Eurasia - Kevin Tyler; 11,600 beds in 370 centers in 14 countries.
North America - Jack Smart, 7,536 beds in 223 centers in 2 countries.

[i] CBC News Canada.  Alberta drug rehab centre abused us, former teen patients allege. Executive director calls them 'liars', February 13, 2009, CBC News, Feb. 13, 2009,  The CBC’s The Fifth Estate uncovered the allegations during an extensive investigation. Plagued by reports of alleged beatings and weird rituals, New Jersey authorities raided Newton’s centre in 1989, finally shutting it down in 1998. New Jersey lawyer Phil Elberg successfully sued the centre for $18.6 million Canadian in 1998 claiming malpractice on behalf of former patients. Newton had wanted to expand his program to Alberta and started AARC in Alberta. Former patients of the Kids of Bergen County New Jersey went on to work at AARC as counselors despite having no formal training.  The program receives $400,000 a year in provincial funding. It was originally reported that it had received $4 million in provincial funding since 2002. CBC.Ca,

[ii] The Alberta Adolescent Recovery Center, 303 Forge Road S.E. Calgary, AB T2H0S9 403.253.5250 403.640.2520,

[iv] Guadalajara Reporter, Immigration Busts Lakeside Area Boarding School for Troubled Teens, Friday December 17, 2004,, Abundant Life facilities in Guadalajara Mexico are busted for immigration violations.  Twelve boys and five girls, teens 14-17 years of age and all US citizens are sent back to the U.S.A.  One 17 year old who was interned in an institution in Ajijc area, reported in lengthy testimony, abusive treatment by staff members, penned after he escaped and finally took refuge with an expatriate couple living nearby.  Guadalajara Reporter  +52 (33) 3615-2177 and+ 52 (33) 3615-0606.

[v]  The Assemblies of God Church has its’ headquarters in the State of Missouri and also its Credit Union is located in that state as well.  Just to give you an idea of the strength and numbers of their membership of the Assemblies of God Church in Missouri and elsewhere.  There are 467 churches in the Missouri Assembly of God Church Directory in the state of Missouri (This is just the listing for just one state.)

"In our country are evangelists and zealots of many different political, economic and religious persuasions whose fanatical conviction is that all thought is divinely classified into two kinds -- that which is their own and that which is false and dangerous."

Justice Robert H. Jackson

The World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools - WWASPS

The World Wide Association Of Specialty Programs and Schools (WWASPS or WWASP) is an organization based in Utah, in the United States. WWASPS was founded by Robert Lichfield and was incorporated in 1998. WWASPS claims to have treated 10,000 children. WWASPS states that it is an umbrella organization of independent institutions for education and treatment of troubled teenagers, all operating in accordance with WWASP guidelines. Many outside observers believe, however, that the WWASPS-affiliated institutions are actually owned (through limited partnerships, many of which have used the same street address) by WWASPS or its principal officials or their close relatives. WWASPS has faced widespread allegations of physical and psychological abuse of the teenagers sent into its programs, resulting in a lawsuit filed against the organization in 2006.

Why should we be concerned?

Research has uncovered, and families have reported that these teen residential treatment centers have continued to have problems of abuse.

•There are no laws to protect the children outside the US
•Many facilities are not licensed and there is no oversight
•Children often lose their basic human rights
•Many have no privacy to use the restroom or shower
•Children lose contact with the outside world
•Once phone calls with parents are finally allowed, usually 3-6 months after the child enters the program, they are censored; children lose all other verbal contact with the outside world
•Children’s letters to extended family and friends are usually not delivered, and mail is censored
•Many youth have spent months in isolation

WWASPS has had numerous allegations of abuse and many of their facilities have been closed including:

•Academy at Ivy Ridge in Ogdensburg, New York (closed in early 2009; property has been sold)
•Bell Academy in California (shut down in 2003 after issues with state Social Services)
•Bethel Girls Academy in Mississippi (shut down in Feb. 2005 after state officials investigate reports of abuse)
•Brightway Hospital in St. George, Utah (closed in 1998 by authorities for providing inadequate care and abuse)
•Carolina Springs Academy (license revoked, name illegally changed to Magnolia Hills Christian Academy, website changed) in South Carolina. Campus abandoned as of September 2010
•Darrington Academy in Georgia. Closed in March 2009; 90 students were enrolled at the time of closure. School director Richard Darrington was arrested in May 2009 and charged with battery of two students at the school.
•Royal Gorge Academy in Canon City, Colorado, closed in October 2008. Youth sent to Red River Academy.
•Sky View Christian Academy, for boys, in Hawthorne, Nevada. Enrolled about 120 students and employed about 63 staff and teachers, with a total annual payroll of $1.57 million. Closed abruptly in 2007 after a hazing incident.
•Spring Creek Lodge Academy, Sanders County, Montana; operated from the late 1970s until January 9, 2009.

WWASPS programs are still operating

Currently WWASPS is operating the following programs: Cross Creek Programs in Utah, Gulf Coast Academy in Lucedale, Mississippi (formerly Bethel Girls' Academy, Bethel Boys' Academy, and Eagle Point Christian Academy), Old West Academy (formerly Majestic Ranch Academy) in Utah, Midwest Academy in Keokuk, Iowa, Horizon Academy in Amargosa Valley, Nevada, Red River Academy in Lecompte, Louisiana, Woodland Hills Maternity Home in Utah, Pillars of Hope, (previously the site of closed school Academy at D undee Ranch) in Costa Rica, and Mentor School, located in the former Hotel Carara near Tárcoles in Costa Rica.



