This is the History of and Reporting Guide for the Three Springs "Family" of Programs/Services

(New Beginnings, New Directions for Boys, Three Springs of Courtland, North Carolina Boys (Closed), Auldern Academy (Closed))

(aka Sequel Youth and Family Services, Clarinda Academy (Iowa Location--Reportedly Closing), Woodward Academy)


On this page you will find incomplete staff and complaint histories with sources cited (i.e. Progress Report), the general advisory against segregated congregate care with sources cited, and a reporting guide for those unlawfully harmed or firsthand witnesses to unlawful harm by or at this location to report violations of the law to the proper authorities/law enforcement.  The staff list itself will not be updated with additional names out of a sense of fairness where those providing the names ask for anonymity or confidentiality.  And, this program will remain eligible for merciful release if all criteria are met and no guest sermon is provided by a qualifying sponsor by that time.  In the meantime, it can graduate the COPE Conversion Program by meeting the Honesty In Marketing Standards (HIMS) or permanently close to be removed from the watch-list/released from the COPE Conversion Program.  If permanently closed prior to graduation or merciful release, it will be buried in the virtual graveyard




Additional Information
Margaret George Administrator North Carolina Location--Three Springs of North Carolina (a.k.a. North Carolina Boys)
Doug Lynch Program Director Lynch has been with Three Springs since 1995.
Nikia Bland Admissions Bland has been with Three Springs since 1999.
Ann Scott Education Scott has been with Three Springs since 1994.
Sharon Elsenbeck Support Services Director Elsenbeck has been with Three Springs since 1991.
Cindy Jacobs Family Services Director Jacobs has been with Three Springs since 2002.
Joseph Dzienis Staff Development Director Dzienis has been with Three Springs since 1995.
Simone Griffith Nurse Griffith has been with Three Springs since 1994.
Jane Samuel Head of School North Carolina Location--Auldern Academy--Came to Auldern in 2006.  Samuel was the first Admissions Director at the confirmedly abusive Mt. Bachelor Academy (closed) and later was on the founding staff of the Northstar Center. She then helped to establish a second campus for New Leaf Academy (closed). 

HEAL received the following message and forwarded it to Child Protective Services and the Attorney General of North Carolina on December 23rd, 2009:

"Hello.  My name is [name removed to protect victim] and I am currently a student at Auldern Academy. I have been attending since July 1, 2009 and am currently having difficulty with myself due to the program. I get 2 20 minute phone calls, which can be rudely interupted when need be. I have to apply for the privilege of e-mail, iPod, and when the time comes for my phone, I have to apply for that privilege as well. The thing that is most disturbing here is not my lack of conversational devices but rather this: all of my mail gets read and screened by my therapist as well as more than 3/4 of the population of the girls attending auldern. I am afraid to be myself and show who I really am, because they will turn me into something that I am not. I have tried to have my father reinstate me in any other place but here, and by the time that you read this, I probably won't be allowed to receive your response. The fact that I am writing you now could get me in trouble in a thing called "focus reflection" where you spend a designated number of days reflecting on what you did and talking to limited people in the community. The academics are great, but I can't sit around and watch my life rot away. I would much rather be in the middle of the ghetto of chicago starving to death than at this god forsaken shit hole.  Please help me. [signature removed to protect the victim]"

Bill (William) Grant Asst. Head of School Bill began his career as a Biology and Chemistry instructor at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, GA where he also worked as Admissions Counselor and Director of Student Activities. Bill has also worked for Darlington School (Rome, GA), Mercersburg Academy (Mercersburg, PA), Storm King School (Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY) and Brandon Hall School (Atlanta, GA).  Before joining the staff of Auldern Academy Bill oversaw day-to-day operations at Squaw Valley Academy in Lake Tahoe, CA.
Ann Scott Staff  
Lynn Blanton Nurse Blanton has been with Auldern since 2005.
Simone Griffith Staff  
Vito Guarnaccia Consultant/Clinical Director  
Crystal Cox Director of Support Services Cox has been with Three Springs since 2001.
Sarah Belcher Director of Student Life Belcher has been with Three Springs since 2008.  She also worked for The Whitaker School.
Chris Will Lead Teacher  
Jim Philips Teacher  
Ed King Teacher  
Dakota Cronin Teacher  
Lee R. Leal Teacher Mr. Leal has previously taught at the Cary Academy and the Saint Andrew's School.
Ryan Gilmore Teacher Prior to joining Auldern, he was a Lab Research Analyst at Duke University. He has done professional lab research for several other companies in the Research Triangle Park area.
Andrew Johnson Teacher  
Natalie Sisson Lead Clinician She has previously worked with adolescents as an Advisor for Carlbrook School, was a therapist at Peace Place and a counselor at Chestnut Health Systems in Virginia.
Julius Jessup Clinician He came to Auldern Academy from Carlbrook School where he was an Advisor. He has previously worked as a Clinical Intern at the Center on Interventions for Children and Families in Cleveland, OH.
Amy Berent Clinician She was the Clinical Director and Field Therapist at Blackwater Outdoor Experiences.
Kristi Wood Clinician She came to Auldern from the Three Spring Paint Rock Valley program.
Darci Hall Clinician Formerly worked at The New Dominion School (another Three Springs program, closed.)
Aaron Seymour Staff (former) Aaron Seymour worked for Three Springs of Paint Rock Valley from 2002-2004.  Seymour also worked at Eckerd.    Seymour no longer works for this industry.  Seymour no longer works for this program.  Three Springs of Paint Rock Valley is reportedly closed/closing.  (Source:

Sharon Laney Administrator  
Kathy DeMellier Admissions  
Sarah Raynor Therapist  
Pete Wallingsford Therapist  
Judy Pike Special Ed.  
Haley Pepper Program Director  
Cris Boutwell Staff Worker Reportedly* worked at Three Springs--New Beginnings in 1997 and 1998.
Susan Weeks Staff Worker Reportedly* worked at Three Springs--New Beginnings in 1997 and 1998.
Keith Southern Administrator (former) Reportedly* worked at Three Springs--New Beginnings from June, 1996 to July, 1998.  According to LinkedIn profile. (September 1st, 2010).  Currently works for Sparkman Middle School in Toney, AL as the school counselor.
Brian McBride Staff Worker Reportedly* worked at Three Springs--New Beginnings in 1997 and 1998.
Brad Watson Staff Supervisor Reportedly* worked at Three Springs--New Beginnings in 1997 and 1998.
Sarah Morris Counselor Reportedly* worked at Three Springs--New Beginnings in 1997 and 1998.
Kimberly Cotton Staff Worker Reportedly* worked at Three Springs--New Beginnings in 1997 and 1998.
Amanda Lassiter Staff Worker Reportedly* worked at Three Springs--New Beginnings in 1997 and 1998.
Rolf McGee Teacher Reportedly* worked at Three Springs--New Beginnings in 1997 and 1998.
Stephanie Weller Staff Worker Reportedly* worked at Three Springs--New Beginnings in 1997 and 1998.
Shawn Ludwig Staff  Reportedly worked at the New Dominion School.
Mrs. Lang (First?) Staff Reportedly worked at Three Springs--Paint Rock Valley
Mr. Ray Collins Staff Reportedly worked at Three Springs--Paint Rock Valley
Mr.  Randy Christian Staff Reportedly worked at Three Springs--Paint Rock Valley
Mrs. Christian (First?) Staff Reportedly worked at Three Springs--Paint Rock Valley
Marlon Williams Counselor  
Mr. Payne (First?) Counselor Reportedly from Canada.
Mr. Early (First?) Counselor  
Mr. Atkins Counselor  
Mr. Knight Therapist  
*HEAL received an e-mail from a survivor on August 29th, 2010 reporting this/these staff members.

In Alabama, the criminal statutes of limitation are 1 year on misdemeanors, 5 years on most felonies, and no statute of limitations on more serious felonies including rape of a minor under age 16 at time of crime and murder.  For civil suits in Alabama, the statute of limitations is 2 years.  In North Carolina, the criminal statutes of limitation are 2 years on misdemeanors (10 years for malicious misdemeanors where a child was the victim including child molestation that does not constitute forcible/felony rape) and no criminal statute of limitations on felonies such as forcible rape and murder.  For civil suits in North Carolina, the statute of limitations is 3 years. Here are your options:

1.  Report crimes such as fraud, assault, battery, labor trafficking, and child abuse to law enforcement in Alabama and North Carolina.  You can call the respective law enforcement/police department on the location where you were a victim of crime to inquire about filing an official complaint which may provide the probable cause needed to get a warrant for investigation and/or prosecution.  Below is a list of locations and the contact information for the law enforcement body responsible for enforcing the laws in that jurisdiction:

New Beginnings in Owens Cross Roads, Alabama Call Owens Cross Roads Police at: (256) 725-4163
New Directions for Boys in Huntsville, Alabama Call Hunstville Police at: (256) 427-7009
Three Springs of Courtland in Courtland, Alabama Call Courtland Police at: (256) 637-2199
North Carolina Boys in Pittsboro, North Carolina Call Pittsboro Police at: (919) 542-3200
Auldern Academy in Siler City, North Carolina Call Siler City Police at: (919) 742-5626

2.  File a consumer complaint with your home state's attorney general against Sequel and include your request for compensation for any harm done to you.  If your home state is Alabama or you'd like to file with the Alabama State Attorney General as a non-resident, here is that link:  If your home state is North Carolina or you'd prefer to file with the North Carolina State Attorney General as a non-resident, here is that link: 

3.  If you do not wish to file a consumer complaint, you can contact a private personal injury attorney and look into suing in tort/civil court.  However, if you can't afford the retainer, you should expect to settle out of court with a non-disclosure agreement which may bar you from speaking publicly about the incident because you've agreed (even if with a grumbling assent) to the terms of the settlement. 
4.  You may send a new e-mail to with subject "Post My Feedback" and we will post your feedback (e-mail printed to .pdf disclosing your name and e-mail address and any information in your e-mail with that subject) to  and add a direct link to those .pdf files to this page . 

 5. You may also wish to provide a guest sermon.  Guest sermons are posted at , under Progress Reports/Guest Sermons at where appropriate, and on program info pages when applicable.  So, one provided by you on your program would also be placed on this page .  Guest sermons should be written into the body of an e-mail and sent to . Your first and last name will be disclosed (contact info will not be unless you expressly request disclosure).  For sermons available on our site see  (and sermon archives linked on that page).  If you have questions about this option, please contact Please see  to get an idea what your sermon may be worth.

