Category Archives: Experiences

15-year-old foreign exchange student reports sexual assault

September 30, 2019 a 15-year-old foreign exchange student living at the Pendleton Marine base reported his host-mother for sexual abuse to Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). During their investigation into the matter, NCIS discovered text messages between Nicole M. Wilson and the victim that confirmed what the young exchange student had reported.

The name of the exchange organization was not provided. San Diego Times was one of the news agencies that reported on the case in December 2019.

I have not been able to find any further information regarding this case.

2019: Livermore Valley charter schools update

In a connected post, I have summarized the financial aspects of the charges against the owners of the charter schools. April 28 2019 I was contacted by Eric Dillie (see comment-area below). As you see below he claimed that the entire case had been politically motivated. I started looking into the matter and found his version of event in a blog post:

Captured from Dillie’s Medium blog

In the case of the People of the State of California v. Eric Dillie, Brock Van Wey and Randy Taylor the following charges were laid before the court:

  1. BROCK VAN WEY did, in the County of Alameda, State of California, on or about January 28, 2016, commit a MISDEMEANOR, to wit: ASSAULT AND BATTERY,

  2. BROCK VAN WEY did, in the County of Alameda, State of California, on or about January 28, 2016, commit a MISDEMEANOR, to wit: CRUELTY TO CHILD BY ENDANGERING HEALTH,

  3. Eric Dillie, Randy Taylor did, in the County of Alameda, State of California, on or about January 29, 2016, commit a MISDEMEANOR, to wit: FAILURE TO REPORT CHILD ABUSE,

This was not the first time Livermore Valley Charter that had been involved in a case of child abuse. In 2014 Jason Quero was charged with molesting two students at the school. The judgement in that case was six years prison and the school and Tri-Valley Learning Corp. received two law suits against them because of it.

Not long after the alleged assault in 2016, 17 foreign exchange students were “bullied, intimidated, mocked, and used profanity toward, or witnessed such behavior,” by Principal Eric Dillie, Brock Van Wey and Nina Stoien,” . LVJUD brought up all of the other violations by the school.

  1. 13 notices had been sent by the county,
  2. foreign exchange students were overcharged,
  3. forcible transfers of foreign exchange students,
  4. using the Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory name illegally for marketing purposes in China (here and here),
  5. fiscal mismanagement,
  6. delinquent financial obligations,
  7. irregularities,
  8. problems with accreditation,
  9. lack of transparency and integrity,
  10. lying to county officials, and
  11. failures to comply.

What surprises me is how much white collar crime people get away with before getting the police involved. These are not small sums we are talking about. The new school year was chaotic and confusing. After the accusations of overspending, Mr. Dillie left Livermore for another charter school in September.

In 2017 the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) published its reports regarding the handling of the Tri-Valley schools. It is, at the very least, questionable that former CEO of Tri-Valley, Bill Batchelor, began a new charter school in the same building as Livermore. The story of Livermore basically stops with its bankruptcy June 2017.

In the case of the court case regarding assault and failure to report, March 27, 2018, Mr. Dillie signed a “No Contest” plea and April 17, 2019, the plea in 2018 was set aside and a “Not Guilty” plea reinstated.

#meetoo in student exchange industry

In his article of February 2, 2018 Andrew Binion, journalist with the KitsapSun, writes about 73 year old Larry Iversen who was sentenced to five days in jail for abusing a 17 year old student.

According to the court, Iversen did not use any “power to persuade or coerce the teen”. The student was an exchange student with Rotary’s youth exchange program over which Iversen was Youth Exchange Officer for East Bremerton Rotary and also worked to establish safety guidelines for exchange students in USA.

In these #Meetoo times it shouldn’t be too much to ask that judges see things for what they are. At least Rotary International had the decency to ban Iversen from any and all Rotary clubs.

Her host family discovered the relationship, but not until the exchange student left their family. They had lent the exchange student their smart phone. On it they found nude photos of the exchange student along with messages to and from Iversen. It may well be that the student intended that the predatory  behaviour be discovered as no attempt had been made to delete the pictures that were found on the phone.

CIEE false marketing

Too often, host families are not given enough information about what it means to be one. The sending organization tends to promise too much in their marketing. My experience with most of the organizations is that they are glorified travel agencies and like travel agencies, their level of service depends on the guide/local coordinator you get. This review was found on YELP.

I believe in international education, but I do not recommend the CIEE high school summer abroad program. I had a very negative experience regarding the treatment of my child and several other students in a 2017 summer program in Europe. I was dismayed by the condescending and unhelpful interaction I experienced with the high school abroad support team staff based in Portland, ME. If you are considering this program for your child, please go beyond the glossy webpage, rosy reviews, and the lure of scholarship opportunities at your child’s high school and ask lots of questions. Ask for the full names and email and phone information of the local CIEE staff overseas as well as of the support team in Maine. Try to contact them. Ask for the contact information of other participants’ parents in case of emergency. Try calling the 24/7 emergency number in the evening. Ask if your child will be sharing a room with another exchange student or living in a house full of exchange students. Know that there are many high school study abroad programs to choose from

Abuse

Since its founding in 2005, CSFES has been contacted by students who have been abused. Each and every year. Only a tiny amount of  exchange students who are abused contact us. We know there are many more who need help. At least that is what this study from 1999 shows. I have found no other research regarding abuse against international exchange students.

Anyone can be abused. There is no way to tell who is an abuser by the way they outwardly look or act. Abusers look just like you and me.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse includes pinching, pushing, grabbing, shaking, smacking, kicking, and punching. In 2016 we had a case where the exchange student was beaten so bad he had to go to the Emergency. He was surprised by his host-mother and host-brother, taken out back and beaten. Due to surprise and shock, the student had not been able to defend himself. The host-brother’s fists (nothing else) were marked by the beating. Unfortunately, the exchange organization representative deleted the pictures the exchange student had taken with his phone showing what he looked like. In spite of written documentation of the damage to him, the exchange student was blamed and returned to his parents.

Report physical abuse and tell your parents. ALWAYS tell your parents, take pictures and send them as soon as possible.

Sexual abuse

In 2017 Miami Dade Herald reported on the case of the sexual abuse of at least 12 girls. The predator married two of his victims and had started the process of manipulating the another. The exchange organization, CCI Greenheart, that had placed 11 of the girls, apparently did a background check on the predator but had not found his record of sexual assault from 1985. This predator is far from the only exchange student case that has come to the attention of media.

In most cases, sexual abuse does not go this far. It all depends on how good the abuser is at what they do. Unfortunately, it also  depends on the exchange organization taking the students seriously. In the above case, CCI did not. When that happens, many students give up.

As soon as you hear people tell you that you should keep whatever happens to yourself, contact your parents. ALWAYS keep your parents up to date about what happens to you and what your days consist of. I have worked with some of the students and families who are sexually abused. Sometimes the exchange organization works with the student. Other times, we have to fight to get the student to safety. Most of the time chance plays a part in whether or not CSFES, or other similar organizations, are asked for help.

Emotional abuse

This is the kind of abuse we see most often. Emotional abuse can happen on its own or together with other kinds of abuse. If you are sexually or physically abused, you will, most likely, be emotionally abused. Realizing what is happening can be difficult. Manipulators know how to gradually trap you. Some of the situation can be:

Day by day your situation worsens. Every day you are blamed for something or told that you are not good enough. Nothing you say or do makes things better. You feel the old you disappearing into a miserable person.

Blaming you for what they do. The abuser might say something like “If only you were better behaved, this would not have happened.”

You might be treated as a servant rather than a family member.

You might be kept from having contact with new friends, your family or friends at home or other adults in the area. We often hear exchange students tell us that their coordinator asks them to keep the situation to themselves.

Humiliation seems to be popular. One student told us about her host mother who would say embarrassing and untrue things about her to her friends. That kept her friends away. Others have told us about host-parents or coordinators who spread rumours.

Threats of self-harm happens. One student spoke of a host-mother who depended so much upon their talks that she said she would die if the student was not there. The student stayed longer than was good for them, but fortunately they were able to move.

Telling you that you are ungrateful for your “lovely host-parents who were kind enough to welcome you into their home”. Especially host-parents who are friends with the coordinator can cause trouble. In most cases, the exchange students gets blamed for everything that happens.

Threats of being returned to your home. Another favourite. Particularly exchange organizations use this threat. They might even demand that you sign a document where you are blamed for the situation.

When the exchange student is the abuser

This does happen. Not very often, but when it does, the abuse can be any of the above. Again, tell the exchange organization right away.

Should you be an exchange student?

Many factors determine whether being an exchange student is a good choice. No matter which exchange student option you choose, grades, finances, health, diet, religion and politics all influence your ability to fit into a new culture by yourself.

Alone

The most important factor involved in making your decision is that you must realize that once you have left home to travel to a new destination you are all by yourself. Everyone in your new culture will judge you based upon the cultural rules they understand.  No one really cares about the rules you grew up with. Not your host family, not your international coordinator and not the school you attend. Usually people will cut you more slack than their own young people, but theirs are the rules you must learn. Even if the people you live with are related to you, you will still be judged by the cultural rules that apply to their family.

Grades

The schools you attend will be in a completely different language. All of your subjects are in a different way to what you are used to. The grading system might be a bit different. You need to have AT LEAST a C average to even consider going. A higher grade point average makes adjusting easier. If you have a D or F average, you need to forget about going or work hard to change it.

Finances

No matter how you travel as an exchange student, it will cost you. A lot of money. Travel fare, passport, visa, tuition, housing, food, pocket money, clothing, vaccines, and so on. It all adds up. If you travel with an exchange organization, they will take care of the plane ticket to your destination and getting you a representative. In some instances your fee goes up because they pay the host family for having you. Even if you travel with an exchange organization and the host family is free, you still need to pay for passport and visa, pocket money, any special dietary needs, travel to the airport, clothing and so on. If you estimate using at least 10 000 Euro/USD all together, you have a starting point. How will you get that money?

Sometimes stipends are offered in the host-country or by the country you are travelling from. Your parents could be well off. Maybe you need to save up to it. If things turn bad, you risk losing all that money. Especially if you travel with an exchange organization. Are you willing to take that risk?

Health

Any country you travel to demands that you be of good physical and mental health. Some countries require vaccines. You will have to do a physical, pay for insurance and answer lots of questions. Remember to be honest. Allergies, ADHD, Aspergers, dietary requirements, diabetes, epilepsy, and so on. Be honest. It could go very bad for you if you lie.

If you struggle with PTSD, eating disorders, depression or anxiety, it is likely that your mental health problems will increase. Why? New food, new cultural rules, new family rules, and so on affect mental problems. In rare cases I have heard of people becoming better, but in those cases their home family situation has been far from ideal.

If you are travelling with an exchange organization, and have informed them about allergies or other sensitivities, you still risk being placed in a family you shouldn’t be. How would you deal with that?

Diet

Vegans and vegetarians have a harder time being placed. Particularly vegans. You will most likely have to buy and make your own food. Can you handle living with a family that eats meat. Most families you end up with do. If your religion has particular dietary requirements, how will you handle that?

Religion

Many students struggle with this aspect of life, particularly if they end up in a place that has the opposite view of theirs. Sometimes the conservatism is so strong that it becomes abusive. Whether that conservatism is Muslim, Christian, atheist, Jewish or any other choice out there, ending up in a belief system contrary to your own requires a lot of an exchange student. Will you be able to keep your mouth shut and remain polite? Too many Muslims are placed into conservative Christian families who try to feed them pork products. How will you handle an abusive situation?

Politics

New cultures mean new political points of view. Who is to say that yours is better than theirs? They won’t think so. Will you be able to refrain from criticising people who have wildly different political views?

These are some of the things you need to think about before you choose the exchange student life. It could end up being an amazing year but might also end up being terrible.

Unsanitary conditions

Exchange student life brings with it many challenges. Some you can work through. Some you can live with. And some you must do something drastic about. Changing your host family ought to be OK, part of the learning process of dealing with new people and new cultures. Exchange students are youngish when they are thrown into a completely different culture with rules they do not understand. Host families are supposed to help the exchange student understand the cultural do’s and don’ts.

A common problem is the one described below. Exchange students are NOT in a country to be free labour for the host family. Chores are to be expected, but not being treated as an unpaid worker. As some of the advice at the link states – talk to your exchange organization, your teacher, the school that sent you there or the person in charge of your stay. Most of all talk to your parents about the situation.

In the below post there is one thing that is more of a cultural matter than the host-mother being against the exchange student. There is massive focus on doing well in school in Japan. Comments on the need to choose something more intelligent would usually be meant as wisdom. Exchange students have to remember that cultures are different and they would do well to study their intended culture before they go there. Especially adult-child relationships.

“I will be in Japan for an entire year. I have been here for a month and I have been very unhappy with my host family. They seem to think that I came to Japan only to clean their house and change my personality completely. Here is the thing, they are dirty, 15 years older than my own parents, busy, and confrontational. I cant deal with it anymore. I have cried so many times and its all because of something that one of them said to me or my host father lying about me or something like that. I want to be happy and whenever I even THINK about my host family I feel like crying. I dont want to stay with them any longer or else I will turn into a bad person. My host father is a lier and my host mother thinks that I shouldnt seek my dreams and that I should become a different person. Everyone knows that I want to be either a singer, model or actress but she had the nerve to say, “I dont think you should seek talent Krys, I think you should do something more intelligent.” I need help.(Yahoo answers)

Host family nudism

Exchange students are expected to adapt to their host-family’s culture and try to follow house rules, however, there are limits. Some exchange student representatives do a terrible job when vetting a potential host-family. Or, perhaps, they are lied to.

In this example an exchange student asks what to do in the case of host-family nudism. Answers range from disbelief to telling the exchange student to get out of there as soon as possible. I tend to agree with the person who thinks that the host-family should put their nudism on hold while hosting. If they are unable to do that, then they should not be a host-family. Oddly enough, nudism is an issue that turns up with host-families and/or exchange students. When in doubt, always use caution in how to share your personal culture. Nudism is rare in most countries.

I am staying with my exchange student and her family in Germany. She and I are both 16 and she has a 9 and 21 year old sisters and both her parents. All her family are nudists. I told them that I don’t feel comfortable with them being nude all the time but they said that it is unhealthy to be insecure about your body. The dad is at work most of the time so they say it’s all okay because we’re all girls.

They don’t have locks on the bathroom doors and when I’m having a shower they just walk in to brush their hair or clean their teeth and they see me naked. My exchange student and I have to share a bed and of course she sleeps naked. They said they are borrowing another bed from their friends but they are still waiting another week. They only wash clothes once or twice a month because they only need them for going out. I have to wear the one dress to school for a whole week because of it.

They’re really nice people and everything but I am staying with them for three months and don’t want to feel uncomfortable staying with them for so long. I don’t want to report them to my supervisor teacher or anything like that because I don’t want them to get in trouble. What else can I do to stop having to feel so uncomfortable around them?

Host families who bully

There are many reasons for changing host-families. Everything from not having the right chemistry to severe abuse (sexual and/or otherwise). An anonymous guest writer on Nationality Unknown reveals a common problem with host-families, one that can be difficult for outsiders to understand. This type of bullying might well be the result of not enough information about what it means to be a host-family, which is so much more than room and board.

“When I arrived at my first host family I was extremely excited. It took a while for my exchange organisation to find me one, which was extremely nerve-wracking (you must understand this struggle). When I finally got to meet them it was the first time I had heard about them, and also the first time they heard about me, which was a little odd. When getting the news they were allowed to host an exchange student, they didn´t even know what gender I was going to be. I had a sister and a brother and our house, even though it was small, it was truly amazing. It seemed everything I had hoped for.

Yes the weeks passed by and these little things weird things came up all the time. They ignored the fact that I had already been learning a lot of the language. From all of the arriving exchange students, I was one of the most advanced when it came to language, yet whenever they had a chance they would remind me that I wasn´t good at all, that I couldn´t understand anything. And not as a joke, or as constructive criticism. They also tended to be confused on where I was actually from, even after one month and me repeatedly telling and explaining them. It sounds silly, but it feels so bad when people don´t know or don´t recognize where you are from. When you go on exchange you get so confronted with your nationality and your identity, and when people don´t see that it´s like you are some ghost. A weird ghost that doesn´t fit in there, but apparently also doesn´t have a clear home.”

Fortunately, this exchange student was able to change families and their story turned out well. Staying on in the first host family would have destroyed the exchange student’s self-esteem. At least, that has been CSFES’ experience.

Several exchange students have shared their experiences on Nationality Unknown. Experiences range from gruesome to pleasant.

Schüleraustausch: Wenn das Auslandsjahr zum Albtraum wird

Published by Bayerischer Rundfunk on Mar 22, 2017

Lars Wollebekk taken to court by Danish parents

Lars Wollebekk is the owner of Language Education (Aspect), Denmark and Speak High School, Denmark. In Denmark and Finland exchange student travels are equated with package tours. After all is said and done, that is exactly what these trips are. The exchange organizations arrange the flight, housing (host-parents), a guide (local representative) and activities (school and travels). The Danish newspaper, BT, wrote a great piece covering the process the exchange student family has gone through: from signing the contract until the judgement was passed in Østre Landsrets.

“Det var den 13. november 2013. Kristian var blevet sendt hjem fra et udvekslingsophold i USA mere end et halvt år før tid efter kun to måneders ophold……

»Han blev meget nedtrykt og lukkede sig meget inde i sig selv. Han følte, han havde svigtet, men også at der ikke var blevet lyttet til ham. Det tog ham over to år at komme nogenlunde på fode igen,« siger Jesper Hjorth til BT.

Men allerede kort efter, at sønnen kom hjem i utide, begyndte Jesper Hjorth at undre sig. Hvorfor fik de som forældre ikke noget at vide om problemerne, før sagen allerede var eskaleret? Og hvorfor blev Kristian sendt hjem af udvekslingsbureauet Language Education Danmark uden at have fået de foregående advarsler som deres regler ellers foreskrev?

Jesper Hjorth var også uforstående overfor, at Kristian endte hos en mormonfamilie i Utah, selvom forældrene flere gange gennem hele forløbet havde krævet, at sønnen netop ikke fik en værtsfamilie med den trosretning.

