Published by Bayerischer Rundfunk on Mar 22, 2017
Published by Bayerischer Rundfunk on Mar 22, 2017
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
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.
|Subject:||Have YFU USA changed their stripes?|
|Date:||Thu, 31 Jul 2014 22:43:38 +0200|
|From:||Lise Almenningen <email@example.com>|
|To:||firstname.lastname@example.org, James T Alexander <AlexanderJT@state.gov>, Brandi Duffy <email@example.com>, Robin Lerner <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Elizabeth Dickerson <DickersonEB@state.gov>, Susan Geary <GearySA@state.gov>, Hawkins S <email@example.com>|
|CC:||firstname.lastname@example.org, Child-Safe International <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Freda.email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com|
Office of Inspector General:
YFU-USA, Inc. (previously YFU, Inc.)
Bankruptcy YFU 2002
YFU USA rises from the ashes 2002
Have YFU USA changed their stripes?
According to the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) own report number AUD/CG-02-12, December 2002 OIG’s Office of Audits conducted a review of nine grants awarded to Youth for Understanding, Inc. Due to the facts uncovered by OIG YFU filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 11, 2002 (shutting down operations on March 8, 2002).
On March 9, 2002 much of the same personnel (including Roberta Hopkins who helped set up the new company) working at the same offices begin a new firm called YFU-USA, Inc. They requested that the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) hand over all of the old grants to them so they might finish their responsibilities. At the same time YFU/YFU-USA ensures through their bankruptcy that they will not have to fulfill their financial obligations to ECA in spite of YFU owing to the US Govenment at the very least USD 315,793 (very likely more than USD 1,000,000). (Based on OIG’s report)
In addition, we see that YFU, Inc/YFU-USA, Inc. tried to get out of health insurance obligations through filing for their Chapter 11. (Risteen V. Youth For Understanding) The Court concluded that YFU USA was ”under the IRS COBRA regulations” a successor employer to YFU. The Court also issued a preliminary injunction ordering YFU-USA, Inc. to provide COBRA coverage to the employee.
According to Kal Goren’s presentation to the OCBA Employee Benefits Committee, YFU, Inc./YFU-USA’s is considered a fraudulent transfer case. They claim this is due to the so-called “buyer” taking over the seller’s assets except their real-estate. In addition the new entity refused to provide the terminated former “number two-position” officer with his remaining 16 months of COBRA health insurance coverage. (Successor Liability For Benefits in Assets Purchases, 2011).
Before the time of the bankruptcy of YFU, Inc., YFU had been the primary administrative organization for the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) for CBYX’s first decade and a half. YFU-USA had hoped it would be able to get back in the game once they had once more become eligible. (K12 Academics) In spite of YFU’s previous serious monetary transgressions, CBYX seems to have chosen to continue their work with this “well-renowned” corporation. (CBYX’s website)
Recently there was an Article in Journal-Standard dated Jun. 12, 2014 about young Madeleine Sutton who is travelling via a CBYX stipend to Germany. Please verify that she is indeed travelling with YFU/YFU-USA. Her father’s contact information is: xxxxxxxxx
I hope that the Office of Inspector General continue to keep an eye on YFU-USA, Inc. so the students and their parents can feel safe in their attempt to build a positive relationship between Germany and the US.
Lise Lotte M Almenningen
Cc: Child-Safe, UK
SIU, Norway: Eric Duncan
Department for Education, China
Department for Education, UK
Department for Education, Germany
Department for Education, Australia
Department for Education, Norway
CSFES, Danielle Grijalva
Dr. Freda Briggs
-- CSFES Norway http://trygghetforutvekslingseleven.wordpress.com/
The link to this article by Toriano Porter and Russ Pulley no longer seems to work. It was published Wednesday, Jul. 25 2012 8:46AM in Lee’s Summit Journal.
The article is about Brian J. Wilson who pleaded guilty to two counts of common assault against two teenage foreign exchange students, after initially being charged with one count of assault and one count of first degree assault, a class A felony.
A Lee’s Summit man who was the field director for an agency that helps bring foreign exchange students to the United States is serving one year of supervised probation after pleading guilty to charges that he inappropriately touched two foreign exchange students on separate occasions.
Brian J. Wilson, 49, pleaded guilty June 7 before Lee’s Summit Municipal court judge James Tobin to two counts of common assault after initially being charged with one count of assault and one count of first degree assault, a class A felony.
Wilson received a one-year suspended sentence with one year of supervised probation, which includes 40 hours of community service to be completed within six months and orders that he must not have contact with the victims. Wilson’s probation status will be reviewed in December.
Wilson is the father of Sean and Steven Wilson, two Lee’s Summit North students who were suspended in January for 180 days by the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District for posting blog posts the district deemed racist and offensive. The Wilson brothers were reinstated to North in April after a federal judge ruled the brothers could return to school.
Reached by telephone Monday, Brian Wilson denied guilt despite his guilty pleas, which stipulates that Wilson have no one-on-one contact or be in intentional close contact with children under 18 years old.
“I pled guilty, but I’m not guilty,” Wilson said of his pleas, which are considered violations of city ordinances. City officials said the charges were handled as a municipal ordinance violations because state prosecutors did not feel the cases met the threshold for sexual assault. “It was going to cost me several thousand dollars to fight the cases.