Programs in Alabama, Georgia & North Carolina  [FEEDBACK]

Survivor Report #2:  Three Springs of Paint Rock Valley By Jay   Everything in my statement is true. I give HEAL permission to use my statement.  I would like to start by saying that this is in no way reflective of the Three Springs program as a whole.  I transfered to Three Springs of North Carolina during my stay and was blessed to find a much more productive program.  While strict and tough, the North Carolina program was a true treament center and children should consider themselves lucky to be helped there.  The Paint Rock Valley program, however, is no more a treatment center than Alcatraz.  Make no mistake about it, Three Springs of Paint Rock Valley, Alabama is a prison.    This starts by a client base that is well over 50% committed by the state and the court system.  Many were there as a stop between youth detention centers.  Many were waiting until they turned 18 to be transfered to a maximum security prison.  This meant that a confused or troubled 14 year old boy was incarcerated with a whole lot of hardened criminals by the wishes of his own family.  That itself is enough to drive a young mind to mild insanity, but there is so much more.   Now, I still see the value in the creative punishments.  For example, a runaway risk may have to hold the beltloop of a fellow group member wherever he goes.  This is mainly used as a humiliation tactic, which to be honest, tends to work.  The work detail, while vigorous, was pretty fair.  I still have a hard time understanding the starvation methods.  I found myself collapsing pretty regularly from dizzy spells caused by lack of nutrition.  Also, the counselors, in my days there, weren't very abusive themselves, even the ex military ones.  The ones that were became quickly reprimanded and were terminated.  As a whole, I think the front office had decent intentions, but it was after they went home for the night and the campus got quiet that things got scary.    Even during the day sometimes, you could see a group "punishing" a trouble maker with a disturbing mob mentallity.  They would mix creative punishments (thought up by the group) and enforce them in bulk to the point where it was nothing more than torture.  Making someone run laps while following them and "aggressively re-enforcing" them, while a boot camp tactic, is hardly torture or abuse.  However, when you add shoving, tripping, tackling, and punching, it crosses the line.  I would watch the group surround someone and antagonize them physically until they tried to squirm out.  At this point, any movement by the person at all was considered "spazzing" and would require the group to restrain them.  Restraining meant that the entire group of about fifteen to twenty able bodied teenage boys, many of whom were lifelong criminals, would hold the perp down and sneak one punch after another, hold their face in the dirt so as to keep them from breathing, and inflict large amounts of pain.  Reports of sexual abuse were normal.  An attempt from a large group member who had a lot of respect in the group to assault me sexually ended in a physical confrontation (fight).  As a newer member, I was heavily reprimanded and called a liar.  I was put on "primitive campsite" restriction, which put me in the woods for a week by myself.  Again, a relatively creative punishment, but wrongly enforced.  Three months later, I was still denied letter writing privileges due to my "outburst".  Basically, they wanted to keep me quiet.  Luckily, I was blessed with a decent amount of smarts, so I was eventually able to manipulate my way into a respectable position and didn't suffer much abuse.  I'll never be able to forget what I saw done and did myself to those considered weaker.  Watching a child who hasn't even had time hit puberty being tortured to the brink of insanity sticks with you, believe me.  I hated being this way toward people, but it was truly a mob mentality, and if you weren't with the group, you were against them.  Thank goodness I was offered the chance to finish the last half of my two year term in the North Carolina program before I completely turned into an abusive, emotionless danger to society that I was beggining to become.  You either took the torture and hoped for some kind of outside salvation or you joined the group and hardened yourself like an inmate, killing off your innocence at 14-16 years old when you've never truly committed a crime in your life.   So, Three Springs is no different than any prison system.  The clients bully, beat, rape, and torture each other while the counselors turn a blind eye to it.  Assaults are kept quiet from the public.  Clients are starved, kept on work detail, and forced to basically join gangs to survive.  The front office assures the parents that their kids are making progress, so the parents sit comfortably without the distraction of little junior.  All the while, this innocent, potentially brillaint child is being stripped of his sanity and turned into a shell of a human being.  His mind will become so troubled, that his once bright future will be dampered by visions of violence and horror.  At this point, the best thing he can hope for is to keep his sanity enough to get by in life, constantly struggling and quite possibly battling drug or alcohol addiction with no empathy from his family who gave up on him when Three Springs didn't "help".   I am 31 years old and have been clean from a terrible heroin addiction for almost a year.  I can't keep a relationship together, including an attempt at marriage.  I can't hold a job or just be a good man.  My self confidence has been a problem since the TS experience.  Lately, I seem to be getting my life back together little by little.  I managed to muster a high school diploma and associates college degree and work on computers these days.  My father and stepmother, the ones who gave me that wonderful trip to Alabama, haven't spoken to me in a long time, I don't make them proud.  I am beginning to make myself proud, however.  I certainly don't blame TS for all my problems, most of them stemmed from poor decision making on my part, but the trauma never left my head.  I shut it out for years, but now that I'm out of a drug haze and ready to face my demons, I feel like I can talk about this.  This was a very vague description, it just gives an idea.  Thank you for reading.   Jay  

SURVIVOR REPORT #3 Deleted…[Feedback]  Survivor was coerced to remove report by outside forces.  HEAL would like to take this opportunity to tell all parents and programs, You have no right to squash a person's free speech regardless of their age or your relation to them.  By doing so, you are a hypocrite, unconscionable, and prove yourself to be an unfit human being.  HEAL supports free speech and supports survivors.  We will help all survivors get legal remedy when they reach majority.  Parents and programs have been held equally liable in lawsuits.  Keep that in mind when you choose to deny your child his/her experiences, thoughts, and feelings.  It can, and likely will, come back to bite you!  

SURVIVOR REPORT #4 By Anonymous (Feedback)   Everything in my statement is true. I give HEAL permission to use my statement." This Happened while i was at THREE SPRINGS of BLUE RIDGE, GEORGIA In October 2004, i was struck in the face by a male Counselor very hard just because i refused to get out of bed one morning i told one of the other staff what happened and they did not believe me and I got in trouble just for telling on a counselor i was abused but that's 3 springs for you there just lucky my dad did not SUE the shit out of them to if anybody's interested i will give names of the counselor that did this to me and other things i saw cause it was a very bad place now I'm still struggling with my drug problem with CRYSTAL METH i mean the whole reason i was sent there was because of my drug using which has gotten worse and 3 springs did not help me at all i did not receive one bit of ADDICTION Therapy...    