Splittede familien

Nu har Jesper Hjorth efter en lang og opslidende kamp gennem mere end tre et halvt år fået Østre Landsrets ord for, at udvekslingsbureauet Language Education Danmark forbrød sig mod deres egne regler og procedure, da de sendte Kristian hjem. Dels havde han ikke modtaget nok advarsler, før bureauet skred til hjemsendelse, og dels fandt retten ikke beviser for, at det ifølge loven i Utah er ulovligt at se pornografi…….

Pakkerejse-ankenævnet dømte til familien Hjorths fordel, men ankesagen ved Retten i Lyngby vandt Language Education Danmark, før Østre Landsret i april slog fast, at bureauet havde forbrudt sig mod deres egne regler i forbindelse med hjemsendelsen…..

‘Blev udsat for psykisk pres’

Under retssagen kom det frem, hvad der skete i Utah i tiden op til at Kristian pludselig fik en returbillet til Danmark. Og det er oplysninger, som chokerede Jesper Hjorth dybt.

Efter at Kristian var blevet taget i at kigge på Side 9-piger på sin egen computer hjemme hos værtsfamilien i Stansbury, Utah, hev koordinatoren fra Education Danmarks amerikanske samarbejdspartner Aspect High School pludselig fat i ham.

BT er i besiddelse af en udskrift af den omkring 30 minutter lange samtale, hvor Kristian blandt andet blev spurgt ind til sin barndom, mentale tilstand og om han havde et pornografi-problem. Kristians svar fik koordinatoren til at konkludere, at den 17-årige danske dreng burde tage til lægen, så han kunne henstilles til en psykiater.

Som sagt så gjort. På Kristians 18 års fødselsdag tog værtsfamilien ham med til lægen. I retten bevidnede Kristians amerikanske værtsmor, at det var Language Education Danmarks partner i USA, Aspect, som bad hende tage det skridt.

»Det fortæller noget om det psykiske pres, junior har været udsat for derovre,« siger Jesper Hjorth.

Han og Kristians mor hørte først om samtalen med Aspects koordinator og lægekonsultationen, da sagen kom for Pakkerejse-ankenævnet i efteråret 2014, selvom Language Education Danmark var blevet informeret, allerede mens det stod på.

Lægen i Utah konstaterede, at Kristian var lidt bedrøvet på grund af tilvænningen til livet så langt væk hjemmefra, men at han ellers var en ganske normal teenager. For en sikkerheds skyld henstillede lægen dog Kristian til en psykiater, fremgår det af lægeerklæringen, som BT er i besiddelse af. Muligheden for medicinering mod depression blev endda diskuteret.

»Jeg er meget chokeret over, at det her overhovedet kunne ske uden vores samtykke – og at vi ikke engang fik noget at vide om det,« siger Jesper Hjorth.

Men Kristian nåede aldrig at tale med en amerikansk psykiater. For en uge senere blev han uden yderligere varsel sendt hjem til Danmark.

Mentale problemer som undskyldning for hjemsendelser?

I Education Danmarks regelsæt står der, at det er hjemsendelsesgrund, hvis ’den studerendes fysiske eller mentale helbred er i fare.’ Jesper Hjorth sidder med en fornemmelse af, at netop den formulering var årsagen til, at Aspect pressede på for at få Kristian til lægen.

»Jeg tror, de bruger det som undskyldning til at få unge sendt hjem, hvis der opstår problemer,« siger Jesper Hjorth.

Han påpeger, at en norsk pige, som døjede med hovedpine efter at have pådraget sig hjernerystelse i en motorcykelulykke, pludselig fik konstateret depression af en læge, som Language Education Danmarks samarbejdspartner Aspect havde sendt hende til. Kort efter blev hun sendt hjem på baggrund af bekymring for hendes mentale tilstand.

BT har forelagt Jesper Hjorts kritik for Language Education Danmarks direktør Lars Wollebekk, men han ønsker ikke at kommentere den. Men i retten lod han forstå, at det ikke er ’sædvanligt, at en student hjemsendes på grund af mentale problemer, men hvis sådanne problemer opstår, må man reagere på det.’

Det fremgår af Østre Landsrets dombog fra retssagen.

Pas på bureauernes fælder

Ovenpå sine og Kristians oplevelser med Language Education Danmark har Jesper Hjorth en klar opfordring til de mange danske forældre, som overvejer et udvekslingsophold til deres børn:

»Jeg vil ikke anbefale andre at sende deres børn på udvekslingsophold.«

Jesper Hjorth savner kontrol med bureauerne fra myndighedernes side og mener også, at forældrene burde have mere indflydelse på, hvilken værtsfamilie deres barn havner hos…..

Language Education Danmark blev af Østre Landsret dømt til at tilbagebetale Jesper Hjorth 40.000 kroner, svarende til prisen for den del af Kristians udvekslingsophold, som sønnen på grund af hjemsendelsen gik glip af. Men på grund af nogle tidligere udtalelser til medierne om Language Education Danmark i sagen blev Jesper Hjorth sideløbende dømt til at betale Language Education Danmark 20.000 kroner i injurier. Derfor ender den samlede tilbagebetaling til Jesper Hjorth på 20.000 kroner.

Derudover skal udvekslingsbureauet betale Jesper Hjorths sagsomkostninger på 25.000 kroner. Ifølge Jesper Hjorth dækker det dog på ingen måde de advokatudgifter, han har haft i løbet af de tre et halvt år, sagen har kørt.

»Jeg undrer mig over, at jeg efter at have fået rettens ord for, at hjemsendelsen var i strid med reglerne, skal stå tilbage med et underskud på næsten 100.000 kroner på at have kørt sagen,« siger Jesper Hjorth…..”

The entire article is found BT’s website.


Translation to English:

Something was the matter. Jesper Hjorth could see it right away when he saw his 18-year-old son Kristian for the first time in three months. Kristian had been looking forward to living one of his dreams. Instead, it became a terrible – and several years long – nightmare, both for him and the rest of the family.

It was November 13, 2013. Kristian was sent home from an exchange stay in the United States after only two months stay, more than half a year before time. He was embarrased, depressed and the feeling of having failed shone from the young man.

During the exchange in a Mormon family in the state of Utah, Jesper Hjorth’s son had watched Page 9 girls, although the rules stated he could not watch pornography. Therefore he was sent back to Denmark in disgrace. Even the parents were disappointed with Kristian’s behavior.

“He was very depressed and became introverted. He felt he had failed but also that he had not been listened to. It took him two years to recover, “says Jesper Hjorth to BT.

After his son had been home for a while, Jesper Hjorth started to wonder. Why did they, as parents, not know anything about the issues before the case escalated? And why was Kristian sent home by the exchange agency Language Education Denmark without getting the prerequisite warnings?

Nor did Jesper Hjorth understand why Kristian was placed with a Mormon family in Utah, in spite of the parents having repeatedly stated that their son was not to be placed with a  family of that faith.

Now, after a long and difficult struggle, and more than three and a half years, Jesper Hjorth has finally received judgement from Østre Landsret that Language Education Denmark  broke  their own rules and procedures when they sent Kristian home. First of all, he had not received enough warnings before repatriation, and secondly, the court found no evidence that watching pornography in Utah is illegal.

“This matter has split our family apart. I’ve felt really, really bad for a long time, and spent several years getting justice for my son. It has affected my family a great deal, “says Jesper Hjorth, after the Østre Landsret settled the case and sentenced Language Education Denmark to repay the family 20,000 kroner.

Pakkerejse-ankenævnet had previously passed sentence in favour of the Hjorth family, but the appeal case by the Court in Lyngby favoured Language Education Denmark, and then finally Østre Landsret found in April that the agency had violated their own rules in connection with the return.

“We were incredibly happy that judgement had finally fallen. Junior is happy that he now has the word of the court that the return was not his fault. This was the end of a three and a half years nightmare for our entire family and of course our son, “continues Jesper Hjorth.

BT has been trying to get a comment from Language Education Denmark’s director Lars Wollebekk, but he has not wanted to comment. In an email, the exchange organizantion’s attorney, Thomas Donatzky, says that Language Education Denmark is “happy with the verdict, and that it has been noted and followed”. He notes that the bureau lost the case because they could not prove that Kristian had received enough warnings before repatriation – not because Language Education Denmark was not entitled to repatriate Kristian on the basis of breach of the rules.

‘Was exposed to mental pressure’

The trial revealed what happened in Utah previous to Kristian suddenly getting a return ticket to Denmark. This is information that shocked Jesper Hjorth deeply.

After Kristian had been caught looking at page 9 girls on his own computer at home with the host family in Stansbury, Utah, the coordinator of Education Denmark’s American partner Aspect High School suddenly took charge of him.

BT is in possession of a printout of an approximately 30-minute interview, where Kristian, among other things, was asked about his childhood, mental state and if he had a pornography problem. Kristian’s answers led the coordinator to conclude that the 17-year-old Danish boy should go to a doctor so he could be referred to a psychiatrist.

As said so done. On Kristians 18th birthday, the host family took him to the doctor. In court, Khristian’s US host mother stated that it was Language Education Denmark’s partner in the United States, Aspect, who asked her to go to that step.

“This says something about the psychological pressure that the junior has been exposed to over there,” says Jesper Hjorth.

He and Kristian’s mother first heard about the conversations with Aspect’s coordinator and the doctor’s consultation when the case came up at the Pakkerejse-ankenævnet in the autumn 2014, even though Language Education Denmark had been informed at the time this was going on.

The doctor in Utah found that Kristian was a little sad because of the cultural adjustments so far away from home, but that he was otherwise a normal teenager. Just in case, the doctor referred Kristian to a psychiatrist according to the medical certificate that BT possesses. The possibility of medication against depression was even discussed.

“I am deeply shocked that this could happen at all without our consent – and that we did not even know anything about it,” says Jesper Hjorth.

But Kristian never got to speak with an American psychiatrist. Without further notice, he was sent home to Denmark a week later.

Mental problems as an excuse for repatriation?

Education Denmark’s rules state that the student’s physical or mental health is at risk is one reason for repatriation. ‘Jesper Hjorth feels this wording was the reason Aspect pushed for a doctor’s appointment for Kristian. “I think they use it as an excuse to repatriate young people if problems arise,” says Jesper Hjorth.

He points out the Norwegian girl who suffered from a headache as a result of a concussion from a motorcycle accident, out of the blue was diagnosed with depression by a doctor that Language Education Denmark’s partner Aspect sent her to. Shortly after, she was sent home on the grounds of concern for her mental condition.

BT has submitted Jesper Hjort’s criticism to Language Education Denmark’s director Lars Wollebekk, but he does not want to comment on them. But in court, he said that it is unusual for a student to be repatriated due to mental problems, but if such problems arise, one has to react. ‘

As shown in Østre Landsret’s judgement journal from the trial.

Watch out for the traps of the agencies

Due to his and Kristian’s experiences with Language Education Denmark, Jesper Hjorth has this advice for the many Danish parents who are considering an exchange stay for their child:

“I do not recommend that others send their children on an exchange.”

Jesper Hjorth wants more control of the agencies by the authorities and also believes that the parents should have a greater influence on the host family to which their children are sent.

“The agreement you sign is the agency’s agreement. It is formulated by the agency. I recommend that parents request a parallel agreement in which the agency is legally required to inform in writing about any problems during the stay as soon as they arise and how they will be handled. This allows parents to take action immediately if problems arise, “says Jesper Hjorth, adding:

“After all, you can’t expect the young person to contact mom and dad if there are problems.”

Language Education Denmark was sentenced by Østre Landsret to repay Jesper Hjorth NOK 40,000, corresponding to the price of the part of Kristian’s exchange stay that his son missed because of repatriation. However, due to previous statements to the media about Language Education Denmark about the case, Jesper Hjorth was sentenced to pay Language Education Denmark $ 20,000 in damages. Therefore, the total repayment to Jesper Hjorth is DKR 20,000.

In addition, the exchange agency must pay Jesper Hjorth’s legal costs of 25,000 kroner. According to Jesper Hjorth, however, this does not begin to cover actual legal expenses he has incurred during the three and a half years the case has been going on.

“I find it strange that after receiving the court’s judgement that the return was in violation of the rules, I am left with a loss of almost 100,000 kroner due to keeping the case going,” says Jesper Hjorth.

The editor is informed about Jesper Hjorth’s son’s real name.

Japanese exchange student finds her host-parents dead

There are situations that no exchange student should need to face. Finding host-parents who have died in a murder-suicide crime is obviously one of those. Exchange organizations often deny any responsibility in cases like this. In this case, the domestic turbulence seems to have been an ongoing problem. What happened during the background check? Carol Hopkins at The Oakland Press reported on the findings in this case April 2, 2016.

Pictured is the home on Kelsey Boulevard where an Orion Township couple was found dead in a suspected murder-suicide. Carol Hopkins-The Oakland Press
Pictured is the home on Kelsey Boulevard where an Orion Township couple was found dead in a suspected murder-suicide. Carol Hopkins-The Oakland Press

Mark and Maria-Aurora Renusch were found inside the home, dead from fatal gunshot wounds in what Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies are calling murder-suicide.

The Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the names…..

A 17-year-old Japanese exchange student who lived at the home found the couple dead, authorities said. Both the man and the woman suffered fatal gunshot wounds.

The girl, who was uninjured, told investigators she heard the couple arguing Thursday night — a situation that had happened before, she told officials…..

Schüleraustausch in den USA “Das echte Amerika ist der reinste Albtraum”

  1. Juli 2017, 18:52 | Von Christian Gschwendtner

Viele Schüler träumen von einem Jahr in den USA. Doch Rückkehrer berichten auch Horror-Geschichten: Unterbringung bei einer Schwerkranken, winzige Zimmer oder Mäuse am Bett. Nur Einzelfälle?

Für Lennard Weber gibt es zwei Amerikas. Eins, das er aus Youtube-Videos kennt. Und eins, das er selbst gesehen hat. Er sagt: “Das echte Amerika ist der reinste Albtraum.” Im August 2016 fliegt er rüber. Ein 16-Jähriger aus Jena, der an einem Highschool-Austausch teilnimmt, wie etwa 6000 deutsche Schüler jedes Jahr. Sie bewerben sich bei einer deutschen Organisation. Im Idealfall werden sie genommen, eine amerikanische Partnerorganisation vermittelt die Gastfamilie. Los geht’s. Doch nicht immer sind die Gastfamilien so, wie die …

The rest is found on SZ.de

Ernest Arnold arrested for sexual abuse

Yet another case sexual abuse in Florida. This time in Altamonte Springs. The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office released a statement saying that Ernest Arnold had been charged with two counts of Lewd and Lascivious Behavior with a minor.

Deputies said the allegations came about after a teenage foreign-exchange student told authorities her host father had sexual contact with her on two separate occasions.

Investigators said Ernest Alfred, 32, and his girlfriend are hosting the exchange students for four weeks this summer. (WFTV9ABC)

I’m glad exchange students and language students who travel to the US are starting to report their abuse to the police. Media is also doing a great job of reporting these cases. That is the only way CSFES finds out about many of them. Once we do, CSFES contacts the police to see if there is anything we can do for the police or the exchange-/language student.

Dale and wife arrested for sexual abuse

Miami Herald’s David Ovalle and Kyra Gurney did an outstanding job in their July 07, 2017, article in describing sexual grooming. Dale Leary and his wife Claudia Leary hosted female exchange students in their home in 8531 Sw 185 Terrace, Cutler Bay, Florida, for several years. The exchange organization was CCI Greenheart. Dale Leary divorced Claudia so he could marry their exchange student. Claudia lived with Dale until she and Dale tried to kill themselves.

The police believe there are many more victims of the couple. If you, or someone you know, lived with Dale and Claudia Leary in Cutler Bay, Florida, please do not hesitate to contact the police at Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIP. Some tips are subject to a $1,000 reward.

Dale Leary and Marta San Jose Aranda. From San Jose Aranda’s public FB page. Edited to show only the couple.

Dale Leary died of apparent suicide this week as investigators widened a probe into the middle-aged marketing and tech executive’s relations with a string of young female foreign-exchange students he hosted in his Cutler Bay home.

He had married one student from Spain just after she turned 18 then, detectives believe, coaxed his new wife into luring her even younger teenage relative across the Atlantic into a web of sex acts and porn. It all happened while his longtime first wife, a Miami-Dade schools administrator, remained living in the home.

… Detectives believe there might be numerous victims and are asking them to come forward.

… Detectives are now trying to figure out whether Leary’s ex-wife, Miami-Dade schools administrator Claudia Leary, 47, participated in or aided in the sexual abuse of any students.

… the investigation has also turned to Chicago-based CCI Greenheart, a nonprofit that cleared students to live with the Learys — even though Dale Leary had a felony conviction for sexually assaulting a woman in Coral Gables in 1985. So far, authorities in Miami-Dade have not gotten a response from a subpoena sent for records from CCI…

From all appearances, Dale and Claudia Leary seemed the ideal hosts for international exchange students.

She was a longtime Miami-Dade schools administrator, he an advertising and tech consultant claiming Fortune 500 companies as clients. Together, they lived in a large four-bedroom house with a manicured lawn in a leafy Cutler Bay neighborhood.

They began hosting Marta San Jose when she was a 16-year-old high school student. She attended Palmetto High. Miami-Dade Police said that after San Jose completed her junior year of high school in 2013, she and Leary flew to Spain to ask her parents to allow her to stay in Miami for her senior year. They agreed.

… Before San Jose’s senior year was done, records show, Leary divorced Claudia and married the teen — just days after she turned 18.

Not long after, San Jose began coming to Leary’s office every day purporting to be an intern, while Claudia remained in their lives, one former co-worker told the Herald. He said no one knew the two had divorced or that Leary had married his visiting student.

Back in Spain, police said, San Jose’s parents had no clue the two had become lovers. The couple later persuaded the parents to allow her sister, 14 at the time, to come visit Miami, too. The younger girl did not come to the U.S. as part of a CCI Greenheart program, the company said.

