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WWASP Fails Florida Mom Prevails (Jury
Rules in favor of Mom)
Florida (August 8, 2004).
Corporate giant, World Wide Association of Specialty Programs (WWASP), came
after a single Florida mom, Sue Scheff, and her organization Parents Universal
Resource Experts (P.U.R.E.™), because she spoke out about the company's alleged
abuses against children. When she learned her daughter and other children had
been abused in their programs, she fought back.
after her through fear, intimidation, and the high cost of litigation, when she
tried to speak out by reporting fraud, child abuse, and child neglect against
their programs both in the U.S. and other countries. They brought three charges
against this mother and her organization - defamation, civil conspiracy, and
result of her tenacity in seeking the truth, along with her attorney, Richard
Henriksen, Salt Lake City, Utah:
WWASP's attempt to silence this
Sue Scheff and P.U.R.E.™
photos and video clips from 48 Hours, Primetime, Dateline, and Inside Edition
were shown to jurors. Tears welled up in some of their eyes as they watched the
following accounts of child abuse and neglect:
Video clips were
shown of children who were locked in dog cages in the hot Mexican sun at WWASP's
High Impact program in Mexico, sometimes for days at a time. High Impact was
shut down by the Mexican government for allegations of child neglect and abuse.
Although Robert Lichfield, Ken Kay, and Karr Farnsworth will claim High Impact
is not a WWASP program, former employees and parents testified they were. An
employee testified she was asked not to divulge the program's association with WWASP she further testified she traveled to High Impact with Ken Kay,
president of WWASP, who specifically warned her against divulging its
association with WWASP.
was the former Director of Dundee Ranch in Costa Rica. She testified that a girl
was raped there and her skull was cracked. She further testified children at
Dundee Ranch were punished with food deprivation and were kept in a small
isolation room where they were made to kneel and lay on concrete for up to 14
hours a day. Dundee Ranch was closed in May 2003 after she reported WWASP's
alleged child abuse to Costa Rican protective services. This resulted in the
arrest of Narvin Lichfield.
Photos were shown
of children who were locked inside The ISO Box (Isolation Box), a wooden
structure no larger than a small closet at WWASP's Paradise Cove program in
Western Samoa. Children told of their experiences when they were hog-tied,
struck by staff members, and duct-taped during their stay. When an investigation
into allegations of child abuse and neglect was initiated, WWASP closed this
Again at Paradise Cove in Western
Samoa, bugs were seen in the children's meager food
portions. There were photos of children with skin
infections, including scabies.
demonstrated the abuse and neglect they endured. They also verbalized it on
Dateline, Primetime, Inside Edition and 48 Hours.
disturbing accounts of abuse and neglect surfaced during the trial, both in
WWASP facilities in the U.S. and in other countries:
A Texas mother
whose two sons were sent to Tranquility Bay, a WWASP facility in Jamaica, stated
when she went to pick them up she saw terror on their
faces, ringworm scars, and chemical burns on their
bodies. Her children were forced to sleep on plywood
beds with soiled mattresses; they had no soap, no toilet
paper, no fans, and no hot water.
boy spent 4 ½ years of his adolescence being physically moved between five WWASP
programs. He entered their programs when he was 12 and was 19 at the time of
this trial. He broke into tears as the defendants showed the jury a video of
children who were locked inside dog cages in the hot Mexican Sun, the very place
where his nightmare ended when he was removed from those very cages. In an
interview this young man described more horrific events. He told of how older
children in the program plotted to kill him in an attempt to shut the program
down. They lured him into the water, grabbed him, beat his head against a large
piece of coral until he passed out, as they tried to drown him. He has been left
with lifelong emotional scars.
Goodwin's son started his journey through WWASP at Casa by the Sea in
Mexico. He stressed he did not want a discipline-based environment for his
son, but rather a loving environment and was reassured repeatedly that Casa
by the Sea was just that a loving and caring program. He was not allowed
to speak to his son for seven months, and was told speaking to him would
harm his progress in the program. He later learned his son had been beaten
by four staff members in the middle of the night, then forced to sit
Indian-style for up to 16 hours per day while facing a wall. Mr. Goodwin
received a call from the program director telling him his son needed a
harsher environment, recommending his son be sent to Tranquility Bay in
Jamaica. Mr. Goodwin would not agree and insisted his son be sent to Cross
Creek in LaVerkin, Utah. He was asked to enroll his son into a new WWASP
program, High Impact, on a short-term basis while they worked out the
details of his transfer to Cross Creek. He was told it was basically a
wilderness experience. All the while, his son had already been transferred
there without his permission or knowledge. While there, his son's thumb was
broken, needing surgery to put it back in place with several screws. He told
of how his son's head was pounded into the ground by staff during a
restraint. He further testified when he picked up his 15 ½ year-old son from
Cross Creek he witnessed a girl whose mouth was covered with duct-tape and
felt he had been deceived and financially "taken" by WWASP.