FORMER EMPLOYEE REPORT #1    Please keep me Anonymous. (Feedback) Everything in my statement is true. I give HEAL permission to use my statement. The following is a true statement of my experience at Three Springs as an EX-Counselor for their Georgia Girls program.  The programs in Georgia, both for girls and boys, have been shut down by Three Springs due to withdrawal of state funding for the programs in 2006.  Other Three Springs programs remain open and are equally as abusive and dangerous as the ones in Georgia.  The Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) funded the Georgia programs.  Other Three Springs programs are privately owned and operated.   All the children who attended the Georgia programs were legally in the custody of the state for a period of 2 years. Three Springs had two separate programs, Short Term and Long Term.  The Short Term program was dubbed the “emergency shelter”.  This program usually lasted between 1 and 90 days and usually had residents who were awaiting placement in a Long Term program either at Three Springs or elsewhere in the state.  A small percentage of the residents who attended the Short Term program were actually sentenced for a period of 60-90 days in confinement.  We were used to alleviate the overcrowding in Youth Detention Centers (YDC).  The Long Term program was usually 6 months to 2 years, with the average stay being 1.5 years.  The Long Term program had different expectations of residents than the Short Term program but similar goals for rehabilitation.  Average group size of the Short Term program was 10-15 residents and of the Long Term program 8-12 residents.  Typical number of counselors on duty in the Short Term program was 2 at a time with occasional days of 1 counselor on duty at a time.  The Long Term program found counselors alone with the residents most of the time with occasional days of 2 counselors at a time.  Most of the girls were in the programs due to truancy from school, stealing, drug, and alcohol use.  The age range was 11-18 yrs old.   I worked for Three Springs from May of 2004 to September 2004.  Initially I was taken in by their website.  It was appealing and looked to be a good program.  I agreed to relocate and work for them after college graduation.  I did not know it would be emotionally and psychologically as well as physically damaging.   I worked for the Georgia Girls in their Short Term program.  Training lasted 1-2 weeks (I really don’t remember much as I’ve blocked most of it out.)  During training, we were taught how to de-escalate a situation and restrain residents.  As counselors, we were required to stay overnight on campus during the length of our shifts.  Our shifts usually lasted from 2-4 days with some exceptions being 5 days or more.  The days began at 5:45am and ended whenever the residents would decide to quiet down and go to sleep, usually anywhere from 10:30pm until 1:00am on some nights.  Average amount of sleep obtained on any given shift after paperwork was done every night was approximately 2-3 hours.  Counselors were not allowed breaks during the day and had to be with their group of residents at all times.  Calls for supervisors to relieve counselors for short bathroom/sanity breaks often went unheeded.    The everyday schedule included meals, school, therapy, vocational, and recreational time.  The meals consisted of pre-packaged easy to prepare things like hamburger helper, tuna helper, or other simple foods.  Usually calories were high to meet the state standards, but the quality of the food was poor with very little fresh vegetables and fruit to supplement the diets of the residents.  Counselors were expected to cook for the residents.  Occasionally residents earned the right to cook for the group, but that was rare.  Qualified teachers did school on campus.  It was mostly an independent study and the residents were expected to complete material on their own.  The supervisors or counselors, most of whom did not have psychology degrees, usually oversaw therapy.  Actual face time with a qualified psychiatrist averaged 30 minutes per month and it was usually an adjustment of the medications residents were placed on.  Therapy at Three Springs usually consisted of watching a couple movies (28 days and some Lifetime movie on rape) and discussing the movies.  Vocational time was where a majority of the focus was spent.  “Voc time” as it was called by many of the counselors usually consisted of manual labor done by the residents and counselors.  Mowing lawns, picking up trash, cleaning the cabins, weeding, and raking were just a few of the activities performed by residents.  Counselors typically supervised and assisted occasionally.  Recreational time was usually limited to 30 minutes to an hour and was a sport such as basketball or kickball, although most of the time our time was limited.   Most of the time, the recreational activity was an exercise tape that played while the counselor supervised and made a meal, usually lunch or dinner.    Some of the common interventions included:   Run Risk:  A consequence and intervention implemented when a resident decided to make a break for it and run.  Usually involved wearing an orange reflective construction vest and remaining within 10 feet of staff at all times.  On rare occasions, or when there were no more vests available, the resident would be required to wear an orange prison jumpsuit.  Due to the nature of the jumpsuit, the resident was denied pants or shorts during the period of time they dressed in the jumpsuit.  The jumpsuit was usually only worn by the highest risk offender (any resident who had been on run risk and had decided to take off a second time).  Usually if they were placed in the jumpsuit, they would also have to be on “Contact Buddy.”   Contact Buddy:  A popular intervention that included the resident wearing the orange jumpsuit.  The resident would be denied their privilege of free movement.  They, or a piece of their clothing that was attached to their bodies, had to be held by staff at all times.  This was usually implemented with staff holding the tee-shirt the resident wore at all times.   Suicide Precaution:  A safety measure taken for when residents are threatening to harm themselves or others.  Bathroom protocol included making them strip to their underwear, making them keep one hand visible to staff at all times, and the resident having to sing or keep talking to ensure the resident wasn’t doing something that would harm themselves.  This procedure was done in front of another resident for safety of the counselor on duty.  The resident on suicide precaution would also have to run their fingers under their undergarments in order to ensure nothing had been hidden there.  During showers, the residents on suicide precaution had to shower with a counselor watching.  The shower curtain covered them, but the middle loops had been taken down so the counselor could observe their face and neck while in the shower.  The counselor also had to hand the resident their soap and shampoo.   Many of the residents admitted to the Three Springs program were violent and aggressive towards counselors and each other.  I left Three Springs shifts with bruises on my arms from attempting to restrain a resident due to violent outbursts.  The residents had threatened me.  There were days where I had to continually watch my back.    The administration of the facility was equally as unresponsive.  The administration refused to look out for the safety and health of ANY of the counselors employed at the facility. Most of the feedback given to counselors was in the form of negative criticism with the threat of termination.  The administration also failed to look at possible alternatives for poor program performance.   When I went to them with concerns and solutions, I was shot down with “We can’t do that because” or “That’s not a good idea because”.   A fellow counselor for the Long Term program had been beaten up by one of the residents.  The resident kicked, punched, hit, and bit her. The resident also used a broomstick or metal pole to strike the counselor.  The counselor had to be removed by other counselors and she promptly fell into unconsciousness.  The administration refused to let her go to the hospital and she had to continue working her entire shift.   Prior to my employment, there had been a riot at the school on campus.  It resulted in a cabin getting shut down and residents shuffling to other cabins as well as leaving the facility.  It ended up overburdening counselors and overcrowding cabin rooms.   There were other things that occurred too.  A counselor locked herself in the bathroom because she didn’t want to be with the residents. She was scared to be with them. She was having panic attacks due to the stress of the job and being around the children.  Additionally, two counselors walked out mid-shift. Both counselors walked out while I worked at the facility.    I once sat for 26 hours with 2 kids refusing to do anything with no instructions on how to deal with them and approximately 4 – 5 minute bathroom breaks.  I did receive a break when night staff came in to watch the residents overnight, but the next morning, I was right back in the same room. After being employed for one month, I began having panic attacks.  They progressively worsened and I ended up crying for 6-8 hours at a time. I could not bring myself to stop crying at times. When I would get it under control, I would be good for about 1 or 2 hours then go back to crying. I couldn’t mentally function or physically bring myself to function.  I was so tired and exhausted mentally and physically that eventually I just shut myself off from everything and everyone. I became a zombie. The stress finally got to me and I quit September 10th 2004 and it’s a decision I DO NOT regret.  I am ashamed that I worked for a place such as Three Springs and allowed my safety and common sense to be overruled for so long.
Some of the Three Springs Programs Have Closed:
Madison youth counselor had sex with 'several boys' during 2-month span, court records state Posted on July 27, 2017 at 11:23 AM By Ashley Remkus A counselor at a Madison home for troubled youth and juvenile delinquents is accused of performing oral sex on students, according to court documents. Amanda Williams (Madison County Jail) Amanda Shantay Williams, a 28-year-old youth counselor at Three Springs juvenile detention center, was arrested Friday on two counts of school employee engaging in a sex act with a student younger than 19. If convicted of the Class B felonies, Williams faces up to 40 years in prison and would be required to register as a sex offender. Three Springs, also known as Sequel TSI, is a residential treatment center for 12- to 18-year-old boys. It is a medium-risk secure facility that treats boys with poor behavior and those who have been convicted of crimes as juveniles. "Amanda, a counselor at Sequel, gave oral sex to several boys, all under the age of 19 years, at that facility," a Madison police investigator wrote in court documents. The sex happened during the months of June and July, records state. When they announced the arrest on Friday, Madison police said Williams turned herself in. In a news release, police said Williams had sex with two students. The ages of the victims haven't been released. Bette Moore, executive director of Three Springs, did not return a call from for comment.  Source:
Three Springs employee speaks against facility's safety Tuesday, October 17th 2017, 9:46 am PDTTuesday, October 17th 2017, 9:51 pm PDT By Margo Gray, Anchor OUTCRY OVER THREE SPRINGS AFTER TWO TEENS RAN AWAY LIVE 00:08 / 03:58 GO LIVE CC   (Source: WAFF) MADISON, AL (WAFF) - On Tuesday, Madison city leaders, community members and representatives from Three Springs juvenile facility discussed the public's safety. This was in response to two teens who ran away from the facility in August. MOREAdditional LinksPoll Madison police say those teens went on a burglary spree and even beat a construction worker to death while on the run. Their case is now bound over to a grand jury. READ MORE: Three Springs runaways charged in Madison homicide Tuesday's meeting was part of an ongoing collaboration between the city and Three Springs to tackle the safety issue. In the meantime, a current employee of Three Springs spoke exclusively to WAFF 48 News and said the facility is a danger to the community and should be shut down. "There is a lot of things that goes on that the media and the neighborhood does not know that goes on at the facility that administration tried to hide. They hide it from the state and they don't want us to talk to the media," said the employee, who wished to remain anonymous. The employee claims not much has changed in time since the two teens ran away. "I just feel I was compelled to come forward to be honest and let people know what is going on in the facility," the employee said. The employee said the real problem lies with inadequate and overworked staff who missed the teens running out a door and getting away. "This is not the first time that the residents ran out that particular door. Administration knew this but unfortunately, something like this had to happen for them to take notice. Some people are working nine days straight. Some people are working 12 days straight before they even have an off day. Some people are working double shifts. Some people are working first,second and third shift back to back. That in itself is a safety issue," the employee said. The Three Springs' Sequel Youth Services website says it's a residential treatment facility serving males ages 12 to 18 that are medium risk assigned there by state agencies. They say they offering treatment and therapeutic help for troubled youth. The employee claimed they're not getting that help. "I feel like the program is not helping them. There is a lot of residents and only four case managers. They have a lot on them, and they are not getting the proper help that they need. You have some teachers there that are not even certified," said the employee. READ MORE: Three Springs murder suspects say they're 'innocent' and 'praying' for victim's family WAFF 48 News reached out to Three Springs about this employee's claims, starting with overworked staff. A spokesperson issued a statement saying, "Madison TSI has provided additional administrative oversight that is constantly monitoring and evaluating the needs of the program." When asked about uncertified teachers, the spokesperson said, "All teachers are certified and provide instruction." "There were immediate changes made such as installation of additional fencing, enhanced surveillance and hardware," the spokesperson added. Madison Mayor Paul Finley said  it now falls on Three Springs to show the community that they can be a good neighbor. "They (Three Springs) have value but the community doesn't care how much value if they don't feel safe," said Finley. Right after the runaway, Madison's city council passed an ordinance to give them more teeth to be able to penalize or even shut down businesses that could be creating a nuisance. Finley said they've been looking to pass something like this before, but the Three Springs incident definitely exacerbated the need. READ MORE: City of Madison addresses Three Springs security concerns READ MORE: Former Three Springs employee speaks out at Madison City Hall meeting  Source:
Former troubled youth counselor indicted on student sex charges Updated 9:27 AM; Posted 9:27 AM April 16th, 2018 By Ashley Remkus Felony indictments have been issued against a counselor accused of performing oral sex on boys at a north Alabama home for troubled youth and juvenile delinquents. Amanda Williams no longer works for Three Springs, also known as Sequel TSI. Amanda Shantay Williams is indicted on two counts of school employee having sexual contact with a student, Madison County court records show. Each charge is a Class C felony that's punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Williams, 29, is accused of performing oral sex on students at Three Springs, a residential treatment center that's also known as Sequel TSI, police wrote in court papers. The sexual contact happened last summer when Williams worked at Three Springs in Madison, according to authorities. "Ms. Williams is no longer employed by Sequel," said Executive Director Jason Scrivner in an email to  "Due to confidentiality and HIPAA regulations, Sequel is not able to provide any additional information." Lawmen haven't said how old the students were at the time, though court papers say they were younger than 19. Three Springs is a medium-risk secure facility that treats boys, ages 12-18, with poor behavior and those who have been convicted of crimes as juveniles. Williams' attorney didn't return a call seeking comment. A grand jury indicted Williams after determining prosecutors have enough evidence to take the case to trial. A trial is scheduled for July 30.  Source:
Report: Washington foster kids sent to Iowa were abused in facility run ‘like a correctional institution’ Originally published October 17, 2018 at 5:48 am Updated October 17, 2018 at 3:25 pm In response to the report by Disability Rights Washington, Washington officials say they will stop placing foster children at the Clarinda Academy and they're working to get children currently there into other situations by the end of January. Share story By Joseph O’Sullivan Seattle Times staff reporter OLYMPIA — Washington state foster youth sent to an Iowa facility were allegedly physically abused and kept largely segregated from the outside world, a possible violation of state and federal laws and their constitutional rights, according to a report released Wednesday. The report by Disability Rights Washington (DRW) details living conditions of foster kids sent by Washington state to the for-profit Clarinda Academy. Located in the town of Clarinda, Iowa, the facility houses about 200 children between the ages of 12 and 18, according to the report. Washington foster children placed there told investigators that they were physically restrained by staff, resulting in pain that lasted for days or weeks. The report contends the academy “runs like a correctional institution.” Children are not allowed to have cellphones and are not allowed routine trips into town. Teens reported they were not allowed to speak to members of the opposite sex. The children are educated at the facility, as opposed to going to  a school.  In response to the report, the Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) said it will stop placing children at the Clarinda Academy. In a statement, the agency, which oversees foster programs, said it is taking the report’s findings seriously. The agency is working to get Washington children currently at the Clarinda Academy into other situations by the end of January. “We thank Disability Rights Washington for bringing these concerns forward, and are engaged in a serious effort to improve the quality of care for children with complex behavioral health needs in Washington,” according to the agency’s statement. The report also documents that Washington state has been sending certain high-needs foster youth — currently about 80 — to facilities in a dozen other states. That includes placements as far away as Florence, S.C., and Camden, N.J., making it difficult for family or advocates to visit them. According to state data in late 2017, three-quarters of the contracts for those out-of-state placements were made with a corporation named Sequel, which owns and operates Clarinda Academy, according to the report. Representatives for the Clarinda Academy and Sequel didn’t respond Wednesday to requests for comment.  The report has spurred the agency to conduct a broader review of foster children sent out of state. DCYF has been sending teams to meet with each of the approximately 80 children who are placed in other states. The agency plans to create more detailed audits to review the care children are getting in such facilities. Foster youth placed in out-of-state facilities typically have “complex behavioral health challenges that require 24-hour care not feasible in individual foster homes or have other challenging therapeutic needs,” according the DCYF statement. The agency faces a shortage of in-state providers to help high-needs foster youth, according to the statement. DCYF attributed that to inadequate pay rates for companies that would provide those services. The agency said it intends to request more funding in the upcoming state budget “that will allow us to develop adequate in-state capacity over the next 18-24 months.” After learning of the out-of-state foster placements, Disability Rights Washington in February interviewed all the Washington foster children — about a dozen — living at either the Clarinda Academy or another Iowa facility owned by Sequel, the Woodward Academy. Those children described segregated and restricted living conditions and all said they were homesick for Washington. “However, the youth at Clarinda Academy independently reported consistent allegations of verbal and physical abuse, and earnestly complained that they desired to live somewhere else,” according to the report. Several children didn’t want to be part of the deeper investigation for fear of retaliation. But three children at the Clarinda Academy agreed to participate, and signed releases allowing DRW to access their records, which included treatment plans and restraint records. Children told investigators that staff “put their hands on you and force you to the ground,” according to the report. “They separately and independently demonstrated how staff pull their elbows behind their backs and then force them to the ground by putting pressure on the backs of their knees.” “Every student reported that restraints they experienced were physically painful and frequently resulted in back, shoulder, and neck pain for several days or weeks,” according to the report. “When asked if they receive medical attention, they stated that no one complains because they are told ‘you shouldn’t have gotten put in a restraint.’” Physical restraints at the Clarinda Academy are supposed to be used only as a last resort in instances where physical harm could be imminent, according to the report. But children said they were restrained by staff for actions such as clenching their fists or moving their hands. Documents accessed by DRW indicated that one child claimed to have passed out after being restrained by a staffer. Among other findings, the report contends that placing Washington children at Clarinda Academy violated their constitutional right to due process under the 14th Amendment, and that the students say they are being held there against their will. Joseph O’Sullivan: 360-236-8268 or; on Twitter: @OlympiaJoe. Seattle Times staff reporter Joseph O’Sullivan covers state government and the Legislature.  Source:
Clarinda students were restrained and injured as punishment, records show Newly released complaints raise more questions about how troubled children are treated at Sequel Youth and Family Services facilities. Clarinda students were restrained and injured as punishment, records show Lee Rood, Des Moines Register Published 12:35 p.m. CT Dec. 22, 2018 CLOSE Midwest Academy and the criminal shadow over boarding schools nationally. Clarinda Academy in Iowa(Photo: Photo courtesy of Tina Pinedo)  During the state of Iowa’s investigation this fall into the alleged use of excessive restraint on troubled teens, the director of a for-profit home for troubled youth said no serious injuries had occurred for over a year. Three campus nurses at Clarinda Academy in southwest Iowa also told investigators that no major injuries had occurred to restrained students in at least two years, new documents obtained this week under Iowa’s open records law show. But some staff at Clarinda have slammed children to the ground and injured them while punishing them, according to documents from Iowa’s Department of Human Services. They also kept several students for weeks at a time in a suspension room with no plan to help them earn their way back into Clarinda’s general population, the documents show. Under existing procedures at Clarinda, residents are only expected to be secluded from their peers for up to 72 hours if they were posing a threat, likely to cause property damage or seriously disrupt a group. They could be held another 72 hours if that behavior continued. But a month after eight teens 14 to 17 ran away this spring and assaulted two staff members, they were still kept in the suspension room, state reports show.  State inspectors received a complaint May 8 related to the run-away incident, which happened March 20. Two staff were injured when the students fled; one suffered broken bones and fell unconscious. The unnamed complainant said that when one teen refused to write a statement acknowledging he was responsible for the assault on one staff member, he was slammed to the floor and restrained. Later, all the boys were forced to sit in chairs in their dorm and stare at a wall for several hours, according to inspection reports.  One of the teens told the investigator they were kept in the private suspension room and given school work for about a week but then received “nothing but a few books." "The boys were never told how to work their way back into the group and this lasted until he was released April 6,” the report says. After that incident was reported to the state, Clarinda staff members created documents to make it appear they had required service plans for the teens and forged student signatures on those documents. “The names of the children written on the back of the documents were forged, as none of the children had signed or even seen” the plans created for them, investigators wrote. Clarinda Academy houses hundreds of delinquents and foster children ages 13 to 18 with significant behavioral and mental health needs — about two-thirds from outside Iowa. Iowa's Department of Corrections rents buildings and land to its owner, Sequel Youth and Family Services, a national company specializing in residential programs for youth. ► Related:Fights, sex crimes found at Iowa's Clarinda Academy amid state probe The federal government has tried to move facilities such as Clarinda and Woodward Academy, a sister facility owned by Sequel, away from restraining youth, saying the practice can be harmful and re-traumatize them. Iowa's group-care standards allow the use of physical restraint "to prevent a child from hurting them self, others or property." State investigators required Clarinda to rewrite procedures and retrain staff this year after their investigation. But the complaints obtained under open records law raised more questions about the treatment of foster and delinquent children in Sequel's care. This fall, Disability Rights Washington said it partnered with sister organization Disability Rights Iowa, based in Des Moines, to expose "a very restrictive and segregated institution where policies, training and oversight do not adequately protect against the risk of abusive restraints." Disability Rights Washington workers said students told them a different story in private interviews than what Iowa licensing officials reported earlier after routine visits. Steve Gilbert, executive vice president at Sequel, said Clarinda successfully remediated problems identified by state investigators after the Washington advocacy organization released its finding this fall. Antonio Aranda, a former counselor at the Clarinda Academy, pleaded guilty in May of 2016 of sexual misconduct with an offender or juvenile, a charge that is part of Chapter 709 of Iowa’s sex abuse laws. (Photo: Iowa Sex Offender Registry) "Their investigation concluded that our use of restraints were all appropriate and were consistently utilized for the safety of the students and people around them," he said. During the investigation, he said, several students from each of Clarinda's dormitories were interviewed, as well as staff. He noted that students also remarked about improvements and made positive comments about their experiences. "We work very hard to continually improve our practices and ensure that we are providing the best care possible for our students," Gilbert said. Clarinda Academy and Clarinda Youth Corp. still face a trial this spring after a 19-year-old Texas woman alleged in a civil lawsuit they were negligent in hiring Antonio Aranda, a counselor who sexually assaulted her in November 2015, when she was 17 years old. Little information released about Woodward Police were called to Clarinda Academy about 35 times in five years, including for physical and sexual assaults, a Reader's Watchdog report last month found. Incomplete information released by Woodward police indicates they were called far more — about 55 times — in just two years. Police have responded to calls for assistance with assaults, harassment, drug use, runaways, sex offenses and medical emergencies, a log of calls obtained by Watchdog shows. Under their contracts, Woodward and Glenwood are supposed to report “critical incidents” to the state, including the use of restraints, sexual conduct, serious bodily injury, serious illnesses, injuries to residents, self-harm, run-away attempts and police calls. But Iowa’s Department of Human Services failed this month to respond to an open records request to release information about the number of critical incidents reported at Clarinda and Woodward. Former employees tell Watchdog that a “No Reject, No Eject” clause in Clarinda and Woodward’s new contracts in 2017 — required by the state of all such facilities — has meant no Iowa youth can be refused, including sex offenders and the most violent teens. Such policies have been controversial nationally as they’ve been tried in states around the country: Some say they help staff at residential facilities learn how to better intervene with the most troubled youth; others say the policies create danger for other kids and lead to high staff turnover and lower morale. Mark Parham, a 32-year-old former staff member at Woodward’s sex offender unit, said he quit after about three months on the job in part because he disagreed with how often youths were restrained there. He said staff members would sometimes goad teens to a point where they felt they had to be restrained. Parham said he made several trips to the hospital with children who had been restrained and injured, one of whom suffered a concussion and wet his pants. “The way they trained me to restrain is not how they do it," he said. "In a span of two weeks, I went to a spate of hospital calls and wouldn’t get home until 1 or 2 a.m. The restraints were over the top. There were more injuries than there were successes." Kari Sisson, executive director of the Association of Children's Residential Treatment Centers in Wisconsin, said restraints can be used in limited circumstances, as some programs deal with very complex behavioral issues. But most programs nationally are moving away from the use of restraints as a way to control trouble kids. Sisson said it often takes years to change the culture, "but it absolutely can be done."  Source:
External Link:


All segregated congregate care providers, including those on our watch-list, are welcome to contact us to correct any information or provide additional data that may assist with delivering the whole truth to the public.  The HEAL Mission of COPE (HEAL) found in many cases where this offer has been abused or resulted in revealing additional basis for our concerns. For some examples see feedback.  Now, we are willing to look at the facts and may have questions or require documentation backing up any claims.  We do verify licensing, academic backgrounds, and other qualifications when investigating and researching programs on our watch-lis/enrolled in the Conversion Program to assist consumers seeking additional information on such programs or victims requiring assistance with getting corroborating evidence of their claims.  We do that in order to make sure the information we provide is accurate and verified and cite our sources.  In the event any information we've posted is in error, we're happy to make a correction. 

HEAL does not support segregated congregate care for many reasons which include that many such facilities are abusive, exploitative, fraudulent, and lack effective oversight often as a result of fraudulent misrepresentation coupled with the ignorance of those seeking to enroll loved ones in such facilities, programs, schools, or centers without a valid court order and involuntarily.  In the United States such involuntary placements done without a court order are apparently illegal as they either violate the Americans with Disabilities Act community integration requirement or due process rights of those involuntarily placed.  Now, in regards to parents, in the United States parents have the right to waive their own rights, but, not the rights of their minor children.  See for more information.  Now, most facilities on our watch list include waivers, indemnity clauses, and sworn statements legal guardians must sign assuring the program that the parents/legal guardians have the right to make the placement involuntarily and without due process in a segregated congregate care environment, however, California and federal prosecutors as well as settled law appears to suggest that is not the case.  In fact, in the David Taylor case found at , Taylor sued Provo Canyon School and his mother as co-defendants.  His mother was found liable for 75% of the damages awarded to Taylor as a result of multiple complaints including false imprisonment, while the program was found only 25% liable because the mother owed a duty of due diligence to investigate anyone to which she would entrust care of her child and she failed to do so. 

Now, HEAL opposes segregated congregate care and we find most placements are happening illegally in the USA which if the youth understood their rights would result in unfortunate outcomes for the parents, particularly when they don't exercise good judgment and support the fraud and abuse rather than their own children when they need remedy and justice.  And, HEAL supports all victims of fraud and abuse in seeking remedies at law for any crimes or torts committed against them.  And, that's true whether or not the program or victims are in the USA. 