Leary and San Jose began “manipulating” the underage girl into believing she had been sexually abused by her parents, something that hadn’t actually happened.

San Jose’s relative, now 16, told police the two began to have sex in front of her and asked her to let Leary perform sex acts on her, saying it would help her deal with being a sex-abuse victim. They convinced her to join them in sex acts more than seven times. Another time, the sister told police, they plied her with alcohol before shooting photos of her only in high heels.

The girl later returned to Spain and repeated the abuse allegations against her own parents to authorities there, leading to their arrest. The charges were unfounded and dropped.

Miami-Dade detectives last month arrested San Jose and Leary on charges of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under 16, possession of child pornography, engaging in a sexual act with a familial child and contributing to the delinquency of a child. Detectives seized an array of computers, hard drives, iPhones, cameras, two journals and 11 documents and five folders pertaining to the foreign-exchange students and programs, according to search warrants filed in court.

San Jose remains jailed, in part because she is unable to post bail because she has nowhere to stay. “We’re looking into all aspects of this case, and showing prosecutors that she may be a victim as well,” said Jorge Viera, her defense lawyer.

… a family friend called 911 after finding Leary’s running car in the back of his Cutler Bay house, a hose running from the muffler to the window, sealed with duct taped. Inside the rear passenger area was Dale and Claudia Leary.

Paramedics could not save Dale, while Claudia was rushed to Jackson South Hospital. She remains hospitalized and is expected to survive. Suicide notes were found in the car and house.

With Dale Leary dead, the criminal investigation has shifted to Claudia, an administrator based at the J.R.E. Lee Education Center in South Miami. …

Between January 2010 and October 2011, the State Department received reports that 118 exchange students had been the victims of sexual abuse or harassment, according to a 2012 report from the department’s Inspector General, the most recent data publicly available.

… The Inspector General has pushed, with limited success, to improve background checks for potential hosts.

Leary’s public record, it seems, would have raised an immediate red flag. He was convicted in 1986 of breaking into a home and tying up a woman, sexually assaulting her at gunpoint. Records of his conviction are easily accessible through a $24 Florida Department of Law Enforcement criminal-background search and via Miami-Dade online court records.

CCI Greenheart said hosts get in-person, in-home visits from program coordinators who “regularly communicate with our students to ensure their experience is consistent with our standards.” The hosts are also subjected to “independent third-party background checks.” CCI Greenheart would not identify the company it uses to do background checks.

… Contacted on Thursday, the State Department said it needed more time to answer questions about requiring FBI-based fingerprint searches for host families. A spokesman said in an email that the department monitors exchange programs to ensure they follow existing federal regulations.

You can read the entire article at the Miami Herald

2017: Fransico Sousa, wrongfully accused, received settlement

Gary Warth with the San Diego Union Tribune reports the settlement between San Diego State University and Francisco Sousa.

….. Francisco Sousa was a 20-year-old foreign exchange student from Portugal when he was arrested by SDSU police Dec. 9, 2014, and charged with sexually assaulting and imprisoning a woman near campus. ….

Sousa denied the accusations and the charges were dropped in January 2015, but the school would not lift the suspension. He sued SDSU that April to demand information about the accusation against him, ….

The school lifted the suspension against him that September, and Sousa later sued for monetary damages and to seek an apology from SDSU for sending a campus-wide e-mail announcing his arrest.

Besides the monetary award, the settlement changes the record of his arrest to a police detention, and the school has agreed to additional training for employees who investigate sexual assault claims.

Specifically, the settlement states three employees would be sent to a Civil Rights Investigator Training and Certification course or a similar training program.

Another settlement agreement refers to the Clery Act, a federal law that relates to crime reporting, security and the prevention of and response to sexual assaults at publicly funded colleges and universities. The settlement will result in the school’s Clery director and campus police participating in a webinar about “timely warning notices and immediate notifications.” …..

“My main objective was to vindicate my name.” …

Sousa had worried that the arrest and suspension would prevent him from getting a job, which was one of the reasons why he continued to fight the school to clear his name.

Lombardo said he had asked campus police to change Sousa’s arrest record to a detention, which iscommon after charges are dropped, but they refused. …..

The entire article can be read at San Diego Union Tribune

 

 

Joshua Perez accused of sexual battery and exposing himself

In the below article, Kiri Blakeley of Daily Mail writes about the January 2, 2017 arrest of Joshua Perez, age 28, at Valencia Flores Apartments in Orlando, Florida. Perez was charged with Sexual Battery and Exposure Of Sexual Organs. Florez admitted to having sex with one of the girls several times, but claimed it was consensual. The abuse came to light when he exposed himself to the other victim.

Joshua Perez, 28, of Orlando was charged with sexual abuse in connection with two foreign exchange students 
Joshua Perez, 28

… Joshua Perez, 28, of Orlando, Florida, is facing charges after being accused of forcing an exchange student to have sex with him multiple times while she was living with him.

He is also accused of exposing his genitals to another foreign exchange student.

Both victims were reportedly from Vietnam…

Perez faced a judge Tuesday … Perez, above, bailed out of jail on Tuesday night …

The entire article can be read at Daily Mail

Name: Joshua Perez, Orlando, FL 32825
Booking #: 17000171, Race: White, Gender: Male, Ethnicity: Hispanic, Age: 28, Cell: BRC-MBF-NA
Case: 482017CF00070AO, Orange County Sheriff Office
794.011(5) Felony/Second Degree: Sexual Battery – Not Likely to Cause Injury
800.03 Misdemeanor/First Degree: Exposure of Sexual Organs

Another student abused in Arkansas

In 2012 the Brian Williams from NBC wrote an article called Foreign exchange students sexually abused in program overseen by State Department. It was about exchange students who had travelled to the United States with the exchange company ERDT. The three boys in the article had all been sexually abused by people who should have been part of their support network. The article elicited a lot of comments. One of those was the below by Alexia Wilder. You can read the original comment at

Rock Center with Brian Williams

I was an exchange student in Arkansas as well under YFU program. I was from Venezuela an 8 million people city and ended up in Cabot, Arkansas, a town of barely 5K people where half of it were Ku Kux Klan! even my host father!

My host mother was an old lady who lost a child ages ago and she pretended I was that child. She never listened to me and wanted everything her way. She used to dig into my things and tell everyone what I had in my closet, the entire town knew about the kind of underwear I had! seriously even kids at the school. When I tried dating she called the parents of my date and started talking about me and counting every minute. They knew that coming from school took 10 minutes, if it took 15 they asked me why it took so long and they called the people I was with. Total espionage.

I spoke to my field agent but the case was not “a danger” and if I kept complaining I was going back home. For the field agent it was too much trouble finding em a new place. So I had to find one myself.

I manage to speak to my Sunday school teacher who was willing to take me. And I do not even remember what happened that I finally moved to my second family but my first host mother called them and spoke to his wife telling her loads of things about me and when I got to my second family there was a big fight between my new host mother and my new host father. I stayed any way and everything went fine until I went back home.

But trust me… things can get very traumatic and when I went back to Venezuela the other people that came back had similar experiences, we became good supportive friends after that and I started to work for YFU as a counselor for the kids that were living or arriving to Venezuela.

2017: Bruce McAllister may have been sexually abusing exchange students for several years

https://i2.wp.com/www.mugshotsnow.com/fl/9-hernando-county/full/43320722-bruce-mcallister.jpg
Bruce R McAllister HCSO17MNI001480 from mugshotnow.com

Sexual predators come in all shapes and sizes. Discovering one is often a matter of chance, as was the case when a complaint was made to Florida Department of Children and Families. People around them often find it difficult to believe that the abuser could possibly have done what they are accused of doing. Some of them are pillars of their societies. Such is the case with Bruce McAllister from Brooksville, Florida.

Bruce McAllister is 68 years old and married to the principal of Hernando Christian Academy. Cathy McAllister is currently on administrative leave. Bruce was a volunteer at the Hernando Christian Academy McAllister where he “assisting in the physical therapy training of athletes” by giving massages. After the school were contacted by investigators they fired him. He was also a volunteer with the Hernando Sheriff’s Office until his arrest. Until the investigation began, McAllister was considered a pillar of his society.

Hernando Christian Academy is a private Christian school in Brooksville, Florida. They welcome foreign exchange students into their school and the homes of their students’ parents as an opportunity to be missionaries “to share the love of Jesus Christ in your own home“. Foreign exchange organizations, such as Three Way International, find host-families through the Academy. Each family can (but do not have to) receive $600 per student to offset their expenses. They are asked twice about criminal background and/or sexual misconduct.

Cathy and Bruce McAllister began hosting foreign exchange students in their home in 2006 and have been part of the Hernando Christian Academy exchange program since. Bruce McAllister has had contact with many more boys in his role as what he claimed “a physical therapist and an expert in sports medicine”. From what the investigators have uncovered, he groomed the boys actively from the time exchange students arrived in September of the school-year by using his position as an assistant with the school teams. The first case was from 2006, the year the McAllister’s began hosting and the police believe it is likely that there are several potential victims. In addition to sexual massages, McAllister also served the boys alcohol.

Bruce R. McAllister was arrested May 11, 2017 by the Hernando Sheriff’s Department and charged with with five counts of sexual battery by a custodian of a person between the ages of 12 and 18 years old, and 27 counts of battery. His victims, this year, were from different European countries. Bail was set at $77000. After he was released on bail, Bruce and Cathy left the area without notifying authorities, but were picked up by The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office. Bruce R. McAllister is now considered a flight risk.

If you have something to report regarding Bruce R. McAllister of Hernando Christian Academy in Brooksville, Florida, PLEASE contact Detective Pasternak at (352) 540-3800, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-990-TIPS and hernandocountycrimestoppers.com.

2017: Schroder pleads not-guilty. Trial August 2017

Joshua Schroder
From Goodyear Police Department

Joshua Michael Schroder was arrested February 2017 and charged with nine counts of sexual conduct with minor and two counts of contributing to delinquency of minor.

His victim was a Swedish foreign exchange student for whom he was the sponsor’s coordinator/representative. The student’s host-parents reported their suspicions to the police.

Schroder began grooming the exchange student shortly after her arrival. From September until Schroder was arrested in February, the abusive relationship escalated. 600 texts were sent between the two the month before Schroder’s arrest in addition to the sexual contact.

Schroder’s trial begins August 2017.

 


Maricopa County Supreme Court

The Arizona Republic

Buckeye 4 Locals

Student sent home without reason, according to host-parent

While details vary from exchange student to exchange student, many students are sent home even though the host-family wishes them to stay. That can happen any time from the very beginning to the very end of the exchange. In this case, Gail Rosenblum speaks of how AFS tried to send the student home a month before graduation.

Star Tribune

By Gail Rosenblum | June 3, 2009 — 9:38pm

… Abdullah arrived in Minnesota last summer with an AFS-affiliated program called YES (Youth Exchange and Study). …

Abdullah’s stay got off to a bumpy start. He smoked cigarettes (but has since quit), and bought knives for target practice, neither of which sat well with his first host mother. …

Abdullah was removed from his first home in the fall (which happens with 25-30 percent of exchange students) and was placed briefly with Noel Evans, an Eagan attorney, before moving in with Mullaley and her family. …

Evans and Abdullah got along so well that, when Evans returned to Saudi Arabia in March, she contacted Abdullah’s mother, Seham Farah, and they became friends. Evans invited Seham to visit Minnesota as soon as she could secure a visa, …

Evans was unaware that the AFS handbook requires that parental visits be approved ahead of time. Last Friday, an AFS spokeswoman called Mullaley to tell her that Abdullah would be shipped home a month early — missing graduation. … Evans called AFS to say that Seham’s visit was her idea. Besides, as she and others noted, Abdullah … was picked as Unsung Hero for helping a teacher, volunteered with elderly neighbors, and spoke to younger students about Saudi life. He also brought up his algebra grade from an F to a B. …

Late Tuesday, an AFS spokeswoman called Mullaley with the news that Abdullah could stay through the weekend. …

Evans is now working on behalf of Abdullah’s 16-year-old sister, who has been barred from the program because of her brother’s case. …

The entire article can be read at Star Tribune

2016 Jan 26: Coffman guilty of sexual abuse

Cleveland

By Adam Ferrise | updated January 26, 2016 at 11:42 AM

Edward Coffman, 37, pleaded guilty to one count of gross sexual imposition, a fourth-degree felony. Summit County Common Pleas Judge Todd McKenney sentenced him Tuesday to the maximum prison term for the charge. … The 14-year-old girl was living with a host family in central Ohio. She visited Akron to meet with Coffman’s family, who was friends of the host family.

Coffman flirted with the girl two days prior to the assault. He assaulted girl July 18 or 19, 2014 at his home … Akron police began investigating after the girl reported the incident to her host family and went to a Columbus-area hospital for treatment. … Police matched Coffman with DNA found the girl’s sexual assault kit.

The entire article may be read on Cleveland

Request for information about Charles T. Ritz III, California

CSFES has just received information that the police are investigating Charles T. Ritz III (65), better known as Chuck Ritz, for sexual misconduct that goes as far back as 1975 and may have continued up until recently. We have been told that some of his victims may have been earlier exchange students from at least Austria, Finland and Germany.

The first allegations against Mr. Ritz came from people who had been his students in Lake Bluff School District, Chicago, Illinois, during the period of 1975-1985. In June 2016, they contacted the Lake Bluff Police Department.

At the time of the alleged abuse, the students informed school authorities of the matter. The school superintendent, Edward Noyes, chose to not contact police or prosecutors. Instead, the school district consulted their insurance company and attorneys. Nor did he disclose this information when he was contacted by other school districts. According to ABC7, Chuck Ritz “was allowed to resign and even paid more than $22,000 on the way out of the door.”

During this period, another allegation of sexual misconduct was brought against Mr. Ritz in Florida by two teenagers. One of the alleged victims was a student of Mr. Ritz and the other was the boy’s girl-friend.

When he left Illinois for more attractive fields, Mr. Ritz went to Orange County, California. He worked in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District at La Habra High School until May 2016, when this case was brought to light. The number of allegations against Charles Ritz indicate a serial abuser. Such abusers seldom stop. Experience teaches which victim will keep quiet.

If you have information about Mr. Charles (Chuck) T. Ritz III, please contact the Committee for the Safety of Foreign Exchange Students through Lise Lotte M Almenningen at margarethesdatter (at) csfes.org or the CEO of CSFES, Danielle Grijalva, at dgrijalva (at) csfes.org or the police in California through Detective Forgash of the La Habra Police Department at JForgash (at) lahabraca.gov


Media links:


Copied, with permission, from CSFES Finland

2016: STS: Orlando, Florida, USA

Chaotic room 2
Chaotic room 2

When exchange students have had a wonderful or decent time during their language course or exchange semester/year, it can be difficult for them to accept that there are many students who have poor or horrible experiences. Very few students find out about the organizations (like CSFES) that are willing to help them find a way to solve their problems when their exchange agency fails them. Students are even told by some exchange firms that CSFES is not a serious organization.

Most youth who go on some form of language travel have a decent time. Sadly, many do not. They are placed in homes that aren’t prepared to take care of them. One such student is a 14 year old Finnish boy who went on a language trip to Orlando, Florida with STS. Considering the state of the host-house we are shown, CSFES is troubled, once again, by the apparent lack of background checks. It is obvious from the state of the house, that the owner had been struggling for quite some time. However, many students are placed in such homes. Thankfully, the Finnish language student took pictures and filmed the state of the host-house. He, and the the other three students living in the home, had to pay for food that the host-mother was supposed to provide. When he bought food, the host-mother ate most of it. You will see that sleeping space was tight. The rule that most exchange/language organizations follow is no more than two students per room unless the room is very spacious.

Laundry pile in host home
Laundry pile in host home

In addition to problems with the host family, the organization did not keep its promises regarding activities the students had been promised. This student found out that other students in other places and homes had completely different and safer homes and representatives. From the video, pictures and post, what this student went through was a clear case of neglect by the host family and STS.

Finland’s country manager, Mira Silvonen, tried to claim that the boy had not gone on a trip this year. This is how most of the organizations respond to complaints, by denial. That is what frustrates parents, students and helpers most: The complete inability to admit that the exchange service is at fault for choosing the wrong host family.

Towards the end of his recollection, the former Finnish language student informs us that a Swedish student, who had written a poor review, was offered money by STS to remove his review.

Radtke sentenced for sexual abuse

David Edwin Radtke deemed sexual predator

Pastor charged with sexual assault of exchange student
By Paul Walsh Star Tribune | May 27, 2011 — 9:00pm

A 52-year-old Lutheran minister has been charged in Sibley County with fondling a high school foreign exchange student as he massaged her while she nodded off in the family’s home.

The Rev. David E. Radtke of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Gibbon, Minn., posted bond Thursday after being jailed and charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Radtke was arrested Monday while working at a Lutheran church in Clyman, Wis., about 50 miles northeast of Madison, and was returned to Minnesota. Assistant County Attorney Don Lannoye said Radtke was not trying to flee prosecution, but was in Wisconsin on business.

“I just can’t handle this,” the student, a 16-year-old from Madrid, said in a text message to the minister’s wife, according to the charges. “What happened is not legal in any place of the world and you know what I mean!”

Radtke, his wife and their son all approached the girl at various times, acknowledged the molestation earlier this month and asked her to forgive him, the charges added.

The girl moved in with the Radtkes in August 2010, upon the departure of an exchange student from Finland, the complaint read.

According to the charges:

The girl told a sheriff’s deputy that Radtke gave her back massages once every two weeks or so between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. At times, she would fall asleep.

On May 17, as she lay on the couch, Radtke rubbed her legs until she fell asleep. She awoke to find him molesting her inside her underwear. …”

The rest of the article may be read at Star Tribune

2015 Dec 4: CIEE lacked housing for their summer workers on Outer Cape

Provincetown | By Peter J. Brown | Banner Staff | Posted Dec. 3, 2015 at 10:01 AM | Updated Dec 4, 2015 at 3:09 PM

PROVINCETOWN — The stream of foreign students with J-1 visas coming to the Outer Cape for summer jobs could be cut, a major sponsor of the program has warned local officials. The reason is the lack of adequate housing.

