Category Archives: South-KOREA

2009 Feb 28: Couple who placed exchange students must pay $178,000

Restitution ordered: Allentown pair had failed to compensate host families, schools.

February 28, 2009 | By Andrew C. Martel Of The Morning Call

An Allentown couple who placed foreign exchange students and failed to compensate host families and schools must pay more than $178,000 in restitution and penalties and is permanently barred from working with international students.

Lehigh County Judge J. Brian Johnson ruled Tuesday to shut down United Student Exchange and fine its owners, Tim and Tina Sweet.

Johnson granted a preliminary injunction last spring, temporarily freezing the couple’s assets and closing United Student Exchange, which found schools and housing for international students, mostly from South Korea. Some were housed in bare and shoddy rooms at the Sweets’ house.

The couple was sued last spring by state Attorney General Tom Corbett’s office, which claimed the Sweets diverted more than $100,000 that was intended for school tuitions and payments to families who had taken in students.

“Visiting students and their American host families were met with empty promises and disappointment,” Corbett said. “This court order permanently bans the Sweets from operating any type of foreign exchange business.”

The couple’s attorney, Robert Rust III, said last month that the Sweets do not object to closing their business, but he said they worried the restitution amount would be higher than they thought appropriate. He did not return calls for comment Friday.

Tina Sweet said Friday that was still her position, but declined to comment further, saying “not that any of it matters now.”

Tim and Tina Sweet founded United Student Exchange in late 2006. Their Web site promised students enrollment in a private school and placement with a loving host family.

United Student Exchange also offered the students trips to visit colleges and a youth club that would meet monthly. Students’ families were charged $3,500 by the Sweets. They were also directed to make separate tuition payments for their child’s school to the Sweets. Host families were promised $2,500 to take in a student.

But the attorney general’s office later found that the Sweets deposited payments to United Student Exchange in their personal bank accounts and used the corporate account for personal spending. The investigation also found that some private schools are owed more than $112,000 in unpaid tuition.

Some students also arrived in the United States with no host family to take them. The Sweets put up some of those students at their home on Roth Avenue, where the young people slept in bedrooms or the basement.

The basement, which was shared by two students, had mattresses on the floor and no closet or dresser and no door for privacy. On weekends, the students were sometimes left unsupervised at a local mall.

Judge Johnson concluded that the Sweets broke the law by using deceptive advertising. The couple has three months to pay the restitution and fines.

andrew.martel@mcall.com

610-820-6527

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2006 Aug 28: Students Land in US without Schools, Hosts

2008 Mar 13: Foreign exchange troubles come home

2008 Mar 18: Pennsylvania Sues Exchange Student Business

2008 Mar 18: Pennsylvania Sues Exchange Student Business

Operators accused of diverting funds, misleading parents and misrepresenting program

03/18/2008 | ConsumerAffairs

Pennsylvania’s attorney general has filed a civil lawsuit against an Allentown, Pa., couple accused of diverting in excess of $100,000 from the international “foreign exchange student” business they operated.

Attorney General Tom Corbett said the lawsuit was filed against Timothy H. Sweet and Tina Sweet, doing business as United Student Exchange and United International Studies.

According to the lawsuit, the Sweets brought more than 50 foreign students to Pennsylvania with promises of carefully selected host families and placement at private schools. They are accused of diverting more than $100,000 which was intended to pay for school tuitions and to support the students while they were in the United States.

“The Sweets and their business – United Student Exchange – took advantage of families hoping to send their children to America to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime educational experiences,” Corbett said. “Instead, visiting students and their U.S. host families were met with empty promises and disappointment – left to fend for themselves by a business that claimed to be ‘uniting the world with Christ, one student at a time’.”

Corbett said his office has also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Sweets from bringing additional foreign students into the United States, along with a request that the court order an immediate freeze of any bank accounts and other assets controlled by the Sweets, believed to contain money that has been paid for program fees, tuition and host family payments.

‘Christian’ communities

According to the lawsuit, the Sweets, operating as United Student Exchange, advertised the placement of exchange students in Christian communities. Exchange students were primarily recruited in Korea.

Currently, the program is believed to have 56 students, from 8th through 12th grade, in the U.S., with the majority of the students located in Lehigh, Berks and Lancaster counties.