HEAL has a 5 point argument against segregated congregate care we'd like you to consider:

a.  Segregated care is unconstitutional and a civil rights violation.  It is only permissible if a person is unable to survive independent of an institutional environment.  For more on this, watch the HEAL Report at  Or, see:  which includes in part:    "United States v. Florida – 1:12-cv-60460 – (S.D. Fla.) – On April 7, 2016, the United States filed an Opposition to the State of Florida’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment.  In the Motion, the State had asked the Court to rule, on a variety of grounds, that the United States could not recover damages for unnecessarily institutionalized children to whom the State had been deliberately indifferent."

b.  Institutionalization is always dehumanizing and coercive.  Institutionalization always harms the institutionalized and deprives them of protected civil rights.  Dr. David Straker, Psychiatry Professor at Columbia University's School of Medicine (Ivy League) explains this in detail at  "Many institutions, from prisons to monasteries to asylums, deliberately want to control and manage their inmates such that they conform and do not cause problems. Even in less harsh environments, many of the institutionalization methods may be found, albeit in more moderated form (although the psychological effect can be equally devastating)."  (See website linked in this paragraph for more info.)

c.  Institutionalization is not in the best interest of children.  Institutions are not ever better for a child than living with a loving family.  Source:       

d.  Reform schools, residential treatment programs, and other segregated congregate care settings have been shown to be ineffective and harmful.  Best source on this currently is:

e. Boarding Schools, even the "good ones", result in a form of social death, isolation, and cause both anxiety and depression.  Therefore, it is clearly not in the best interest of the youth subjected to those environments.  Sources: and

Beyond the above arguments against segregated congregate care, we have reports from the NIH, Surgeon General, Yale University Studies, and much more showing the methodologies of behavior modification are damaging, harmful, and ineffective.  You can request these documents via e-mail.  In addition, for such programs offering academic services or claiming to offer diplomas, certifications, or the like, it is important to check to see if it is a diploma mill with no accredited academic services.  Please see article: "Avoiding Scams: What You Need To Know"  for important information on how to avoid education/training scams.

If you'd like to see what HEAL suggests rather than segregated congregate care (i.e. committing a crime or tort against your child if done against their will without a court order), please see articles: "Fix Your Family, Help Your Teen" and "Emancipation Guide".

