Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Mormon Gulag

Besides Mormonism and multi level marketing schemes and scams, Utah is also known for its horrible "Troubled Teen"-industry. Reports over and over again tells of appalling atrocities in Mormon run "boarding schools", teen boot camps, boys and girl ranches, wilderness camps, or "Academies", that more properly could be called: teen concentration camps. Hundreds of young adults, who were lucky enough to survive the systematic brutal torture and abuse at these camps give disturbing testimonials. Many thousands have been mentally scarred for life by the abuse and torture they survived in those Mormon run teen concentration camps. Children and teens who have been to one of these places - often abducted or kidnapped and duct-taped and thrown in the back of a wan and driven to Utah, will end up having far deeper problems upon release. Most often they will never forgive their parents for sending them to these camps and they and their families will suffer the rest of their lives.

The St. George Utah based WWASP camps in different US States and even off-shore, run by Utah Mormon businessmen have already drawn a lot of negative press and investigations and had many of their facilities and operations shut down and had staff convicted of their crimes and neglect. WWASP have payed millions in lawsuits so far.

Lately another Mormon Utah scandal has blown up: A number of survivors from West Ridge Academy - The Utah Boys Ranch are beginning to raise awareness about the abuse, torture and atrocities that took place at the West Ridge Academy.They have chosen to call their website the Mormon Gulag

One of the young men; Citizen correspondent Eric Norwood published an article "Trapped in a Mormon Gulag" an excerpt from his coming book, that raised awareness about this scandalous facility. With his permission I was allowed to republish his story here:

By Eric Norwood

His filthy digit tasted like rust and fish. "I can hurt you without leaving any marks," Brent growled as I writhed in agony on the ground. I struggled for breath as he mounted my back, put his finger in my mouth, and pulled back on my cheek, fish-hooking me. The pain was incredible. I tried to beg him to stop, but the words would not come.

After he finished beating and bludgeoning submissiveness into me, he pulled me up by the rope that was lassoed around my waist. The wool army blanket I had fashioned as a skirt had shifted askew and I stood there in my boxers bleeding from my nose, humiliated.

My green Utah Boys Ranch t-shirt had been ridiculously stretched out and looked more like a low cut blouse. I loosened the noose around my waist and pulled the itchy blanket through the loop and folded it over so it looked like a brown bath towel secured by a belt. He wasn't satisfied, he wanted more. I just wanted out of this classroom. I started to think about how I got here.

The Utah Boys Ranch appears to be a kind of tough-love school with a Christian-esque undertow. My parents thought as much when they employed its services in hopes of corralling their spiritually wayward son.

Being kidnapped was probably the last thing I was worried about at 15 years old. I was staying at my grandma's house that fateful night. My step-dad and I had been at war since I had refused to go to seminary, a church service for Mormon kids in high school that began at the ungodly hour of six in the morning.

I loathed early morning seminary more than the three hours of my Sunday regular LDS church service consumed, or the three hours on Wednesday nights. My opposition, paired with my step-dad's religious fanaticism, resulted in being grounded almost to the point of indentured servitude. Grandma's house was my sanctuary. Ironically, when I looked up at the clock that next morning - as two imposing silhouettes entered the house my mom grew up in - it was five minutes to 6 a.m. on Valentine's Day.

I was camped out on the sofa bed in the TV room with a plate of leftover lasagna from the fridge. It was half eaten and a Roseanne re-run was playing when they first walked in. They looked around as if they had been told where to go, but hadn't quite envisioned it right. They looked to their left, saw the terrified eyes of a 15-year-old, and pounced. They shoved clothes and shoes on me and I was gone before I was able to think about which way I should run. They told me very little. Their first names were Paul and Barry.

Barry was a white guy, a big mother. At least 6'5", and I would not be surprised to hear that he weighed more than 300 pounds, but he was not fat. Paul was shorter and had a darker complexion. He was big too, and meaner than Barry. He turned to me when we first got into their white mid-sized rental car and said, "You have a choice. You can be cool and get on an airplane with us and be there in a couple of hours, or you can sit back there with handcuffs on for the next 12 hours. Non-stop."

"Where are we going," I asked, still in shock. "Utah," Barry answered casually from the passenger seat, without turning his head. "We are from the Utah Boys Ranch, Eric, and your parents have asked us to take you back with us."

