Supporters will talk Monday at hearing
AUSTIN - 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 Myers 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 *** 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.