Category Archives: USA

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.

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

Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory loses accreditation

In 2005, Tri-Valley Learning Corporation (TVLC) in California established  charter schools ranging from elementary school to high school. The high school is Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory (LVCP). About 90 foreign exchange students attend the school. Investigations into irregularities (see below) started February 2016. As a result of these investigations, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) withdrew LVCP’s accreditation*. The school district denied LVCP’s petition of charter renewal December 2016. LVCP is no longer listed as having SEVIS F-1 certification. The school has said that they will stop their student exchange program from July 2017.

3rd February 2016 Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District (LVJUSD) sent the Governing Board of the TVLC a Notice of Violation (NOV). Among other things, the NOV concerns the below violations with regards to LVCP’s exchange students.**  Media got hold of the information and several in-depth articles about this issue can be found on the net.

16th February 2016 two students were involuntarily transferred to a school in Stockton. Livermore Police Department and Stockton Police Department intervene. As more information comes to light the police begin investigating matters at LVPC. Alameda County District Attorney began investigations into allegations of fraud, mismanagement of its foreign exchange program and child endangerment.

Based on the Governing Board, Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District  Board‘s findings, LVCP’s accreditation as a foreign student exchange institution was not renewed for the school-year 2016/2017.

  • TVLC/LVCP charged illegal tuition/overreporting per – pupil expenses to Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS).
  • TVLC/LVCP attempted to transfer exchange students against their will to a school in Stockton.
  • TVLC/LVCP endangered the health and welfare of its students
  • TVLC/LVCP was dishonest in representing the scope and size of its foreign exchange program to the District.
  • TVLC/LVCP sought to obtain, through coerced written signature, an agreement from minor students to give up their legal educational rights without consulting their parents or guardians.
  • TVLC/LVCP established a charter school in China without
    notifying authorities or requesting revisions to its charter.
  • Fraud.

LVCP’s accreditation is not renewed. November 2016 TVLC file for bankruptcy at the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California (Oakland).


  • LVCP still lists itself as WASC accredited on its website.

** Copies of correspondence and reports between the parties can be found on LVJUSD’s site

Review of CIEE, Portland USA

This review of CIEE, Portland, USA, was originally posted on March 12, 2016 on yelp.ch by Claudia P.

I’ll be honest and say that if you want to spend a year abroad, for your own sake DO NOT trust this awful organization. I’ll tell you my story and I’ll try to describe what I went through when two years ago I decided to do an exchange year in high school in the US (I’m Italian).

I applied with an organization from my country called youabroad (they were seriously amazing, helpful and cared about the students); the problem here was that for the exchange in the United States they had CIEE as a partner and they were responsible for almost everything, families included.
I lived a nightmare and seriously thought more than once to go back home like my German and Norwegian friends did, because they couldn’t handle the shit CIEE was putting them through. I (and most of my exchange students friends there) had to change family THREE TIMES because of really serious reasons and every single time CIEE not only didn’t help, but made the situation worse. I ended up in North Texas and had to live in a family who’s house was dirtier than any place I’ve ever seen, they didn’t care if we (I shared the room with a german exchange student) ate or not, they didn’t take us anywhere and their 13 y old kid was aggressive and violent among other things. Basically they wanted us to stay with them only to clean everything and babysit their four kids. When we finally managed to change family CIEE made it look like it was our fault and sent us a ”warning letter” saying that if we ever did anything wrong again (what?) they would have sent us to our home country.

After that we lived with the local coordinator for a while who was everything but nice, obviously pissed she had to take care of us. School wasn’t even started yet so we could’ve moved anywhere in the country to a nice family that really cared to live this experience; INSTEAD, she wanted to keep us in the same town so she would’ve got paid. Then, I ended up in a family where the host father was always either drunk or mean to the host mum (or both). The school bus didn’t come where they lived so every morning they would give me a ride at 5.30 am to go to school and I had to ask around random people for a ride home. I don’t even know why the hell they wanted to host someone. A norwegian girl lived with them and had just changed family, they sent me there anyway.

Went back to live with the local coordinator who was seriously having problems with all the students that needed to change families because she found shitty ones. Lived with her for a while and then found a family myself asking around in school (that’s what they told us to do, because they were not capable of finding A SINGLE decent family). I lived with my friend’s family for the rest of the year and slept on a couch in a little room but at least they were nice and treated me like a human being.

In all this mess CIEE never really helped only made things worse, they always blamed you for not trying hard enough to make something work but the truth is that I know too many people that lived a nightmare because of them. Seriously would not recommend them to my worst enemy. After all I still enjoyed my year abroad because I was like enough to meet really nice people and great friends, some people that had nothing but still tried to help me in every way they could. It’s one of the most amazing experience you can do even tho it’s never easy, it makes you grow up and learn a lot from yourself and others. BUT do not trust this organization because it’s seriously one of the worst.