"What?" My head was spinning. I felt like I was going to throw up. There is no way that this was happening. My mom would never allow this. Utah? What the hell is a Boys Ranch? I couldn't breathe. "I guess we're driving," Paul said odiously.

I knew the child-lock would be on and as I saw the familiar houses of my grandmother's street pass by, I started to roll down the window. We weren't going fast enough for them to notice yet and the warm Agoura Hills climate didn't tip them off. I rolled it down enough to fit my arm out and open the door from the outside when Paul paused at the stop sign at the bottom of the hill, looked back at me, and stopped the car.

He shoved the gear into park and pulled handcuffs out of somewhere and told me to give him my wrists. I sat there cuffed for a moment when I realized that I really would die from this feeling in my chest - a physical manifestation of angst. My heart was beating furiously, and I knew that I couldn't last 12 hours.

"You can take me on a plane. I'll be cool." "Now that's more like it," Barry said kindly. "My wife will be happy."

The first person I met in Utah was Senator Chris Buttars

I had no idea who he was until that point. All I knew was that he was to be feared, and I was scared to death of him from the moment I first saw him.

"Sit down," he squawked in a loud, high pitched, galling voice that sounded like a cross between a buzzard and an old cowboy. He continued to make it very clear that I was at his mercy. He told me who he was - politically - and the influence he had. If I ever wanted to leave I was to do what he said. "How old are you?"

"Fifteen," I mumbled.

"Three years might not be enough for you. I can have a judge order you to be here until you are 21," he croaked. With that he sent me off to be "changed and put on work crew."

I was led down a long hall of doors with nameplates. I had no clue what kind of place this was. I didn't see any cows or sign of what I thought a "ranch" would resemble. Paul took me into a small room that was no bigger than a broom closet, which was stacked to the ceiling with three colors of cloth, blue, green and brown. There were green t-shirts, blue t-shirts, and blue jeans.

There were also brown army wool blankets, and I remember thinking that I didn't want to sleep under such a coarse covering before I was told to "put it on." I was told to wrap a thick, itchy blanket around my waist like a towel and wear it like a dress.

I was then given a "leash" made of climbing rope and what I think was a square knot to tie around my waist. I had never imagined being tethered and walked like a dog, but here I was, being walked like a dog towards a cluster of about 12 other boys. They were lined up facing a wall while two large men in red sweatshirts watched them from a couple of chairs off to the side.

Some of the boys had camouflage pants on, a few others wore dresses. I wondered how long I was to be in this blanket dress. I was later told that it was so I wouldn't run away - and they were right - I literally could not run in this humiliating getup. I could barely get a full stride walking.

That's when I saw Brent - or 'Captain America,' as he was called disparagingly - for the first time. My leash was handed off to him, but he told me to wrap it around my waist and go join the group of young men who were standing with their noses touching the wall, all spread out about arms length from each other.

I turned to the boy who was standing to my right and asked him how long he had been here, but before I could get my question all the way out, my forehead careened into the carpeted wall in front of me. A sharp pain stabbed the back of my head, and suddenly bad breath filled my nostrils. "Are you talking on my work crew, boy?" a red-shirted man screamed at me.

My head was ringing. I was still trying to piece together what had just happened when I looked behind me and massaged the pain in my head. Suddenly my legs fell out from underneath me and I was on my back. He had just slammed my forehead into the wall, and now he had put his foot behind mine and pushed me, sending me to the floor flat on my back.

He stood over me and bawled, "Don't look at me. Don't look around. Don't you MOVE without permission! You don't do anything without permission! If you talk, I think you are talking about running away, and I will restrain you. Do you understand?" I nodded. I knew then that I had to get out of this place. I wasn't going to last here.

It was only my second week on work crew when Neil Westwood refused to turn his back to Brent and place his nose on the wall, which is what the command "face the wall" plainly meant. It was a Mexican standoff for a few moments. Stunningly it seemed like Brent was going to let Neil get his way. I had never seen an older boy in a pissing contest with a staff member before. The younger kids refused commands, but they were always quickly thumped into docility.

Neil was a big kid, a lot bigger than me - probably 230 pounds or so, and over six-feet tall, but dispelled any image of toughness with his glasses, disproportionately small arms, and frizzy hairdo. Neil was as obnoxious as he was an easy target, but I still can't believe that no one reacted when Brent stood up in a flash of rage and chucked a full, unopened gallon of milk at Neil's face from about five feet away, crumbling him to a pitiful puddle of tears, blood, and non-fat milk.

