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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2009

    IA - FBI Investigating Midwest Academy for abuse of troubled teens, Keokuk

    A boarding school for troubled teenagers in Iowa that is being investigated by the FBI routinely kept pupils in small concrete "isolation boxes" for days or weeks and wouldn't let them out unless they sat in a specific posture for 24 hours, according to several former students.


    The academy says it provides "struggling teens with a safe, structured and disciplined environment." Many middle- and upper- class families from Midwest states and beyond sent misbehaving teenagers to the academy, which costs roughly $5,000 per month. Trane has said the students were fortunate to have its staff in their lives. Other supporters include parents who say the program saved teens' lives.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Raleigh NC
    Parents of abused Midwest Academy students pursue founder

    Lee Rood, lrood@dmreg.com Published 9:34 a.m. CT April 15, 2017

    The families suing the shuttered Midwest Academy school for troubled children near Keokuk want a judge to hold liable the prominent Utah businessman responsible for opening it and other schools like it around the world.

    Lawsuit targets Midwest Academy, owner

    Published 5:30 p.m. CT March 14, 2016 | Updated 8:55 a.m. CT March 15, 2016

    Iowa’s Department of Human Services found Midwest Academy owner Benjamin Trane responsible for child abuse last year for failing to properly supervise children who were sexually abused while in his facility’s care, according to a lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of six former students and several parents.
    80 sheriff calls in 3 years to Keokuk boarding school

    Lee Rood, lrood@dmreg.com Published 8:41 p.m. CT Feb. 13, 2016 | Updated 11:19 a.m. CT Feb. 15, 2016

    Lee County's top prosecutor says a request that he sign off on a search warrant last month was his first sign of serious problems at Midwest Academy, a boarding school for wayward youth.
    In addition, Sheriff Jim Sholl told the Register that the state Department of Human Services had identified 19 "founded" abuse cases at the school, meaning most evidence suggested some type of abuse had occurred.

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Pacific Northwest
    September 8, 2017:

    Midwest Academy director Ben Trane also required female students he was counseling to undergo “body image therapy,” having them undress in front of a mirror and engage in sexually explicit conversations.

    He did so for “sexual arousal, gratification and attempted grooming,” the complaints filed this month by state prosecutors show.

    Trane, 39, of Idaho, was being held Friday in the Lee County jail on a $500,000 cash bond after he was arrested Thursday. He could not be reached for comment.
    Felony sex abuse, sexual exploitation by a counselor and child-endangerment charges filed this month come 1½ years after raids by state and federal authorities at the private school outside Keokuk.

    Midwest Academy was the subject of subsequent Reader's Watchdog probes showing widespread abuse of students at the unregulated school, as well as a profit-sharing scheme with the founder of an international boarding school empire mired in controversy for decades.

    In one complaint, Lestino describes the sexual abuse allegation against Trane.

    Lestino stated between January and December of 2015, Trane performed sexual acts on a student. He stated Trane "coerced the student to engage in sex acts for her to successfully participate and 'level up' in the program and to be able to contact her family members."

    In the second complaint, Lestino stated the following:

    "During September 2014 through January 2016, defendant was owner and director of the Midwest Academy, a private for-profit therapeutic boarding school. Defendant held himself out to students as a counselor and therapist. Defendant proctored and participated in individual and group counseling sessions with female students, which included 'body therapy". The "body image therapy" involved the defendant having the female students undress and stand in front of a mirror to discuss what aspects of their body they did not like of felt uncomfortable with. Defendant further engaged in sexually explicit conversations with female students through conversation and written questionnaires and had physical contact with some of the female students. These acts were done for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification and attempted grooming."

    The third complaint, which charges Trane with child endangerment, Lestino stated that the defendant maintained an enviroment that created a substantial risk to the students' physical, mental, or emotional health and/or safety. He stated this included solitary confinement for extended periods of time.

    No real surprise as many schools and boot camps - including state run camps! - for troubled teens have been exposed over the years for abusing resident teens. In many cases the owners and staff just close the doors, move elsewhere and open up another facility. In state run camps authorities often ignore complaints until a death occurs and media picks up on it.

    There's little regulation and none in some states. This is not to say there aren't good facilities which truly benefit kids as an alternative to the juvenile justice system. But there's big money to be made running private camps, referred to as the Troubled Teens Industry, so without much oversight and regulations it's easy pickings for corruption.

    A California bill called Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act was introduced in 2015. It didn't pass but Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) reintroduced it in June 2017. It would require residential treatment programs to enforce a set of minimum health and safety standards, specifically prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ youth and young people with mental illness.

    Schiff’s bill would not only protect youth through federal minimum standards but would also “crack down on offenders who attempt to move abusive facilities across state lines by requiring all states to improve their licensing and oversight processes, and help families weed out bad programs by requiring they publicly disclose their licensing status and any history of violations,” according to a press release.

    “There are hundreds of good residential treatment programs that provide services which can truly help youth recover and transition from serious behavioral problems or traumatic experiences,” Schiff said. “But without stronger federal regulation and oversight, programs that engage in abusive practices will continue to slip through the cracks, leaving behind traumatized and abused children and families.”

    For more information on the investigation into Midwest Academy and other private facilities:

    2007 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO): http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08146t.pdf

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    This story breaks my heart! How can this have gone on so very long. I have a son that was a "troubled youth". I looked in to many, many programs, and so many of them out there have allegations of (and some criminal charges of) sexual, emotional, or physical abuse. Taking advantage of our troubled youth is to me a huge travesty!
    This is where Sky belongs!! Proud member of the Sky Crew & proud supporter of Solomon's quest to find his precious son! "I will always be his father. On this earth I don't see him, but in heaven we'll be together," Metalwala said.


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