Original Article : http://medicalwhistleblower.blogspot.com/2011/04/scott-bloch-protects-teen-challenge.html
Scott Bloch Protects Teen Challenge - Food Stamp Fraud & Child Abuse
What is the role of the Office of Special Counsel in Protecting Human Rights?
Whistleblowers and Mandated Reporters constitute our human rights national alert system and tell us when there is something seriously wrong within our community or within the governmental bureaucracy. Mandated reporters are critical to the protection of our citizen's human rights and report human rights violations including elder abuse, sexual assault on children, and sometimes report serious violations of international treaty obligations. Mandated reporters are supposed to have protection for their disclosures. But where does that protection reside, in what respective agency- Health and Human Services (HHS), SAMSHA, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or in the US Department of Justice? Well in reality it is a myth that mandated reporters are protected for their disclosures of serious governmental wrongdoing. There is no federal agency that is empowered or obligated to protect them. One of the crucial links in the possible protections for those who are human rights defenders is the expected review of whistleblower complaints that should be provided through the Merit Systems Protections Board and the Office of Special Counsel. The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) hears whistleblower complaints from those who have classified security clearances. The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) hears whistleblower complaints from all whistleblowers from all the federal agencies and is the place of final appeal for those denied their complaint under the MSPB. Neither agency hears mandated reporter reports or is obligated to protect mandated reporters. The Office of Special Counsel is the governmental agency tasked to hear all complaints of whistleblower retaliation (after it has already happened that is). In addition it is also the federal agency empowered to investigate violations of the Hatch Act and also and the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Cases in front of the Office of Special Counsel take years to get to a hearing meanwhile there are no meaningful protections for the personal security and safety of the whistleblower nor are there protocols that will protect their personal and professional reputation. Therefore those who do criminal behavior and don’t want to get caught quickly realize that discrediting the whistleblower, using whatever dirty tricks that will get that accomplished, is the way to prevent federal investigation.
Scott Bloch served as Special Counsel for the Office of Special Counsel from 2004 until his removal in 2008. During that time there was essentially no protection for any whistleblower in federal service - this includes no protection for members of the Department of Justice (FBI agents) or any of the investigative agents of any federal agency (FDA, USDA, SAMSHA, Bureau of Prisons, HHS etc.) Thus no investigation into criminal activity occurring within any federal governmental agency would receive a sympathetic ear at the Office of Special Counsel in Washington DC. Hundreds of whistleblower complaints were summarily dismissed by Scott Bloch without any investigation at all. This included all whistleblower complaints from any agency investigating Teen Challenge or any whistleblower that had information regarding Karl Rove's alleged Hatch Act violations.
As President, George W. Bush, sought to duplicate the same regulatory rollbacks for faith-based groups nationwide that he enacted in Texas. This was a political promise he made to the fundamental religious right which had helped him garner the political support to win the Presidential campaign. After gaining the presidency, George W. Bush almost immediately established the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. This was tied to the Charitable Choice legislation (which was part of the 1996 Personal Work and Responsibility Act) and made possible by the Office of the President Executive Order 13199 of President George W. Bush. President George W. Bush asked that new White House office to "identify and act to remedy statutory, regulatory, and bureaucratic barriers that stand in the way of effective faith-based and community social programs." This is almost the same wording that had been used in Texas. In addition, President George W. Bush placed Don Willett to serve as the director of law and policy for the White House office. Don Willet had drafted the Texas legislative bill that allowed the Roloff Homes return to Texas with an exemption from state regulatory oversight and thus evade child abuse investigation by the Texas Attorney General. (see the case of Deanne Dawsey http://www.nospank.net/colloff.htm ) Don Willett had listened to Cameron Wiley's theological opposition to state oversight of religious child care facilities and had Cameron Wiley speak to Texas Governor Bush's "Faith in Action" task force. This Faith in Action task force was to recommend in their written report that faith-based child-care facilities be allowed to exempt themselves from state licensure and instead submit to "alternative accreditation"-that is, oversight by a non-governmental body, such as a group of pastors.
Local child protective services first investigated possible abuse at the Rebekah Home in 1973. Lester Roloff took the verse in Proverbs very literally, "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die." This was the discipline mantra of Roloff Homes. Lester Roloff refused to submit to state regulation and after his death in 1982 Wiley Cameron took over Roloff Homes ministry. Wiley Cameron then ran Roloff Homes and the Roloff Evangelistic Enterprises. All the facilities in Texas owned by Roloff Homes including Rebekah Home were been closed for child abuse in 1985 after a series of defeats in the courtroom and by the actions of the Texas Attorney General John Hill.
Texas Governor George W. Bush had used the political support from the fundamentalist churches and to secure votes to win the Presidency. George W. Bush knew that in the upcoming re-election for President it would be necessary to continue to support legislation that would allow church-run child-care institutions to opt out of state licensing. This legislative policy choice allowed George W. Bush to tap into the support of the huge fundamentalist evangelical unregistered voters and get them to vote for him, support his candidates and his policies in the elections.
George W. Bush had shaken a drinking problem in 1986 and thus was supportive of faith based addiction treatment. George W. Bush was later to say that he had experienced a profound spiritual awakening and knew the role that faith could play in recovery. The belief in faith based redemption curing addiction was at the heart of George W. Bush's political campaign strategy. George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st President of the USA, along with Melvin Sembler (of Straight Inc.) had influenced George W. Bush, 43rd President and Jeb Bush, Florida Governor, in their drug addiction rehabilitation. Both George W. Bush and Jeb Bush remained active in the Drug Free America Foundation work. The Drug Free America Foundation was the offshoot of Straight Inc.
Attorney Scott Bloch was appointed by President George W. Bush and served as the Chief Counsel for the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives from 2001-2003. Thus Scott Bloch worked directly with Don Willett to roll out the Faith-based and Community Initiative program as envisioned by George W. Bush. Remember that Don Willett, while working under George W. Bush in the Texas Governor's Office, had argued that the Texas Association of Christian Child-Care Agencies (TACCCA,) should be allowed to be an child care accrediting agency in the state of Texas. This governmental action permitted TACCCA to exempt their child care facilities from state regulation in and inspection in Texas and thus avoid being shut down for child abuse allegations by the Texas AG and thus re-open facilities with a long history of child abuse. Cameron Wiley and other directors of religious facilities being investigated for child abuse made up the 6 person TACCCA board.
For Scott Bloch to use his position as the Deputy Director of the Faith-based and Community Initiative program for political purposes would be a violation of the Hatch Act. The Office of Special Counsel is the government office in charge of protecting government whistleblowers and enforcing the Hatch Act — a law that forbids government employees from using federal resources for political ends. But the agency empowered to investigate violations of the Hatch Act was the Office of Special Counsel, an office of which Scott Bloch was appointed to head in 2004. So in this sequence of political choices by President George W. Bush, Scott Bloch would have had to investigate himself for whistleblower allegations of using the OFBCI program for political purposes.