The work crew was depraved. When they didn't have us facing the wall for hours at a time we were digging ditches with spoons, only to fill them back in again. We made huge piles of heavy rocks taken from the field, the field that both surrounded and contained us, only to be told to move the massive mound to another location. They worked us in ways redolent of Stalin's gulags.

There was an agonizing week of all-day sod laying - with bits of mud and grass sticking to the inside of my wool dress - in preparation for some ceremony the work crew boys weren't privy to. The Scarecrow Festival was even worse. We worked for weeks from eight in the morning till eight at night in preparation and to take down that contrived fall carnival/ fundraiser. Boys wished for death. There was also a dry-cleaning service that they operated somewhere in town, which was supposedly much better than any job on campus - even kitchen duty.

Getting off from work crew meant school during the day, and considerably less work. Some sadist there created a t-shirt caste system that involved wearing either a blue t-shirt or green t-shirt. "Blue shirts" could talk, receive letters (which were opened and read first), talk to their parents, and possibly go off campus.

"Green shirts" were allowed into school, but that was about it. No speaking, sitting, or anything but working or reading LDS literature. A "green shirt" was forced to read the Book of Mormon, in particular the first 22 chapters. We were interviewed by one of the four full-time Mormon missionaries that worked there and had to paraphrase all of "First Nephi" before receiving a blue t-shirt. What good derives from reading the Book of Mormon under duress is anyone's guess, but I did it. I had to. I had to go to church and seminary too.

It turns out that any form of decadence - smoking a little grass, telling your math teacher to sit on it, being gay or bi-curious, sexually assaulting a family member or young girl - is curable by a little hard work, tough love, and Mormon doctrine. Boys with "sexual issues" are housed together in what could only be some cruel showing of satire.

They were constantly being caught jerking each other off onto each other, or, more tragically, assaulting younger boys. Whatever it was, they would be shoved into blankets and thrown on work crew. On Tuesday night they would meet with all the boys with sexual issues and provide remedies like IcyHot on the penis to stifle homosexual urges.

I was kept there until they couldn't keep me any longer, and on my 18th birthday I walked out the front doors into a cold October morning with nowhere to go and nothing but my freedom. If I didn't experience it myself I would not believe a place like this exists. A Mormon gulag.

How do they get away with all of the abuse? The forced religion, the stifling of freedom of speech? Was it legal to prevent us from reporting abuse to authorities, or to restrain us with ropes, wool blankets, and duct tape? Is it legal to force young boys to talk about masturbation with Mormon clergy and missionaries? How does all of this go unnoticed? We were young and naive and didn't know that most of what they did to us was illegal. Buttars was famous for telling us that we had only three rights: food, safety, and shelter. They failed to even live up to those standards.

Besides being callow, we hardly had the chance to report any abuse. They instruct parents to ignore any claims of abuse from their children. They call any complaints from children a manipulation tool - "fear factor" - and instruct parents to be wary of the "tactic" they say they encounter most.

There were also no phones to call the police. No nurses or medical examiners to talk to. No government authorities to check in on us. Incongruously, this Orwellian facility desperately needs government oversight.

Sen. Buttars said it all when he told a reporter, "What sets us apart is that we're the only residential treatment facility that doesn't seek or accept government funding. If we did, they'd control us."

Utah senator Chris Buttars has attracted a lot of negative attention by his racial and anti-gay hate speech - supported by other republican senators and extremists Mormons, who obviously keep voting him into office since he represent their values and opinions and ambitions about a Utah lead theocracy:

Racism that was once the corner stone of the LDS faith still shows its ugly face, but has now been replaced by attacks on the civil and human rights of gays and lesbians, who have become the target and scapegoats for Mormons all over the world, most visibly by their effort to pass proposition 8 in California and the current heated debate about the Common Ground initiative in Utah.

We are outraged by the allegations made against West Ridge Academy. It is our hope that the victims sufferings will be eased and they will fight to bring the perpetrators to justice in criminal and civil lawsuits. So far we have only seen the tip of the iceberg, from what will turn out to become another huge Utah Mormon scandal as more victims and survivors suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome, depressions, suicide attempts and broken lives come forward. I strongly encourage readers to donate money to help the victims get restitution and help to survive the torture they endured at West Ridge Academy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ferocious Apologists of Mormon Sexual Child Abusers in Idaho

One of the worst cases so far, showing how far blind faith LDS members are willing to go to cover up sexual child abuse happened in Eastern Idaho. Journalist Peter Zuckerman, wrote a multi-part story : Scouts' Honour in the Idaho Falls Post Register newspaper.