The nonprofit Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), based in Portland, Maine, contacted Provincetown community housing specialist Michelle Jarusiewicz in mid-October to convey its unease, she told the Community Housing Council two weeks ago. “CIEE is concerned about the limited housing available, and apparently the U.S. State Dept. is concerned, too,” she said. Unless something is done, Jarusiewicz told the council, “they are not going to deem this as an appropriate place for J-1 students. They will be directed elsewhere and employers here would not be able to hire them.”

On Nov. 23 the Provincetown selectmen met with Jarusiewicz and agreed to sponsor a roundtable to discuss the gravity of the situation and what might be done about it. It will take place in mid-December.

The J-1 or “summer work travel” visas are issued to full-time college students from abroad “to share their culture and ideas with people of the United States through temporary work and travel opportunities,” according to the State Dept. (They are not to be confused with H-2B or other temporary visas.) …………….

The rest of the article may be read on Provincetown

Reblogged: 2011/2012 STS EXPERIENCE (CANADA)

Translation of: 2011/2012 STS KOKEMUS (CANADA)

The Helsinki District Court sentenced STS Kielimatkat to refund €6.505 (US$7.105) to Finnish Salla Rautiola due to unfair dismissal and numerous other breaches of contract in their exchange student program.
Sallas case has been mentioned and partly presented in MOT documentary, «Vaihto-oppilas heitteillä«, «Exchange student neglect exposed». Let Salla’s exchange experience be a warning about what an exchange student year can be like in reality.

STS provided the host family information in July 2011, one month before the departure date, but withheld the information they had received the day before from STS CANADA that STS could not fulfill the French-speaking program. Instead, Salla would have to be placed with an English-speaking family.

IN CANADA:

As a host family, STS had chosen a 62-year old single Jamaican immigrant who for the most part socialized with her own relatives and culture and who spoke only Jamaican creole. The Canadian life-style or traditions were not present in any way in her filthy and moldy house. In the Helsinki District Court, as STS witness, a former male exchange student, who had lived in the same house a couple of years earlier, told the court that the host mother never cleaned. He witnessed that it was his and another exchange student’s responsibility to clean the house. At that time there was still a vacuum cleaner in the house. During Sallas stay there was no vacuum cleaner in a house with wall-to-wall carpet. This witness also told the court how the basement was used as a living room where they watched TV and used the computer. STS Finland country manager, Mira Silvonen, continued insisting that the condition of the home was suitable for an allergic person and gave up to seven different explanations (move, cellar, store etc.) for the pictures Salla had taken of the house. The shocked child protection officials in Finland stated that they would not even temporarily place a minor in conditions like that. Responsible for this host family’s approval as a host family for an allergic minor for ten months was area representative Sandra Hanniman/STS Foundation Canada.

Within two months, Salla started to get allergic reactions from all the dust and mold (picture). She could not go to school, but the host mother did not let the school know about Salla’s absence as required, something STS later blamed Salla for and issued her a warning about. Because of her strong allergic symptoms, Salla asked both the host mother and the area representative, Sandra Hanniman, to take her to see a doctor, but the host mother stated that: «The doctors don’t know anything» and the area representative said: «Let’s see».  As parents we had to get the medicine here in Finland and mail them as express to Canada. Instead of helping Salla get to the doctor, STS Canada area director Kim Berry decided to issue a warning to Salla regarding her host mother not informing Salla’s school about her absence. Salla was invited to STS Canada office 14. Nov. 2011. Salla had written a four page complaint about all the problems and failures on STS’ part so far:

  • There was no school placement arranged by STS when Salla arrived. Salla was turned away from Gisele la Londe-school, because they had no knowledge of the exchange student. It took almost a week to arrange a school placement.

  • The host mother left for five days leaving Salla alone with the allergic symptoms. The host mother did not leave any contact information to Salla and strongly forbad Salla to inform STS about her absence.

  • The host mother did not check her mailbox despite Sallas request. Salla had no key to the mail box. The expensive medication we had sent from Finland lay in the mail box nine days before Salla finally got them.

  • The host mothers fierce mood swings raised questions. She could be laughing and dancing by herself, but in an instant lose her temper and throw dishes to the floor. Once Salla saw a ziplock-bag on the kitchen table and the host mother told her not to touch it and that it was marijuana. As parents we became worried about that and asked STS to investigate. Despite the pictures taken of the supposed marijuana bag, STS only threatened to issue another warning to Salla for spreading unfounded rumours. The local representative, also the host mothers best friend, stated that she did not believe it was marijuana. That was all STS did. Case closed. …

The rest of the article may be read at CSFES Norway.

2015 Aug 28: Rape charges dropped against former Butte High exchange student

Further investigation, victim’s family’s desire for privacy lead to rape charges being dropped

August 28, 2015 10:15 pm | Kathleen J. Bryan kathleen.bryan@mtstandard.com

Further investigation and the victim’s family’s desire for closure contributed to charges being dismissed against a 19-year-old Belgian man accused of sexual assault, the Jefferson County attorney said Friday.

Still, Laurent Dhondt, a former Butte High foreign exchange student, must comply with the terms of an agreement reached in Boulder district court on Tuesday, Mathew Johnson said.

In the deferred prosecution agreement filed Tuesday, Dhondt is required to “conduct himself as a law-abiding individual and will not commit any criminal offense” for a period of one year, Johnson said.

“Technically the charges are dismissed; however, the defendant must still abide by the terms” of the agreement, he said.

Johnson said Dhondt was formally charged based on investigative reports from law enforcement officers, adding that the “charges were necessary” at the time. Further investigation, coupled with the victim’s family and her desire for privacy, led to an agreement between the county attorney’s office, Dhondt and his attorney, he said.

“Part of the nature of why there is an agreement in this case is because the victim’s family is quite sensitive over this matter and wishes to have privacy and closure. And I believe this resolution at least provides closure as long as the defendant abides by the terms of the deferred prosecution agreement,” Johnson said.

Dhondt will return to Belgium to finish school Sept. 5, his attorney Herman “Chuck” Watson III of Bozeman, said Wednesday.

Dhondt was charged in July with sexual intercourse without consent, a felony, after a 17-year-old girl reported the alleged assault took place at the Headwaters Country Jam near Three Forks on June 26.

As part of the agreement, Dhondt underwent a psychosexual evaluation that came back as normal, Watson said.

Dhondt also agreed to pay restitution to the 17-year-old victim for any medical or counseling expenses and to provide a written apology to be forwarded to her by the county attorney.


2015 July 07: Former Butte High exchange student from Belgium charged in sex assault

2015 May 16: Exchange student injured by bison in Yellowstone Park

Posted:   05/16/2015 02:12:15 PM MDT

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — A 16-year-old girl has been gored by a bison in Yellowstone National Park while posing for a picture near the animal.

The National Park Service says the unidentified girl’s injuries were serious but not life-threatening.

The agency described her as an exchange student from Taiwan who was visiting the park with her host family.

The incident occurred shortly after noon Friday in the Old Faithful area.

The Park Service says she and others were between 3 and 6 feet from the bison when she turned her back to the bison to have her picture taken. The bison took a couple steps and gored her.

The girl was airlifted to an area hospital.

The Park Service advises visitors to stay at least 25 yards away from bison in the park.

@ 2015 The Associated Press.

2012 May 05: Colerain community grieves loss of students

5:09 PM, May 4, 2012  |  0 Comments

Two teen girls were killed in a car crash with a semi tractor-trailer May 4. Senior Miranda Lane, 17, of Colerain Township, and her passenger, Mathilde Jessen, 16, a junior, of Green Township, were pronounced dead at the scene of the 4:15 p.m. crash, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office. This photo shows where the truck came from the left on Rt. 127 towards the intersection with 73.
Two teen girls were killed in a car crash with a semi tractor-trailer May 4. Senior Miranda Lane, 17, of Colerain Township, and her passenger, Mathilde Jessen, 16, a junior, of Green Township, were pronounced dead at the scene of the 4:15 p.m. crash, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office. This photo shows where the truck came from the left on Rt. 127 towards the intersection with 73. | The Enquirer/Tony Jones

The other was a foreign exchange student who thrived on travel and wanted to roam the world capturing stories as a photojournalist.

But in the blink of an eye, they were gone.

The lives of Colerain High School junior Miranda Lane and her passenger, junior Mathilde Jessen, were cut short 4:15 p.m. Thursday when Miranda failed to yield at a stop sign to a semi tractor-trailer on U.S. 127 and Ohio 73 in Butler County.

The two were pronounced dead at the scene.

Now, three families – one an ocean away – and a local school community of more than 2,200 students are grieving.

Both girls were honor roll students who were well-liked among classmates, their families said.

Mathilde worked two jobs in her native city of Svendborg, Denmark, until she could afford to enter into a foreign exchange program at International Student Exchange. She arrived in August and has spent the past year living as an American teenager, absorbing the culture and fitting in with her host family.

“She wanted to know what America was like,” said Elaine Schumacher, 54, a receptionist at Colerain High whose family hosted Mathilde in their Green Township home.

Miranda attended classes part of the day at the high school and also was enrolled in a health-tech program at Butler Tech in Fairfield Township. She, too, was close with her family and envisioned a life of serving others.

“She was a wonderful person inside and out,” said Miranda’s aunt, Donna Henderson of Florence.

The two girls were close, said Pauletta Crowley, spokeswoman for Northwest Schools. Grief counselors spent Friday at Colerain High, talking to students.

Miranda was driving a Honda Civic when the Butler County Sheriff’s Office says she failed to yield at a stop sign to an oncoming tractor-trailer driven by Steve Fish, 48, of West Harrison, Ind. He was uninjured.

A third vehicle, a pickup, was also struck. Its driver, Edward Schatzle, 61, of Milford Township, was taken to University Hospital with minor injuries.

The crash remains under investigation.

Steve Fish’s wife, Donna, said her husband has been advised by his company not to discuss the incident. But she said he feels terrible about it and tried to stop his truck after the Civic pulled out in front of him.

“He is requesting prayers for the girls’ families,” she said.

Both girls, who were wearing seatbelts, died of internal injuries, said Andy Willis, an investigator with the Butler County Coroner’s Office.

Miranda was en route to her prom date’s house in Oxford. She was going to pick up a permission slip for her mother to sign so she could attend Talawanda High School’s prom Saturday night.

Mathilde went along for the ride.

Miranda’s royal blue prom dress with pink sequins was still at her Colerain Township home Friday. Her family plans to bury her in it.

“She loved blue. It was her favorite color. She just turned 17 on April 29,” Henderson said. “I can’t believe this happened. It is like a bad dream and I am going to wake up and see her face here.”

Miranda was close to her entire family, especially her mother, Cheryl Biehl, and considered her a best friend.

“Cheryl is devastated,” said her cousin Shelley Henderson of Florence.

Relatives said Miranda’s mother, who declined an interview request, knew something was wrong when her daughter didn’t return from the trip or respond to text messages and phone calls.

A law enforcement official arrived at their home at 8:30 p.m. When Biehl saw him at the door, she knew her daughter was gone.

In Green Township, Elaine and Bob Schumacher’s family planned a big dinner celebration Friday, Bob’s 55th birthday. Instead, the family mourned Mathilde’s death.

She fit right in with the family, accompanying them on a hiking and camping trip over spring break to Cumberland Falls in Corbin, Ky.

“She wasn’t a foreign exchange student with us,” Elaine Schumacher said. “She was a family member.”

Their youngest child, Maria, 17, was the same age as Mathilde, and the two became as close as sisters. She even called Elaine Schumacher “Mama.”

“She felt like my daughter. I loved her as my daughter and disciplined her like my daughter,” Schumacher said, breaking down into tears. “And I grieve for her like a daughter.”

When sheriff’s deputies broke the news to the family Thursday night, she said she requested that International Student Exchange alert Mathilde’s family in Denmark, where she leaves behind her parents, a twin sister and younger brother.

Mathilde’s international status presents a bit of a challenge. Her body must be held here about two weeks and cannot be flown home until U.S. and Danish officials identify it. Once her body leaves the Butler County Morgue, it will be held at Frederick Funeral Home in Colerain Township.

When services are held in Denmark, the Schumachers plan to attend.

Elaine Schumacher said she spoke on the phone with Mathilde’s mother Thursday.

“They are beside themselves, but she did tell me she didn’t think Mathilde could have been in any better place in America than where she was. She knew she was getting the experience of a lifetime and was thrilled for her daughter.

“I told her how sorry I was and she said ‘Elaine, don’t be sorry. There was nothing anyone could do. We both shared a beautiful girl.’ “

2010 Jun 17: Children abroad used in welfare fraud

sahra
Last year, Copenhagen municipality found 380 cases where parents continued to receive child benefit and additional housing benefit although their children no longer resided in Denmark. | Foto: Sten Jørgensen © DR

Kilde: B.T.

17. jun. 2010 10.51 | English

Children living abroad – some of them undergoing so-called re-education – are widely used in welfare fraud, writes daily newspaper BT.

Last year, a Copenhagen municipality control group working on a large welfare fraud project found 380 cases where parents continued to receive child benefit and additional housing benefit although their children no longer resided in Denmark.

The fraud is discovered when schools report back to the municipality thta children don’t show up for class after the holidays because they are now studying abroad – while the municipality continues to pay out additional benefits for children below the age of 18. Parents no longer have the right to benefits once their child has not resided in Denmark for a period of more than six months.

Copenhagen municipality emphasizes that not all the cases involve children on re-education in their parents’ country of origin. There are also cases of Danish children now attending schools abroad, while the parents cash in on benefits.

2006 Feb 22: Student Exchange Programs an Unregulated Industry

©Gloucester County Times | By REESA MARCHETTI Staff Writer

Guzel of Sterlitamak, Russia, 15 years old, plays basketball and enjoys running. She likes music, literature and dancing and is in the choir. She has two younger brothers. Her teacher says, “She is rather modest, kind, polite and ready to help others.”

As described in a foreign exchange student agency brochure, inviting a youngster like Guzel to stay in your home may sound like a wonderful way to promote international goodwill and expand your cultural awareness.

But recent problems encountered by a host family in Pittsgrove Township have led many people to wonder who regulates the agencies that bring in these students — and what is the cost, to the families, the students and the school districts.

Gitte Hommelgaard, 18, of Denmark has become the object of controversy since she arrived in Pittsgrove last month to stay with the Pokrovsky family and attend Arthur P. Shalick High School there.

Because the school had recently changed its exchange student policy to require 90 days notice to register a foreign student, Hommelgaard was denied admission. Her host mother, Sandy Pokrovsky, appealed the school board’s decision to the state department of education and won emergency relief to enroll the Danish teen at Schalick.

According to the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET), the agency that placed the Danish student should have secured written acceptance from a school official before sending her to the Pokrovsky’s home.

The CSIET, however, is a strictly voluntary system of self-monitoring to which exchange agencies may apply. Adhering to such standards is not legally required in order for an organization to place students from other countries in U.S. schools — and homes.

There are no regulations that control how or when foreign exchange students attend New Jersey’s public schools.

Rich Vespucci, a spokesman at the N.J. Department of Education, said those issues are handled by local boards of education.

“It is a local decision,” Vespucci said. “There aren’t any state regulations that apply to it.”

Nationally, exchange agencies are self-regulated via several voluntary programs. The United States Information Agency (USIA) designates non-profit organizations that meet their requirements, and authorizes them to issue applications for one-year student visas.

The national Association of Secondary School Principals’ CSIET sanctions both non-profit and private agencies who voluntarily submit to their guidelines. Many agencies, such as the Cultural Academic Student Exchange (CASE), which placed Hommelgaard in Pittsgrove, are designated by both the USIA and the CSIET.

Legally, agencies do not have to register with either one in order to arrange student exchanges. Students do not need an agency to get visa applications — they may obtain the visas for themselves, or school principals here or abroad may arrange for the student to get them.

The USIA has a booklet with more than 40 pages of regulations, and operating and financial criteria, that organizations must meet in order to become USIA-designated.

So how does this federal agency monitor its 1,100 exchange programs, of which approximately 70 deal exclusively with high school students? USIA public liaison Bill Reinckens said the only way his office can regulate them is when a complaint is received.

“It is handled on a case by case basis until the situation is resolved,” he said. “We don’t have the staff and resources to be pro-active in our monitoring.

“However, we do a lot more than respond to complaints. We handle the general administration and procedures involved in conducting these exchange programs. As part of this effort, there is constant dialogue and a regular relationship between the USIA and the program organizations we designate.”

Reinckens stressed that contrary to what many of the agencies imply in their advertising, they cannot issue student visas. They are only allowed to supply the application forms.

“The USIA issues application forms that the organizations complete for the participants,” he said. “Then the participants take them to the U.S. consulate in their home country. The students pursue the visas in their country.”

Reinckens suggests that people thinking of hosting an exchange student check with their local better business bureau or department of education. Unlike New Jersey, he said that some states have adopted laws governing exchange agencies.

Various states, among them Washington, Minnesota and California,” he said, “have passed laws and regulations regarding these kinds of organizations.”

According to Reinckens, 23,000 to 25,000 foreign students attend public school in the U.S. annually on J-1 visas, assisted by USIA-designated agencies. One of the provisions of J-1 is that there are no repeat visits allowed.

“Students on a J-1 can be here for a minimum of one semester to a maximum one-year stay,” he said. “There’s another kind called an F student visa, where a student can stay as long as a high school issues an I-20 form. The high school is responsible for issuing that form.

“Another kind of visa is a B-visa, which is a visitors visa for short-term visits. For example, a student may enter the U.S. on a B-visa if they are just going to attend a class for a few weeks.”

* * *

Some of the methods used by exchange agencies to locate and screen host families for foreign students can cause problems for all parties involved.

Robert Bender, the superintendent of the Carneys Point-Penns Grove district said he has been troubled to see ads for host families on telephone poles just prior to the start of the school year.

“That caused part of the problem,” he said. “They didn’t find families until late in the summer. I think it’s a worthwhile program, but they need to find host families first before bringing the students over.

