Ex-KIDS patients testify about program's harsh punishment
Supporters will talk Monday at hearing
El Paso Times
"Vicious peer pressure and harsh punishment were common therapy at KIDS of El Paso County Inc., two former patients told a judge who is supposed to decide Monday whether to close the embattled rehabilitation center. After eight hours of consistently critical testimony Thursday, Assistant Attorney General *** still had not completed the state's case against the El Paso center. District Judge *** recessed the hearing until Monday when KIDS defenders will take the stand. About 60 El Pasoans, not including those scheduled to testify, flew to Austin Thursday to demonstrate their support of the program. Many of them planned to return to the Travis County Courthouse Monday. Supporters have hired state Sen. ***, D-El Paso, to represent the interests of current patients and parents. Also at the hearing was ***, founder of KIDS of America Inc. The hearing is to determine whether to lift an injunction, issued June 14 by District Judge *** in Austin it that ordered KIDS closed in El Paso. The closing followed an investigation by the Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, which alleged KIDS' young patients have been abused and held against their will. KIDS appealed and was allowed to remain n open until *** reaches a decision. *** portrayed KIDS as a sometimes-violent, cultlike organization that brainwashes patients and their parents. Former patients *** and *** testified they were deprived of sleep and forced to help physically restrain fellow patients during encounter sessions that were part of the treatment. *** said she stopped menstruating and had bladder problems while enrolled at KIDS from June 1986 to February 1988. The problems cleared up after she left, she said. *** said she and other patients once were forced to push another patient's face into a bag containing feces because the patient had been defecating on the carpet. "We all shoved her face in it. We even had her take her pants off and were told to put a diaper on her," *** said. Under cross-examination, *** said she had used drugs and alcohol before entering KIDS, but said she no longer does. She said she is working and making good grades in school, though she did not complete the therapy. ***, 20, said he was verbally abused while at KIDS for six months, until he ran away in February. He said his family referred him to KIDS after finding a pornographic magazine in his room. "I was asked (by KIDS) if I was gay, and I said I was. (Former El Paso KIDS director) *** told my mom that I was not gay, but that I had a drug problem," *** said. He testified he had no drug or alcohol problem Mrs. *** said other patients were required to mock him if he showed homosexual tendencies: "If I didn't speak in a deep voice, I was mocked out. I was called fag. I wasn't allowed to wear brightly colored clothes and ... I had to look like a man." *** and *** alleged they and other patients were often told they would die or something horrible would happen if they left the program, so they stayed out of fear. ***, a psychiatrist who testified as an expert witness, disapproved of patients or former patients without professional credentials to restrain or treat other patients. There are three KIDS centers: The original one is in Bergen County, N.J. The El Paso center opened two years ago and has about 90 patients. Southern California KIDS center opened May 1 but has been cited for operating without a license. Under the KIDS program, patients who haven't 'completed parts of the regimen, as well as program graduates and parents work with newcomers. *** said KIDS methods can make patients dependent on the program, which is similar to what happens in cults. ***, a spokesman for KIDS supporters, said in an interview that most patients were enrolled by their parents only after failing in other programs. ***, whose son spent 17 months in KIDS, said, "I've never seen a program with such a success rate (70 percent). My son was a druggie."