After a long criminal investigation, involving allegations of obstruction of justice, evidence tampering, destruction of official files, impeding an official federal investigation, civil right violations, as well Hatch act violations and violations of the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), Scott Bloch on April 27, 2010 pleaded guilty to criminal contempt of Congress. Scott Bloch, the former Bush administration official who was given the responsibility and obligation to protect whistleblowers instead plead guilty to misdemeanor criminal contempt of Congress. Scott Bloch after pleading guilty attempted to withdraw that plea because Judge Deborah A. Robinson sentenced him to one month in prison. A group of government whistleblowers have requested in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder that a special prosecutor appointed to handle the case of former Bush administration official Scott Bloch.
Whistleblowers request special prosecutor in Scott Bloch case
Financial Support by Charitable Choice Preferentially Given to Political Ally Chuck Colson
Scott Bloch served as Deputy Director of the DOJ Task Force for the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI). Attorney Scott Bloch, as a US Attorney, certainly did not do due diligence in determining whether it was appropriate to funnel funds to facilities that would be housing vulnerable children and adults and who were also hiring staff at those facilities who were ex-cons with known criminal convictions for sexual abuse of children, drug dealing, domestic violence and money laundering. Why? Perhaps it is because it was the wish of the new President of the United States, George W. Bush (January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009), to provide an open field for Charles Colson’s InnerChange Prison program and the expansion of Teen Challenge and the ministries of the Assembly of God. So protecting Teen Challenge and those who protected Roloff Homes and Chuck Colson’s new prison ministry was politically more important than protecting children from physical, psychological and sexual abuse or even protecting the federal tax payer from fraud.
Charles "Chuck" Wendell Colson is a Christian leader, cultural commentator, and former Special Counsel for President Richard Nixon from 1969 to 1973. Chuck Colson was named as one of the Watergate Seven and pled guilty to obstruction of justice for attempting to defame Pentagon Papers defendant Daniel Ellsberg. Charles “Chuck” Colson was known as a man valuable to President Nixon because he was willing to be ruthless in getting things done according to David Plotz in a Slate March 10, 2000 article called " Charles Colson - How a Watergate crook became America's greatest Christian conservative"
Chuck Colson was known as Nixon's "hatchet man". Colson was described by some of his colleagues as "evil genius" in the Nixon administration. Many can still remember that it was Chuck Colson who was willing to resort to domestic terrorism and who discussed possible firebombing the Brookings Institution. In 1974, Attorney Chuck Colson entered a plea of guilty to Watergate-related charges. Colson was the first member of the Nixon administration to be incarcerated for Watergate-related charges. Chuck Colson plead guilty to obstruction of justice in the Daniel Ellsberg case. Although he was given a one-to-three year sentence, Colson only served seven months at Alabama's Maxwell Prison. Colson was then a convicted felon with no right to vote but he received a pardon from Florida Governor Jeb Bush so he could again vote, once again practice law or serve on a jury. These were rights Colson had lost when he became a convicted felon. Charles Colson was converted to a born-again Christian while in prison. President George W. Bush was supporting his “faith-based” prison fellowship ministries program and promoting it in the Texas penal system.
Watergate-convict-turned-Christian evangelist converted to Christianity in 1973. Chuck Colson had a Jails for Jesus solution which was touted as a cheap fundamentalist Christian alternative to clinical programs for prisoners. Colson began working with a non-profit organization devoted to prison ministry which was called the Prison Fellowship. Through a radio broadcast called BreakPoint Colson promoted this prison program. Upon being released from prison, Chuck Colson's Innerchange worked with the new Faith-based and Community Initiatives program. These programs already exist in Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas and Texas.
InnerChange Prison Fellowship
InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI) is a publicly supported, pervasively religious program that was established in Texas, Minnesota, Kansas and Iowa. The contractual and monetary relationship between Prison Fellowship, InnerChange, and the Department of Corrections(DOC) developed over a number of years. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice support from the 77th Texas Legislature of $1.5 million (FY 2002-2003) was the first allocation of state funds given to the InnerChange program. Since the initial IFI program began in Texas, IFI has started two additional prison programs in the United States. In October of 1999, a second program was opened in Iowa, which has the potential to serve 192 inmates. In January 2000, the third IFI program began operation in Kansas with a capacity of 158 inmates. But constitutional questions regarding separation of church and state were raised at the level of the Eighth Circuit US Court of Appeals. In March 2008 the InnerChange Fellowship Initiative in the Iowa prison system was terminated by the State of Iowa.
The InnerChange program in Iowa’s Newton Correctional Facility was a program where inmates participated in "24-hour per day Christ-centered Bible-based programming" conducted by IFI employees, and were required by policy to be Christian. In 1997, the new Newton facility faced budgetary restraints, overcrowding, and lack of appropriate programs. In 1998, Iowa’s General Services Department publicly issued a request for proposals to establish a non-compensated, values-based, pre-release program at Newton. Prison Fellowship and InnerChange, jointly, submitted the only proposal but they sought public state funding to pay part of the expenses of the program.
The Department of Corrections in March 1999 did contract with Prison Fellowship and InnerChange for program services (September 1999 to June 2002), with public tax payer money going for reimbursement for non-religious costs and expenses. Prisoners in IFI were housed in a separate prison unit. In the first year of the contract, the DOC paid InnerChange $229,950, with all the money coming from the Inmate Telephone Rebate Fund which is designated for discretionary use for the benefit of inmates. The second year InnerChange received from the Department of Corrections $191,625 from the same fund. In 2002, the General Services Department accepted the InnerChange proposal for a pre-release program at Newton under a renewable one year contract from July 2002 to June 2005 which was to provide state funding only for the non-religious parts of the program. The DOC paid InnerChange $191,625 from the Telephone Rebate Fund. The Iowa legislature appropriated $172,591 from the Healthy Iowans Tobacco Trust to the DOC “for a values-based treatment program at the Newton correctional facility.” This appropriation was used to expand the InnerChange program to the Release Center at Newton (a minimum-security facility one mile from the main facility). The payment from the Trust to the DOC for InnerChange was $276,909. In the third year, 2004 to 2005, the contract was changed to a per diem payment of $3.47 for each inmate participating in the program. The legislature again appropriated $310,000, with actual payment to InnerChange of $236,532.55.
In 2005 the DOC accepted InnerChange’s proposal for a pre-release substance abuse treatment program. In the contract’s first and second years, July 2005 to June 2007, the Iowa legislature appropriated $310,000 each year. But there never was a clear distinction in the billing to the taxpayers regarding religious and non-religious expenditures. Until July 2007, the DOC’s funding accounted for 30 to 40 percent of InnerChange’s operating costs.