Class Action Law Suite Against WWASPS

Class Action Suit Against  WWASPS is being mounted  by Turley Law Firm and has been filed in the United States District Court, for the District of Utah,  Civil Action  2:06-CV-708, ECF  in front of Judge Clark Waddoups.

Windle Turley and A. Watson, T Nguyen TURLEY LAW FIRM, 6440 North Central Expressway, 1000 Turley Law Center, Dallas, TX 75206 Telephone: (214) 691-4025, Facsimile: (214) 361-5802 

James W. McConkie, II, Bradley H. Parker, PARKER & MCCONKIE, 175 East 400 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84111, Telephone: (801) 578-3250, Facsimile: (801) 524-1098



GAO - Government Studies of the Problem

Catherine Freer Wilderness Therapy Programs responds to Congressional Hearings 11 OCT 2007 — Catherine Freer Wilderness Therapy Programs responds to the testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor on "Cases of Child Neglect and Abuse at Private Residential Treatment Facilities."

Catherine Freet Wilderness Therapy Programs Sends Letter to U.S. Representatives 30 JAN 2008 — Catherine Freer Wilderness Therapy Programs sends letter to all members of U.S. House of Representatives Education Committee members in response to Committee hearing on residential treatment facilities held on October 10, 2007.

Final GAO Report on Residential Facilities (Full Report) (May 2008) Residential Facilities: Improved data and enhanced oversight would help safeguard the well-being of youth with behavioral and emotional challenges, Report to Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives [PDF, 95 pages}

Final GAO Report on Residential Facilities (Highlights) (May 2008) Residential Facilities: Improved data and enhanced oversight would help safeguard the well-being of youth with behavioral and emotional challenges, Report to Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives [PDF, 1 pages}

GAO Report: Concerns Regarding Abuse and Death in Certain Programs for Troubled Youth (Full Report) (October 10, 2007) Full report of testimony before the Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives. [PDF, 38 pages]

GAO Report: Concerns Regarding Abuse and Death in Certain Programs for Troubled Youth (Highlights) (October 10, 2007) Highlights of the report of testimony before the Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives. [PDF, 1 page]

Residential Facilities: State & Federal Oversight Gaps May Increase Risk to Youth (Highlights) (April 24, 2008) Highlights of the report by Government Accountability Office of testimony before the Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives [PDF, 1 pages]

Residential Facilities: State & Federal Oversight Gaps May Increase Risk to Youth Well-Being (April 24, 2008) Full report by the Government Accountability Office of testimony before the Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives [PDF, 21 pages]

Residential Programs: Selected Cases of Death, Abuse, and Deceptive Marketing (Full Report) (April 24, 2008) Full report of testimony before the Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives. [PDF, 24 pages]




Aspen Education Group and CEDU

Aspen Education Group has been using Reputation defender services to neutralize the effects of victim grievance.  After abduction, it is known AEG forced  sexual humiliation on the teens at Mount Bachelor,8599,1891082,00.html
AEG is a CEDU clone. CEDU is a Synanon clone, all one cult, operating under different names with different leaders.
Here's some about CEDU:
CEDU is named after Charles E. Dietrich, the founder of Synanon. The founder of CEDU, Mel Wasserman was a Synanonite.
Here is a chart that links CEDU to Synanon
The rituals described in Time Magazine are derived from Scientology, were turned more degrading by Wasserman and forced on prisoners at CEDU, and then forced on Aspen Education Group teens.
You can read some about AEG abuse at the following links:
And here. It's a message board dealing with thought reform and detention.
This thread deals with one AEG extrajudicial prison, Island View Residential
Aspen Education Group has gone on record that they are not providers of medical treatment or psychiatric treatment for any mental or behavioral disorder, despite selling itself as "residential treatment" for teens.

"Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." ~Horace Mann

U.S. Supreme Court Decision and Funding for Abuse of Children

The U.S. Supreme Court decided the case FOREST GROVE SCHOOL DIST. v. T. A. (No. 08-305) 523 F. 3d 1078, which was affirmed.  In the legal case, Forest Grove v. TA, the central question was whether families with a disabled child have a right to seek reimbursement for private-school tuition from the state if the child did not first receive special-education services in public school. Although the legal question posed by this case is a narrow one,  the case itself represents a much more problematic question about the safety of children in private residential treatment.  The facility involved in the case was Mount Bachelor Academy in Prineville, Oregon.  This center is under investigation of child abuse which was reported by students and also one employee.  It was under investigation by the Oregon Department of Human Services.  Mount Bachelor Academy has been accused of using sexually humiliating techniques on victims of rape or sexual abuse.  The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that Mount Bachelor Academy could demand payment for their services from the Forest Grove School District.  So the U.S. Supreme Court was deciding the placement of children in a facility currently under investigation for child abuse could demand legally to paid from public funds in spite of known problems discovered by Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS).  It was alleged that the program  staff in the  program called Lifesteps,  instructed girls, some of whom say they have been victims of rape or sexual abuse, to dress in provocative clothing — fishnet stockings, high heels and miniskirts — and perform lap dances for male students as therapy.

523 F. 3d 1078, affirmed.




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“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo Buscaglia

Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network


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"Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself."  Confucius

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Theodore Roosevelt- Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic", delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910