“Once they do that, it will eliminate a lot of concerns the schools have.”

Bender said that although having a foreign student can be a benefit for the school, it is difficult for administrators to prepare for the student’s needs on short notice.

“A foreign student is a living social studies lesson right in the classroom — there’s so much to be gained by our own students,” he said. “But at the end of summer where you have transfer students coming at the last minute, exchange students make it a little more difficult. We need to review their transcripts and find out where they should be placed.

“You want them to be successful when they’re here. If you only have a day or two, that’s not the way we like it to be. It’s better to do this in time to properly place them.”

Danish student Hommelgaard recently got a lesson in the problems school officials have to deal with when placing a student from another country. Although she is 18 and is taking mostly Grade 12 courses, she had to be placed in junior level history when she started classes at Schalick on Wednesday.

“It’s a bit difficult when you don’t know it,” she said. “I know more Danish history than American history.”

According to Bender, a girl from Russia who attended Penns Grove High School last year didn’t work out and ended up going back home.

Penny Tarplin, the Pittsburgh area CASE director, said that it is not unusual to have to place a child as late as August.

“Sometimes a placement falls through,” she said. “In May, the father of a family here had a heart attack and died.

“Or sometimes a student cancels. I’ve been doing this for 24 years and we learn everything the hard way.”

Ads seeking host families by the Pittsburgh CASE organization can be found in locations as diverse as local newspapers to a page on the Internet.

Tarplin said that except in the few states that require police background checks for host families, her organization is not allowed to request them. Instead, she said she relies on her instincts at an in-home interview with all family members, and three letters of recommendation obtained by the host parents.

“A police check has not been necessary so far,” she said.   “We expect the references to take care of that —  someone will spill the beans if there are problems.

“I went to visit a potential family once, and all over their wall, they had guns. Needless to say, we did not place a student with them.”

Ellen Battaglia, who is the president of the national CASE organization based in Middletown, agreed that CASE representatives have to use their “professional experience” to find a safe, compatible match between a student and a host family.

“If a student calls and has the slightest qualms about a family, we take the student out,” she said. “We’ve never had any sexual or physical abuse from the host family.”

John Doty is a member of CSIET’s board of directors, as well as the director of Pacific Intercultural Exchange, a West Coast-based student exchange organization. He agreed that being able to do police checks on potential families would be ideal, but not possible in most cases.

“I would feel more comfortable if we had access to criminal background checks,” he said. “We would love nothing more than to tap into a database to find this out.”

According to Doty, even in areas where host families are required by law to agree to a background check, the cost and length of time it would take — up to six months — can be prohibitive.

“Our program’s application form asks if anyone in the family has ever committed a felony,” he said, “but if you ask and the answer comes back no, what good is it? We have to assume that it’s answered correctly.”

Doty said his agency checks with the schools, as well as asking potential host families for personal references.

“If the school says, I wouldn’t place a student with that family, we listen,” he said. “Our program brought in 20,000 students in the past 20 years and never had any reported abuse.”

Tarpin said that to facilitate the student and family getting along, she holds an orientation meeting within 10 days of the student’s arrival in the United States.

“There usually are little things that are cultural that they have to get used to,” she said.

As a local representative, she is expected to stay in close contact with the student and the family, by phone and in person, to help them through any problems during the student’s stay.

Battaglia said that CASE workers are independent contractors who receive $20 a month for each student they supervise.

* * *

The CASE organization is currently under scrutiny by the USIA and the CSIET for its actions in placing the Danish student with the Pokrovsky family.

“We look for patterns of concern,” said Anne Shattuck, CSIET director of operations. “Is this an isolated incident or is this a pattern? Our standards require written acceptance from the school prior to assigning a student to a family, but there may be extenuating circumstances where a phone call worked.”

Because each organization must reapply annually to be CSIET-designated, the incident will not be considered until the CSIET board’s regular meeting in January, Shattuck said.

Doty said that the majority of companies placing foreign students are not regulated at all.

“The USIA has stringent rules, but for-profit agencies are not regulated,” he said. “There are problems of screening issues because programs don’t have to comply with any standards.”

Doty said that when he helped push for legislation in his home state of California, one of the biggest problems faced was identifying organizations that are not designated by the USIA or CSIET.

“It’s impossible to know how many programs are out there,” he said. “Some are here today and gone tomorrow.

“Part of the problem comes from schools being unaware of the nature of this business. If the schools were more selective and knew what to look for in an exchange program, I think they would be diminishing their potential for problems.”

Doty said that non-designated, for-profit agencies are not necessarily bad.

“Some are excellent and have wonderful reputations,” he said.

Woodstown High School Principal Steve Merckel said being a non-profit agency doesn’t exclude everyone involved in it from making money.

“Non-profit doesn’t mean that the people who head them up don’t get big salaries,” he said.

To some school administrators, the addition of a foreign exchange student to the class rolls can be a culturally enriching experience for the entire student body, but others don’t accept them.

Kathleen Carfagno, administrative assistant to the Gloucester County Superintendent of Schools, said districts differ in their views on exchange students.

“We’ve talked about it with the local principals group. There are some schools, by policy, who say that we are not going to accept them,” she said. “Others say it’s a good opportunity to learn from someone from a foreign country.”

Merckel cited good experiences with students placed by both the 4-H and the Youth for Understanding organizations in the school district.

“They do an excellent job of monitoring students and working with families,” he said. “They usually take families known within the organization. I’ve worked with agencies before that don’t screen the kids or families well, and don’t give support when you have problems.”

Merkel said the school’s foreign exchange student policy, which was revised to limit exchange students to four per year, has helped the district avoid problems.

“Limiting the number you have in one year,” he said, “allows you to better give assistance to the students.”

* * *

The expense to the school district for enrolling a foreign student for a year is difficult to determine, but appears to be minimal. Henry Bermann, the board secretary and business administrator for the Pittsgrove district, said that the cost per student to attend Schalick is budgeted at $6,500.

“But we won’t know the actual audited cost until the following year,” he said.

One of the reasons the cost can’t be determined immediately is that state aid, which is granted per student enrolled, is often based on enrollment figures for the previous year. So in many cases, having an exchange student could result in increased state funding to a district.

An average of four or five exchange students a year may attend Kingsway Regional High School in Woolwich Township, according to Superintendent Terence Crowley.

“The biggest thing in my opinion,” he said, “is that it allows our kids to meet with other students from other countries.”

Crowley said there is another benefit to the exchange programs — Kingsway students have had the opportunity to study in other countries including Japan, Brazil and Ecuador.

Staff writer Cynthia Collier contributed to this  report

————————————————————

Color added by editor | Aside from USIA being replaced by Department of State, the same issues raised in this article keep on occuring today. John Doty’s Pacific International was taken off CSIET’s approved list as late as 2012 due to severe breaches. This is not by any means a naive or innocent industry.

2006 Apr 27: Paul Louis Stone sentenced for molesting exchange student

Paul Louis Stone deemed sex offender
Posted: Thursday, April 27, 2006 10:31 pm | Joice Biazoto

Madison Circuit Judge William Jennings sentenced a Berea man Thursday to one year in prison for molesting a 15-year-old female international student.

Paul Stone, 54, had entered a guilty plea April 4, the day before he was scheduled to go on trial.

Stone was indicted Feb. 9 on charges of third-degree sodomy, attempted third-degree rape and third-degree sexual abuse. … Stone must serve at least 20 percent of his sentence before he can be eligible for parole. He also must complete a sex offender treatment course, which takes about a year….

The victim, an exchange student from Taiwan, was attending a Berea high school. Stone and his wife were the student’s host parents.

…. Investigators believe Stone used the student’s lack of knowledge of American culture to take advantage of her, …

The student related the incident to the exchange program’s coordinator, who then contacted Berea police….

The entire article can be found at the Richmond Register

Mallernee convicted of sexual abuse

On July 2, 2009, Judge Fredrik Spencer gave Tricia D. Mallernee, of Anderson, Indiana, a three-year suspended sentence on each of four counts of child solicitation. The judge gave Mallernee a one-year suspended sentence for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, for giving the victim alcohol. This was in accordance with the terms of her plea agreement with the prosecutors. In addition, she will serve three years on probation and must register as a sex offender for 10 years.

During an interview with the police, the victim had stated that he did not want Mallernee to go to prison.

According to Herald Bulletin the 17-year old exchange student arrived in Anderson in August 2008. Two weeks later Mallernee and the exchange student had sex for the first time.

The sexual relationship continued through April. Mallernee and the teen had sex in her home and while on a spring vacation in Florida. On one occasion in April, Mallernee had the boy dismissed from school early and the pair had sex at Mounds State Park.

The teen told investigators he initially wanted to be in the relationship. But later he tried to end it, fearing Mallernee was becoming “emotionally attached and he did not feel the same way.”

Mallernee allegedly threatened to have the boy removed from the home if he ended the relationship, law enforcement officials said. He told investigators that he was afraid that moving to a new home would mean having to stop participating in school activities. He continued in the relationship….

Mallernee is married, but her husband was very ill during most of her relationship with the teen. The man, who is not named in the court documents, was hospitalized several times, “making Tricia’s activities with (the teen) possible without easy detection,” the court documents state.

The relationship came to the attention of Indiana Department of Children’s Services case workers, who then contacted police. Mallernee was arrested by Madison County sheriff’s deputies arrested Tricia D. Mallernee, 32, at the jail June 2, 2009.

 

 

Amie Lou Neely sentenced to prison

Guilty of sexual battery/coercing child by adult

Amie Neely, 38, 400 block of Southeast Crabapple Cove, Port St. Lucie, was arrested by the St. Lucie County police and charged with sexual assault on a minor. In March 2014 Neely was sentenced to three years in prison for having sex with a 16-year-old exchange student. She was also sentenced to five years probation and had to register as a sex offender.

Two exchange students lived with the Neely’s at the time of her arrest. Neely was a teacher at Community Christian Academy in Stuart, the same school the victim and the other exchange student living with the Neely’s attended.

It was Neely’s husband who discovered Neely having sex with their exchange student. As a result of the discovery, the boy was kicked out of their house. The other exchange student remained.

According to Neely, their illicit sex was a one-time occurrence after the exchange student had pressured her for some time. But the exchange student claimed that theirs was longer affair. Neely later alleged that all the alleged sex acts had been consensual. She pleaded guilty to sexual battery on a child by a person in custodial authority in return for the State dropping the other charges. However, the trial court sentenced Ms. Neely to 36 months in state prison followed by five years of sex-offender probation and designated her a sexual predator.

2006: Polish Exchange Student in US: My Half-Year of Hell With Christian Fundamentalists

2006 Nov 14

When Polish student Michael Gromek, 19, went to America on a student exchange, he found himself trapped in a host family of Christian fundamentalists. What followed was a six-month hell of dawn church visits and sex education talks as his new family tried to banish the devil from his soul. Here’s his story.

'Possessed by the devil': Exchange student Michel Gromek, 19.
Michael Gromek | ‘Possessed by the devil’: Exchange student Michel Gromek, 19.

Editor’s Note: The following story first appeared in SchoolSpiegel, a SPIEGEL ONLINE Web site that solicits original contributions from school kids about their experiences. The site also features first-hand accounts of foreign exchange students.

“When I got out of the plane in Greensboro in the US state of North Carolina, I would never have expected my host family to welcome me at the airport, wielding a Bible, and saying, ‘Child, our Lord sent you half-way around the world to bring you to us.’ At that moment I just wanted to turn round and run back to the plane.

Things began to go wrong as soon as I arrived in my new home in Winston-Salem, where I was to spend my year abroad. For example, every Monday my host family would gather around the kitchen table to talk about sex. My host parents hadn’t had sex for the last 17 years because — so they told me — they were devoting their lives to God. They also wanted to know whether I drank alcohol. I admitted that I liked beer and wine. They told me I had the devil in my heart.My host parents treated me like a five-year-old. They gave me lollipops. They woke me every Sunday morning at 6:15 a.m., saying ‘Michael, it’s time to go to church.’ I hated that sentence. When I didn’t want to go to church one morning, because I had hardly slept, they didn’t allow me to have any coffee.

One day I was talking to my host parents about my mother, who is separated from my father. They were appalled — my mother’s heart was just as possessed by the devil as mine, they exclaimed. God wanted her to stay with her husband, they said.

“God’s will”

Then, seeing as we were already on the topic of God’s will, the religious zealots finally brought up a subject which had clearly been on their minds for a long time: They wanted me to help them set up a Fundamentalist Baptist church in my home country of Poland. It was God’s will, they said. They tried to slip the topic casually into conversation, but it really shocked me — I realized that was the only reason they had welcomed me into their family. They had already started construction work in Krakow — I was to help them with translations and with spreading their faith via the media.

It was clear to me that there was no way I was going to do that. The family was appalled. It was a weird situation. After all, these people were my only company at the time. If I hadn’t kept in touch with home through e-mail, I might have been sucked into that world.

It was only after four months that I decided to change my host family. I had kept hoping that things might improve, but it was futile. Telling them that I wanted to go was the most unpleasant moment I experienced in that half year. Of course they didn’t understand — how could they? They had grown up with their faith and were convinced of it, and then suddenly I turned up and refused to fit in.

From that moment on, I counted the days. The two months that followed my decision were hell. My host parents detested me. There were constant rows. I could sense that they just wanted to get rid of me. They didn’t know what to do with me any more.67 days later, I was finally in a new family. They were young, actually more friends than host parents, and I was very happy there. Because my new family was only 50 kilometers away from the other one, I was distrustful at first and afraid that things wouldn’t be any better. But the change was worth it.

Despite everything, I still haven’t come to terms with my experience. I want to write to the religious family soon and explain to them, clearly and calmly, why things went so wrong. It shouldn’t just end this way.”

Adapted from an interview conducted by Magdalena Blender.

2014 Sep 30: Tucker gets three years probation for recording student in shower

DarrienTuckerA Potomac man was sentenced to three years of probation in District Court on Friday for recording an exchange student while she was taking a shower.

Darrien Lamont Tucker, 40, a physical education teacher at the McLean School of Maryland in Potomac, pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of visual surveillance in a private place and with prurient intent. He was given three years of probation with a one-year suspended sentence for each count, meaning any violation of his probation could result in two years of jail time.

The sentence also requires Tucker to attend therapy and have his computers regularly tested for “pornographic surveillance material,” according to Ramon Korionoff, spokesperson for the State Attorney’s office.

“This plea not only holds him accountable for his crimes but also provides the community safety,” Korionoff said in an email.

Defense attorney Mike Rothman, Tucker’s attorney, said Tucker wants to move past the incidents.

“Mr. Tucker is a member of the community and he is eager to move forward at this time,” Rothman said.

Tucker was charged in June with five counts of visual surveillance after the 18-year-old exchange student he was hosting noticed him slipping his iPad under the door of the bathroom during her shower.

The student then brought her phone into the bathroom to record the incidents and the third time placed a video camera outside the bathroom that captured Tucker sliding the iPad under the door, according to a Montgomery County Police press release. Tucker later confirmed in an interview with police he had recorded the student.

Three of the counts of visual surveillance were dismissed in court.

2014 Jun 04: Tucker arrested for illicitly filming exchange student

POTOMAC, Md. (WJLA/AP) – A physical education teacher at a private school in Potomac has been charged with making illicit videos of a foreign exchange student who was living with him and his family.

Darrien Tucker, a physical education teacher at a school in Potomac, was arrested for allegedly videtaping an exchange student in the shower. (Photo: MCPD)

Montgomery County police say 39-year-old Darrien Tucker was arrested on Tuesday after the 18-year-old student went to police with videos she had made that police say show Tucker trying to record her in the bathroom.

The woman told police that she saw an Apple iPad being slid under the bathroom door as she was showering.

Police say Tucker admitted videotaping the woman.

Tucker teaches physical education at the McLean School of Maryland.

Elizabeth Shannon, speaking on behalf of McLean School, responded to Tucker’s arrest by saying:

“While employed at McLean, the school received no complaints of misconduct of this nature against the employee. The School conducts a careful and complete vetting of all individuals applying for employment. The employee passed the comprehensive vetting process prior to being hired by the school.”

No attorney for Tucker was listed in online court records, and a message left at the home listed for him in court records was not immediately returned.

2014 Dec 20: German Exchange Student Claims Sexual Abuse By Host Parent

Posted: Dec 20, 2014 5:30 AM
Updated: Jan 10, 2015 5:30 AM

BELGRADE –

A German exchange student claims his Belgrade host parent sexually abused him.

His case takes a step forward just days after a jury handed down a guilty verdict for Markus Kaarma, the man who shot and killed another foreign exchange student from Germany, Diren Dede.

The student filed the suit in Montana federal courts against International Student Exchange (ISE), one of the world’s largest exchange companies, saying the company should be held responsible for placing him with a Belgrade host parent who later sexually abused him in 2011.

His Belgrade host father is also listed as a defendant in the lawsuit.

According to court documents, the student was 16 on December 23, 2011 when he experienced the abuse and reported it immediately to ISE. He left the country four days later.

Attorneys for the host father say the student fabricated these claims because he was unhappy in Montana and wanted to return to Germany.

The student is now being represented by the Missoula-based firm of Milt Datsopoulos. A pretrial conference is set for January 21.

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $6 million.

2014: FISCHER v. INTERNATIONAL STUDENT EXCHANGE, INC.

2015: Fischer v. International Student Exchange, Inc.

2010 May 22: McClintock sentenced for abuse

An exchange student testifies in the trial of James McClintock of Junction City on misdemeanor charges
By Jack Moran |The Register-Guard
>Appeared in print: Saturday, May 22, 2010, page B1

A Lane County jury concluded Friday that a Junction City man sexually abused a female foreign exchange student who lived with his family last fall.

After about four hours of deliberations, the three-man, three-woman jury unanimously found James Franklin McClintock, 51, guilty of four misdemeanor counts of third-degree sexual abuse and one misdemeanor count of private indecency for illegal sexual contact with the 17-year-old girl from Europe.

Those charges stemmed from the girl’s claims that McClintock touched her inappropriately on four separate occasions, and exposed himself to her once.