“I enjoy volunteering and working with children, but if – I don’t know how to explain it. The reason I pled guilty was I wanted to get things out of the way. Under the circumstances, the city offered a plea that eventually would not remain on my record. Rather than argue with a couple of kids – you know, ‘he said, she said,’ – and take any kind of risk of having something on my record, I pled what I pled and I don’t feel good about it. I’m trying to what’s right for myself and my family.”
Wilson was area field director for Youth for Understanding USA at the time of the accusations, but no longer works for the agency. YFU USA is a non-profit international agency that helps students from all over the world enroll in exchange programs. Wilson helped exchange students find host families for their stay in the United States.
Neil Routman, communication and development specialist for Youth for Understanding said Wilson was no longer an employee of the agency. In a telephone interview from its headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, Routman said “It was very, very inappropriate and completely against all of our policies.”
In a prepared statement the agency said its “top priority is safety of the young people placed in its care.” It said Wilson was terminated early in 2012 following reports of inappropriate conduct. “Upon receipt of an allegation of inappropriate conduct, the local area representative followed YFU protocol and immediately notified the UFU Support Service Manager. Without delay, the Support Service Manager made arrangements to remove the student placed in this employee’s home. YFU directly contacted the Missouri Department of Social Services Children’s Division and the U.S. Department of State, alerting them of this alleged incident.”
Youth for Understanding said Child Protective Services conducted an investigation which resulted in an unsubstantiated conclusion. Despite that, YFU said, Wilson was placed on probation and prohibited from having direct contact with students or having them in his home. During the probationary period a second report of a similar incident which had occurred prior to the first reported incident. YFU notified local authorities and Child Protective Services of the second complaint and terminated Wilson’s employment.
Routman said all adult staff and volunteers undergo criminal background checks, including sex offender registries, and provides training for youth safety and to prevent sexual harassment. It trains students, volunteers, host families and staff to always report incidents to Support Service Managers, who are mandatory reporters to local authorities. Students receive training before and after arrival on identifying inappropriate behavior and how to report it to Youth for Understanding and authorities. It also screens host families, including mandatory in-home interviews, reference checks and criminal background checks.
Youth for Understanding, founded in 1951, has helped bring 250,000 exchange students to the United States from 60 countries, about 2,000 a year and sends 400 to 500 students abroad.
Wilson said he worked with more than 140 kids in two years with YFU USA, and that the two allegations were the only problems he ever had with children.
“One was lying, Wilson said, “and the other kid, it was just a misunderstanding.”
According to legal documents obtained by the Journal, Wilson was first accused of assaulting 17-year-old Camille Lingre, a foreign exchange student from France, in November of 2011.
Charging documents state that Wilson approached Lingre on Nov. 1, 2011 and asked her to come to his bedroom with him with a request for her to teach him to pronounce obscene words in French.
Later, the incident report reveled, Wilson asked Lingre to perform a sex act, which she stated to police made her feel uncomfortable. Lingre later stated to police that Wilson put his hand on her leg, apologized for making her feel uncomfortable then moved his hand further up her leg.
Lingre would eventually inform Sally Wooten, volunteer director for Youth for Understanding USA, of Wilson’s behavior, but Wooten, according to court documents, told Lingre that she and Wilson were good friends, that she had known Wilson for a long time and that she didn’t believe Wilson would do such a thing. Wooten could not be reached for comment.
Lingre, who was staying with Wilson and his family until she found a host family, later moved in with a family from Overland Park, Kan. It was there that Lingre confided in her host mother of what transpired at the Wilson home.
Child services in Kansas referred the case to Childe Protective Services in Missouri, who arranged for a forensic interview. Lingre later prepared a written statement of the incident.
Police questioned Wilson Nov. 30 of last year and he denied all the allegations. He told police at the time that he hugged Lingre when he dropped her off at her new home but he never touched her besides that.
Because of a lack of evidence, charges were not initially filed in the Lingre case, but the case was re-opened after another foreign exchange student came forward with similar accusations.
On Jan. 17, legal documents state, Lee’s Summit Police were contacted by family services in regard to a possible sex offense involving a 16-year-old girl and Wilson. The girl told police while she stayed at Wilson’s home before moving on to her host family that Wilson made her uncomfortable by asking her to translate obscene words into her primary language.
According to the incident report, Wilson touched the girl’s arm and rubbed it, then later invited her into his room where he motioned for her to sit on his bed. The girl stated Wilson was under the covers the entire time and that he told the girl a few days later that he was naked while they were sitting in his bed. The comment made the girl uncomfortable, but she also stated Wilson never touched her in any other way.
The next day Wilson was escorted to police headquarters for questioning where he denied allegations that he touched the girl. He stated that he did have her translate an obscene word into her language and agreed that the request was inappropriate. He also told police that she did sit on his bed while he was naked under covers but stated that the girl let herself in the bedroom and sat down.
The report indicates that Wilson told police that his wife was in the bathroom while the incident occurred and when contacted by police the wife first stated that she did not know what police were talking about.
After police explained the situation, the report states, Wilson’s wife told police that she may have been in the bathroom when the incident happened but that she was not positive.
Warrants were issued for Wilson’s arrest on Jan. 26 for assault on the 16-year-old girl and the previous case involving Lingre.
The Lee’s Summit host family for the 16-year-old girl declined to comment on the case.
“I’ve had several regrets,” Wilson said Monday. “I have to take care of my family and (legal fees are) an awful lot of money. I don’t know what else to say. Is (pleading guilty) something I wanted to do? No. I’m trying to get on with my life. If the city is telling me I can’t work around kids, that’s fine, I don’t have to. I have nothing inside of me that tells me I have to work with kids.”