Physician assails KIDS techniques
Methods 'break will'; ex-clients tell of abuse
El Paso Herald-Post
"Harsh rehabilitation techniques such as those used by KIDS of El Paso can cause patients to shift their dependency from drugs or alcohol to the program. Dr. ***, a psychiatrist and expert on alcohol abuse, said in court here that such techniques can destroy a person's ego, making it difficult to rebuild. "You run the risk of not gaining a solid ego," he said. *** was testifying at the hearing to determine whether KIDS of El Paso County Inc. may stay in business until the state rules on whether the organization may keep its license. ***, who did not testify directly about KIDS of El Paso, said that harsh programs can cause people to become dependent on the system for support, making it difficult for them to lead productive, independent lives. "But you always run the risk of the treatment changing to a cult," *** said. Programs that are maintained by fear "are not good " *** said to 258th District Court Judge ***. ? Basically the individual is not getting well. Inducing this degree of fear is terrifying to the individual. You're taking their will away and putting another in its place." ***, program director for KIDS, said the focus of the program is the recovery of the young adults who are its clients. When they enter the program, they have already shown they cannot be trusted, and their privileges are taken away. KIDS has a 70 percent success rate, *** said. The program works closely with parents during the treatment of children, he said. Many clients enroll themselves into KIDS, he said. About 60 parents and relatives of young adults enrolled in program in El Paso traveled to Austin for the hearing. On Thursday, the judge recessed the hearing until Monday. The hearing Thursday was on a temporary injunction to close the program until the license issue is decided. ***, executive director of the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, revoked the program's license June 2, after investigations revealed that KIDS may have abused clients or violated their civil rights. Also testifying Thursday were two former clients of the program and a parent of one of the clients. ***, 17, and *** 20, who left the program this year, said they were abused and participated in the abuse of others in the program. *** complaints also were contained in an affidavit. She said she and other clients took a young girl into the ?quiet room? after the girl ?soiled her pants.? They not only held her on the floor but also put a diaper on her, *** said. "Then we stood her up and held a plastic bag containing her feces up to her face and made her smell it," *** said in the document. Clients were instructed "to shove her face in it," she said in court. *** said her stress was so great that her menstrual cycle was interrupted for 19 months. *** joined KIDS in September 1987. He said KIDS staff members coerced him into signing himself into the program, after his parents found a pornographic magazine in his room. "They told my parents I had a drug problem. They told me I wouldn't see my family again if I didn't join, so I joined," he said. ***, who was representing parents of almost 60 clients wanting to stay in the program, said after the hearing that he questioned the truth of some of the testimony against KIDS. He said Thursday's testimony showed that the program is working and that "the end result justifies the means.""
Action to close KIDS is first ever for state agency
El Paso Herald-Post
"Three more disgruntled former clients of KIDS of El Paso testified here today. ***, ***, and ***, all 18, described incidents of abusive treatment while they were in the drug rehabilitation program. The three women were witnesses of the state. Attorneys for KIDS of El Paso are expected to call their witnesses later today. In their testimonies, all three women told District Court Judge ***, that they helped physically restrain other clients while enrolled in the program. *** and *** said there were denied medical attention and that they were held against their will by KIDS staff members. A state agency is making history in its attempt to close the El Paso drug and alcohol rehabilitation center for teenagers and young adults. However, parents whose children are enrolled in the privately funded KIDS of El Paso program are fighting to keep the center's door open. *** legal counsel for the Texas Commission for Alcohol and Drug Abuse said the agency had never before filed for a temporary injunction order against any program. The 33-year-old commission licenses alcohol- and drug treatment programs. It petitioned for an order two weeks ago to shut down KIDS of El Paso. *** heard testimony on the case Thursday. The hearing resumed in Austin today at the Travis County Courthouse. The state commission revoked KIDS' license June 2. The state attorney general's office has intervened and is seeking to put KIDS out of business at least until the matter of its license is resolved, *** said. ***, chairwoman of the state agency's inquiry board, said KIDS has appealed to the commission to retain its license. According to three reports released this year, KIDS does not meet the minimal standards set by the commission. "If the program is allowed to operate, we feel there is immediate risk of harm to the (clients') health and safety," *** said. About 70 parents of young adults in the program were at today's hearing. One of those is ***, 37, mother of a 14-year-old girl who enrolled in KIDS for a behavior problem. "If they take the program away, my kid is going to die," *** said. "She enjoys inflicting pain upon herself. I've tried other programs and none have worked like KIDS." About a dozen witnesses are scheduled to testify in today's hearing, which is expected to continue through Tuesday. The attorneys and some of the commission representatives said they will reserve comments about the fate of KIDS until after today."