Corbett said that exchange students and their families were promised a “dedicated” and “full service” program to support the students during their visit, using carefully screened host families that were pre-selected for the students.

According to the lawsuit, arriving students often learned that their host families had not yet been recruited. Foreign students without a host family were placed in “temporary” homes or housed in the Sweets home, as many as eight students at a time.

Corbett said that the Sweets and United Student Exchange are also accused of recruiting host families under false pretenses — claiming that pre-arranged host families had suffered an illness or had a previously scheduled activity, such as a vacation, which required the temporary relocation of a visiting student.

Host families recruited after the arrival of students did not complete a “host family application form,” and were not required to supply references or undergo a background check, or only received a cursory review, contrary to advertised claims by the Sweets about their family screening and selection process.

According to the United Student Exchange website, maintained by the Sweets, visiting students would be offered free trips throughout the year, so that they could see other parts of America, along with other services which were not provided.

No support

In addition, host families were also told that United Student Exchange was dedicated to providing assistance to the visiting students during their stay, though families were allegedly left without support — with the Sweets failing to reply to email messages or respond to telephone calls.

Corbett said the families of visiting students paid a “service fee” of $3,500 to the Sweets and United Student Exchange in order to locate a school and host family. The Sweets also received an additional $2,500 fee, intended to pay the host family for their expenses, along with added costs for school tuition. Full payment of all fees was required prior to the students’ arrival in the United States.

According to the lawsuit, the majority of payments were made directly to the Sweets and United Student Exchange, who maintained control over the balance of the funds. Despite pre-payment of all school tuition and host family fees, a number of schools and host families report receiving only minimal payments from the Sweets, or no payment at all.

Additionally, the lawsuit states that complaints from students, host families and schools about unpaid expenses or missing funds were occasionally met by threats from the Sweets to send visiting students home prior to the end of their 10-month stay — resulting in the forfeiture of all payments and also sign of dishonor for families whose children had not completed the school year.

Corbett noted that United Student Exchange and other related businesses names used by the Sweets have not been registered with the Pennsylvnia Department of State, as required for any fictitious business name.

The Sweets and their businesses are also not recognized sponsors under the federal J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa program, which is closely supervised by the U.S. State Department and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Corbett said that the violations of the Consumer Protection Law listed in the civil lawsuit filed against the Sweets include:
• Failure to pay host families, as promised.
• Failure to pay school tuition, as promised.
• Misrepresentation of support to students and host families.
• Contract terms in violation of Consumer Protection Law.
• Failure to register fictitious business names. Corbett said the civil lawsuit filed against the Sweets and their businesses seeks the following:
• Permanently prohibit the Sweets and their companies from placing additional foreign students in the U.S.
• Permanently prohibit the Sweets from housing foreign students at their residence.
• Prevent the forced return of any student prior to the end of their contracted visit to the United States.
• Declare that illegal sections of exchange student contracts are null and void.
• Provide all host families and schools with all payments collected by the Sweets and their companies which were intended for tuition and host expenses.
• Civil penalties of $1,000 for each violation of the Consumer Protection Law, increasing to $3,000 for each violation involving a victim over 60 years old.
• Prohibit the Sweets and their businesses from operating in Pennsylvania until all restitution, costs and civil penalties have been paid.

Corbett said that a court order, obtained on March 6, 2008, prevents the Sweets from engaging in any further student exchange activities, prohibits them from housing students in their home and prevents them from involuntarily returning students to their home countries.

Corbett said the court order also requires the Sweets to preserve all business and financial records and open all records and accounts to investigators from the Attorney General’s Office. Additionally, the Sweets are subject to court-ordered restrictions on the withdrawal of funds from various bank accounts.

Corbett encouraged any student, host family or school experiencing difficulty with the Sweets, United Student Exchange or United International Studies to contact the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555 (inside Pennsylvania) or the Allentown Regional Office of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at 610-821-6690.

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2006 Aug 28: Students Land in US without Schools, Hosts

2008 Mar 13: Foreign exchange troubles come home

2007 Dec 21: Lawmakers endorse study of foreign exchange student placement in Arkansas

By Rob Moritz, Arkansas News Bureau,

Posted on 21 December 2007

LITTLE ROCK – The Legislative Council on Friday endorsed a proposal to study placement of foreign exchange students with host families in Arkansas.