Helpline US Department of State

1-866-283-9090 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) The Department of State activated the helpline to ensure the health and safety of its exchange participants. Students have a right to be treated fairly and to report abuse without retaliation or threat of program cancellation. (Dep of State)

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 Aug 18: Host-father frequently drunk

Program: Study Abroad
Location: China
Posted: August 18, 2012

My daughter went to China for a year with AFS in high school. As an overall experience, it was incredible and changed her life for the better. She was adopted from China, and always felt “different”, and after this year she was a changed child from knowing that she was accepted, recognized as beautiful, and “fit in.” She loved her Chinese high school experience, and loved the general experience of being in China. She was changed for the better as a person. And our local city AFS chapter is wonderful.

AFS China, on the other hand, and the support she received from AFS USA while over there, were a different story. Her host family had a frequently drunk father who hit his daughter, greatly upsetting my daughter. She did not want to leave the family because she felt very close to her host sister. There was quite a bit of heavy drinking and sex from the European AFS-ers, and minimal supervision from AFS China. Whoever was supposed to be supporting them over there was not supportive, and when I called the US person, he would take sometimes weeks to answer my calls and was unresponsive. (I was later told he was sick, but needless to say they needed a replacement.) So that part of it was not at all well done.

AFS is an old and extremely well established organization, and it is difficult to do a great job in so many countries working only with volunteers. On the other hand, at the least they could have good and responsive US staff.

So a mixed story.

2013 Apr 17: Removed from host-family without either party wanting it

Program: AFS
Location: USA
Posted: April 17, 2013

We are right now experiencing the same kind of situation that others have talked about, where a student was abruptly pulled from the home over a fairly minor issue, that could have easily been resolved with some guidance from AFS. The student made the unlucky choice of calling his liaison for help one day, and the next day found himself being picked up from school with his belongings and whisked off to a new family in another town. My children were heartbroken and filled with self-blame for what they could have done to cause this situation. Although we were advised by AFS to break all contact with the student, so he could start his “new life” elsewhere, we have followed his saga on Facebook, where he has poured out his frustration, anger and despair over being uprooted from his family and friends here, and his continued attempts, over the past 3 months, to return to our town. He has even rallied the support of his friends at his high school here, having them sign petitions supporting his attempts to return here. AFS seems to have turned a deaf, bureaucratic ear to his pleas. I think AFS simply does not have the staff to deal with situations of any kind of complexity. It is so sad for the student, who will remember for the rest of his life that his experience in America was marred like this. And sad for my children, who feel that the wonderful experience of having an AFS student somehow failed, for reasons they do not quite understand.

2012 Jan 20: AYUSA Intrax Foreign exchange student abuse San Francisco, California

Ripoff Report

Submitted: Fri, January 20, 2012 | Updated: Fri, January 20, 2012
Reported By: Frank — West Dover Vermont United States of America

There are a lot of excellent foreign exchange student programs out there. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of them. We paid approximately $10,000+ for our son to go to the Netherlands and be emotionally abused by a crazy woman. He required medical attention because of the abuse, and AYUSA used that as a reason for kicking him out of the program. Their policies require them to provide a warning letter and probationary period before removing kids from the program for any reason, but the only policy they follow is pretty simple: No refunds.

Bottom line: Your child’s safety and well-being aren’t their concerns. The bottom line is. Stay away. Run, don’t walk.

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.’ “

Baptized while an exchange student in Japan

When I was in EQP I followed up on a 16 year old boy…

…Who had been baptized in Japan while he was there as an exchange student.

His parents were unaware this had happened…I broke the news to them by showing up (his records somehow found their way to us in the US some while after he got home).

They were indignant, and justifiably so. We didn’t argue this one. The bishop did a name removal I think. Even as TBMs we thought those missionaries and that host family were way out of line to convert a minor without the knowledge and consent of his parents, especially when they had him isolated in a foreign country.

———————————————–

EQP – Mormon Elder’s Quorum President

TBM – True Believing Mormons

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

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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

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.

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.

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.

2006 Jan-Mar: Federal government seeks to eliminate sexual abuse and exploitation

FOREIGN EXCHANGE STUDENTS: FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SEEKS TO ELIMINATE SEXUAL ABUSE AND EXPLOITATION

Since the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, the U.S. Department of State has been active in promoting educational and cultural exchanges, especially at the high school level where some 1,450 program sponsors facilitate the entry of more than 275,000 foreign exchange students each year. The students are secondary level students. Most of the students are 17 or 18 years of age, but some participants are as young as 15 years of age and often are away from home for the first time.