There were concerns from even the first 1999 contract whether there was a clear definition of what was religious and what was not. Salaries and benefits for InnerChange’s personnel were paid by the DOC on a percentage basis. The state paid 82% of the Local Director’s salary; 9% for the Program Manager; 93% for the Aftercare Manager; 77% for the Office Administrator; and 16% for each of four Biblical Counselors (also called Case Workers). All land and cell phone costs were billed to the DOC. InnerChange’s postal meter and thermal tape were billed to the state without detailed accounting. The DOC paid for InnerChange’s computer hardware, software, repair, and internet account. The DOC also paid for InnerChange’s letterhead, envelopes, printer and copier toner, paper, blank videotapes, and standard office supplies. Each month, every photocopy up to 40,000 was charged to the DOC. Copies over 40,000 were designated as religious (although the record does not reflect how many total copies were made each month). Building M – a modular building housing InnerChange’s offices and classrooms – was constructed in 2000. By the lease-purchase contract, the Telephone Fund paid $294,017 for Building M. When the DOC reimbursed InnerChange for costs or paid the per diem amount, the money was deposited in InnerChange’s bank account. From that account, InnerChange periodically transferred funds to Prison Fellowship’s general accounts, to cover program operating expenses. These general accounts also contain funds from private sources. This mixing of public tax payer money with private funds (non-profit charities) makes it difficult if not impossible to ascertain that the money was used for secular purposes only and not for exclusively religious purposes. In addition some of the charity funds these monies were mixed with had been potentially implicated in certain kinds of affinity fraud and other types of fraud. Money was moved around from account to account with little accounting transparency to the state government as to who actually got the money eventually. In addition the portion of InnerChange expenses which was paid by the Prison Fellowship came from these co-mingled funds with other NGO charities.
A law suit was filed against the Prison Fellowship Ministries at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in the case of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State v. Prison Fellowship Ministries. On June 2, 2006, the district court held that the IFI program violated the Establishment Clause, expelled the program from the prison, and directed IFI to repay the Department of Corrections the $1.5 million that it had been paid by the State. Defendants appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in June 2006. Senior Litigation Counsel Alex J. Luchenitser argued the appeal in February 2007 before a panel that included former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. In December 2007, the Eighth Circuit largely upheld the district court’s decision. The court held that Iowa’s involvement with IFI violated the Establishment Clause by supporting the indoctrination of inmates and IFI’s discrimination against non-Christian inmates.
Ronald A. Lindsay, Esq. of the COUNCIL FOR SECULAR HUMANISM and CENTER FOR INQUIRY stated in their brief "No court has ever endorsed government-funded religious indoctrination, and, as indicated, InnerChange was well aware that their government-funded activities very likely violated the Establishment Clause. Nonetheless, in their zeal to spread their religious message, InnerChange and PFM made a calculated decision to disregard the restrictions of the Establishment Clause in implementing their program. To state that freedom of conscience is a core value under the Constitution would be an understatement. Religious liberty is one of our fundamental freedoms, and it cannot be denied that it advances public policy to preserve religious liberty and to prevent the government from allowing its resources to be used for religious indoctrination. InnerChange and the Iowa DOC deliberately have refused to adhere to recognized limits on government funding of sectarian activity. Furthermore, their blatant disregard for constitutional limits on funding of activities of religious organizations is confirmed not only by the negligible, inadequate effort made to limit funding to secular activities, but by the design of the program itself." Judge Robert Pratt of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa agreed with the plaintiff, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, that the faith-based prison program is unconstitutional and ordered the program shut down. Americans United had won the case at the district level and on appeal.
Although the Prison Fellowship InnerChange claims the program reduces recidivism. Some point to a study that compared “graduates” of the InnerChange program with nonparticipants. One cannot be a graduate of InnerChange unless one remains in the program following release from prison, obtains a job, and avoids being reimprisoned for at least six consecutive months. The cited study does not focus on the numerous participants who never graduated. If one looks at all the InnerChange program participants (both graduates and nongraduates), then the “InnerChange participants did somewhat worse than the controls: They were slightly more likely to be rearrested and noticeably more likely (24 percent versus 20 percent) to be reimprisoned.” Mark A. R. Kleinman, Faith-Based Fudging:How a Bush-Promoted Christian Prison Program Fakes Success by Massaging Data, Slate (Aug. 5, 2003), available at:http://www.slate.com/id/2086617 .
Prison Fellowship works through Teen Challenge to provide housing and jobs for recently released prisoners. There are co-mingled funds between these programs. In addition Teen Challenge gets TNAF federal food assistance and also re-entry prisoners get federal funds which support their employment at Teen Challenge. Re-entry prisoners paychecks are handed over to the Teen Challenge staff as well as all state food assitance. In addition a mandatory church tithe is extracted as well as rent from the ex-prisoners federally subsidized paycheck. Historically some Teen Challenge facilities have up to 80% of their funding from federal sources like TNAF. Thus the amount of real non-federal or state sources money that goes into a program like Teen Challenge's Prison Fellowship aftercare program or IFI is difficult to compute due to the lack of accounting procedures to identify and properly source funds.
Teen Challenge hires ex-cons
As you will see below when examining the TNAF Teen Challenge food stamp fraud, the Frank Vennes Minnesota Teen Challenge Ponzi Fraud Scheme and the affinity fraud of Southwestern Indian Foundation that criminal corruption can co-exist inside religious charity non-profits. Teen Challenge in Arizona is associated with a in prison Teen Challenge recruitment program as well as court ordered placement at Teen Challenge in Phoenix AZ. The Don Stewart Association (DSA), a Phoenix-based televangelism ministry , and its affiliated 22 charities (including Southwest Indian Foundation) were accused of performing controversial transactions with supplies that helped inflate their finances. The DSA affiliated charities transferred ownership of goods to other groups including $80 million of goods that the charities never physically handled.
Teen Challenge was already opening its’ doors to hire known criminals (through a federally funded re-entry employment program) those who converted to Christianity. Teen Challenge had many centers in Texas and Florida. George W. Bush was governor of Texas January 17, 1995 – December 21, 2000, and had promoted legislation and administrative actions favorable to Teen Challenge and other evangelical Christian based programs like InnerChange. In 1997 the Texas legislature passed a bill allowing religious child care facilities to be accredited by a private sector regulator, the Texas Association of Christian Child Care Agencies (TACCCA). In 1997, Texas became the first state to use the faith-based effort, run by Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship Ministries – InnerChange. Governor of Texas George Bush Texas provided funds for the prison program - $1.5 million. The Roloff Homes were the first of eight faith-based child-care facilities accredited by TACCCA. Despite continued complaints of abuse and neglect, TACCCA re-accredited the Roloff Homes in April 2000. Roloff Homes was finally shut down for child abuse in Texas in 2001. Teen Challenge centers in Florida got accredited by an alternative agency just like those in Texas - so they too could avoid being regulated and inspected by state agencies.
The newly rapidly multiplying Teen Challenge facilities were therefore staffed by former prisoners who were recruited by Assemblies of God/Teen Challenge prison Chaplains. The Assemblies of God prison Chaplains often have dual responsibilities and may be also paid prison staff with fairly unlimited access to prisoners. With Teen Challenge staff paid for out of re-entry prison federal funds, the Teen Challenge facilities had low staff overhead. This financially beneficial arrangement permitted the rapid expansion of the Teen Challenge ministries program. This aggressive outreach of the Assemblies of God Teen Challenge program was also fueled by start up grants which were made possible through collaboration with the Faith-based and Community Initiative grant program and other linked programs.