Sen. Sue Madison, D-Fayetteville, said she proposed the study after receiving complaints that some foreign exchange students were being placed in homes with families ill-equipped to take care of them.

Madison also noted recent reports that the U.S. State Department was investigating complaints about where a Massachusetts company had placed some foreign exchange students arriving in Arkansas.

That investigation, involving the Education First Foundation for Foreign Study and its Fayetteville coordinators, involves allegations that exchange students stayed at the homes of the coordinators.

Federal regulations prohibit employees of a foreign exchange company from serving as both a host family and area supervisor for a student.

Madison’s proposal asks the Senate Interim Committee on Children and Youth to study the issue and report its findings to Legislative Council.

“Some parents came to me about problems they’ve seen in Northwest Arkansas,” Madison said Friday, also noting problems she heard of in Clarksville and Hot Springs.

In Clarksville, Madison said, a student from Korea was placed with a family living in low-income housing. The student would write home asking her parents for money to help feed her host family, she said.

“At that point, she asked to be moved to another family and representatives from the company set up a table outside a Wal-Mart to recruit her another family,” Madison said. “They found her another family and this time the male of the household was arrested on a drug charge.”

The State Department, which currently has oversight authority, does not have adequate staff to oversee the foreign exchange program, Madison said. California has enacted a law that gives its attorney general’s office some oversight authority, she said.

The California law requires any person or group that arranges the placement of foreign exchange students in California elementary, junior high or high schools to register with the attorney general’s office before making the placement.

Copyright © Arkansas News Bureau, 2003 – 2006

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EF Education First Arkansas

2007 Dec 9: Exchange group gets probe after teens complain

2008 Jun 03: Agency dumps coordinators of foreign teens

2008 Jun 17: Lawmakers question foreign exchange procedures, legislation in the works

2011 Feb 24: Richard Mink faces trial on charge of taking nude photos of male exchange student

John S. Hausman | jhausman@mlive.comBy John S. Hausman | jhausman@mlive.com 
on February 24, 2011 at 6:57 PM

A 76-year-old Muskegon man who has hosted foreign exchange students for nearly 20 years has been bound over for trial on a charge of manufacturing child pornography.

Richard William Mink of 2520 Glenside on Thursday waived a preliminary hearing in Muskegon County 60th District Court on that 20-year felony. He is accused of taking nude photos of a 16-year-old German male exchange student in 2009.

“Mink was bound over on the top count, and a plea to that count is anticipated,” said Brett Gardner, Muskegon County’s chief assistant prosecutor.

A separate case of second-degree child abuse, involving a 15-year-old South Korean male exchange student in 2010, was dismissed Thursday because the alleged victim does not want to cooperate, Gardner said.

Mink had been accused of abusing the Korean boy in a variety of ways, including paddling the boy on his bare bottom, making him walk naked in front of Mink, and watching him shower and fondling his genitals. In a recent Chronicle interviewMink acknowledged some of those allegations but denied the fondling.

The allegations surfaced in December after the South Korean student, who had been attending a local high school in Muskegon County, told a school counselor that he had been abused, sometimes sexually, at the hands of Mink.

The Muskegon police investigation into the Korean boy’s case led authorities to search Mink’s home, where they discovered nude photos of the German male exchange student, allegedly taken by Mink.

E-mail: jhausman@muskegonchronicle.com

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2011 Feb 07: Richard Mink of Muskegon charged with two felonies for allegedly abusing two foreign exchange students he hosted at his home

2011 Feb 07: Muskegon’s Richard Mink admits to paddling, forcing exchange student to walk nude in front of him, denies fondling [UPDATE]

2011 Feb 07: Muskegon’s Richard Mink admits to paddling, forcing exchange student to walk nude in front of him, denies fondling [UPDATE]

Heather Lynn Peters | hpeters@mlive.comBy Heather Lynn Peters | hpeters@mlive.com 
on February 07, 2011 at 7:02 PM, updated February 08, 2011 at 9:12 AM

MUSKEGON — A Muskegon man admitted in a Muskegon Chronicle interview Monday that he paddled a 15-year-old foreign exchange student from South Korea on his bare bottom, made him walk naked in front of him and watched the boy shower — but says it was all for the boy’s own good.