young Florida girl was described as having to bathe outside in cold water
with other girls. When they had their menstrual cycle they all showered in
their blood and discharge. She experienced eating pork with hair still on
it. Every night she heard kids screaming in OP (observation placement) while
others cried for their parents.
young girl witnessed the suicide death of Valerie Heron on Valerie's first day
at Tranquility Bay
in Jamaica. Witnesses say there was no staff present to keep her from climbing
up onto the railing, jumping to her death. Girls who witnessed this event were
told they would receive counseling to cope with their grief and trauma but the
therapist never arrived. Instead, the girls witnessing this traumatic event were
given some pills to cope with their pain. During the night after Valerie's
death, she heard staff trying to scrub the blood stains off the concrete. The
next morning, they made the girls line up for head count directly over the
blood-stained "X" that marked the spot where Valerie landed.
Jay Kay, Director
of Tranquility Bay, and son of Ken Kay, President of WWASP, sat in the courtroom
with seemingly no remorse while the defendants presented Prime Time's video clip
of him admitting: "Do I have pepper-spray? You bet I do. And, I haven't had to
use it in five and a half or six months." Since the time of this trial, Fox
aired an interview with a mother whose son was pepper sprayed by Jay Kay and
Randall Hinton, employee at Tranquility Bay, on a daily basis for over eight
months. Further, his genitals were scrubbed with a toilet brush. In an
interview, his mother revealed that before being sent to Tranquility Bay, her
son was a 4.0 student and a good boy. He turned to drugs when she and his father
divorced, which resulted in her turning to WWASP for help. She stated, "My son
suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a direct result of the abuse
he suffered at Tranquility Bay. He had a breakdown and spent two years in a
mental hospital. He is now 24 years old and still living at home. He has had
repeated nightmares for years on at least a weekly basis if not more. Just
last week he screamed out in his sleep Randall, why are you doing this to
me?' I can personally attest that my child was far worse when he returned
from the emersion of abuse and neglect at Tranquility Bay than before he
entered this so-called children's program."
John France, an
Educational and Forensic Psychologist, testified about his son's stay at WWASP
facility Spring Creek Lodge in MT. He stated his son spent nearly nine months in
"The Hobbit", a small structure that was no more than two shelves on top of one
another, his body barely able to fit. It was hot in the summer and cold in the
winter. So cold, his orange he stored away at night was frozen by morning. He
was forced to sleep on a small shelf and to urinate in his drinking cup during
the night. He etched the words "Let Freedom Ring" on one of the shelves.
were shocked, distraught, and cried as these accounts of child abuse, neglect,
and even death, were divulged, Robert Lichfield was seen smiling in the corner
of the courtroom while WWASP lawyers were seen laughing in the presence of the
WWASP continues to grow and thrive, housing thousands of children from all over
the world. To this day, WWASP refuses to admit any wrongdoing, including child
abuse, child neglect and fraud.
repeatedly filed lawsuits against advocacy groups in an attempt to stop them
from exposing child abuse and neglect in their programs.
Scheff continues in her quest to provide families with the resources, options,
and safe alternatives they need in finding help for their children. Congressman
George Miller continues to fight for Federal legislation to regulate this
industry, and we at P.U.R.E.™ support his fight. For more current news and information on
the tough-love industry, please visit Coalition Against Institutionalized Child
Abuse (CAICA) at www.caica.org.
As of May
2006, it is believed that WWASP aka WWASPS or Premier Educational
Systems has affiliations with the following:
Academy of Ivy
Ridge, NY (Recently withdrew their affiliation with WWASPS)
Canyon View Park, MT
Camas Ranch, MT
Carolina Springs Academy,
Programs, UT (Cross Creek Center and Cross Creek Manor
Help My Teen, UT
(Adolescent Services Adolescent Placement) Promotes and markets these programs.
Horizon Academy, NV
Services, UT (Promotes and markets these programs).
IA (Brian Viafanua, formerly the Director of Paradise Cove as shown on
Primetime, is the current Director here).
Pillars of Hope,
Christian Academy (Borders FL, AL, MS)
Reality Trek, UT
Red River Academy,
LA (Borders TX)
Royal Peak Academy,
CO (It is believed that Randall Hinton - who admitted using pepper spray on
teens - is employed at this facility).
Sky View Academy,
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