In addition Texas Governor George Bush had exempted Teen Challenge in Texas from state regulation and inspection (following the state closing of Roloff Homes for child abuse). The investigators from the Texas state agencies (mandated to report human rights violations) were refused entry to Texas Teen Challenge facilities. By placing Scott Bloch in charge of reviewing all federal whistleblower complaints in 2001, the avenue for those in federal service to report child abuse as mandated reporters was essentially closed.
These public policy decisions opened the door for prisoners who professed religious conviction to be hired by Teen Challenge for positions working with children. Thus the arrangement of hiring “Christian” prisoners who were in re-entry prison programs (InnerChange) to work as staff, religious counselors and even directors of Teen Challenge facilities. One such prisoner with a record of criminal conviction of sexual child abuse was Shondi Fabiano, who was hired on staff and co-Directed the Teen Challenge Men's facility in Maine. She had previously been the head of the Teen Challenge Women's facility in Rhode Island prior to her marriage to Peter Sabiano.
Prisoners are probated from prison to faith-based outreach at Teen Challenge where they received counseling, study the Bible and attend church. These “Christian” criminals who had spent hard prison time had many criminal associates and criminal connections and were not always under the full control or adequate supervision of their parole officers. Parole officers saw these “Christian” jail coverts as well-behaved parolees as they were gainfully employed at the Teen Challenge facilities. Teen Challenge as an employer would vouch for the employed prisoners and make allowances for their non-compliant conduct in order to keep them “on the path”. These criminals in their re-entry employment at Teen Challenge were tasked to do missionary “outreach” to teens on the streets of New England. Protected by their employer Teen Challenge and poorly supervised by officials from the prison system, these “Christian” employees openly did street “interventions”. But Teen Challenge facilities had long been suspected of abusive practices and the continuing stream of complaints were surfacing but not getting any action by state or federal authorities.
Teen Challenge and Faith-based and Community Initiatives
Scott Bloch was appointed to the position of Special Counsel for the Office of Special Counsel by President George W. Bush. This followed Bloch’s appointment to the Task Force for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives which funneled money to Teen Challenge. Teen Challenge was a residential treatment program which claimed religious treatment for addiction and life challenging problems. Based on strong Christian principles, the intensive program takes residents come from the streets, detoxification facilities, hospitals or jails. Some are referred by pastors and counselors or court-ordered into treatment by judges. Teen Challenge was operated by the Assemblies of God. Scores of pastors, inner-city missionaries and evangelists have graduated from Teen Challenge.
Scott Bloch served as Deputy Director of the DOJ Task Force for the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI). Attorney Scott Bloch, as a US Attorney, did not do due diligence in determining whether it was appropriate to funnel funds to facilities that would be housing vulnerable children and adults and who were also hiring staff at those facilities who were ex-cons with known criminal convictions for sexual abuse of children, drug dealing, domestic violence and money laundering. Why? Perhaps it is because it was the wish of the new President of the United States, George W. Bush (January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009), to provide an open field for Charles Colson’s InnerChange Prison program and the expansion of Teen Challenge and the ministries of the Assembly of God. Chuck Colson had just been pardoned by Governor Jeb Bush and was moving once again in Republican campaign circles.
What is Charitable Choice?
The "Charitable Choice" provision (section 104) of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (welfare reform legislation) meant to privatize welfare requires states that contract with nonprofit organizations for delivery of social services to include religious organizations as eligible contractees. The goal of Charitable Choice was to end the welfare system of entitlement money that provides a safety net for the poor and needy and instead turn the system into a privatized system where corporate and non-governmental service agencies compete to provide services. Then when entering office, President George W. Bush issued an executive order known as the Faith-Based Initiative which created a bureaucracy with the sole purpose of providing support to faith-based providers of social services.
Although in theory this might sound like a system to save money and be economical with public funds, it ignores the basic reality of possible fraud by corporate entities such as residential treatment facilities, private prisons and pharmaceutical companies, and many others who benefit by the decreased federal oversight and transparency.
The Food Stamp Showdown
Scott Bloch served as the Chief Counsel for the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives from 2001-2003. In that position he funneled grant money to Teen Challenge in spite of mounting evidence of fraud, illegal activity and even sexual abuse of children in Teen Challenge centers. This was a politically important program that would be critical to President Bush’s and Karl Rove’s political strategy to keep the right faithful to the Republican party and would help generate income for Bush’s political campaign. Through the Faith-based and Community Initiatives program political allies were financially rewarded and other deserving NGO’s received little or nothing.
Teen Challenge gained national attention in 1995 when the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (TCADA) threatened to shut down Teen Challenge of South Texas because continuing allegations of abuse and fraud. Teen Challenge of South Texas continued to assert that its counselors refused to trade in their faith-based approach for a "medical model" based on the concept that alcoholism is a disease rather than a manifestation of sin. The state regulators were requiring that staff be properly trained and that the facilities be licensed and inspected. Teen Challenge in Texas and in Florida was unlicensed and unregulated and investigators and child protective services were trying to find a way to get some regulatory control over the residential teen rehabilitation industry especially in light of continuing complaints of abuse. The state was demanding licensing and inspection. Teen Challenge had opted for an alternative accreditation program that did no inspections and was based on a faith based model. State and federal regulators were trying to get regulatory and inspection control over Teen Challenge. Teen Challenge wanted no regulation at all.
Political Motives Affect Public Policy Regarding Enforcement Child Protection in Texas
The Rebekah Home for Girls, founded in 1967, was run by Lester Roloff a fundamentalist preacher. In his very successful radio show, the late evangelist, Lester Roloff, praised the use of punitive "Bible discipline" as a method to chasten girls who had fallen from grace. Lester Roloff claimed that the Rebekah Home took in fallen girls from "jail houses, broken homes, hippie hives, and dope dives" who were "walking through the wilderness of sin." Roloff asserted that he remade these girls into scripture-quoting, gospel-singing believers. As a result the faithful showered Roloff Evangelistic Enterprises with checks, jewelry and other valuables and he made millions. Texas State welfare workers received reports of physical abuse and Attorney General John Hill finally filed a suit against Roloff Evangelistic Enterprises. After many lost court battles and faced with forced closure of the Rebekah Girls Home hundreds of fundamental evangelical supporters surrounded the Rebekah Home forming a human barricade to prevent the state officials from closing in. The Rebekah girls were essentially prisoners in this political show down between Roloff and the Texas Attorney General. Lester Roloff was expressing his political power and the hidden support network of thousands of fundamentalists who adhered to similar beliefs and listened to his radio show. So the Roloff Homes was the center of an epic, twelve-year battle between church and state-culminating in a standoff that Roloff called the Christian Alamo-in which the maverick preacher and his successors fought to avoid regulation by the State of Texas. ( For a more personal account of Roloff Homes seehttp://www.nospank.net/colloff.htm )
The political message was clear – there was a huge following of fervent religious people not just in Texas but throughout the USA. These were American citizens who had previously not engaged in the political arena, many of whom had never even registered to vote and who in large part lived their lives apart from the rest of the general society. They claimed the right to religious freedom and do what they wished within their religious facilities. They claimed Lester Roloff as one of their own and he then embodied their right to separation of church and state. The Texas Attorney General and the social services agencies who wished to shut the facility down were representing the right of the state of Texas to assure that human rights abuses and child abuse did not happen to any minor child regardless of the religious beliefs of the parents.