McClintock was found not guilty of a fifth count of third-degree sexual abuse, as the jury did not find sufficient evidence to conclude that he forced the girl to touch him after he exposed himself to her.
McClintock was arrested in February after an investigation into the allegations. He will be sentenced Wednesday. He faces one year in jail on each of the charges.

McClintock, a contractor who has served as a volunteer assistant coach for the Junction City High School football team, took the witness stand Thursday in the third day of his trial and strongly denied charges that he abused the girl in a garage on his property where he set up a workout area that the teen used under his supervision.

He did admit asking the girl if she’d had sex before, but claimed to have done so only out of concern for her well-being.
Earlier in the trial, the victim testified that she didn’t resist McClintock’s advances because she “was afraid of what would happen if I tell (him) no.”

In January, the girl told a Junction City High School teacher about being sexually abused at McClintock’s home.

The teacher reported it to authorities, and the girl was moved to another home.

“It was weighing on her,” Lane County deputy district attorney Erik Hasselman told the jury Thursday during his closing argument. “She thought she needed to tell somebody. She has, and it’s being dealt with.”

McClintock was arrested a few days later, and spent about a month in the Lane County Jail before he was released on bail.

He remains on house arrest and will wear an electronic monitoring bracelet around his ankle until he returns to court for sentencing.
Hasselman and McClintock’s attorney, Shaun McCrea, both declined to comment Friday on the jury’s verdict.

2009 Jun 19: Jack sentenced for sexual abuse

By Tim Novotny | Published: Jun 19, 2009 at 5:57 PM PDT

COQUILLE, ORE – A prominent member of the Coquille community is going to jail, after admitting in court to a single charge of Sex Abuse in the Third Degree. In exchange, two other charges were dropped.

53 year old Curtis Jack entered a Guilty plea Friday morning before Judge Richard Barron, charges of Sex Abuse One and Sex Abuse Three were dismissed.

Coos County Deputy District Attorney Karen McClintock said the charge stemmed from a May 12th incident where Jack subjected a 17 year old girl to sexual conduct, by touching her breast. The teen, who said the contact was unwanted, was a youth exchange student living with the family.

Jack, the owner of Coquille Supply and President of the Coquille Lions Club, was sentenced to 90 days in jail, three years of supervised probation, and a fine of $6,250.

He must also complete a Sex Offender program and refrain from associating with anyone under the age of 18, except under specific, court-approved, circumstances.

KCBY spoke with his Attorney, John Trew, who said their only comment was that Jack “admitted to the crime and took full responsibility for it.”

2014 Apr 07: Schweizer (16) stirbt beim Klettern in Costa Rica (German)

07. April 2014 15:01; Akt: 07.04.2014 15:01 Print

Ein Schweizer Austauschschüler ist in einer Kleinstadt in Costa Rica bei einer Kletterübung in den Tod gestürzt. Der 16-Jährige soll keinen Sicherungsgurt getragen haben.

storybild
Der Unfall ereignete sich am Fluss Uruca im Park Centro de Conservación in Santa Ana. (Screenshot: Google Maps)

Tragischer Unfall in der Kleinstadt Santa Ana im Zentrum von Costa Rica: Ein 16 Jahre alter Schweizer ist bei einer Abseilübung in eine Schlucht beim Fluss Uruca aus einer Höhe von 25 Meter abgestürzt. Er kam dabei ums Leben.

Wie die Zeitung «La Nacion» schreibt, habe sich eine Gruppe Jugendlicher am Freitagnachmittag beim Park Centro de Conservación Santa Ana, etwa 10 Kilometer von der Haupstadt San José entfernt, abgeseilt. Gegen 15.40 Uhr ging bei den Rettungskräften ein Notruf ein. Der Schweizer Austauschstudent war bei seinem Sturz auf Steinen aufgeschlagen und hatte sich schwere Kopf- und Brustverletzungen zugezogen.

Probleme mit der Ausrüstung

Ein Team des Roten Kreuzes musste zunächst 1,5 Kilometer durch unwegsames Gelände gehen, bevor es beim Verletzten ankam. «Er war noch am Leben, als wir ihn fanden», erzählt Notarzt Agner Morales. Der Teenager habe aber aufgrund der schweren Verletzungen kurz darauf das Bewusstsein verloren. Um 17.11 Uhr erklärte Morales den Jugendlichen für tot.

Die Klettergruppe sei nicht gut ausgerüstet gewesen, weiss «La Nacion». Offenbar hatten sie sich ohne die nötigen Handschuhe und Sicherungsgurte abgeseilt. Auch die Bergung soll aufgrund mangelnder Ausrüstung nicht rasch genug erfolgt sein.

————————————————————————

Google translation

07. April 2014 15:01; Act: 07.04.2014 15:01
Swiss (16) died while climbing in Costa Rica

A Swiss exchange student is overthrown in a small town in Costa Rica on a climbing exercise in death. The 16-year-old is said to have worn a safety belt.

Tragic accident in the town of Santa Ana in the center of Costa Rica: A 16-year-old Swiss has crashed at an abseiling into a gorge near the river Uruca from a height of 25 meters. He lost his life.

As the newspaper La Nacionwrites, a group of young people have removed on Friday afternoon at the park Centro de Conservación Santa Ana, about 10 kilometers from the capital city of San José, abseil. Against 15.40 clock was taking a emergency call the emergency services. The Swiss exchange student was beaten at his fall on rocks and had severe head and chest injuries suffered.

Equipment problems

A team of the Red Cross had initially 1.5 km walk through rough terrain before it got to the injured. “He was still alive when we found him,” says Morales emergency Agner. The teenager but I lost consciousness due to severe injuries shortly after. To 17.11 clock Morales declared the young people dead.

The climbing group was not well equipped, white La Nacion“. Apparently they had roped without the necessary safety belts and gloves. The recovery should not be carried out quickly enough due to lack of equipment.

2012 Dec 05: Student died while living her dream studying abroad

Alexis Stevens | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
12:01 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012

Traveling to Indonesia was just the beginning of what Morgan Lide had planned.

The 17-year-old Cobb County girl wanted to travel the world, learn another culture and later study international affairs. Morgan was a talented artist, and her spirit of adventure led her to give up her senior year at Wheeler High School, opting instead for a prestigious study abroad program.

Student died while living her dream studying abroad photo
Morgan Lide of Marietta attended Wheeler High School for three years before beginning the exchange program this fall in Bali, Indonesia.

But over the weekend, a knock on the door at her parents’ home in east Cobb brought worse news than the family could ever have imagined. Morgan had drowned off the coast of Bali while swimming at Kuta Beach.

A very good swimmer who had spent many summers on the swim team, Morgan was pulled under by a rip tide and her host family lost sight of her. She was later found on the shore, but could not be resuscitated by lifeguards.

Tuesday night, Morgan’s parents and sister spoke of Morgan’s legacy and passion for life, vowing that how she lived should serve as an inspiration to others.

Student died while living her dream studying abroad photo
While in Indonesia, Morgan Lide taught English to children. Credit: Lide family

“She wanted to travel,” her mom, Lori Lide, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “She was looking for something to do for the summer.”

But when she learned of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad Program, her mind was made up. The program sends students from non-Muslim countries to Muslim areas, but Morgan didn’t care where she was going.

“She just said, ‘I just wanna go,’” Lori Lide said.

Morgan left in September and never looked back, her family said. She blogged about her experiences abroad, posting pictures of life with her host family.

Student died while living her dream studying abroad photo
Lori Lide holds a piece of her daughter’s artwork. Photo: Alexis Stevens / astevens@ajc.com

“Life as I know it is about to end in just one day,” Morgan wrote in September. “Tomorrow morning I leave my family, friends and hometown, something that I should be completely overwhelmed by, but that somehow I feel strangely calm about.”

For her older sister Catherine, Morgan’s last day in Cobb County lives on in the form of dozens of pictures taken at the county fair. Catherine Lide, a mechanical engineering student at Georgia Tech, said her sister wanted to go to Tech, too.

Morgan was an honor student in the math and science magnet program at Wheeler, her parents said. But she didn’t just excel at academics in high school.

Student died while living her dream studying abroad photo
A self-portrait was one of several pieces of Morgan Lide’s artwork her family displayed at their home Tuesday night. Photo: Alexis Stevens / astevens@ajc.com

“While she was there, she discovered she had a passion for art,” her mother said.

The “passion” for drawing, painting and sculpture led Morgan to be selected for the Governor’s Honor Program in art, an honor she had to pass on because of her plans to study abroad.

Since learning of Morgan’s death, her family said they have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from neighbors, friends and classmates. Her father, Chuck Lide, said it was a small comfort to know how many lives his younger daughter touched.

2015 Feb 21: Suomalaistytön vaihto-oppilasvuosi Yhdysvalloisa tyssäsi “paljastavaan” somekuvaan

Julkaistu: 21.2.2015 20:34

Vaihto-oppilasmatkan järjestäjän mukaan tyttö ei noudattanut vaihto-oppilasohjelman sääntöjä ja rikkoi koulun pukeutumissääntöjä Yhdysvalloissa.

Suomalaistytön vaihto-oppilasvuosi Yhdysvalloissa keskeytyi vain reilun kuukauden jälkeen, koska tyttö ei matkanjärjestäjän mukaan noudattanut vaihto-oppilasohjelman sääntöjä ja rikkoi lisäksi koulun pukeutumissääntöjä, selviää tammikuussa Kuluttajariitalautakunnan sivuilla julkaistusta ratkaisusta.

Tyttö käytti koulussa pitkiä housuja, paitapuseroita ja takkia. Lisäksi tytön isäntäperheen äiti työskenteli samassa koulussa opettajana ja tarkasti vaihto-oppilaan vaatetuksen aamuisin. Suomalaistytön vaatetus ei silti kelvannut koulun rehtorille, eikä edes isäntäperheen äiti osannut selittää, mikä tytön pukeutumisessa oli vikana.

Tyttö sai koulusta moitteita myös puhelimen käyttämisestä, vaikka tyttö noudatti muiden oppilaiden antamaa mallia.

Perhe uskoo, että todellinen syy vaihto-oppilasohjelman keskeyttämiseen ei liity järjestäjän korostamaan pukeutumiskoodin rikkomiseen tai puhelimen käyttöön. Perhe pitää todellisena syynä tytön sosiaaliseen mediaan lataaman kuvan aiheuttama huomiota, jonka isäntäperhe koki kiusalliseksi.

Isäntäperheen isä nosti sähköpostiviestissään suurimmaksi ongelmaksi kuvan, jossa tyttö oli hänen mielestään puolialaston. Isä sai tiedon kuvasta paikallisen kirkon nuorisopastorilta. Tytön perhe pitää isäntäperheen isän luonnehdintaa kuvasta vääränä.

Kuluttajariitalautakuntaan valittanut tytön huoltaja katsoo, että järjestön vaihto-oppilasohjelman ehto, jonka mukaan yhdenkin säännön rikkominen voi oikeuttaa matkalta poistamiseen ilman maksun palautusta, on kohtuuton ja ristiriidassa yleisten valmismatkaehtojen kanssa, joiden mukaan matkalta poistamisen edellytyksenä on olennainen laiminlyönti.

”Tytölle annettiin kirjallinen varoitus”

Tytön huoltajan mukaan järjestäjä oli koko prosessin ajan laiminlyönyt avustamisvelvollisuutensa ja pyrkinyt johdonmukaisesti löytämään riittävät syyt ohjelman keskeyttämiselle sen sijaan, että se olisi pyrkinyt löytämään keinoja vaihto-oppilasvuoden toteuttamiseen onnistuneesti.

Järjestäjä ei ole perheen mukaan tukenut tyttöä Yhdysvalloissa lupaamallaan tavalla. Järjestäjän aluevalvoja ei ollut perheen mukaan aktiivinen ongelmien selvittelyssä Yhdysvalloissa. Suomen päässä ongelmia ryhtyi selvittämään nuori, vasta-aloittanut työntekijä, jolla ei perheen mukaan ollut tarvittavaa osaamista tällaisten tilanteiden ratkaisemiseen.

Järjestäjän mukaan tyttö rikkoi toistuvasti vaihto-oppilasohjelman sääntöjä, jotka hän ja hänen perheensä olivat allekirjoituksellaan hyväksyneet ennen vaihto-oppilaaksi hyväksymistä. Hänelle annettiin järjestäjän mukaan mahdollisuus muuttaa käytöstään ja häntä ohjeistettiin vaihdon aikana monin tavoin isäntäperheessä, koulussa ja järjestäjän Suomen toimiston toimesta. Toimiston mukaan aluevalvoja ja aluekoordinaattori auttoivat ja tukivat häntä.

Tytölle annettiin kirjallinen varoitus ja hänet asetettiin koeajalle. Varoituksen ja koeajan yhteydessä hänelle annettiin kirjalliset ohjeet siitä, miten hänen tulisi muuttaa käytöstään. Vaihto-oppilasmatkan järjestäjän mukaan tyttö kuitenkin jatkoi sääntöjen rikkomista, jolloin hänet katsottiin sopimattomaksi vaihto-oppilasohjelmaan ja erotettiin.

Reilun kuukauden kestänyt vaihto maksoi tuhansia euroja

Tytön huoltaja vaati järjestäjää palauttamaan 6 972 euroa, mikä vastaa 80 prosenttia vaihto-oppilasohjelman hinnasta.

Lisäksi hän vaati 880 euron vahingonkorvausta, mikä sisältää tytön viisumin (135 euroa), rokotuksen (150 euroa), paluulennon järjestelyn (300 euroa), SEVIS-maksun (144 euroa), varallisuustodistuksen (30 euroa), valokuvat (20 euroa) sekä tuliaiset isäntäperheelle (100 euroa). Lisäksi huoltaja vaati hinnanalennukselle ja vahingonkorvaukselle viivästyskorkoa.

Huoltaja uskoo, että ohjelman hinnalla katettavien kustannusten voisi olettaa jakautuvan melko tasaisesti koko vaihto-ohjelman ajalle. Tässä tapauksessa ohjelma on jäänyt suurelta osin toteutumatta.

Kuluttajariitalautakunta oli kuitenkin yksimielisesti sitä mieltä, ettei se suosita vaihto-oppilasmatkan järjestäjää maksamaan huoltajan vaatimia korvauksia.

Lautakunta pitää todennäköisenä, että vaihto-oppilasvuoden kustannukset muodostuvat järjestäjän esittämällä tavalla suurimmaksi osaksi toimenpiteistä, jotka tehdään jo ennen kuin oppilas lähtee matkalle. Lautakunta ei tämän vuoksi pidä kohtuuttomana sopimusehtoa, jonka mukaan ohjelmamaksua ei palauteta, kun keskeytys perustuu vaihto-oppilaan puolella oleviin syihin. Lautakunta ei myöskään pitänyt pukeutumista ja puhelimen käyttöä koskevia sääntöjä epäselvinä.

2012 Mar 15: State Dept: Fifty teens allegedly sexually abused or harassed by host parent last year

Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:58 PM EDT

By Anna Schecter Rock Center

Fifty high school foreign exchange students reported being sexually abused or harassed by a host parent during the 2010-2011 school year, according to data released by the State Department in response to an NBC News probe.

The Department says that this number is a tiny fraction of the 29,000 students who came to the United States as exchange students last year.

NBC News requested the data as part of a Rock Center investigation that aired Wednesday night.

Watch the full Rock Center investigation HERE.

Three students who said they were sexually abused by their host parents were featured in the report, which was the culmination of a six-month investigation into problems with the exchange program.

NBC News found that a lack of oversight can allow sexual predators to take advantage of the program. And when sexual abuse did happen, there is evidence that the students go back to their home countries with little or no support from the exchange organizations or the State Department.

Over 200,000 students from around the world have come to America to experience the culture and attend a U.S. high school over the past decade.  They are placed with host families by non-profit organizations that are approved by the State Department to find homes for them.

There is an office of 60 people in charge of monitoring the more the 25,000 students that come each year, according to State Department spokesperson Toria Nuland.

Critics say that number is too small, and the Department’s push to bring in as many students as possible has made it impossible for it to ensure each student is placed in a safe and nurturing host family.

“Over the past decade the people at the State Department who were responsible for managing this program were praised and encouraged because the size of the program was growing.  If they reduced the number of students, the program would be safer,” said Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies, a non-profit research organization.

The program dates back to the 1960’s, but the Department said it only started compiling data about allegations of sexual abuse and harassment in 2009 after the Inspector General issued a scathing report on the program.

Stanley Colvin who used to be in charge of youth exchange programs left after 2009.

Of the 66 total cases of sexual harassment or abuse involving a student, nine did not involve a member of the host family, but rather a classmate, friend, neighbor or stranger, and one allegation was against the exchange student.

In  all allegations involving the host family, the [organization] must remove the student immediately to a safe home and notify local authorities–police and/or child protective services–and the Department of State, according to the Department’s regulations.

There is no language in the regulations about getting counseling for the teens that do get abused, or staying in contact with the teen after he or she goes home.

Parallel to any law enforcement investigation, the Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA) is supposed to gather information to determine whether the sponsor has violated any regulations.

Nuland said that ECA has terminated a number of exchange organizations over the past six months and exacted fines on organizations that failed to conduct background checks on host families, as required by law.

“When they have cut corners in other ways we have fined sponsoring organizations, we’ve cut back their access to the program, et cetera.  But these are the kinds of measures that we’re continuing to hone and reform,” Nuland said.

“The vast majority of these kids have a rich, enormously gratifying experience that lasts with them for a lifetime, said Nuland.  “That doesn’t change the fact that we have to have zero tolerance for any of these cases, even one child abused is one too many.  And it is our job to fix this and we will.”

Editor’s Note: Click here to watch Kate Snow’s full report, Culture Shock, which aired on Rock Center with Brian Williams.

2012 Mar 20: Bag Facaden – Misbrugt i værtsfamilien

Skrevet af: Christian Rask

20. marts 2012 kl. 20:00 på DR1  Flere danske unge er blevet misbrugt af deres værtsfar i forbindelse med udvekslingsophold til USA. Det afslører DR-programmet ‘Bag Facaden’.

