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March 29th, 2012
09:55 PM ET

Kids shipped to school with troubled past

CNN's Gary Tuchman investigates an Illinois truant officer who sent kids to a Montana religious school facing abuse allegations.

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Filed under: Ungodly Discipline
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Todd Reisinger

    P.S.- the emotional abuse, lack of preparation to become an adult; ostricization, and religious brainwashing far outweighed the physical abuse which I endured and witnessed at Pinehaven. I was one of Ned Kent's origional house residents in 1987. I was a roommate of Troy Baker who was interviewed in the prior Pinehaven segment. When Troy and I were roomates there was no physical abuse I witnessed at Pinehaven until Troy left then it began from a relation by marriage to Ned Kent who trained Ned Kent. The other houseparent (now deceased) had told me of his jealousy with his cousin ( my origional housedad) (all of these housedads were in-laws or cousin/nephew in laws, etc.. of the Larssons, including the guy who raped two girls at Pinehaven) and began not allowing other kids to talk to me when I was 16. Then he started in on an 11 year old boy. He trained Ned, and Ned treated us the same way. We were taught the Bible was literall. So we were clut like brainwashed. Look up other stories on Facebook at Pinehaven Chrstian Ranch Survivors and Pinehaven Conversation. There are newletters from Pinehaven showing kids joining the Army but I have never read one from even a " I graduated from ITT Tech". I did see a kid who got out of Pinehaven last year was arrested in Olney for stealing three cars last month though. They need intervention to teach abandoned, often litterally ferile children from insane parents about becoming functional adults. Not threatened to beleive a monster is going to burn them forever because they were born with genitalia.

    March 31, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  2. Todd Reisinger

    I was the first child from Olney to go to Pinehaven, back in 1984. The kids at Pinehaven need licensed counselors that can explain to them how to get financial aid, student housing, and an understanding of basic finance. Such things like what a mortgage is and how much a house costs per month. How much do certain careers pay, and what type of education is most important to get into those fields. What schools are the best option for them to attain it. Bob said that the majority of the kids there are from broken homes and failed adopitions. When I was there we were just child labor, digging ditches in the snow, logging, throwing hay bales, building fences, milking cows. Meanial labor, and home schooled with religious books. Taught that biological process are inherently evil. That we are not of this world. Many of us were told we were there for a few months, not knowing we were abandoned until the age of 18 to be kicked out into aq world we are unprepared for. At 41 I have just now figured out that financial aid provides me with money to afford college and living expenses. At the age of 17 when they abandoned me, I was completely unprepared for life in Atlanta Ga.

    March 31, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  3. Mindy

    I am a survivor, yes a survivor of Pinehaven. There is nothing "chrisitian" about it. That place caused so much pain and continues to haunt many others. The reason not many are saying good things about the place is because there isn't anything good to say about a cultish org. that profits off of children

    March 30, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  4. Lewis Wu

    how does a tax funded school not fall under regulation? How is it that a truant officer for the state of Illinois operate outside of their jurisdiction? obviously there is something wrong with this picture.. the officer to consider the administrator of that school a surrogate father?! this is unacceptable. there are interests at work, very dark interests...

    March 30, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  5. Shannon Quinby

    As an independent educational consultant specializing in therapeutic schools and programs for struggling teens, I work with dozens of programs from coast to coast: licensed and accredited boarding schools and residential treatment centers that employ certified teachers and trained, Master's- and PhD -level clinicians to guide teens toward more productive lives. Usually not affiliated with any church or religion, some programs do utilize AA's 12-step model of relapse prevention for substance abusers. The programs I describe are clinically and ethically sound with models of behavior change that are grounded in years of 'best-practices' research. While these programs rarely get any media attention, they quite literally save lives and restore families. And while I suppose it serves a purpose to expose allegations of misconduct and unethical treatment at schools like "Pinehaven Christian Children's Ranch," I would also encourage CNN to feature some of the many excellent programs available for families in crisis. Most people will never need this level of help with their child, but for those who do, your 'Pinehaven' piece could scare them out of considering any therapeutic boarding option.
    Families considering out-of-home placement for a seriously struggling child should do one or both of these: contact the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) to find a reputable consultant to help with their program search and/or contact the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) to learn whether a program they are considering is a member. All member programs in NATSAP must be licensed and accredited in their respective states and agree to comply with the association's ethical standards. Under no circumstance would I advise a family to find a program aided only by the internet. Anyone can look good and sound reputable in a website. Please inform your audience, however, that many safe, reputable programs do exist and it is worth the extra effort to seek help in finding one.

    March 30, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  6. Adrian Moravcsik

    Earlier tonight I viewed Mr. Coopers latest interview into the CNN investigation of the truant officer initiated and court approved "pipeline" placing 27 children or more from several Illinois counties to the Montana "ranch" for supposed education, counseling and discipline of said children, apparently with or without parental consent or any licensing oversight..

    A troubling issue immediately came to mind that I do not believe was addressed by the investigative CNN report. That being, if in fact the state attorney general of Illinois was not aware until notified through the media of the placement of the children, subsequently conducted an investigation of the proceedings which raised certain issues of concern and then determined that the state attorney general's purview prevented any jurisdictional oversight, then what does the state attorney general provide to her constituency?

    This seems at best confusing or a candidate for the Ridiculist or at worst unconscionable. If there is no chain of command or appeals process, then what is the "job description" of the state attorney general and what is she compensated for by the taxpayers?

    This is the first question I would have asked during the interview.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:36 am |
    • dee

      I'm not certain about Illinois, but the Attorney General usually doesn't deal with family court proceedings. However, the Chief Justice should be overseeing why judges are approving these "binding contracts" signed by kids not even old enough to drive.

      March 31, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  7. Mike in So Cal

    Gary, I am wondering if any Illiniois state tax money has followed these 29 children that have been shipped off to Montana to a religious school via an Illinois Truant Officer ?

    March 30, 2012 at 2:19 am |
  8. Bobby Cathey

    With the Cassie Casteel incident, I think there is a bigger issue of a violation of freedom of religion here. If a child can be forced to stay in a religious camp against the child and parent's wishes then it definitely takes away religious freedom. I find it horrifying.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:53 am |
  9. toni rideout

    This is a clear case of kiddnapping, someone is getting paid for keeping these young people there, If the local authorities dont respond to this then the state ! It may not just be an Ill. problem, but A montana problem.... If that fails the federal goverment needs to become involved. It may be that you can interest the feds... the FBI can take a look at this.... isn't this like interstate transportation of minors.... there's got to be a lot of money involved in all of this... where is it going...who's getting paid and for what ?

    March 29, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
  10. Marlene

    I don't think that your report on PineHaven was very balanced at all. My daughter n law was there for 5 years and she has nothing but good to say about the ranch. She learned so much, they taught her skills that she would never have got anywhere else. You used some very radical stories and the good far outweighs the bad of the story. I'm really disappointed in your reporting, you tried to make the place look bad, it is a VERY good place.

    March 29, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Dylan Allen

      no it is not it is keeping kids to choose what religion they what to go with it is a horrifying place to be

      April 6, 2012 at 1:26 am |