Hundreds of Lester Roloff’s supporters massed around the Rebekah Home, on Roloff's 557-acre compound south of Corpus Christi, linking arms and forming a human barricade to prevent state officials from moving in. This was a three day stand off between the state of Texas and the religious right. Although Roloff agreed to close his youth homes and send his Rebekah girls to youth homes out of the state, this was only a brief victory for the welfare agencies trying to protect the children from abuse. But the homes later reopened under the auspices of the People's Baptist Church rather than Roloff Evangelistic Envangelical Enterprises.
Because this "Christian Alamo" public rally became the place where, George W. Bush, then governor of Texas, came to the rescue, promising to push forward state legislation that exempted many faith-based social programs from state interference. This gained Governor George W. Bush political support from the religious right. The lure of the support of countless thousands of currently unregistered voters passionate about this issue swayed the political decision making of the Texas Governor George W. Bush. The religious right embraced him as he claimed to support Separation of Church and State as an issue and to exempt religious facilities from state regulation and inspection.
The Christian Alamo event was a major victory for Roloff Homes, Teen Challenge and other fundamentalist religious facilities and the start of what became Mr. Bush's faith-based initiative. There is no question that eliminating basic health and safety standards made operations easier for a few faith-based programs in Texas, however it was also clear that the lack of minimum standards has threatened the safety of those participating in the programs and the ability of the state to assure human rights protections to minor children. The overwhelming majority of faith-based child-care facilities in Texas chose to remain under state oversight; only 7 of 2,015 religious institutions elected to operate under alternative accreditation.
The Federal Agency USDA in coordination with State Child Protection Agencies tries to shut down Teen Challenge
In Dallas Texas in 1998 two boys had filed they had been sexually molested by a staff member who was a convicted drug trafficker. After many reports of child abuse at Teen Centers nationwide, the Director of Teen Challenge San Antonio, received a letter from TCADA stating that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had determined that residents of Teen Challenge centers in Texas are no longer eligible to receive food stamps because the centers were not state licensed or inspected.
The San Antonio Teen Challenge center admitted that it depended on the food stamps for nearly half its annual food budget. Teen Challenge on the other hand claimed that federal food stamp regulations hindering men and women who are working to overcome addictions at Teen Challenge centers in four states. Reports kept surfacing that the food purchased with the food stamps was being sold on the black market and children in the Teen Challenge Centers fed nothing but water, white bread and peanut butter.
In opposition to state regulation of Teen Challenge, Texas Governor George W. Bush convened a fifteen-member advisory task force in 1995 made up largely of clergy and charged them with two objectives: to identify state laws and regulations that hindered the work of faith-based groups and to recommend ways to lift some of those regulations. The task force was formed because of the ongoing battle between the Texas Commission of Alcohol and Drug Abuse and a faith-based drug-treatment center, Teen Challenge, in San Antonio.
The Rhode Island Women’s Program was being run by a registered sex offender – Shondi Barbato and she was not the only sex offender on staff at Teen Challenge. State regulators in several states wanted to stop the direct access to children by registered sex offenders and violent criminal offenders in the Teen Challenge program. In most Teen Challenge centers food stamp money provides a majority of their funding. Those in child protective services were hopeful that this denial of food stamps would finally put an end to the hiring of registered sex offenders, drug dealers, violent criminals and other convicts to staff Teen Challenge Centers and force them to be licensed, inspected and regulated so that the safety of the children could be assured. In several states, including Massachusetts and Vermont, officials halted benefits to Teen Challenge clients because the programs were not formally recognized by state officials, and because clients were turning their Food Stamps over to administrators of the treatment program. The coupons were pooled together to buy groceries for those who live in dormitory-style housing for 18 months during their treatment. Thus through the actions of the federal USDA, the federal authorities hoped to protect the human rights and body integrity of children in the care of Teen Challenge facilities.
The threatened cutoff of food stamps to Teen Challenge threatened to shut down Teen Challenge centers in Oregon, Florida, and Massachusetts. The Boston field Office for the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) shut down food stamps to Teen Challenge New England. In Brockton MA in 2005 food stamps were provided roughly $150 for each man per month in Brockton, Massachusetts. This food stamp support totaled nearly $200,000 a year. The USDA stated to Teen Challenge that "The basis for your denial was that your program is not licensed by the state of Massachusetts."
But there was strong protest from the Director Teen Challenge New England, Rodney Hart who was the supervisor of Shondi Barbato, a registered sex offender hired at Teen Challenge New England. Rodney Hart, who is himself a 1976 graduate of Teen Challenge, advocated politically for creating a separate category for faith-based groups on a federal level which he said was the key to solving "a serious glitch that needs to be fixed at a higher level." Teen Challenge New England’s lawyer, Brad Martin filed a complaint against the government in 2005 on behalf of Teen Challenge New England, which has centers in Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Stamped Outhttp://www.worldmag.com/articles/10969 World Magazine August 27, 2005, Vol. 20, No. 33
The Director of Teen Challenge New England, Rodney Hart, goes on to state "The government does not have a lens to interpret faith-based recovery centers," he says. "It only recognizes the disease model, which is totally irrelevant to us." Mr. Hart adamantly refuses to obtain a state license, saying it would mean "obtaining an identity that doesn't correspond to who we are. . . . It would be like getting a deer-hunting license to hunt crocodiles." Stamped Out http://www.worldmag.com/articles/10969 World Magazine August 27, 2005, Vol. 20, No. 33
"Texas Freedom Network, a 23,000-member non-partisan grassroots watchdog group based in Austin conducted a five-year study of the policy and found, “As exempt faith-based drug treatment centers, [such] facilities are not required to have licensed chemical dependency counselors, conduct staff training or criminal background checks, protect client confidentiality rights, adhere to state health and safety standards, or report abuse, neglect, emergencies and medication errors.”http://www.schaler.net/inthenews/washblade.html
With the influence of President George W. Bush the federal government cleared the way for clients of the faith-based Teen Challenge drug and alcohol recovery program to resume receiving Food Stamps.
“In a joint opinion issued by the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA), and Health and Human Services (HHS), it has now been determined that residents of such treatment programs are eligible for Food Stamps, so long as the programs are operating in compliance with provisions of the Public Health Services Act. Under the opinion, state agencies which administer Food Stamps must recognize such programs as "operating to further the purposes of Part B of Title XIX" of the act -- however it also specifies that such programs are not required to be licensed by states in order to be eligible.” http://www.ombwatch.org/
What does Rodney Hart have to hide from state regulators and inspectors? Why does he refuse to cooperate with federal USDA inspectors and FBI agents? According to his thesis Teen Challenge New England had in 2007 589 beds and revenue that was about $7 million. The staff of Teen Challenge New England was 95% graduates of the program and there were 125 salaried staff. To learn more about the beliefs of Rodney Hart, Director of Teen Challenge New England see his 185 page thesis -http://www.tcnewengland.org/resources/Rodney%20Hart%20Thesis%20-%20Full%20Version.pdf
Additional Information on the Teen Challenge and Food Stamps:
Teen Challenge New England Intake Form
Government Teen Challenge Record on Food Stamps
Food stamp fraud in Honolulu and elsewhere
Under Charitable Choice provisions TNAF provided extensive financial support to Teen Challenge.