Teen tells of humiliating treatment
El Paso Times
"Anna fought back tears as she talked about being forced to wear diapers and sleep on a cold floor with just a sheet for warmth when she was 16. The 19-year-old El Pasoan, whose real name is being withheld at her request, said she also was humiliated in front of other adolescents while she was forced to lie on the floor in October 1986, when she was a new client of KIDS of El Paso County Inc. KIDS, a controversial drug and behavioral treatment program, closed Oct. 9 and announced plans to file for bankruptcy. Anna, whose story a state investigator believes is true, admits she started soiling herself after losing control of her bowels because she suffered from bulimia, an eating disorder. Anna gorged herself on food, and then purged herself with laxatives. But she said that didn't justify what her host family did to her after a couple of bed-soiling accidents. Each KIDS client was placed with a host family and spent the nights in the family's home. "They yelled at me for hours," Anna said, "along with the other nine girls from the program who spent the night there. The mother said if I was going to act like a baby, I'd be treated like one. I didn't have the guts or energy to fight. I thought, 'This is what I deserved.' And if I refused, they'd restrain me to put it on. They made me take cold showers to clean myself, then disinfect the tub. "And I'm supposed to be under psychiatric care," she said, shaking her head. Anna said the humiliation was so terrible that it "seemed almost like a dream, slow motion," The family drove her back to the center one Sunday afternoon and she was "dragged to the quiet room," a room where other girls were encouraged to push her around, she said. "A staff member got me up against the wall and slammed me up against it." She said she was pushed to the floor and held down while a male staff member came in and read her moral inventory, a required introspective diary that clients kept, aloud to the group. An investigator with the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, said Anna's story was investigated by the commission and found to be factual. Anna finally left KIDS after almost two years, late in 1988. "My parents got sick of it all and pulled me out," she said."
KIDS blight on El Paso
"Fifteen months later, officialdom has ponderously moved to revoke the license of KIDS of El Paso. In no less than three written reports, the public has been told of physical, emotional and psychological abuse on the rampage behind the windowless war on this torture chamber posing as treatment center. Victims as well as perpetrators have come forward to tell us of these things. Parents perpetrating these same acts on their children in their own homes would go to jail and lose custody of their children. But child abuse by proxy wins the doting approval of the mayor, who says it's the only rehabilitation program that works; a state senator who, for some undisclosed sum, says the end justifies the means, and your newspaper's editor who says, "It's a tough program." "It's tough all right: shoving a child's face into a bag containing the child's feces which became available because the child was refused access to a toilet or making another child sit in his urine for the same reason. Can it be said that a program that diverts a child's dependency from drugs to itself, nevertheless precluding the child's viability as an independently thinking, psychologically healthy adult, is that a program that works? If the end really justifies the means, why don't we introduce the same brutal methodology into our prisons and further diminish the difference between ourselves and those we condemn? We're told this is all love, somehow I don't think that the Author of love would agree. Somehow, I can't see him spitting in a child's face or throwing a child to the floor or into a wall or cursing a child. So long as this evil exists in our community, I shall resist it. The test is not how many people can be packed into a courtroom or how many people can be intimidated by death threats and other forms of harassment by these desperadoes. The test, rather, lies in compliance with the law, professional standards, and conventions of decency and real love."
About KIDS of El Paso
"With the possible exception of various totalitarian governments common to the Eastern Bloc, I have seldom seen any organization more allergic to critical analysis and examination than KIDS of El Paso and its band of desperate followers. That, perhaps, is because those governments and this organization have so much in common. As usual the letters offer nothing more than the usual hysterical simplistic analysis that begs the objections of those of us who dare question this godsend. Sworn statements in written and oral form complain of physical abuses and deprivations that would not be tolerated if directed toward convicted murderers and rapists, but are praised by some of the misguided big names around town who visit upon their children and others' the consequences of the shortcomings of their parenting. In addition to questions of overt physical excess, one must wonder how a child's rehabilitative program is endangered by allowing a child privacy during a bowel movement. The accolades fail to mention outbreaks of head lice and scabies that can be avoided by elementary hygiene, but, of course, it's hard for a child to clean himself adequately in a 60-second or 120-second shower. Try it sometime. So much for the "loss of some privacy or creature comforts." A mentality such as that of Dr. ***** is alarming when it challenges a system of law that extricated an adult from being restrained in KIDS. ***** might do well to relocate his practice to a country where the society's views more closely parallel his own ideology. Before placing your child in this in this program. Consult local psychiatrists and psychologists, not plastic surgeons, obstetricians and anesthesiologists. Look at the alternatives. Make an informed choice."