The story began when journalist Peter Zuckerman and the Post Register began a legal fight to unseal court documents and obtained copies of the court records for civil and criminal lawsuits,revealing multiple instances of sexual abuse by local Boy Scout leaders, including a man named Brad Stowell. In 1997, Stowell had been convicted on two counts of sexual abuse of a minor. What was unknown to the public - and what the court records revealed - was that Stowell had admitted under oath in a court deposition in 1999 to molesting 24 boys, beginning as far back as 1988. And yet, Zuckerman learned, Stowell remained a Boy Scout leader of an LDS Boy Scout Chapter. "Inspired" LDS ecclesiastical leaders, as you will see in hundreds of cases posted on this blog, knowingly harbored a pedophile, because protecting the image of the LDS Church is always more important for the woolf pack of LDS Apologetics, than preventing children being sexually abused.

We will describe the cases, the perpetrators, some of the victims in posts but in this post we will focus on how the LDS members in the area reacted to this "whistle blower". Devout LDS members will always as a knee jerk reaction defend their faith, even when they are totally wrong. Most often they will use character assassination on those who reveal truth that is inconvenient and attack the victims.

The national Boy Scouts of America and its local affiliate, the Grand Teton Council, had hired powerful lawyers to ensure that the public would never have access to the court files and hear the whole story about Stowell. Moreover, one high-level local official of the LDS Church, which sponsors most of the Grand Teton Councils scout troops, was aware not only of the allegations, but also that Stowell had undergone sex offender counseling.

When The Post Register published Zuckerman's Articles in 2005 the paper was immediately accused by the LDS community of being anti-Mormon, anti-Boy Scout and anti-American. Advertisers canceled ads. The newsroom - staffed by many Mormons and former Scouts or Scout leaders - felt the pressure even when, in an open letter to readers, the paper's Mormon-born, Eagle Scout publisher defended the series.

Meanwhile, there was a story brewing behind the stories. The reporter Peter Zuckerman is gay - a detail he and the newspaper considered irrelevant to his reporting. But even before the "Scouts' Honor" stories were published, the Grand Teton Council issued a denial and provided its leadership with guidelines on how to respond to the articles. A wealthy local LDS Businessman Frank Vandersloot, owner of Melaleuca, The Wellness Company, (which Owns Nicole Miller Skin Care) spent huge amounts on ads in the Post Register decrying and attacking what it called biased reporting, and spotlighting Zuckerman's homosexuality, Zuckerman became part of his own story in a way he had never imagined.

Yet, the Post Register continued to uncover and publish documentation of other local Boy Scout incidents of pedophilia, including that of an individual who was convicted in 1991 of raping boys in Utah.

Eventually, Zuckerman left Idaho Falls, run out of town by those who opposed his reporting. But his work at the Post Register on the "Scouts' Honor" series resulted in the public identification of four local pedophiles and, perhaps more significantly, sparked a successful effort by the victims' families to change Idaho law and eliminate the statute of limitations on prosecuting perpetrators of child sexual abuse.

Peter Zuckerman won many National Journalism awards for exposing the sex abuse scandal and the Coverups by the Boyscouts and the LDS ecclesiastical leaders, including the Scripps Foundation's 2005 National Journalism Awards for distinguished service to the first amendment. Frank Vandersloot leading a woolfpack of LDS apologists and the Grand Teton Counsil, however will always be remembered for their dishonorable heartless actions. To this very day they still attack the victims and their families and the Post Register: (also notice comments from a divided community):

Trust us -these ferocious LDS members will never cease to attack the victims and the whistleblowers that exposed their LDS Church leaders and told the truth about them. As we will document in more posts to come, the LDS Boy Scouts Leaders and the LDS Church did not learn anything from this scandal.

The atrocities and coverups was documented in the PBS show: EXPOSÉ: America's Investigative Reports: In a Small town: Links to videos in 2 parts: After this preview trailer.

In A Small Town part 1

In A Small Town part 2

It is our sincere hope that lawsuits will bring justice and restitution to the victims and their families. We will not forget them and they are on prayer lists.