CRS Report - Charitable Choice, Faith-Based Initiatives, and TANF Vee Burke, Domestic Social Policy Divisionhttp://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs5458/m1/1/high_res_d/RS20712_2003Sep30.pdf
Additional Information about Sexual Abuse at Teen Challenge:
After the Christian Alamo at the Rebekah Home for girls, George W. Bush politically backed Teen Challenge and other residential facilities run by religious groups as it helped him with his political campaign to get votes from the far right – especially the support of the fundamentalist evangelicals and also the Catholic vote. The Alamo standoff was the start of what was to become Mr. Bush's faith-based initiative. Teen Challenge New England Director, Rodney Hart started with Bob Woodson of the Washington, D.C.-based National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, who fought for Teen Challenge during the Texas controversy in 1995. Rodney Hart also approached Jim Towey, head of the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives under Bush (2002-2006) who worked with Attorney Scott Bloch. and now President of Ave Maria University. George W. Bush made providing food stamp money to Teen Challenge a priority for his administration, so through the Charitable Choice program and changes in the legislation for TNAF the federal government was once again providing money to Teen Challenge without any pesky regulation or inspection.
Teen Challenge and sex offenders
In Dallas Texas in 1998 two boys had filed they had been sexually molested by staff.http://www.texnews.com/1998/texas/molest0513.html But the sexual abuse was covered up and the prison re-entry (re-integration) program that placed ex-convicts in charge of caring for minors had high level political support from the then Governor of Texas George W. Bush.
According to the news report: “The alleged victim was 16 when he went to Dallas Teen Challenge Boys Ranch in Winnsboro in January 1996. According to his lawsuit, a counselor and convicted drug trafficker sexually molested him and two other boys, one of whom also was 16 or younger. "(The counselor) sexually molested (the plaintiff) on at least six different occasions at the ranch," the lawsuit states. The lawsuit further alleges that the church, ranch executive director Paul Ecker and the ranch's board knowingly employed men with criminal histories as counselors despite being informed by state regulators the practice was illegal.”
Teen Challenge in New England has for many years been an established program and was using persons from the prison reintegration program as labor. The Bristol County Sheriff’s office (in Massachusetts) was creating a Teen Challenge unit in the county jail. The 22 men in the minimum-security unit were working through Teen Challenge curriculum under the daily oversight of two Teen Challenge ministers. When men in the unit are released from prison, they are encouraged to enter one of the Teen Challenge centers in Massachusetts.
Peter Fabiano, came to the Brockton Teen Challenge for drug addiction treatment in approximately 2000. By 2005, by all reports, Peter Fabiano had been placed on the leadership fast track and was the supervisor of a center 30 miles south, in Fall River. Mr. Fabiano married Shondi Barbato (her maiden name). Shondi Barbato was supervisor of the Teen Challenge women's center in Rhode Island, and the couple were hoping to open a new center in Maine. Shondi Fabiano has a history of 2nd degree sexual assault conviction in Kent, RI. Shondi Fabiano then moved with her husband into the position of co-director in the Maine center.
Shondi Fabiano was convicted of Second Degree Child Molestation in Rhode Island. She is listed on the National Sex Offender Public Registry. Maine has some pretty strict laws regarding contact with minors by registered sex offenders.
Shondi Fabiano actually originally had her address listed on the sex offender database originally as Teen Challenge New England – Augusta, 11 Hudson Lane, Winthrop, ME 04346.
Fabiano apparently, (at least per a search of the records site for Rhode Island's criminal courts) committed the crimes 10 years ago under her maiden name Shondi Barbato; she was originally charged with 1st degree child abuse (which involves sexual penetration of a child under the age of 14). It also appears Fabiano (under her maiden name of Barbato) has a conviction for fraud (specifically attempts to obtain money under false pretenses, insurance fraud, and conspiracy) and a dismissed charge of possession of a controlled substance. Shondi Fabiano then married Teen Challenge "graduate" Peter Fabiano and they both moved to Maine. She in turn promoted the hiring of ex-prisoners for multiple positions throughout Teen Challenge facilities in New England. Dennis Knox, who was convicted of gross sexual assault after raping an unconscious female, was also employed at Teen Challenge New England. Teen Challenge New England is composed of nine centers across New England and New Jersey and also a program in the Dartmouth, MA House of Correction.
These are where Teen Challenge New England has facilities:
• Augusta, ME
• Boston, MA
• Brockton, MA
• Fitchburg, MA
• Johnson, VT
• Manchester, NH
• New Haven, CT
• Newark, NJ
• Providence, RI
In 2008 there had been articles about Shondi Fabiano and her convictions for second degree child molestation. So in light of the exposure of Shondi Fabiano’s registration as a sex offender, Rev. Rodney Hart, Director of Teen Challenge New England provided the press the following press release and then her name was removed from their public website of the Northern New England District of the Assemblies of God and put up a new website that does not give the names of any of the staff in direct contact with clients at their facilities.
So in interest of full disclosure – this is the explanation that was the Official Press Release from Rev. Rodney Hart, President & CEO of Teen Challenge New England at the time that Shondi Fabiano was exposed in the press in 2008 for her position at Teen Challenge:
“Shondi Fabiano began using drugs at age 12 and was a heroin addict by the time she was 19 years old. She was living with and using drugs with a 21 year old man who was also an addict. While under the influence of narcotics she had sex with a 14 and a 15 year old boy. The two boys were family members of the 21 year old male that was Shondi’s boyfriend. The family of the boys filed charges against Shondi. Shondi’s public defender told her that if she didn’t want to go to jail for a long time she had better plead guilty. So she did. This was 15 years ago! Shondi sought help for her drug addiction at Teen Challenge and graduated with honors a year later. For the last 10 years she has dedicated her life to helping other drug addicts overcome their addictions and lead normal productive lives. Her life is a stellar example of one that has overcome incredible odds. Her life is a shining example and inspiration to all those who know and love her personally. She has been terribly embarrassed by this story. This was a tragic mistake that she will carry with her the rest of her life. She has completed probation without any violations and is no longer under any supervision. She is married, with a young infant and two teenage sons and poses no threat to anyone. To suggest that the community is at risk in any way is a gross exaggeration and extremely unfair to Shondi and the courageous steps she has taken to overcome the physical and spiritual obstacles in her life. Please direct all questions and comments to Rev. Rodney Hart, President and CEO of Teen Challenge New England.”