I Bag Facaden fortæller en række unge om drømmerejser, der udviklede sig til et mareridt. Og sagerne handler ikke kun om sexovergreb. Nogle unge er havnet hos fattige amerikanske familier, der ikke havde råd til mad. Eller hos familier, der slår deres egne børn og undertrykker dem psykisk.

Den seneste og mest alvorlige af sagerne handler om placeringen af en 16-årig dreng hos en amerikansk værtsfar, der efterfølgende blev dømt for gentagne seksuelle overgreb. Sagen blev aldrig indberettet til de danske myndigheder af Interstudies, firmaet bag opholdet.

I en anden af sagerne ville organisationen STS, Student Travel Schools, kun udbetale en delvis godtgørelse til familien og en dengang ligeledes 16-årig dreng, hvis de underskrev en tavshedsklausul. Også han blev placeret hos en enlig mand og udsat for overgreb.

– Jeg er harm over, at de ville have mig til at tie stille om de overgreb, jeg blev udsat for. Folk skal høre om dem, så de ved, hvad de kan risikere, siger Nicklas i dag.

Hemmeligholdelse
Unge danskere kan vælge mellem i alt 10 godkendte udvekslingsorganisationer. De unge placeres hos en værtsfamilie – og betaler typisk 50-60.000 kr. for en samlet pakke mens staten støtter med 10.000 kr. pr. ophold. Hos kontrolmyndigheden, Styrelsen for Uddannelse og Internationalisering, SUI, ser man meget alvorligt på hemmeligholdelsen af sagerne om seksuelle overgreb.

– Vi kan selvfølgelig ikke acceptere, at man hemmeligholder så kritisable forhold, siger Mikkel Buchter, kontorchef i SUI, der nu vil indføre et skærpet tilsyn med Interstudies.

Året efter, at sagen om Nicklas blev lukket ned af STS, blev en 17-årig pige udsat for to grove seksuelle overgreb af sin værtsfar. Her havde STS benyttet samme partner i USA til at finde værtsfamilien. Den nuværende chef for STS beklager sagsforløbet:

– Det var en fejlbeslutning. Vi arbejder ikke længere sammen med den organisation i USA, der stod for anbringelserne, siger John Cedergårdh, general manager i STS.

STS er ikke blevet godkendt i år efter flere kritisable sager, hvor unge blandt andet blev sendt til områder i Sydafrika med høj kriminalitet.

Drømmerejser blev til mareridt
Unge fra hele verden søger hvert år til USA på udvekslingsophold. Det har ifølge Bag Facadens kilder ført til mangel på egnede værtsfamilier – og en utilstrækkelig screening af familierne.

Flere unge, som får problemer under opholdet, har oplevet, at de kun må have begrænset kontakt til familien hjemme. Da 17-årige Stina fik problemer, blandt andet fordi familien slog sine børn, og hun måtte fjernes med hjælp fra politiet, blev hun bedt om at underskrive en kontrakt, der begrænsede hendes kontakt til familien og til dem i USA, der hjalp hende.

– Vi blev svigtet af Interstudies, da der begyndte at opstå problemer, siger Bettina Hjortshøj, mor til Stina.

Direktør i Interstudies, Anette Sørensen, meddeler, at hun ikke ønsker at kommentere de enkelte sager i medierne.

Men Bettina Hjortshøj mener, at firmaet har et alvorligt troværdighedsproblem.

–  Den tillid og det sikkerhedsnet, vi havde betalt for – det var ikke til stede, da vi fik brug for det, siger hun.

Op mod 1000 danske unge rejser hvert år ud som udvekslingsstuderende. Af dem får i gennemsnit 50 så problematisk et ophold, at de rejser hjem før tid.

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2003 Apr 26: Local student exchange group reprimanded

2005 Aug 02: Robert Medley convicted for sexual battery

2013 Mar 19: John E. Hamilton v. Commonwealth of Virginia

2005 Aug 02: Medley sentenced for sexual battery

ROBERT MEDLEY / Robert Lee Medley
Offender Number: 0907745
Probation/Parole/Post Release Status: INACTIVE
Gender: MALE
Race: WHITE
Ethnic Group: EUROPEAN/N.AM./AUSTR
Birth Date: 07/02/1969

Most Recent Period of Supervision Record
Sentence Number: 01-001 Commitment Type: PROBATION/PAROLE
Conviction Date: 08/02/2005 County Of Conviction: HENDERSON
Punishment Type: COMMUNITY SS (DCC)
Sentence Type 1: PROBATION
Sentence Type 2: SUSPENDED SENTENCE
Sentence Type 3: COUNTY JAIL
Commitment Docket# Offense (Qualifier) Offense Date Type Sentencing
Penalty
Class Code
INITIAL 05000733 SEXUAL BATTERY (PRINCIPAL) 09/01/2004 MISD. CLASS A1 MISDEMEANOR SS

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Comment from DR1 (Danish television) re NBC’s exchange student documentary

2003 Apr 26: AISE reprimanded by US Department of State

This article has been removed from the original site

By Leslie Wolf Branscomb
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

April 26, 2003

A venerable San Diego-based student exchange organization has been reprimanded by the State Department for violating federal regulations that protect students visiting from abroad. The punishment was based on complaints filed by three foreign students who lived in San Diego until recently. They complained of being shuttled from home to home, forced into overcrowded and dirty houses, and – in the worst case – one was sexually molested by his host.

The State Department confirmed this week that American Intercultural Student Exchange of La Jolla, or AISE, has been formally sanctioned, put on probation for a year and required to implement a corrective plan.

“It comes as a wake-up call,” said Anne Ring, president of the organization, which she helped found in 1981.

The nonprofit organization bills itself as the nation’s third-largest student exchange program.

“It means they’re going to obviously be watching us closely, which is fine,” she said. “We’ve always had such a good reputation. I hope, and I know, that it won’t happen again.”

Ring said two employees – a local area representative and the regional coordinator for the Western states – have resigned under mutual agreement with the company.

The organization has hired a new U.S. director of field services, who will be in charge of ensuring that all employees are trained and the paperwork is done, she said.

The sanctions were based on the accusations of students from Thailand, Denmark and Germany who at one point lived in the same Tierrasanta home.

Through a classmate at Serra High School, they met a lawyer, Sally Arguilez Smith, who alerted the State Department to the problems the three were experiencing.

“Exchange students bring so much to our country, and they should be treated well, and know that the laws protect them,” Smith said upon learning of the sanctions. “AISE has acted atrociously, and they deserved more serious sanctions.”

One of the students is living with Smith. Another has moved to Los Angeles County and the third has gone home.

Denis Sladkov, an 18-year-old from Germany, said he lived in five homes in five months. “It seems like they just want to take as many exchange students as possible and, then, when they get here, find a home,” Sladkov said.

At his first home in Twentynine Palms, Sladkov said, there were fire ants in his bed and the house smelled of dirty dogs. Then, he said, he was placed with a couple that had marital and drug problems.

He was eventually moved to a Navy housing complex in Tierrasanta, where he lived with Racheal Rivera and her husband, their four young children and two other exchange students.

The situation was tense, Sladkov said, and the students spent most of their time doing housework and child care for the hosts, who seemed to not have the time or money to feed and care for the teenagers.

Sladkov said that he, like the others, was threatened with deportation by various employees of the organization when he complained.

Unhappy and tired of moving, Sladkov dropped out of school and returned to Germany in January.

The State Department identified Racheal Rivera as one of the program’s employees who violated federal rules by having more than one student per home and not keeping complete files on the students.

Rivera said this year that the organization kept dumping students on her. “They said it was my job, and if I didn’t take them they would have no place to go,” she said.

One home to another

Mary Vattanasiriporn, a 16-year-old from Thailand, lived with four families in as many months.Her first hosts, the Holts, lived in the northern Montana town of Havre. They had nine children of their own, and Mary shared a room with a student from China.

Mary said the house was filthy. They had no door locks, no privacy and the family’s teenage boys sometimes barged in while they showered. The girls held the door shut for each other when they used the bathroom and slept in their clothes.

Upon hearing Mary’s complaints, her parents tracked down a Thai girl who lived with the Holts the year before. She e-mailed them her photos of the Holt house, which showed rooms piled high with debris and walls with exposed wiring and insulation.

American Intercultural Student Exchange representative Penny Velk was sent to take the two girls from the home. Velk said she had to call the police when the host father became angry, and she was fired from the organization as a result.

Roger Holt said afterward that his house is “pretty shabby” and might seem “chaotic” to an outsider. But Holt said his family would rather take students sightseeing than clean house.

“We’re not into cars and clothes and fancy houses,” Holt said.

He contends the exchange students were spoiled and misled by recruiters. “AISE sells a package to the kids that doesn’t bear a whole lot of resemblance to reality,” Holt said. “Everyone thinks they’re going to Hollywood or Disneyland, then they end up in the hinterlands.”

Velk took the girls to the home of Kelly Toldness in Havre. Toldness recalled that Mary seemed surprised to find clean drinking glasses in her kitchen, and it pained her to think of what the girls’ first impression of America had been.

Toldness wanted to become their host, but said a student exchange representative who was a friend of the Holts accused her of kidnapping and called her home “a hostile environment.” The girls were removed by the organization 10 days later.

Mary ended up with the Riveras. There, she said, she slept in an unheated garage with newspaper covering the windows and was sick all winter.

Smith asked Mary to come live with her.

Smith said Rivera agreed. But it made Smith angry that no one from the exchange organization interviewed her or inspected her home for a month.

“You don’t just hand a kid over to a total stranger in a foreign country,” Smith said.

A student exchange representative at one point sent Mary an e-mail asking where she was and requesting her new host’s name and address. Mary later received an anonymous phone call warning her to stop complaining about the organization.

From Denmark

The boy from Denmark also lived with Smith briefly, before his parents sent him to live with family friends in Pomona.His father said their son dreamed of playing high school football in America, so they enrolled him in the student exchange program.

“It’s quite a glossy, shiny literature which assures us that our children will be taken care of, that it’s safe and they will have a good experience in the U.S.,” said the boy’s father.

The teen’s parents were concerned when their son was placed with a 53-year-old single man in Riverside, but student exchange officials vouched for David Goodhead.

“They said he was a wonderful man who really would give your children a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” the father said.

The boy was in the United States for three weeks when Goodhead molested him while camping in Yosemite. (It is the policy of the Union-Tribune  to withhold the names of minors who are victims of sexual assault.)

Because Goodhead insisted that the student speak English when calling home, the boy surreptitiously sent a text message in Danish on his mobile phone to inform his parents about what had happened.

His parents said the student exchange organization did not respond to their frantic phone calls for 48 hours, despite assurances that emergencies are handled around the clock.

Goodhead was arrested and the boy removed from his custody. But, the father said, nearly a week passed before the exchange organization told them where his son was taken.

Goodhead was charged in U.S. District Court with two misdemeanor counts of engaging in unsolicited sexual conduct. On Feb. 11, he pleaded guilty to one of the charges, and is scheduled to be sentenced next month. He could receive up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Goodhead is free on bail and maintains a Web site with photos and descriptions of his nine previous exchange students. All are European boys, most of them blond like the student from Denmark, whose picture has been removed.

Laurel O’Rourke, the organization’s director of counseling, said the company does not do background checks on potential hosts, but did check on Goodhead after his arrest.

“He has hosted before and there had never ever been any sort of sexual innuendo,” she said. However, O’Rourke said, “He won’t have another student of ours.”

The Danish boy’s new host mother, Nancy Osgood, said she expected the exchange organization to inspect her home thoroughly.

But, she said, the inspection was cursory and the representative didn’t even ask to see where the boy would sleep. “It seems like they’re moving these kids around like chess pieces,” she said later.

Penny Velk, the former Montana representative, said she wasn’t well-screened before hosting her first student. “This woman just came in and glanced around and said, ‘Fine,’ ” Velk said. “She said she had to place three kids, and anybody who wanted a kid, she was going to give it to them.”

Velk said her daughter was an exchange student with the program last year in Australia, and she was moved three times. She said her daughter’s first host father was an alcoholic who made passes at the girl, and the second family spoke only Portuguese.

“There’s a total lack of communication,” Velk said of the program. “They just place kids and if they’ve got their money, they don’t give a damn.

“Now our son wants to be an exchange student, and I just can’t see spending $10,000 and you don’t know if you’re going to end up in a really rotten home or a nice home,” Velk said.

Thousands of students

The three students who complained to the State Department said their families paid between $7,000 and $10,000 for the exchange program.Student exchange spokeswoman Doris Lee McCoy said the company collects about $2,000 per student and still must raise funds to pay for advertising and staff.

The remainder of the fee, she said, is collected by the overseas agencies that recruit the foreign students.

Host families are not paid.

There are now about 32,000 high school students nationwide enrolled in foreign exchange programs with 75 agencies, according to Stanley Colvin, the State Department’s coordinator of foreign exchange programs.

“With that many students, there’s going to be an occasional dust-up,” Colvin said. “By and large, high school exchanges are not problematic.”

The State Department typically receives up to 10 complaints a year, he said. So for three to come from one organization was notable, and that’s what prompted the investigation, Colvin said.

The organization said it has arranged exchanges for more than 30,000 students. “The vast majority have wonderful experiences, thanks mainly to the hospitality and generosity of the American families,” said Ring.

American Intercultural Student Exchange officials said they usually bring about 3,000 foreign students to the United States a year, but that number has dropped to fewer than 1,000 this school year.

They attribute the decline to parents’ unwillingness to let their children travel overseas after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Former employees say Americans’ fear of foreigners has made it increasingly difficult to find host families.

The organization’s officials declined to discuss individual students, citing privacy concerns.

However, counselor O’Rourke said most student complaints can be attributed to homesickness, culture shock or the teens’ misconception that all Americans live like the rich celebrities they see on TV.

Student unhappiness peaks right around the holidays, O’Rourke said, but most problems are soon resolved with counseling and “tender loving care.”

Organization spokeswoman Doris Lee McCoy said teen-agers tend to be volatile, and some situations are made worse by language barriers and unrealistic expectations. “We have had some students that were pretty pampered” in their home countries, she said.

“Yes, there can be a few glitches. We’re dealing with human beings and they’re not perfect,” McCoy said. “But I know that by the end they will be homesick for their American families, and they will have learned more in that one year than ever before.”


Leslie Branscomb:
(619) 498-6630; leslie.branscomb@uniontrib.com

Comment from DR1 (Danish television) re NBC’s exchange student documentary

Foreign Exchange Students Sexually Abused In Program Overseen by State Department

Dear NBC / Rock Center,

We here at National Danish TV just found out, that you have produced the same story as we did, about exchange students being victims of sexual abuse in American host families. We broadcast our documentary tonight. Our stories might interest you. We asked CIEST what they intended to do about it (see below). This is already a huge story here in Denmark, and tonight after our broadcast the minister concerned will go on the news demanding that action is taken in the exchange student travel organizations to prevent these cases.

Here is our mail to CSIET:

To CIEST,

We would like to draw your attention to the following:

We are broadcasting a documentary (20th of March on National Danish TV) about Danish exchange-students, who were sexually abused during stay with American host families. We have three cases:

1) The case of 16 year old Nicklas Rassing, who was abused by David Goodhead, Riverside, California, sentencing details from May 2003: 5 month in jail, $ 1500 fine.

2) The Case of 17 year old xxx (name known to us), who was abused by Robert Medley, Henderson County, North Carolina, sentencing details from August 2nd 2005: Sexual Battery, class A1 misdemeanor.

3) The case of 16 year old xxx (name known to us), who was abused by John Hamilton, Fairfax County, Virginia, sentencing details from June 2011: 55 years in jail (5 of which had to do with the Danish case).

This raises some questions about the approval of AISE by CSIET, because AISE in all three cases found the host families:

– Were these cases of sexual abuse reported to CSIET by AISE? And if so, what consequence did it have?

– We understand, that AISE were blacklisted by CSIET in 2003 because of the Rassing-case. How come the two next cases did not get AISE blacklisted the following years?

– Have CSIET received or noticed other cases regarding AISE and sexual abuse of exchange students?

The two missing names can be provided, but AISE has had a mail correspondence with us about the cases, so there is no dispute about identifying the students.

We look forward to your response.

Kind regards,

Michael Klint

Journalist / producer
National Danish Broadcast Corporation

Documentary, DR, DR Byen
Emil Holms Kanal 20, opg.1.3
DK-0999 Copenhagen C

Denmark

Mail: mikl@dr.dk
Phone: +45 3520 3040

Phone, desk: +45 3520 2958

Mob: +45 5191 2220

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2003 Apr 26: Local student exchange group reprimanded

2013 Mar 19: John E. Hamilton v. Commonwealth of Virginia

2013 Mar 19: Hamilton appeals sentence

COURT OF APPEALS OF VIRGINIA

Present:   Judges Beales, Alston and Senior Judge Willis
Argued by teleconference

JOHN E. HAMILTON                                                       OPINION BY
v.     Record No. 1922-11-4                      JUDGE ROSSIE D. ALSTON, JR.
MARCH 19, 2013
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF FAIRFAX COUNTY

Brett A. Kassabian, Judge

Karin Kissiah (Kissiah & Schaefer, PLLC, on briefs), for appellant.

Katherine Quinlan Adelfio, Assistant Attorney General (Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

        John E. Hamilton (“defendant”) appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion for a new sentencing.  On appeal, defendant contends that the trial court did not properly follow the procedures in Code § 9.1-902(H) and, accordingly, his case should be remanded for compliance with Code § 9.1-902(H).1  Because we find that the trial court substantially complied with Code § 9.1-902(H), we affirm the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion for a new sentencing.

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1 Code § 9.1-902(H) states:
Prior to entering judgment of conviction of an offense for which registration is required if the victim of the offense was a minor, physically helpless, or mentally incapacitated, the court shall determine by a preponderance of the evidence whether the victim of the offense was a minor, physically helpless or mentally incapacitated, as defined in [Code] § 18.2-67.10, and shall also determine the age of the victim at the time of the offense if it determines the victim to be a minor.  Upon such a determination the court shall advise the defendant of its determination and of the defendant’s right to withdraw a plea of guilty or nolo contendere.  If the defendant chooses to withdraw his plea of guilty or of nolo contendere, his case shall be heard by another judge, unless the parties agree otherwise.

