Austin - Parents of about 90 young people enrolled in KIDS of El Paso County Inc. say their nightmare is over. A state district court judge on Tuesday denied the state a request to shut down the 2-year-old drug rehabilitation center. But ***, a local attorney who launched some of the first complaints against KIDS, said it's premature to think the center's problems are over. District Court Judge *** said after the hearing that the testimony he heard didn't convince him that keeping the center open posed immediate harm or irreparable danger to anyone. KIDS of El Paso is a program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous that treats young adults who suffer from drug and alcohol problems and eating and behavioral disorders. Former clients of the program and some of their parents testified against the program's harsh methods of treatment, while graduates and parents of current clients credited KIDS for saving lives of young and troubled drug addicts. *** the mother of a 17-year-old boy in the program, said, "We've lived through a nightmare having to defend our rights as parents." Another parent, * ** (MOM??) said, "My son has a chance to be somebody. I am very happy." After the hearing ended, another ecstatic parent yelled, "Thank God for justice and hope." *** and *** were two of about 70 El Paso parents who packed the courtroom. *** owns her own business, but other parents said they took time off from work to make the trip. ***, whose 15-year-old son enrolled in KIDS for a drug problem, said that if the program were to close, he would be willing to move somewhere with a KIDS program. *** said he represents about 10 former clients of the program who claim they were abused by the program's staff. "I think we have to remember that their license has been revoked,' *** said. He compared the situation with that of someone out of jail on bond while he appeals his conviction. The program will remain open until the Texas Commission of Alcohol and Drug Abuse decides whether KIDS may keep its license The commission has not set date in that matter. The commission revoked the program's license June 2 after an investigation revealed some of the young people in the program were:
- Physically restrained for up to 12 hours.
- Badgered for being homosexual.
- Mentally and physically abused.
- Held in the program against their will.
- Denied medical attention.
Dr. ***, founder of KIDS Centers of America Inc., admitted on Monday that some instances of abuse had occurred within the program but that the problems had been corrected. After the hearing, he said, "The hearing proved today that there are no horrible things going on there. Yeah, they are troubled kids. Yeah, they make mistakes, but when mistakes are made, by God we correct them. "We are here to help kids get well, not to hurt kids."