This is additional information that was already posted by others:
Mounting Evidence of Criminal Activity Associated with Assemblies of God & Teen Challenge
Mike and Sharla Hintz from Clive Iowa campaigned for George W. Bush. But Reverend Mike Hintz, youth pastor at the First Assembly of God Church was later charged with the sexual exploitation of a child. Rev. Hintz was the youth pastor at the First Assembly of God Church for three years. Police said he started an affair with a 17-year-old in the church youth group. The Des Moines Iowa youth pastor was charged with sexual exploitation by another counselor and then turned himself in to police in 2004. Rev. Mike Hintz was fired from the First Assembly of God Church in 2004.
In Dallas Texas an 18-year-old man and his parents sued the Assemblies of God and the church's ranch for troubled youths, claiming the youth was molested by a counselor at the center. The alleged victim was 16 when he went to Dallas Teen Challenge Boys Ranch in January 1996. It was alleged tat the church Executive Director Paul Ecker employed men with known criminal histories. The alleged victim was according to his lawsuit sexually assaulted and molested on six different occasions by a counselor at the ranch who was a convicted drug trafficker. State regulations made it clear that this hiring of convicted offenders was illegal and yet Executive Director Paul Ecker continued to disregard regulations. Many clients of the Teen Challenge - Assemblies of God facility were court ordered into the Assemblies of God care as a condition of probation, and already had psychological or substance abuse problems. During the day, they performed chores, including caring for livestock, and took part in religious education. At night, they were "locked down" and monitored by alarm systems to prevent unauthorized departures. Employees and volunteers who were participating in an adult substance abuse treatment program called "Life Change" were admitted to the Teen Challenge facility as part of their probation. This was improper according to state regulations. (5/13/98, AP)
In New Mexico, Marty A. Hynes, 33, was charged with eight counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor, three counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor and one count of attempted criminal sexual contact of a minor. Hynes was a youth pastor at the First Assembly of God church when the alleged incidents occurred, between July and December 2001. (Las Cruces Sun-News, March 24, 2003) The allegations came to light after the girl attempted to take her life with over-the-counter medication.The girl testified that after she turned 17 years old, Hynes began to kiss and fondle her, and it eventually lead to sexual intercourse. The church dismissed Hynes from his position shortly after the allegations were made.
See article: Trial of former youth pastor begins
In 1998 in Gainesville, Georgia, Rev. L.G. Gilstrap, a 54 year old Assemblies of God minister, was convicted by a jury on 3 counts of child molestation and sentenced to 33 years in prison for a string of fondling incidents in 1988 involving brothers aged 10 and 13. Eight men testified during the trial that they too were molested by the minister when they were boys. Gilstrap, defrocked, started a new church, New Hope Ministries. Married, he was a former clerk for the Georgia House of Representatives. Three of the eight men who testified against Gilstrap said the minister occasionally took them to Atlanta to serve as House pages. After spending the day working at the Capitol, they said, the minister would take them to an Atlanta hotel and molest them. (Atlanta Constitution, 9/22/89)
Ex-Minister Gets 33-Year Sentence In Child Sex Case: Gilstrap Guilty of 3 Molestation Counts
International Outreach of Teen Challenge and Money Laundering
The hiring of prisoners directly into Teen Challenge is not just in the USA but also is being done in Teen Challenge facilities throughout the world. Teen Challenge has facilities in 80 nations. The Northern New England District Assemblies of God located in Portland Maine with which Shondi Fabiano,(registered criminally convicted sex offender), was associated, also does outreach ministry to Taiwan, Peru, Paraguay, Argentina, the Caribbean, Russia, Chad and Honduras. The Assemblies of God runs their own independent Credit Union in Missouri to facilitate money exchange and sets up personal banking accounts for prisoners in the re-entry program who are employed by Teen Challenge.
In addition Teen Challenge was hiring ex-cons with criminal backgrounds in fraud and money laundering and putting them in charge of fund raising efforts for their operations. In Teen Challenge in Minnesota, Frank Vennes, a man with criminal convictions as a money launderer, was put on the Teen Challenge board and placed in charge of handling financial accounts. Vennes then defrauded numerous Christian donors in an elaborate affinity fraud and was a co-conspirator of the Thomas J. Petters Ponzi scheme. Vennes’ past federal crimes include money laundering, cocaine- and gun-running. Frank Vennes gave tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Governor Tim Pawlenty and former Senator Norm Coleman and former state GOP Chair Ron Ebensteiner all l supported a Presidential pardon from President George W. Bush for Vennes past crimes.
Labor Fraud Schemes, Lack of Workmen’s Compensation Coverage
In 2008 Sanford Florida, Wayne Gray, Director of Sanford Teen Challenge, did a telemarketing fraud scam. This criminal scheme utilized Teen Challenge teens in an abusive environment using them for dirt cheap labor to man the phone bank and paying the teens only 33 cents a day for a 40 hour work week. This time share vacation scam funneled customer’s credit card information over to men convicted of financial crimes. Sanford Teen Challenge director Wayne Gray has resigned in disgrace after a telemarketing scam he oversaw was exposed on WFTV. Gray fled when Action 9 news reporter Todd Ullrich showed up with a camera crew to do a follow-up.
Rather than being fired for violations of child labor laws and telemarketing fraud, Wayne Gray was moved from Sanford Teen Challenge and re-employed by Teen Challenge in Oklahoma City as Executive Director. Sanford Teen Challenge supervisor Danny McCrimon was arrested March 8, 2009 for DUI. McCrimon, who was Operations Director at the Sanford location, was arrested by the Florida Highway Patrol and booked into John Polk Correctional facility on a $2000 bond.
Alan Pauler, a resident of Wichita, Kansas, was accepted into the Teen Challenge of the Midlands program on September 23, 2003. Teen Challenge of the Midlands (Teen Challenge) is a faith-based organization located on an 80-acre complex in Colfax, Iowa, with a smaller “reentry” facility in Omaha, Nebraska, and a non-residential facility in Des Moines. Teen Challenge is a 501(c)(3) corporation. At the time of admission, Pauler did not have health insurance. Teen Challenge does not provide health insurance to its participants—called students. Several staff members are members of Reverend Hunsberger’s family. There are no certified substance abuse counselors at the Colfax site. Reverend Hunsberger distinguishes the “discipleship” program from drug treatment, saying that discipleship is “based on scriptural model,” “eating meals together, hanging out together, and living together in a community.” Pauler was assigned to perform construction work on campus duplexes for use by Teen Challenge staff members. He was also selected to work on several construction projects at off-campus locations for which he was not paid, but from which Teen Challenge benefited financially. Pauler sustained a fractured patella, which required surgery and a laceration to his head which required sutures. He has suffered ongoing pain and restricted movement. Teen Challenge carried workers’ compensation insurance coverage for its staff, but not for participants. Coverage was denied. The court decided that there is no workers’ compensation liability in analogous situations involving individuals seeking spiritual development from organizations that provide room, board, and a work requirement.