– 2 –

BACKGROUND

           On appeal from the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion for a new sentencing, this Court views the evidence “in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, and accord[s] the Commonwealth the benefit of all inferences fairly deducible from the evidence.”  Glenn v. Commonwealth, 275 Va. 123, 130, 654 S.E.2d 910, 913 (2008) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted).

So viewed, the evidence indicated that defendant was indicted on five separate felony charges, consisting of two counts of aggravated sexual battery, two counts of indecent liberties, and one count of crimes against nature.  During a hearing in the trial court on March 29, 2011, defendant entered a plea of guilty to each of the five felony charges.  During the hearing, the trial court read the indictments, which stated the ages of each of the victims in the separate indictments, to defendant.  Defendant pleaded guilty to each of the charges.  Thereafter, the trial court considered the plea of guilty forms that defendant signed.  Defendant’s counsel informed the trial court that prior to the hearing defendant had reviewed with counsel a form identical to those presented to the trial court except for item 11 of the plea form; the paragraph informing defendant of the requirement that he register as a sex offender based on his conviction for each charge.  The trial court addressed defendant on this point and asked defendant if he had been given a chance to read “that particular identical aspect of each one of these forms,” to which defendant responded, “[Y]es.”  The trial court then asked defendant if he still intended to enter pleas of guilty to each of the five felonies, and defendant responded affirmatively.

           Following the plea colloquy, the Commonwealth proffered the facts of the case.  These facts indicated that defendant sexually abused multiple boys while holding a position as a baseball coach and as a host to a foreign exchange student.  The investigation of the charges against defendant began in 2009 when K.E. reported to the Fairfax County Police Department

– 3 –

that defendant sexually molested him when he was twelve years old.  A detective followed up on this report by going to defendant’s residence where F.G., a sixteen-year-old foreign exchange
student, answered the door.  Later in the investigation, F.G. reported that defendant massaged him “which ended in fellatio and anal intercourse.”

          The Commonwealth also proffered that as part of its investigation, the Fairfax County Police Department issued a press release seeking additional information from individuals who may have had contact with defendant.  Following this press release, additional witnesses came forward.  J.C. reported that defendant exposed himself to and performed sexual acts on him when J.C. was between ten and thirteen years old.  T.T. and P.V. reported similar conduct involving defendant had occurred when they were minors.
Following the Commonwealth’s proffer, the trial court accepted defendant’s plea of guilty, noting it did so based on defendant’s pleas and the proffered evidence.  On June 24, 2011, the trial court sentenced defendant to a total of fifty-five years’ imprisonment for the five felony offenses.

          On July 14, 2011, defendant filed a motion for a new sentencing hearing.  Defendant claimed that the provisions of Code § 9.1-902(H) applied to each of his convictions and were not followed at the sentencing hearing and that the sentence was thus voidable.

          On August 26, 2011, the trial court held a hearing on defendant’s motion for a new sentencing.  The trial court first concluded that Code § 9.1-902(H) applied only to defendant’s conviction for crimes against nature in violation of Code § 18.2-361(A).  The trial court then denied defendant’s request for a new sentencing.  In doing so, the trial court noted that the true purpose of Code § 9.1-902(H) “is to put the defendant on notice at the time of his plea and conviction that this conviction mandates or requires registration.”

– 4 –

The trial court found that the defendant’s plea satisfied the purpose of Code § 9.1-902(H) because he was repeatedly notified by the trial court of the registration requirement and he signed a written plea form that stated, “I understand that this conviction is for an offense for which registration is required.”  Further, according to the trial court, the evidence proffered by the Commonwealth demonstrated that the victim in the felony offense pertaining to the violation of Code § 18.2-361(A), F.G., was sixteen.  The trial court concluded that the lack of a specific determination of the minor status of the victim and notification of the right to withdraw the plea was harmless error.2

This appeal followed.

2 The trial court identified two rationales for denying defendant’s request for a new sentencing hearing.  Initially, the trial court concluded that the remedial purpose of Code § 9.1-902(H) was satisfied because defendant pleaded guilty with the knowledge that his felony convictions would require him to register as a sexual offender.  Notwithstanding that reasoning, the trial court also concluded that even if it inadvertently violated Code § 9.1-902(H), such error was harmless in the context of this case.  
         Upon our review, we find that both rationales possess some foothold in our case law.  See J.B. v. Brunty, 21 Va. App. 300, 305, 464 S.E.2d 166, 169 (1995) (“Thus, we find the harmless error analysis employed in Jamborsky [v. Baskins, 247 Va. 506, 442 S.E.2d 636 (1994)], in finding none of the defendant’s rights was infringed as a result of the delay in the circuit court’s assumption of jurisdiction over the charges is applicable here.”); see also Weathers v. Commonwealth, 262 Va. 803, 805-06, 553 S.E.2d 729, 730 (2001) (providing that substantial compliance with the notice provisions of Code § 19.2-295.1 is sufficient absent any prejudice demonstrated by the defendant).  However, we find the substantial compliance rationale better suited to address the issue raised in this case.  While public officials should endeavor to strenuously comply with procedural statutes, it has long been the rule that “[a] statute directing the mode of proceedings by public officers is to be deemed directory, and precise compliance is not to be deemed essential to the validity of the proceedings . . . .”  Jamborsky, 247 Va. at 511, 442 S.E.2d at 638 (quoting Commonwealth v. Rafferty, 241 Va. 319, 324, 402 S.E.2d 17, 20 (1991)).  Accordingly, because we find that the trial court accomplished the purpose of Code § 9.1-902(H), though not in the precise manner detailed in the relevant statute, we find no initial error by the trial court from which to conduct a harmless error analysis.  Moreover, because precise compliance with a procedural statute is not required, to warrant reversal a defendant must affirmatively show that the trial court’s failure to precisely comply with the statute resulted in some harm or prejudice.  See Marrison v. Fairfax Cnty. Dep’t of Family Servs., 59 Va. App. 61, 68-69, 717 S.E.2d 146, 150 (2011) (“[T]he failure to follow a procedural requirement will not prevent a court from exercising its subject matter jurisdiction unless a party can show ‘some harm or prejudice caused by the failure’ to follow the procedural requirement.” (quoting Carter v. Ancel, 28 Va. App. 76, 79, 502 S.E.2d 149, 151 (1998))).  Thus, eschewing a harmless error

– 5 –

ANALYSIS

          “This appeal presents a matter of statutory interpretation and is subject to de novo review by this Court.”  Commonwealth v. Barker, 275 Va. 529, 536, 659 S.E.2d 502, 504 (2008) (citing Wright v. Commonwealth, 275 Va. 77, 80-81, 655 S.E.2d 7, 9 (2008)).

A.  Applicability of Code § 9.1-902(H) to Defendant’s Convictions Code § 9.1-902(H) states in pertinent part that,

[p]rior to entering judgment of conviction of an offense for which registration is required if the victim of the offense was a minor . . . the court shall determine by a preponderance of the evidence whether the victim of the offense was a minor . . . as defined in [Code] § 18.2-67.10, and shall also determine the age of the victim at the time of the offense if it determines the victim to be a minor.  Upon such a determination the court shall advise the defendant of its determination and of the defendant’s right to withdraw a plea of guilty . . . .  If the defendant chooses to withdraw his plea of guilty . . . his case shall be heard by another judge, unless the parties agree otherwise.

         On appeal, defendant argues that the trial court erred with respect to each of his five convictions in failing to find by a preponderance of the evidence that defendant’s victims were minors and in failing to advise defendant of his right to withdraw his pleas of guilty. We disagree.

          When interpreting statutes, courts “ascertain and give effect to the intention of the legislature.”  That intent is usually self-evident from the words used in the statute.  Consequently, courts apply the plain language of a statute unless the terms are ambiguous, or applying the plain language would lead to an absurd result.


analysis for consideration of whether the trial court substantially complied with the challenged statute preserves defendant’s burden on appeal.  See DePriest v. Commonwealth, 4 Va. App. 577, 583, 359 S.E.2d 540, 543 (1987) (finding that the burden is on appellant to show that the trial court erred); cf. Montgomery v. Commonwealth, 56 Va. App. 695, 702, 696 S.E.2d 261, 264 (2010) (“[T]he principle is well established that the Commonwealth bears the burden of proving the error was harmless.”).  Accordingly, we focus the analysis herein on whether the trial court substantially complied with Code § 9.1-902(H).

– 6 –

Barker, 275 Va. at 536, 659 S.E.2d at 504 (quoting Boynton v. Kilgore, 271 Va. 220, 227, 623 S.E.2d 922, 925 (2006) (citations omitted)).

Defendant asserts that the procedure detailed in Code § 9.1-902(H) applies seriatim to each of his five felony convictions because Code § 9.1-902(H) applies to “all charges where the victim was a minor.”  However, the plain language of the statute demonstrates that subsection H is not implicated by every offense where a minor is involved. Code § 9.1-902(A) identifies the offenses for which registration as a sex offender is required and includes, inter alia, criminal homicide, murder, a sexually violent offense, and any offense listed in subsection B of Code § 9.1-902.  The majority of these offenses requires registration automatically, regardless of any finding concerning the victim’s age, physical status, or mental capacity.  See Code § 9.1-902(B)(1) and 9.1-902(E).  Code § 9.1-902(B)(2), however, identifies a subset of offenses that require registration only “[w]here the victim [was] a minor or
[was] physically helpless or mentally incapacitated” and certain crimes are attempted or committed, including violations of Code § 18.2-361.  Code § 9.1-902(H) addresses the offenses identified in subsection (B)(2), i.e., the offenses that require registration because the victim was a minor.  Code § 9.1-902(H) (detailing the procedure a trial court shall conduct “[p]rior to entering judgment of conviction of an offense for which registration is required if the victim of the offense was a minor, physically helpless, or mentally incapacitated” (emphasis added)).

Here, defendant’s conviction for crimes against nature in violation of Code § 18.2-361 is the only offense for which registration is required under subsection (B)(2) of Code § 9.1-902.
Accordingly, defendant’s conviction for crimes against nature is the only offense that implicates Code § 9.1-902(H), and the only offense for which the trial court was required to “determine by a preponderance of the evidence whether the victim of the offense was a minor,” and upon such a determination, “advise the defendant of its determination and of the defendant’s right to

– 7 –

withdraw a plea of guilty or nolo contendere.”  Code § 9.1-902(H).  For the foregoing reasons, we limit our consideration of whether the trial court erred in failing to follow the procedures detailed in Code § 9.1-902(H) to defendant’s conviction for crimes against nature.

B.  Alleged Violation of Code § 9.1-902(H)

          Defendant asserts that he was harmed by the trial court’s failure to comply with Code § 9.1-902(H) because he was unaware of his right to withdraw his guilty plea.  Defendant alleges that error denied him a substantive right, the right to withdraw a guilty plea created by Code § 9.1-902(H), and constitutes a structural error that is not subject to harmless error analysis.

         Assuming arguendo that Code § 9.1-902(H) grants defendant a substantive right to withdraw his guilty plea, we nevertheless hold that Code § 9.1-902(H)’s requirement that the trial court determine that the victim was a minor and advise the defendant of his right to
withdraw his guilty plea is procedural in nature.3

         As the Virginia Supreme Court has previously held, “[t]he use of ‘shall,’ in a statute requiring action by a public official, is directory and not mandatory unless the statute manifests a contrary intent.”  Jamborsky v. Baskins, 247 Va. 506, 511, 442 S.E.2d 636, 638 (1994).  To determine whether a statute expresses a contrary intent, this Court must determine whether the statute contains “prohibitory or limiting language.”  Id.  Absent such language, “the failure to

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3 A trial court’s failure to comply with a statute may, at times, touch upon a defendant’s substantive right.  But, mere contact, standing alone, does not render a statute mandatory and jurisdictional.  See Lebedun v. Commonwealth, 27 Va. App. 697, 718, 501 S.E.2d 427, 437 (1998) (finding no error where “[t]he Commonwealth’s failure to strictly comply with the procedural requirements of [the challenged statute] violated no substantive right and did not prejudice [the defendant] . . .”); Howerton v. Commonwealth, 36 Va. App. 205, 211, 548 S.E.2d 914, 916-17 (2001) (“We have held that compliance with [the challenged statute] relating to procedures for instituting proceedings against juveniles is mandatory and jurisdictional.  The failure to strictly follow the notice procedures contained in the Code deny the defendant a substantive right.”); Caccioppo v. Commonwealth, 20 Va. App. 534, 537, 458 S.E.2d 592, 594 (1995) (“Such provisions are ‘procedural in nature’ and ‘precise compliance is not to be deemed essential to the validity of the proceedings,’ absent infringement of a substantive right.” (quoting Jamborsky, 247 Va. at 511, 442 S.E.2d at 638).

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follow a procedural requirement will not prevent a court from exercising its subject matter jurisdiction unless a party can show ‘some harm or prejudice caused by the failure’ to follow the procedural requirement.”  Marrison v. Fairfax Cnty. Dep’t of Family Servs., 59 Va. App. 61, 68-69, 717 S.E.2d 146, 150 (2011) (quoting Carter v. Ancel, 28 Va. App. 76, 79, 502 S.E.2d 149, 151 (1998)).

         In the present case, Code § 9.1-902(H) contains no prohibitory or limiting language that prevents the trial court from convicting and sentencing a defendant without first determining that a victim was a minor and advising the defendant of his right to withdraw his plea of guilty. “Absent such limiting language, the provision at issue is directory and procedural, rather than mandatory and jurisdictional.”  Jamborsky, 247 Va. at 511, 442 S.E.2d at 639.

          Having reached this conclusion, it follows that defendant cannot prevail in this appeal “unless [he] can show ‘some harm or prejudice caused by the failure’” to follow Code § 9.1-902(H).  See Marrison, 59 Va. App. at 68-69, 717 S.E.2d at 150 (quoting Carter, 28 Va. App. at 79, 502 S.E.2d at 151).  Thus, if the trial court substantially complied with the challenged statutory provision, absent attendant harm, defendant cannot prevail.  See Weathers v. Commonwealth, 262 Va. 803, 805-06, 553 S.E.2d 729, 730 (2001).

          After reviewing the record and the evidence in this case, we find that the trial court’s failure to apprise defendant of his right to withdraw his guilty plea did not infringe or deny his right to withdraw his guilty plea.  In reaching this conclusion, we note that, although defendant was aware of Code § 9.1-902(H) and referenced the stat ute in his motion for a new sentencing hearing, defendant did not seek to withdraw his guilty plea either before or after his sentencing event.  Because defendant was aware of his right to withdraw his guilty plea but did not pursue it, we find that the trial court’s failure to apprise defendant of his right to withdraw his guilty plea did not deny or infringe defendant’s substantive right.

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          Additionally, we find that the trial court’s failure to advise defendant of his right to withdraw his plea is not structural error.  See Ray v. Commonwealth, 55 Va. App. 647, 651, 688 S.E.2d 879, 881 (2010) (“Structural error exists only in a very limited class of cases in which the error affects the very framework within which the trial proceeds in a manner that defies analysis by harmless error standards because it undermines the entire adjudicatory framework of a criminal trial.” (citations and internal quotation marks omitted)); see also Campbell v. Campbell, 49 Va. App. 498, 505 n.4, 642 S.E.2d 769, 773 n.4 (2007) (“Generally, structural error is limited to error that deprives a litigant of a constitutional right.”).  Rather, for the reasons stated above, we hold that the requirement to advise defendant of his right to withdraw his guilty plea was procedural and directory.

         Finally, we find that the record demonstrates substantial compliance with the challenged portion of the statute.  See Weathers, 262 Va. at 805, 553 S.E.2d at 730 (providing that substantial compliance with the notice provisions of Code § 19.2-295.1 is sufficient absent any prejudice demonstrated by the defendant).  As we read the plain language of the statute, Code § 9.1-902(H) is designed to ensure that a defendant is aware that pleading guilty to an offense listed in Code § 9.1-902(B)(2) may also, if the victim is a minor, physically helpless, or mentally incapacitated, require the defendant to register as a sex offender.  Because registration is dependent on a factual predicate that is separate from the elements of the offense to which the defendant is pleading, Code § 9.1-902(H) requires the trial court to determine that the victim was a minor and, upon such a finding, to advise the defendant of his right to withdraw his plea of guilty “[p]rior to entering judgment of conviction.”  In application, Code § 9.1-902(H) ensures that the defendant has notice of the registration requirement before his plea is finalized.

        While the trial court did not precisely follow the directions of Code § 9.1-902(H) in this case, defendant was aware prior to pleading guilty that the victim in the case was a minor and

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that conviction of the offense would require him to register as a sexual offender.  The trial court read to defendant the indictment for the crimes against nature charge, which stated that the victim, F.G., was sixteen years old.  The trial court also informed defendant of the registration requirement, and defendant acknowledged this fact during the plea colloquy and in the signed “Plea of Guilty to a Felony” form memorializing his understanding.  Moreover, defendant has not pointed to any prejudice he has suffered by the trial court’s failure to strictly comply with the language of Code § 9.1-902(H).  “Accordingly, we hold that, although the statute means what it says and its directions should be followed, there has been substantial compliance with it in this case,” and defendant’s conviction and sentencing were proper, “there having been no showing of prejudice to [defendant].”  Weathers, 262 Va. at 805-06, 553 S.E.2d at 730.

CONCLUSION

          Assuming without deciding that Code § 9.1-902(H) creates a substantive right to withdraw a guilty plea and the trial court failed to apprise defendant of this right, because we find that the trial court substantially complied with the challenged statute, we affirm defendant’s conviction.

Affirmed.

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2012 Mar 20: Misbrug af udvekslingsstudenter hemmligholdes (Danish)

2011 Jun 27: John E Hamilton, deemed sexual predator

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