“He was very shy and he expressed a concern about walking around the locker room nude at the gym,” said Richard William Mink, who hosted the boy at his home from August to December 2010. “I had him practice. I had him walk back and forth nude in the bedroom. I was in there, but it was very dimly lit and I couldn’t really see him.”

Mink, 75, of 2520 Glenside, who said he has hosted foreign exchange students for nearly 20 years, has been charged with two felonies for allegedly abusing two teen boys, one from Germany and the student from South Korea.

Mink has been arraigned in Muskegon County’s 60th District Court before Judge Andrew Wierengo III on one count of child abusive commercial activity — producing child pornography — and one count of second-degree child abuse in connection with two separate cases involving the two unrelated international students.

Mink is accused of taking nude photos of the German student some time in 2008 and abusing the other student in a variety of ways, including fondling the South Korean boy’s genitals, claiming it was a “medical examination,” police said.

Mink denied the fondling accusation, but admits to other claims made by the boy in December.

“I paddled him, yes. I paddled him for being mean to my animals, for one reason. I paddled him once for not turning in his assignments at school,” Mink said.

However, he claims he never fondled the student.

“I did not do that. I think he said that because I made him have his hair cut. I mean, how do you defend yourself about a boy who says things about you that aren’t true?” Mink said. “I won’t be able to show my face when this goes in the paper.”

Mink is free on two $20,000 signature bonds — one for each case —  issued by Wierengo. The judge set his preliminary examination for Thursday. Mink said he’s hired Muskegon attorney Ronald Pannucci.

Both exchange students were immediately removed from Mink’s home when the initial complaints were filed, said Muskegon Police Department Lt. Leah Fenwick.

The allegations surfaced in December after the South Korean student, who had been attending a local high school in Muskegon County, told a school counselor that he had been abused, sometimes sexually, at the hands of Mink.

A school official then reported the teen’s claims to authorities, Fenwick said.

“He said he was inappropriately touched,” Fenwick said.

The victim also said Mink forced him to sleep nude, shower with others staying at the house and “touched the teen on his genitals and claimed he was doing a medical examination,” Fenwick said.

Mink also allegedly struck the boy on his “bare bottom” and spanked him with a “flat stick,” Fenwick said.

Mink told The Chronicle that he had the boy shower with the shower curtain “partially open” while Mink was in the bathroom, but only so he could “show the boy” how to operate the shower.

The investigation into the recent claims led authorities to search Mink’s home, where they discovered nude photos of a 16-year-old Germany male exchange student, apparently taken by Mink, Fenwick said.

One photo showed the 16-year-old boy completely naked, during the day at a Muskegon-area beach, Fenwick said.

An investigation into whether any additional criminal activity occurred between Mink and other exchange students is ongoing, Fenwick said.

The South Korean student was connected with Mink through Ayusa Global Youth Exchange. The organization’s website indicates it is a nonprofit organization designated by the U.S. Department of State. It wasn’t clear how Mink came in contact with the German student.

Sherry Carpenter, executive director of Ayusa, a nationwide group with a field office in Ada, said the organization was devastated to hear of the alleged abuse.

“The moment Ayusa became aware of the unfortunate incident involving one of our foreign exchange students, we immediately removed the student from the host family. We then quickly followed all Ayusa and U.S. Department of State policies and procedures, including reporting and contacting the authorities,” Carpenter said in a statement to The Chronicle.

Carpenter said last year was the first time Mink ever hosted an exchange student with Ayusa.

E-mail: hpeters@muskegonchronicle.com

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2011 Feb 07: Richard Mink of Muskegon charged with two felonies for allegedly abusing two foreign exchange students he hosted at his home

2011 Feb 07: Richard Mink of Muskegon charged with two felonies for allegedly abusing two foreign exchange students he hosted at his home

Heather Lynn Peters | hpeters@mlive.comBy Heather Lynn Peters | hpeters@mlive.com 
on February 07, 2011 at 9:58 AM, updated February 07, 2011 at 5:10 PM

MUSKEGON — A 75-year-old Muskegon man who has hosted foreign exchange students for more than a decade has been charged with two felonies for allegedly abusing two teen boys, one from Germany and the other from South Korea.