Lack of Protection for Mandated Reporter Disclosure by Federal Employees and Whistleblowers
FBI agents report up the chain of command ultimately to the Director of the FBI and the White House. The President of the United States was George W. Bush who had already acted in his official capacity, as Governor of Texas, to protect Teen Challenge from state inspection and regulation and to overlook all complaints of child abuse. This lack of protection from the government happened in spite of mounting evidence of a continuing pattern of coercive psychological, emotional, physical abuse and even sexual abuse at Teen Challenge centers in Texas and other states. When there are disagreements on when to close a case or pursue the matter further, the decision is made based on the U.S. Department of Justice chain of command. When unsatisfied the final decider of FBI whistleblower complaints is the Merit Systems Protection Board and Special Counsel for the Office of Special Counsel. All whistleblower cases from federal employees would end up eventually for review by Special Counsel for the OSC, Scott Bloch. His decision to investigate or close the case and not appeal it at the Merit Systems Protection Board would be final and not subject to further appeal. His was the final decision of the Bush administration Department of Justice.
But there was little chance of any FBI agent being heard when presenting a politically unpalatable whistleblower complaint to the OSC or the Merit Systems Protection Board. So FBI agents and other federal employees who did their ethical and moral duty as federal officers of the US Department of Justice and other investigating federal agencies such as: Health and Human Services, SAMSHA, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Labor would report their whistleblower complaint to the OSC with little hope of a positive outcome. Those dedicated federal employees who were acting as mandated reporters of human rights violations and child abuse, were instead often demoted, stripped of their security clearances, threatened with pension removal and dismissed from their positions as law enforcement officers.
For decades, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) the very agency which was created to protect whistleblowers - was historically involved in tutoring agency managers on how to get rid of inconvenient, outspoken employees. Many of these brave whistleblowers have lost their jobs and life savings, defending themselves from retaliatory investigations, malicious prosecutions, baseless transfers, unwarranted demotions, suspensions, unjustified terminations and other reprisals by their respective government agencies.
Investigation and Allegations Against Attorney Scott Bloch
Scott J. Bloch was removed from his position in October 2008. During his tenure as head of the Task Force on Faith-based and Community Initiatives Scott Bloch turned a blind eye when Teen Challenge staff were accused of abuse of minors and young adults in their programs based on discrimination against them because of their religious beliefs and their sexual orientations. Scott Bloch while at the OSC had ordered his office to erase all references to workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, claiming his office lacked the authority to protect gay and lesbian workers and he also failed to protect LGBT teens from abuse by the staff and “peer mentors” in Teen Challenge. Teen Challenge was also accused of coercive abusive practices against young women who wished to have reproductive choice regarding their own bodies. Teen Challenge was found to do coercive practices against those of Jewish faith as well as other faiths in an effort to force them to accept Jesus Christ. Persons of other faiths were court ordered into Teen Challenge facilities under the false belief that they were treatment programs for substance abuse when in fact there was no medical or psychological treatment component to their programs and there was no licensed professional involved in supervising care in their facilities. Teens in Teen Challenge were "locked down" and monitored by alarm systems, to prevent unauthorized departures. Teen Challenge essentially kept youth in a locked up facility for a year to 18 months in order to force their religious conversion to evangelical Christian faith. While held in these facilities, there was no permitted communication or contact with the outside world not even to family members unless coercive control and oppressive monitoring by Teen Challenge staff. Teen Challenge facilities in both Texas and Florida had been exempted by the state governors - Texas Governor George W. Bush and Florida Governor "Jeb" Bush from licensing requirements and state inspection. Thus staff in Teen Challenge – many, who were recruited directly from the Teen Challenge outreach to jailed prisoners, were at liberty to use the captives for any purpose they wished.
John Ellis "Jeb" Bush served as the 43rd Governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007. George W. Bush served as the 46th Governor of Texas from 1995 until 2000, when he resigned as governor following his election as the 43rd President of the United States. During the years of 1995 through the election of George W. Bush as President of the US - there were no meaningful protections for persons committed to lock up facilities owned and operated by Teen Challenge. Numerous allegations about child abuse surfaced but investigations were shut down without proper explanation and then the governors of Florida and Texas altered state law to exempt Teen Challenge from any state investigations and permitted them to be licensed by an accrediting agency that did no investigations at all and did not report to any governmental agency.
Lack of Human Rights Protections in the USA
The US Attorney Scott Bloch at the Office of Special Counsel did not protect whistleblowers from any federal agency. Teen Challenge abused the children and young adults in their care. If you were a convicted criminal and worked at Teen Challenge no one was going to stop you from doing human rights abuses or criminal activity. Teen Challenge staff and Board members did criminal activity and international money laundering.
Scott Bloch did not enforce the Hatch Act or Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (Veterans’ Rights). Under his tenure at the OSC, veterans were denied their human rights and veteran whistleblowers were denied their appeals. Rather than protecting federal employees from prohibited personnel practices, Scott Bloch actually violated the rights of his own staff.
There was also a complete lack of any Department of Justice protocols to protect human rights defenders, whistleblowers and mandated reporters. This break down in the Department of Justice system meant that we did not have any functioning protections for human rights in the United States of America.
A political strategy furthered by Karl Rove was behind this miscarriage of justice. Scott Bloch furthered that political agenda with his actions both at the OSC and also at the Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives. We need to bring Scott Bloch to justice for what he really did – obstruction of justice, Hatch Act violations, USERRA violations and Prohibited Personnel Practices and put into place appropriate safeguards for human rights and protection for human rights defenders.
Additional Information about the Office of Special Counsel:
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency. Their basic authorities come from four federal statutes: the Civil Service Reform Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Hatch Act, and the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
PPPs & Whistleblower Protection
OSC receives, investigates, and prosecutes allegations of Prohibited Personnel Practices or PPPs, with an emphasis on protecting federal government whistleblowers. OSC seeks corrective action remedies (such as back pay and reinstatement), by negotiation or from the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), for injuries suffered by whistleblowers and other complainants. OSC is also authorized to file complaints at the MSPB to seek disciplinary action against individuals who commit PPPs.
OSC provides a secure channel through its Disclosure Unit for federal workers to disclose information about various workplace improprieties, including a violation of law, rule or regulation, gross mismanagement and waste of funds, abuse of authority, or a substantial danger to public health or safety.
Hatch Act Unit (Political Activity)
OSC promotes compliance by government employees with legal restrictions on political activity by providing advisory opinions on, and enforcing, the Hatch Act. Every year, OSC’s Hatch Act Unit provides over a thousand advisory opinions, enabling individuals to determine whether their contemplated political activities are permitted under the Act.
Hatch Act Unit also enforces compliance with the Act. Depending on the severity of the violation, OSC will either issue a warning letter to the employee, or prosecute a violation before MSPB.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (Veterans’ Rights)
OSC protects the civilian employment and reemployment rights of military veterans and members of the Guard and Reserve by enforcing the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
Employee Information Programs
Section 2302(c) of title 5 of the U.S. Code makes agency heads and officials with personnel authority responsible (in consultation with OSC) for informing federal employees of their rights and remedies under chapters 12 and 23 of title 5. These chapters deal with prohibited personnel practices, whistleblower disclosures, political activity, and access to OSC and MSPB.