July 2nd, 2020: Conversion Program Progress Report: Sequel Youth (and Family) Services (FKA Three Springs)
Attorney releases footage of teen that died in Kalamazoo youth facility Published 1 day ago Crime and Public Safety FOX 2 Detroit Facebook  Twitter  Print  Email In a call with reporters and advocates, attorneys for the 16-year-old who died in a Michigan youth facility showed a 10-minute-long video of employees restraining the teen after he threw the sandwich. In it, several staff members with Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo surround Cornelius Frederick, eventually tackling him to the ground and laying on his legs, chest, and neck. While footage from the incident only shows Frederick's feet, those restraining him can be seen pressing on his upper torso. Surveillance footage shows teen being restrained at Kalamazoo facility before death Surveillance footage shows teen being restrained at Kalamazoo facility before death.  Geoffrey Fieger, who is representing the family against the academy and its parent company Sequel Youth and Family Services, called the acts "subhuman" and said at least one person who saw the act said he heard Frederick screaming "I can't breathe." The attorney also said it's not the only child to die in the care of the company. "He was executed on April 29 of this year, going into May 1 for the crime of throwing a sandwich," Fieger said over a Zoom call Tuesday. "Then a gaggle of employees pounced on him." The video starts with an upper-corner shot of a sparsely filled cafeteria. Two adults can be seen standing around Frederick. When Frederick tosses his sandwich to another table, one employee jumps on the teen and pushes him to the ground. Frederick throws another sandwich and two more adults fall on top of him. Several minutes of struggling ensues, where up to seven adults can be seen pressing on top of him. Eventually, the struggling ceases at which point staff members begin getting off of Frederick. Several more minutes pass where the teen lays motionless on the ground. By this time, several kids in the cafeteria have left the room. Eventually, staff begins performing CPR while a nurse calls 911.  While Frederick officially died on May 1, he's believed to have had brain damage during the restraining due to suffocation.  At least two staff members and a nurse have been charged in the case, however, Fieger said he plans to argue more should also be prosecuted. The Southfield-based attorney also contended the video had been cut and said they had sent a copy of the footage to a forensic specialist for review. Frederick was a ward of the state after his mom died and his father was imprisoned. He had spent two years at the facility.  RELATED: Michigan teen died after screaming 'I can't breathe' while being restrained by staff member, lawsuit claims Attorney releases video showing moments teen was suffocated to death at youth facility in Michigan Michigan attorney Geoffrey Fieger announced a multi-million dollar lawsuit on behalf of the estate of a 16-year-old ward of the state who died after being suffocated at a youth home. In response to Frederick's death, the state said it had terminated its contracts with the foster care service and placed the youth that were staying there elsewhere. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has also said she urged the Health and Human Services Department to cut ties with Sequel Youth and Family Services. Sequel also said they terminated the staff members involved as well as the program leadership.  They also said in a statement:  "We continue to mourn the senseless and tragic loss of Cornelius. The actions taken by the staff members in that video do not adhere to the Sequel and Lakeside Academy policies and procedures related to the use of emergency safety interventions. We take our obligation to meet the significant behavioral health needs of all our students very seriously." It wasn't just Michigan reporters on the Zoom call either. In addition to a reporter identifying herself as from Vice News, there was also a state senator from Oregon and an expert on troubled teens. Both indicated that Sequel Youth and Family Services were involved in other cases where kids have died in the service of facilities operated by them. Michigan Health and Human Services officials told the Associated Press in June that an investigation into the private academy found 10 licensing violations, including a failure to follow rules related to resident restraint and discipline. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Source:
Michigan youth facility shut down after death of 16-year-old restrained by 6 staff members 22 hrs ago (8/15/20) 16-year-old Cornelius Frederick was restrained by six staff members at Lakeside Academy, a Michigan home for at-risk youth, after throwing food during lunch. He died two days later. While Lakeside has been shut down, the company behind it continues to operate dozens of facilities, including one investigated by NBC News last year. Source:
Former Three Springs worker sentenced for sexual contact with 13-year-old Updated Aug 20, 5:07 PM; Posted Aug 20, 5:07 PM By Ashley Remkus | A former employee of a troubled youth home is required to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life because of sexual contact she had with a 13-year-old boy. Amanda Williams today also received a five-year reverse split sentence. That means Williams can avoid serving prison time if she successfully completes three years of probation. Madison County Circuit Judge Donna Pate told Williams that if she violates probation, she would face two years in prison. Williams, 31, earlier this year pleaded guilty to a felony charge of second-degree sodomy, a crime for which she could have faced up to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors said she performed oral sex on the 13-year-old boy. It happened in 2017 when Williams was a 28-year-old employee at Three Springs, a troubled youth home that was at that time located in Madison. Three Springs was a residential treatment center for 12- to 18-year-old boys with poor behavior and those who were convicted of crimes as juveniles. Williams was a youth care worker at Three Springs, a job her attorney compared to a camp counselor. Three Springs, also known as Sequel TSI, is located at 1329 Brownsferry Road in Madison. (Photo: news partner WHNT News 19) “I take full responsibility for my actions,” Williams told the judge at today’s sentencing hearing. She promised never to return to the courts or news headlines if allowed to serve a probationary sentence, rather than prison time. Judge Pate asked Williams, a woman without even a speeding ticket on her record, how she ended up committing a felony sex crime. Williams testified that she repeatedly refused when residents at Three Springs asked her for sex. But in the case of the 13-year-old, she gave in once, “just to make it stop,” her attorney said. Williams said it was a “terrible decision” and a “mistake.” “I’m truly sorry,” Williams told the judge. Williams’ mother and sister testified on her behalf at today’s hearing. They described her as a quiet, caring and loving daughter, sister, grand-daughter, aunt and mother. They asked the judge to order the probation sentence so Williams can continue raising her 9-year-old son. Madison County Assistant District Attorney Tim Douthit asked that Williams be sentenced to three years in prison, followed by probation. “The state of Alabama trusted her with this kid and she violated that trust,” he said. Defense attorney Robin Wolfe said that Williams’ lack of criminal history made her the ideal candidate for probation. “She’s not a predator,” Wolfe said. “She’s not a threat to the community or others.” Williams was first arrested more than three years ago on charges of having sexual contact with two students at Three Springs in Madison. As part of her guilty plea on one of the sodomy charges, the prosecutor dismissed the remaining charges. In the time since Williams’ arrest, the Madison City Council revoked the business license of Sequel TSI, the private, for-profit company that operates facilities like the one that was known locally as Three Springs. The Madison location has closed, but the company continues to operate in other Alabama cities: Owens Cross Roads, Montgomery, Tuskegee and Courtland. [Read more about Sequel: Watchdog says children being abused in psychiatric centers in Alabama] Williams’ case was just one of several incidents that led Madison city leaders to revoke the company’s license to operate in the rapidly-growing Huntsville suburb. In addition to Williams’ case, police said they also investigated multiple escapes from Three Springs and a construction worker’s slaying for which two young Three Springs residents were charged with capital murder.  Source: 
Washington Foster Kids Detail Abuse At Sequel Group Homes By Rachel NielsenDecember 2, 2020 Home » Washington foster kids detail abuse at Sequel group homes For more than two hours, a foster youth who had just been shipped by Washington state officials to a privately run Iowa group home was held down by three staffers, his wrists and heels painfully pinned to the floor. His transgression? He cursed. Washington foster youth Valery Roseus said he didn’t even know vulgar language was not allowed at Woodward Academy in Iowa, part of a nationwide chain run by Sequel Youth & Family Services. He would learn in coming months that staff members frequently used physical restraints like what  he suffered after his arrival. “I hated that place so much,” Roseus said. Roseus’s account of his time at Woodward and at another facility run by Sequel in New Jersey, as well as that of Washington foster youth Austin Hunt about his time at a Sequel-run facility in Idaho, comport with failings uncovered in a national news report released in September. The yearlong investigation by APM Reports showed widespread abuse of youths at Sequel facilities throughout the United States. The practices included physical abuse by staff members who restrained youths in their charge. The APM investigation was recently cited in Washington foster youth advocates’ appeal to Gov. Jay Inslee to bring all Washington foster youth at Sequel facilities home and stop doing business with Sequel. A third Washington youth, Jesus Lopez, had previously detailed his abuse at a sister facility of Woodward Academy, also in Iowa and also run by Sequel, called Clarinda Academy. In a story InvestigateWest published in February 2019, Lopez described being repeatedly picked up, dropped him onto his buttocks and pushed  forward until his face hit the floor. Sequel officials refused to comment on accounts of mistreatment from Roseus and Hunt, but said “the type of behavior described in these student anecdotes is antithetical to who we are as an organization committed to the care and education of youth.” (In a statement emailed to InvestigateWest in 2019,  Sequel Executive Vice President Steve Gilbert wrote, “We work diligently to ensure that we are providing the best care possible for our students, including continually improving our policies and procedures. If we identify a problem in our organization, we self-report it and make the appropriate correction immediately.”) Sequel’s public-relations firm, Lambert & Co., and the executive directors at each of the three Sequel facilities that the boys discussed also declined to answer InvestigateWest’s questions about policies on physical restraints and other practices specific to the facilities. Sequel wrote in a statement to InvestigateWest that “restraints are never an appropriate first response unless imminent danger is being displayed to oneself or others around them.” That doesn’t jibe with what Roseus told InvestigateWest about his two instances of being restrained at Woodward Academy, where he lived from August 2016 to January 2017. On the other occasion, Roseus was horseplaying with another child, and staff thought they were fighting. Employees put him in another restraint, this time for about two hours, he said. Roseus cried. There were six employees on top of him, he recalled, and they pushed on his kneecap and moved it. Judging by what he heard on employees’ walkie-talkies during his stay, Roseus estimated physical restraints of children occurred about three times day. Children at the facility didn’t watch the restraints because they went into other rooms and waited them out, Roseus said. Roseus said he phoned his DCYF caseworker and told him that Woodward was “a hands-on place.” Yet the department kept him at the Sequel facility for almost six months. >> Read: Washington Misses Deadline to Bring Foster Kids Home from Troubled Out-of-State Group Homes << DCYF spokeswoman Debra Johnson said she could not comment on Roseus’ account of his phone call to his caseworker or whether the caseworker followed DCYF policy. “The agency cannot legally respond to case-specific information,” she responded by email. >> Read: Washington Misses Deadline to Bring Foster Kids Home from Troubled Out-of-State Group Homes << The agency also refused to comment on the case of Hunt, a Washington State foster child who said he was routinely hurt by employees at Mountain Home Academy in Mountain Home, Idaho, where he lived from January 2017 to June 2018. Now 16, Hunt, with one of his lawyers present, gave InvestigateWest permission to use his full name as he described his experiences. He said that, in addition to socially pitting other children against him at that Sequel facility, employees subjected him to physical restraints one or more times a day. Those involved slamming, kneeing and holding, he said. They lasted anywhere from 15 minutes to a half hour. According to Hunt, employees sometimes performed the restraints as punishment for him being too loud or annoying other children. Hunt said he never had a physical fight with an employee or another child before staffers restrained him. During the restraints, Mountain Home employees would put their knees on Hunt’s buttocks and “slam” Hunt into the floor, he said. Sometimes they would do that, stand him back up, and then slam him into the floor again. They shoved him into carpet and linoleum, he explained. The restraints typically involved two employees: one who would hold Hunt’s arms behind his back and another who would lie on his legs after the employees had pushed him to the ground, Hunt said. Mountain Home employees seemed to use this physical tactic in an arbitrary way. “They restrained us for whatever [reason] they felt like,” Hunt said. Hunt’s DCYF case notes from his time at that Sequel institution indicate that DCYF employees knew about Mountain Home staffers physically restraining Hunt. Susan Kas, a child advocate and one of Hunt’s lawyers, shared those notes with his permission. In January 2017, an employee with DCYF’s predecessor, the Department of Social and Health Services, wrote to two other agency employees, “I talked to Austin today and he reported ‘they hurt me.’ I asked him how and he described to me what sounded like a hold.” A later case note bearing the names of other caseworkers read, “Aggressive [sic] that leads to restraints (5 incidents in September).” Hunt said he told a DCYF caseworker about the restraints at least six times throughout his time at Mountain Home. Johnson, the DCYF spokeswoman, declined to say whether the department employees managing his case adhered to department policy. After Mountain Home, Hunt spent more than two additional years at other out-of-state facilities, neither owned by Sequel. He ended up back in Washington with a foster home that didn’t work out, he said. Hunt then found himself part of a disturbing trend among Washington foster children: sleeping on couches overnight in DCYF offices for about a month straight earlier this year. Now Hunt is again in a group care facility, but this time, in his home state.  Source:
Problems have persisted at Sequel Youth and Family Services facilities across the country On Friday, Ohio announced that Sequel Pomegranate would be forced to relinquish its license after a pattern of “recurring incidents". Problems have persisted at Sequel Youth and Family Services facilities across the country Volume 90%   Author: Bennett Haeberle Published: 7:06 PM EST December 14, 2020 Updated: 7:06 PM EST December 14, 2020   COLUMBUS, Ohio — Sequel Pomegranate, the embattled teen psychiatric facility in Columbus, has become the latest in a string of behavioral health treatment facility owned or operated by Sequel Youth and Family Services to be effectively closed or sanctioned by a regulatory agency in their respective states within the past two years. 00:12 / 00:30 JBL Club One Review FEATURED BY Since 2019, 10 Investigates has found at least a half dozen facilities operated by Sequel Youth Family Services that have either closed or faced other sanctions like having their admissions suspended because of allegations that children in their care were subjected to violence, abuse or poor conditions. In Ohio, the state announced Friday that Sequel Pomegranate would be forced to relinquish its license after a pattern of “recurring incidents” including a riot this year along with other incidents where teens and staffers had been harmed. Through a series of investigative reports that date back to July 2019, 10 Investigates uncovered how teens at the facility were being exposed to violence and improper restraints. There were also substantiated cases of sexual abuse and teens going AWOL from the supposedly secure facility. This new settlement agreement, announced by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, comes six months after the state threatened to revoke the facility’s license because of problems there. But issues have occurred elsewhere: In Michigan, two other facilities with ties to Sequel announced their closures earlier this year following an incident in which a 16-year-old boy died following a restraint hold at Lakeside Academy. In Alabama, admissions to at least one facility with ties to Sequel were suspended in July after a child advocacy group published a report stating that it found deplorable conditions during an on-site visit – including blood on the wall and feces on the floor. A spokesman for the Alabama Department of Human Resources told us via email Monday that admissions had since resumed there in August after the facility made corrections. this day in history this day in history Ads By Connatix In Utah, two facilities with ties to Sequel were closed in 2019, according to news reports, following incidents of violence that closely mirrored what happened here at Sequel Pomegranate in Columbus. 10 Investigates has made multiple attempts since Friday to get ahold of someone from Sequel Youth and Family Services for comment. We will keep you posted when we are provided an update. Here are some of the highlights in the settlement agreement between Sequel Pomegranate and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services: Sequel Pomegranate agrees to relinquish its license to operate the Residential Facility within five business days.   Sequel Pomegranate will be barred from seeking a new license to operate a residential facility for a minimum period of at least ten (10) months.  Should Sequel Pomegranate seek a new license, the application will be evaluated under the normal evaluation procedures and timing of the OhioMHAS survey process. There will be no special treatment of the application or guarantee of approval.    Sequel Pomegranate agrees that if any of its licensed or certified facilities in Ohio are not considered in good standing with OhioMHAS, including its Acute Psychiatric Hospital, at the time that Sequel Pomegranate makes application for a license, no license will be issued until all such issues are resolved. For these purposes a facility will be considered “not in good standing” if it is the subject of an open complaint, an open investigation, unresolved findings, an unresolved plan of correction, or an open administrative hearing.  Threats of revocation are not new at Sequel Pomegranate. The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, which licenses Sequel Pomegranate, had previously threatened revocation in 2019 against its acute hospital license after a teenage girl was improperly restrained, punched and kicked by a nurse. A nurse and mental health associate were fired for their roles in the incident. The nurse admitted to the behavior in an email to 10 TV, but defended the employees’ and the facility for taking in troubled teenagers. Part of that settlement agreement meant Sequel Pomegranate must hire an outside expert to review its operations, submit reports to the state, pass a survey by the Ohio Department of Health and — after reducing its patient population to zero. Source:
A profitable 'death trap': Sequel youth facilities raked in millions while accused of abusing children Sequel Youth & Family Services collected hundreds of millions in tax dollars to care for vulnerable children, despite abuse and negligence allegations. Sequel markets itself as a national leader in providing specialized care for at-risk youth. Najeebah Al-Ghadban / for NBC News Dec. 16, 2020, 12:32 PM PST / Updated Dec. 16, 2020, 2:17 PM PST By Hannah Rappleye, Tyler Kingkade and Kate Snow Christy Johnson’s heart dropped in February when she first stepped into a facility for children with serious mental and behavioral health issues in Courtland, a few miles from the Tennessee River in northern Alabama, run by Sequel Youth & Family Services. “There was a particular room,” said Johnson, investigations supervisor for the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, a federally funded watchdog group that has the authority to monitor treatment facilities like Sequel’s and advocate for changes. “I recall walking in and the stench was overwhelming. There were feces on the floor, stuck inside the doorframe, stuck around the window.” Then children began to talk. They described physical abuse by staff, Johnson said, and being denied medical care. A 14-year-old boy with a bloody gash just beneath his hairline told her that staff members had shoved him headfirst into a wall, Johnson said. Investigation reveals appalling conditions at for-profit Alabama youth home DEC. 16, 202005:14 Children at Sequel’s other facilities in Alabama — Montgomery, Owens Cross Roads and Tuskegee — also had stories to tell. When Johnson and her colleagues visited, the children recounted how staff encouraged them to kill themselves and made vulgar comments; one child said staff members “make fun of my name, which upsets me because it is my dad’s name and he passed away.” The advocacy organization’s monitors interviewed about 100 children, some as young as 12, and documented their findings in a report this summer. The report included photographic proof of the Dickensian conditions that the state’s most vulnerable children were forced to live in: broken doors, missing floor tiles, blood smeared on the walls and thin mattresses laid on top of concrete platforms. "These are places that are supposed to provide a safe, homelike, therapeutic environment,” Johnson said. “That's not what we saw." A typical bedroom at Sequel's Courtland facility.Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Project Sequel, a company with locations in 20 states that turned a $25 million profit in 2016, markets itself as a national leader in providing specialized care for at-risk youth. Yet, at these facilities, children have been sexually and physically assaulted by staff members. A 16-year-old, Cornelius Frederick, died this year after several staff members restrained him at a Sequel facility in Michigan, prompting disability rights proponents, legislators and child advocacy groups in at least six states to question whether the company focuses more on profit than rehabilitating the children in its care. A concrete slab at Sequel's Courtland facility where thin mattresses are placed for children to sleep.Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Project An NBC News investigation — based on more than 10,000 pages of records from 14 states and interviews with former Sequel residents, their parents and attorneys, probation officers and watchdog groups — reveals how Sequel became one of the biggest behavioral health youth facility operators in the country. The company has secured hundreds of millions of dollars in government funding and tens of millions more from private equity firms to expand to new locations, while deploying a sophisticated marketing strategy to convince state officials to send more children, despite government inspections flagging violations at Sequel locations in at least nine states, the records show. Related NEWS Michigan facility 'lost all control' of children before staff fatally restrained teen, police say In Alabama, where Sequel is headquartered, records reveal that reports of troubling conditions in the company’s facilities have been made to state agencies for years, including mandatory child abuse and injury reports and whistleblower accounts by former Sequel employees. Despite that, the facilities passed regular inspections and public dollars continued to flow. Since 2016, the company has secured contracts worth more than $68 million from the state’s Department of Human Resources. “Alabama cannot wait for the death of a child before severing ties with Sequel,” the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program told state agencies in its July report, which called on the state to end its contracts with Sequel and revoke the company’s licenses. The state did not end its relationship with Sequel. According to Daniel Sparkman, spokesman for Alabama’s Department of Human Resources, the agency made unannounced visits to Sequel facilities in the wake of the advocacy group’s report, but by then, “most, if not all deficiencies had been addressed.” The agency continues to send children to Sequel facilities. Marianne Birmingham, Sequel’s compliance director, said in an interview that the company has worked with the state to improve conditions in its Alabama facilities. She said that most allegations made by children, staff and advocates end up being unsubstantiated, but that the company has “zero tolerance” for abuse and immediately reports allegations of wrongdoing to state oversight agencies. Sequel, she said, has also invested millions in improving care, staff training and oversight of its programs, doubling the size of its corporate compliance team. Toys litter the floor at Sequel's Courtland facility.Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Project “We took the feedback from the report, we identified areas for improvement, we worked with the state to come up with a manageable plan to make those areas of improvement,” Birmingham said. “Anytime that our clients are not getting the highest quality care that they deserve is an opportunity for improvement.” However, advocacy groups say that Sequel’s track record should be a red flag to states that send Sequel their most troubled children — along with millions in taxpayer dollars. “Tax dollars are being used ultimately to abuse and mistreat children who are in need of serious therapeutic services, and we’ve sent them to these services for that,” said K. Ricky Watson Jr., head of the National Juvenile Justice Network, which has advocated against for-profit juvenile detention. “When you think about the amount of money that these facilities and Sequel are receiving,” he said, “it makes you wonder: Where exactly is that money going?” ‘A very hostile environment’ Sequel cares for more than 9,000 clients across the U.S., including foster children, children whose parents are unable to handle their behavior and children in the state’s juvenile justice system. Nearly all of Sequel’s programs run on government funding: States pay Sequel $275 to more than $800 a day per child to provide residential and therapeutic services. For children who qualify, Medicaid reimburses Sequel for medical and mental health treatment. In Alabama alone, Sequel received nearly $25 million in Medicaid payments from 2018 to this August. Laurie Broadrick, 19, arrived at Owens Cross Roads, a residential treatment facility for girls in northeast Alabama, in 2016. After her mother received a terminal cancer diagnosis, she became depressed and defiant, and struggled with suicidal thoughts. Her family couldn’t afford private care options that cost up to $4,000 a month, but social workers determined Laurie’s needs were so great that she qualified for state care. Laurie Broadrick.Annie Flanagan / for NBC News But rather than get better, Laurie said, girls at Owens Cross Roads seemed to get worse. She said she regularly witnessed staff members putting girls into violent restraints, to the point where they struggled to breathe, allegations also documented by the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program and in NBC News interviews with other former residents. Some girls tried to harm themselves just to get out of the facility, Laurie said, including herself. “At that point, I was so depressed I didn’t know what to do,” Laurie said. She was taken to a psychiatric hospital, where, she said, “you get emotional help that you would actually need, rather than just four walls and people screaming at you and a very hostile environment.” Sequel's facility in Owens Cross Roads, Ala.Google Maps Laurie didn’t know it at the time, but her future husband, Tristan Broadrick, was also struggling in Sequel facilities in Alabama. Tristan’s mother died when he was 2, and he said his father was addicted to drugs. Tristan, now 18, was placed into foster care on his 12th birthday and bounced between group homes until 2018, when he landed at Tuskegee, an intensive psychiatric treatment facility. Tristan Broadrick.Annie Flanagan / for NBC News When Tristan was 16, he tried to run away, and when he was caught, he said, Sequel employees put him in solitary confinement as a punishment. For 72 hours, staff members left him in a small room outfitted with a thin mattress and a camera on the ceiling, he said. According to Tristan, and confirmed by state records and accounts from advocates and four former foster children, the staff regularly used seclusion, sometimes for days, at Tuskegee and Owens Cross Roads. The first morning he woke up in the room, Tristan said, he waved his arms at the camera, pounded on the door and shouted for the staff to let him out to use the bathroom. He watched through a window as children made their way to class. “I was banging and kicking on the door, trying to get someone’s attention,” he said. But nobody came. He was forced to go to the bathroom on his own breakfast tray, he said. Tristan Broadrick says he was kept for 72 hours a room similar to this "seclusion room" at Sequel's Tuskegee facility as punishment for running away.Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program Sequel declined to comment on Laurie’s and Tristan’s cases. Birmingham said that seclusion — which the company refers to as “controlled observation” — and physical restraints are supposed to be “last resorts” and are not meant to be punitive. After NBC News presented Sequel with a list of questions this month, Birmingham visited two of the company’s Alabama facilities, and said she found that “The kids were very happy.” She said she encourages staff members to report any concerns about misconduct to a company hotline so Sequel can ensure no child is abused in its care. “Personally, I am enraged when I find out that people have treated my kids that way, if that allegation turns out to be substantiated,” she said. The company later said in an email that in cases where a child's safety is threatened, "we take all necessary actions — from employee termination, to policy and process changes, to staff-wide retraining — to ensure we live up to our high standards of care for the youth we serve." Records show that the problems at Sequel facilities go beyond Alabama. In Iowa, licensing inspectors found on multiple visits over the past two years that the Woodward Academy staff had put residents in inappropriate restraints without justification. They also found the facility in disrepairdocumenting missing sink handles, showers that had no hot water, moldy food, chairs with arms ripped off and nails exposed from torn upholstery on several couches. Sequel disputes the findings and the facility remains open. Related NEWS 'They told me it was going to be a good place': Allegations of abuse at home for at-risk kids At Kingston Academy in Tennessee, state inspectors found mold infestations, overflowing toilets and children sleeping on mattresses on the floor. Last year, Tennessee, which had paid Sequel up to $608 a day per child, suspended admissions to Kingston and the state’s Medicaid agency terminated its contract with Sequel. Sequel subsequently closed the facility. “What we do is we strive every day to provide the best care we can for kids in these facilities,” Birmingham said. “And when we identify circumstances in which we are not providing care to the par that we expect it to be provided, we intervene with it. And we either make drastic improvements at the facility, or we may choose not to operate that facility anymore.” A business funded by government money Two dozen people sat quietly in a conference room at the University of Baltimore on Oct. 1, 2015, as Sequel co-founder Jay Ripley, dressed neatly in a blazer and tie, explained why he had built a company that largely ran on taxpayer money. Jay Ripley speaks at the Merrick School of Business in Baltimore in 2015.University of Baltimore “We focused on public pay because we figured kids are always going to have issues and they're always going to get in trouble, and again, the government has to figure out a way to take care of them,” Ripley explained, according to a video recording. The company collected over $200 million in annual revenue at the time, he said, and turned about $30 million in profit, which he attributed to keeping staffing costs low. “You can make money in this business if you control staffing,” said Ripley, who at the time made $104,167 per month from Sequel as chairman, according to a financial disclosure. Today, youth counselors at Sequel facilities start off making $12 to $15 per hour, depending on the location. Ripley started Sequel in 1999 with Adam Shapiro, a lawyer, initially just to run Clarinda Academy, a youth facility in Iowa where Shapiro had been executive director. The company kept growing by taking over other youth facilities and programs, fueled by investments from a handful of private equity firms. One firm, Altamont Capital Partners, which has investments in health care companies, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and clothing brands like Billabong, purchased a majority stake in Sequel for an undisclosed amount in 2017. Both Altamont and Sequel said the sale would help Sequel expand to serve more children. A walkway to enter the school at the Courtland facility.Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Project In response to questions about allegations of abuse and negligence at Sequel facilities, Altamont said in a statement: “We conducted significant due diligence prior to our initial investment and are confident that Sequel Youth and Family Services is one of the best operators in the industry. With the goal of continuous improvement and our support, the company has consistently invested in quality and safety initiatives and in its staff to raise the bar and drive positive outcomes for thousands of individuals trusted to its care.” Sequel declined to make Ripley available for an interview, and instead set up an interview with Birmingham, who handles compliance. She said she could not speak in detail about the company’s finances, but argued that Altamont’s support — including nearly $40 million invested over the past three years — has allowed Sequel to provide extra training for its employees, upgrade infrastructure and install additional security cameras at its facilities. ‘Lucky to have Sequel’ After acquiring a new facility, Sequel uses its marketing arm “to increase capacity and occupancy,” as Ripley put it in a 2017 call to investors. That means sending out marketing agents to get more states to send children to its facilities. Even states without a Sequel location, including California, Oregon and Washington, have done so. Sequel is a frequent presence at conferences for probation officersjudgessocial workersschool safety professionalsattorneys and others involved in court cases. The company has offered all-expenses-paid trips to state employees to tour the company’s facilities. “It’s part of what we do,” Jarrett Shoemaker, a Sequel marketing agent, wrote to a Washington state child welfare official in 2014. (Sequel said the free trips are not standard practice.) In wooing states, Sequel has an advantage: It offers to take children with the most severe challenges, who are hardest to place. Glenda Marshall, a program coordinator for Oregon’s state child welfare agency, wrote in a 2016 email to Shoemaker that the state had been struggling to find placements for foster youth. “We have been lucky to have Sequel programs available to serve our kids,” Marshall wrote. Two years later, Marshall sent cookies to other Sequel employees as a gift, emails show. Those close relationships come in handy when the company faces scrutiny. Sequel marketing agents contacted state officials in Oregon before and after a story aired on NBC’s “Nightly News” last year detailing allegations of sexual and physical abuse at Clarinda Academy. Sequel staff members shared the company’s side of the issue and discussed how to deal with concerns among state lawmakers. Loosening the grip of restraint: Investigating allegations of abuse at youth homes SEPT. 18, 202007:35 On multiple occasions later in 2019, when Oregon state Sen. Sara Gelser emailed state officials demanding information about oversight of Sequel programs, government agents promptly forwarded the messages to Sequel employees for help responding. Marshall also traded messages with Sequel’s marketing staff monitoring Gelser’s social media activity when the lawmaker toured Sequel facilities that year. Birmingham said Sequel’s marketing agents play a key role in receiving feedback from state officials and in helping the facility’s staffers get what they need to care for their residents. They may be trying to drum up business, but ultimately, Birmingham said, Sequel employees care about the children. “Nobody joins our industry, you know, unless they're actually here for the kids,” she said. “It's a hard industry.” But the marketing push could not overcome concerns several states had after Cornelius Frederick’s death this year. Michigan’s governor ordered state agencies in June to never do business with Sequel. Ohio recently revoked the license of a Sequel psychiatric facility in Columbus over multiple instances of violence. CaliforniaMaryland, Oregon and Washington have also stopped placing children in programs run by the company. Cornelius Frederick.Family photo “Despite Oregon’s efforts to work with Sequel to meet our licensing and safety standards, it became abundantly clear that Sequel was unable or unwilling to meet Oregon’s mandatory reporting requirements,” said Jake Sunderland, press secretary for the Oregon Department of Human Services. Alabama, however, is among the states that have permitted Sequel to continue operating. ‘Choked, body slammed, tortured’ At Courtland, where conditions had nauseated Johnson, state agencies received dozens of incident reports from 2018 to this summer detailing troubling allegations, including that children there had sustained injuries, such as a broken toe, a fractured ankle and a concussion, because of restraints. Children also reported being “slapped” and “choked” by staff members. One of the children placed at Courtland in early 2018 was a 15-year-old boy named Hunter, a former foster child with post-traumatic stress disorder who’d been abused. According to Hunter’s adoptive mother, Patricia, the facility was supposed to get Hunter back on track with school, provide intensive therapy and immerse him in a “Positive Peer Culture” that teaches residents to support one another. That’s not what happened, Patricia said. “They come out worse than they were when they went in,” said Patricia, whose last name is being withheld to protect her son’s privacy. Sequel's Courtland facility. Google Maps Hunter was assaulted multiple times by other children, including by his roommate, in full view of Sequel’s staff, according to a lawsuit his family filed against Sequel this week. Patricia took photos during a visit showing Hunter, a thin, slight child, sitting on a couch at the facility in a Spider-Man T-shirt. Both of his eyes are black; one is swollen shut. He has a bulging, bloody laceration on his forehead. On top of those attacks, the suit states, a staff member once restrained Hunter so violently that his head hit a concrete wall and reopened an existing cut, requiring stitches. In February 2019, Courtland employees called Patricia to tell her that Hunter had tried to hang himself, she said. Hunter is now receiving psychiatric treatment at a hospital, she said. “I just want people to be held accountable,” Patricia said. “For what they’ve done, and what they’re not doing. We don’t want anything like this to happen to any other kids. If they can’t get qualified people to do their job, they need to shut them down.” Sequel declined to comment on Hunter’s case and his family’s lawsuit. Sparkman, the Alabama Department of Human Resources spokesman, said the agency could not comment on individual cases. For more of NBC News' in-depth reporting, download the NBC News app In September 2019, Sondra Landers, director of the department’s office in Lawrence County, where Courtland is, sent an alarming email to several top agency staff members. Landers wrote that a former Courtland employee reported that there were “40 different residents/students that are consistently choked, body slammed, tortured, emotionally abused, football tackled, held up to the wall by their neck, dragged out of their beds, punch children in face, break their glasses, and encouraged to harass and fight other residents.” “Children are punished by not being allowed to go to the bathroom to the point where they urinate and defecate on themselves,” Landers said the employee told her. “Once the child has an accident they are then humiliated by staff members in front of the other children and made to sit in their urine or feces.” Local police, the employee told Landers, called Courtland a “death trap.” Landers referred questions to the Department of Human Resources. The agency declined to explain what action it took in response to the email. In a statement, Sparkman wrote that the agency investigates allegations and that “subsequent investigation records are confidential based on Alabama law.” Records show that about two weeks later, Department of Human Resources Commissioner Nancy Buckner forwarded two new contracts with Sequel to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican. Those contracts, which Ivey signed, allow Sequel to continue to run Courtland through September 2022. They’re worth nearly $13 million. ‘We just lifted each other up’ Laurie and Tristan Broadrick are expecting their first child.Annie Flanagan / for NBC News Courtland was one of the last facilities Tristan Broadrick lived in before he aged out of the foster care system. Laurie stayed at Owens Cross Roads twice before she reunited with her family. Before they got out, the two crossed paths at a psychiatric hospital, where they were sent after trying to harm themselves. “We were both in a really bad place,” Laurie said. After their release, they stayed in touch and fell in love, they said. “We both were at our very bottom,” Tristan said. “I guess we just lifted each other up.” The young couple are expecting their first child and trying to build a new life for themselves on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, working at Laurie’s family’s carpet business. They still struggle with anxieties, nightmares and the feeling that they’re behind their peers. They hope to raise awareness by speaking out. “I don’t want any other kid to have to go through that,” Tristan said. “Kids that are already damaged, been through enough in their life, to go somewhere that’s supposed to help them, help them become productive members of society, and go there and then it just destroys them.” If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit for additional resources. CORRECTION (Dec. 16, 2020, 5:17 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the timeframe of Altamont’s recent investments in Sequel. Altamont invested nearly $40 million over the past three years, not the past two years.  Source:
Amid abuse reports, Sequel-run facility that treated California children will close Sara Tiano, Joaquin Palomino, Cynthia Dizikes Jan. 28, 2021Updated: Jan. 28, 2021 7:57 p.m. Comments Sequel Youth & Family Services announced this week that it will close Wyoming residential campus Normative Services Inc. “after an evaluation of viability” of the program. Ashleigh Snoozy / Sheridan Press A Wyoming treatment center where California had long sent troubled youth will shut down in March, following a Chronicle and Imprint investigation into violent abuse at its campus and others operated by Sequel Youth & Family Services. The decision to close Normative Services Inc., a program for youth with behavioral and emotional problems in Sheridan, Wyo., is “not in any way related to any issues or concerns with the care and high quality services provided,” Sequel officials said in a news release Wednesday. Instead, they said, they arrived at the decision after “an evaluation of viability” of the program. “The safety and well-being of our students is our top priority, and we will work to minimize any interruptions to their continuity of care,” the officials said. Sequel leaders, and Normative Services Executive Director Clayton Carr, did not immediately respond to questions seeking elaboration. Last month, The Chronicle and the Imprint published an investigation detailing rampant abuse allegations by children at Normative and other campuses operated by Sequel, a for-profit company backed by Palo Alto investors. In response, the California Department of Social Services cut ties with all out-of-state treatment programs for foster youth with mental and behavioral health needs, opting to bring more than 130 children home by Jan. 23. Chronicle Investigation LOCAL After abuse reports, California approves $8 million for... BY JOAQUIN PALOMINO, CYNTHIA DIZIKES AND SARA TIANO LOCAL Confronted over abuse, California is bringing 116 kids... BY JOAQUIN PALOMINO, SARA TIANO AND CYNTHIA DIZIKES Erin Palacios, staff attorney at the San Francisco-based Youth Law Center, said it was “about time” for Normative Services, a 132-bed program, to shut down. The legal advocacy organization has long fought against sending vulnerable children out of state. “We don’t believe these facilities are safe for children, and they’re not providing treatment,” Palacios said. “These are not places any parent would want their child to be if they could really understand what went on there, or if they had real options.” In the December investigation, “Far from Home, Far from Safe,” reporters found that — despite a state law that bars authorities from sending children to for-profit residential programs — Sequel-run facilities in Michigan, Iowa, Wyoming, Arizona and Utah had housed roughly half of the foster youth and teens adjudicated for crimes that California sent out of state since 2015. Instead of finding help at these institutions, the 1,244 youth landed in facilities where staff members hit, choked, and slammed residents to the ground, according to incident reports. At Normative, records show, children have for years faced violence at the hands of staff. Wyoming and California child welfare officials investigated nearly two dozen licensing violations at the facility in 2019 and 2020, including multiple substantiated allegations that staff members assaulted residents or placed them in improper restraints. Far From Home, Far From Safe This story is a collaboration between The Chronicle and The Imprint, an independent, nonprofit publication dedicated to covering child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health and educational issues faced by vulnerable youth. To read the original investigation, go to In June, the Wyoming Department of Family Services found that an employee at Normative tried to drag a resident downstairs by his feet for “what appears to be (the) annoying behavior of opening and closing the dryer door.” The employee was immediately escorted off campus, placed on leave and later fired, according to the incident report. In March, Normative fired a staff member who repeatedly pushed a child who refused to stay seated, then put his hands around the youth’s neck, leaving red marks, according to an investigation by Wyoming child welfare officials. Wyoming investigators found the same employee had choked and threatened to kill another child the year prior. In 2016, a state investigation report shows, a Normative staff member was charged with felony child abuse after choking, punching and kicking a resident. Yet over the past five years, at least 94 foster children from California have been sent to the Wyoming facility. About one-quarter of the 80 children at Normative, also known as NSI, were from California in August 2019, according to local news reports. Vernon Kalkman, the president of Normative Services’ board of directors, did not immediately respond to questions about the closure. In December, he told reporters, “Over the years, there have been bumps in the road, but Sequel has always been responsive to any issues or concerns from the Board.” Kalkman said his nonprofit’s primary goal was “using its facility and resources to help troubled youth get on the right path and become productive members of society.” California officials defended the practice of sending youth to Sequel-run campuses, pointing out that the individual facilities are legally organized as nonprofits, even though they are managed by Sequel. But after reviewing some of the same records compiled by The Chronicle and The Imprint, the social services agency announced Dec. 9 that it had found all the out-of-state programs it had certified “lacking,” and ordered more than 130 boys and girls returned to California within 45 days. The state Legislature allocated $8 million to bring the children back to the state this month and place them in safer and more therapeutic homes. In their decertification letter, California officials wrote that Normative staff used excessive force during physical restraints that bruised and injured young people in their care, among other violations. In recent weeks, the local sheriff’s office has also expressed growing concern about the high number of calls for service from Normative. Sheridan County Sheriff Allen Thompson said his office had issued 16 citations to youth placed at the facility in January alone, representing a third of the department’s total citations so far this year. The citations involve assault, battery, property destruction or theft at the facility. “We have been concerned with the volume and nature of the calls for service at NSI for quite some time,” Thompson said in a statement. “We certainly are NOT celebrating the loss of jobs in the community, but it seems this might have been inevitable for a multitude of reasons.” As of Tuesday, there were no California children still living at Normative. But three days after the state’s deadline to bring all its foster youth home from out-of-state treatment programs, 11 youth remained in other residential treatment programs from Utah to Florida, including one child placed at Sequel’s Mingus Mountain Academy in Arizona. In July, Arizona’s Department of Health Services forced the program to temporarily halt admissions citing “significant health and safety risks.” It has since reopened. Another five of the 11 youth yet to return to California are at a facility in Florida run by Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, which was the focus of a recent investigation by the Philadelphia Inquirer. The report revealed a pattern of staff sexually abusing developmentally disabled youth as young as 12 at Devereux facilities in eight states, including Florida. Child welfare and probation officials across California said it was difficult to bring youth home amid a surge of the coronavirus pandemic and limited in-state options. Riverside County’s probation department obtained a 30-day extension because it had been planning to bring children back to a local program that was forced to pause admissions while waiting out a coronavirus quarantine. “You’ve got COVID as an underlying issue when there was already stiff competition to place kids in-state,” said Riverside County Probation Chief Ron Miller. Miller said his bigger concern is that the out-of-state placements served treatment needs that California facilities historically have been unable or unwilling to address, including aggressive and violent behaviors, fire-setting, and the trauma of commercial sexual exploitation. California officials have not yet announced specific plans to adjust local programs to meet these needs. About 40% of the 122 kids brought back so far are being treated at short-term residential treatment programs. Twenty-eight are living with relatives, and nine are in foster homes. Six are in juvenile halls. Five of the youth have run away since coming back to the state. One of the young people Miller’s department brought back to Riverside — a teen who had been trafficked before being sent out of state for treatment — ran away quickly after returning to California and is now missing. “That was one of the concerns we were worried about in bringing her back closer to her home environment,” Miller said. Joaquin Palomino and Cynthia Dizikes are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. Email: Sara Tiano is a senior reporter for The Imprint. Email: Source: 
NBC Reports: Clarinda Academy in Iowa is closing:
6/6/21: Auldern Academy is closed.  Source:
North Carolina Boys in Pittsboro is closed and the property was auctioned off in 2011.  Source: 
Alabama advocacy groups claim illegal restraints, strangulation at Sequel youth facility (Three Springs of Courtland/Courtland Location).  Source:  See tweet


Last Updated: March 1st, 2023

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