This sex abuse scandal paved the way for removing the statute of limitation on child abuse cases in Idaho. Similar cases involving the LDS Church and LDS Boy Scouts leaders in Oregon removed the statute of limitations in the state of Oregon. It is our hope that this will happen in Utah too, to bring justice to the staggering number of victims of sexual childhood abuse , that LDS Ecclesiastical leaders have covered up. Laywers have work for decades and settlements is going to cost the LDS Church hundreds of Millions of dollars, in settlement out of courts. The lawsuits may be announced by local media, but will in 95 percent of all cases be settled out of court, to prevent the public to from knowing about the astronomical amounts the LDS Church has to pay for the poor leadership of the LDS lay clergy. We estimate that the LDS Church is going to pay at least 5 billion dollars in punitive damages to victims of sexual child abuse. You will not be able to read that in the Ensign magazine! Or hear that mentioned in general conference speaches.

Truth and justice will finally prevail. Ironically it takes a gay man; Peter Zuckerman; to shows us the truth and to do the right thing. The LDS Church and LDS scout leaders and local LDS members however, show us what they really are: a bunch of bigots, hypocrites and ferocious apologists of Mormon sexual child abusers. Matt 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It Has to Stop Now!

President Thomas S. Monson, ecclesiastical leaders and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint: We will no longer remain silent about the sexual abuse of children in the church and organisations affiliated with the LDS Church like Boy Scouts of America.

In spite of the fact that we only see the tip of the iceberg, when various media report about cases of sexual childhood abuse among members of the LDS Church. We know that thousands of sexual childhood abuse cases never see the light of day, and that victims and their families suffer in quiet desperation. We know of hundreds of cases, were local ecclesiastical leaders covered up and silenced victims and their families. We know of hundreds of cases were ecclesiastical leaders on all levels in the church hierarchy harbored sexual child predators and did nothing to prevent them from having access to children in positions of trust. We have letters from families pleading the First Presidency to intervene and stop the spiritual abuse of victims and families, when the perpetrators of the abuse were local ecclesiastical leaders like Bishops. Nothing happened! It has to stop now!

We believe that protecting the image of the LDS Church is less important than preventing sexual child abuse. We find it more important to help the victims of sexual child abuse and their families by bringing perpetrators to justice in worldly courts of law. Over and over, we see that the "Courts of Love" and church disciplinary actions fails to bring justice, restitution, closure and protection to children in the church.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." - Edmund Burke.

Most members of the LDS Church are not aware of the magnitude sexual childhood abuse by LDS Members has. They may have heard of the sex abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church, but think that this could never happen in the LDS Church, where the belief is that the Church is lead by Christ and God, who calls Church leaders to their positions. The authority of these church leaders can not be questioned and this blind faith is part of the problem. "

We have lost our patience and trust in Church leaders ability to handle and prevent sexual child abuse in the LDS Church. By starting this blog and documenting sexual childhood abuses we try to raise awareness to a problem you do not want to hear about. The church pays many millions of dollars every year to victims, that were betrayed by church leaders, who knowingly put "Worthy" priesthood holders and women in callings, where they have access to children, in spite of knowing that they have a history of sexually abusing children - sometimes for many decades.

We are tired of the cover ups, the denial and even persecution of victims and their families, who do not obey the Church's order to keep silent. We even see members of the LDS Church defending the perpetrators and persecuting members of the press. You may think that paying millions of dollars to settle these cases outside worldly courtrooms, so they world will not hear about it, will make the problem go away. You are wrong! As long as LDS Church members keep having blind faith in their ecclesiastical leaders, and do not follow the guidelines to prevent childhood sexual abuse, it will continue to be a problem. Checking all members criminal records or sex offender registries before (Checking with God) "Calling" them to positions in trust of children - must happen in every branch and ward all over the world. Adopting a "better safe than sorry" policy is needed and is a start.

We are going to write about the many cases, were victims and their families were betrayed by Ecclesiastical leaders neglecting their responsibility, and abusing their authority to coverup sexual childhood abuse and worse - failing over and over again to protect children, by harboring these predators. We are going to keep writing and speaking up, until there are no more cases to write about. We are going to keep writing until every victim have gotten restitution and punitive damages. We are going to keep writing to raise awareness about this problems, until policies that prevent sexual childhood abuse are enforced on all levels in the church hierarchy. We care more about our children and the victims, than the image of the LDS Church. It is our hope that you will begin to do the same.

Matthew 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.