M0208EXCHANGE.jpgRichard William Mink

Richard William Mink, 2520 Glenside, was arraigned recently in Muskegon County 60th District Court before Judge Andrew Wierengo III on one count of child abusive commercial activity — producing child pornography — and one count of second-degree child abuse in connection with two separate cases involving two unrelated international students.

Mink is free on a $20,000 signature bond issued by Wierengo. The judge set his preliminary examination for Thursday.

Both males were immediately removed from Mink’s home when the initial complaints were filed, said Muskegon Police Department Lt. Leah Fenwick.

The most recent case involves a 15-year-old male from South Korea who began staying with Mink in August 2010, Fenwick said.

The teen, who had been attending a local high school in Muskegon County, reported to a school counselor that he had been abused, sometimes sexually, at the hands of Mink.

A school official then reported the teen’s claims to authorities, Fenwick said.

“He said he was inappropriately touched,” Fenwick said.

The victim also said Mink forced him to sleep nude, shower with others staying at the house and “touched the teen on his genitals and claimed he was doing a medical examination,” Fenwick said.

Mink also allegedly struck the boy on his “bare bottom” and spanked him with a “flat stick,” Fenwick said.

The investigation into the recent claims led authorities to search Mink’s home where they discovered nude photos of a 16-year-old Germany male exchange student, apparently taken by Mink, Fenwick said.

One photo showed the 16-year-old victim completely naked, during the day at a Muskegon-area beach, Fenwick said.

An investigation into whether any additional criminal activity occurred between Mink and other exchange students is ongoing, Fenwick said.

The South Korean student was connected with Mink through Ayusa Global Youth Exchange, which it’s website lists as a non-profit organization designated by the U.S. Department of State. It wasn’t clear how Mink came in contact with the German student.

Sherry Carpenter, Executive Director of Ayusa, said the organization was devastated to hear of the alleged abuse.

“The moment Ayusa became aware of the unfortunate incident involving one of our foreign exchange students we immediately removed the student from the host family. We then quickly followed all Ayusa and U.S. Department of State policies and procedures, including reporting and contacting the authorities,” Carpenter said in a statement to the Chronicle.

Carpenter said last year was the first time Mink ever hosted an exchange student with Ayusa.

E-mail:

hpeters@muskegonchronicle.com

2012 Jun 26: Child porn manufacture case against Muskegon exchange-student host dismissed

John S. Hausman | jhausman@mlive.com By John S. Hausman | jhausman@mlive.com / The Muskegon Chronicle on updated June 26, 2012 at  5:50 PM

Richard-Mink.jpgRichard Mink

MUSKEGON, MI – The case against Richard William Mink of Muskegon, a longtime foreign-exchange student host charged with manufacturing child pornography of a student, has been dismissed because the alleged victim refuses to return from Germany to testify.

The Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the case Tuesday morning “without prejudice,” meaning prosecutors could refile it later if the alleged victim becomes available.

The trial for Mink, 77, of Muskegon had been scheduled to begin Tuesday. He was charged with a 20-year felony.

Mink had been accused of taking nude photos of a 16-year-old German male exchange student in 2009. The case had been pending for some 18 months, but trial was repeatedly delayed when the victim declined to return to the United States.

An earlier case against Mink of second-degree child abuse, involving a 15-year-old South Korean male exchange student in 2010, was dismissed in February 2011 for the same reason.

Mink had been accused of abusing the Korean boy in a variety of ways, including paddling the boy on his bare bottom, making him walk naked in front of Mink, and watching him shower and fondling his genitals. In a Chronicle interview in February 2011 Mink acknowledged some of those allegations but denied the fondling.

Both allegations surfaced in December 2010 after the South Korean student, who had been attending a local high school in Muskegon County, told a school counselor that he had been abused, sometimes sexually, at the hands of Mink.

The Muskegon police investigation into the Korean boy’s case led authorities to search Mink’s home, where they discovered nude photos of the German male exchange student, allegedly taken by Mink.