The Department of State has amended 22 C.F.R. § 62.25, effective May 4, 2006, in an attempt to provide greater security for foreign exchange students. For Program Sponsors, their personnel must be “adequately trained and supervised” and that any person who has “direct personal contact with exchange students” must be “vetted through a criminal background check.” Program Sponsors also cannot make student placements “beyond 120 miles of the home of a local organizational representative authorized to act on the sponsor’s behalf in both routine and emergency matters…” An “organizational representative” cannot serve as “both host family and area supervisor for any exchange student participant.” In addition, there must be, at a minimum, monthly schedules of personal contact with the student and the host family. The school must have contact information for the local organizational representative. § 62.25(d).

Prospective foreign exchange students must be secondary students in their home country and not have completed more than eleven (11) years of primary and secondary study (kindergarten excluded), or be at least 15 years of age but not older than 18 years and six months of age as of the program start date. § 66.25(e).

The Sponsor must “secure prior written acceptance for the enrollment of any exchange student participant in a United States public or private secondary school.” § 66.25(f)(1). In addition, the Sponsor “must provide the school with a translated ‘written English language summary’ of the exchange student’s complete academic course work prior to commencement of school, in addition to any additional documents the school may require. Sponsors must inform the prospective host school of any student who has completed secondary school in his/her country.” § 66.25(f)(4). Also, Sponsors “may not facilitate the enrollment of more than five exchange students in one school unless the school itself has requested, in writing, the placement of more than five students.” § 66.25(f)(5).

Sponsors are also required to better prepare exchange students, especially “how to identify and report sexual abuse or exploitation.” The exchange student will also receive a “detailed profile of the host family” as well as a “detailed profile of the school and community” where the student will participate. The exchange student will be issued an identification card, with contact numbers should there be an emergency. § 66.25(g).

Host families must be screened, which must include “an in-person interview with all family members residing in the home.” A host family must have a good reputation and character. This must be supported by at least two (2) personal references “from the school or community attesting to the host family’s good reputation and character.” Each member of the host family who is 18 years of age or older must undergo a criminal background check. Also, “[e]xchange students are not permitted to reside with relatives.” § 66.25(j).

Sponsors must report immediately to the Department of State “any incident or allegation involving the actual or alleged sexual exploitation or abuse of an exchange student participant.” This would be in addition to any State or local reporting requirement. § 66.25(m).

Tragedy In Wisconsin

Although the Department of State did not indicate any precipitating event for the amendment of its regulations to require more direct involvement of Sponsors and the closer scrutiny of host families, the case of Kristin Beul, a 16-year-old German exchange student, and her tragic placement in a dysfunctional Wisconsin family had to be a primary motivation.

In Beul v. ASSE International, Inc., 233 F.3d 441 (7th Cir. 2000), the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals let stand a jury verdict of $649,000 against a non-profit corporation that operates international student exchange programs. Beul paid ASSE a $2,000 fee in order to secure a year in the United States. She was placed with the Bruce family in Wisconsin. The family consisted of Richard, the father (40 years of age); his wife; and their 13-year-old daughter. The Bruce family was selected by Marianne Breber, ASSE’s Area Representative.

As a Sponsor, ASSE was subject to regulations by the Department of State, U.S. Information Agency, that require Sponsors to train their agents, monitor the progress and welfare of the exchange visit, and require a regular schedule of personal contact with the student and the host family. Violations of these regulations are evidence of negligence as they define the duty of care a Sponsor owes to an exchange student. See 22 C.F.R. §§ 62.10(e)(2); 62.25(d)(1), (4). 233 F.3d at 444-45.

Beul arrived in Wisconsin from Germany in September of 1995. She was met at the airport by the father of the host family, Richard Bruce. Breber did not go to the airport to meet her. In fact, from September to January 21, 1996, Breber met only once with Beul and that was at a shopping mall for a brief orientation. Berber gave Beul her telephone number. Breber did call the host family a few times and spoke once or twice with Beul during these conversation, but Breber made no effort to ensure her conversations with Beul occurred outside the presence of members of the host family. Breber never spoke with Mrs. Bruce, who had concerns her husband “seemed to be developing an inappropriate relationship with Kristin.” Id. at 445-46.

Beul had “led a sheltered life in Germany. She had had no sexual experiences at all and in fact had had only two dates in her lifetime.” Id. at 446. In November of 1995, Bruce entered her bedroom and raped her. This began “a protracted sexual relationship.” In the following months, Bruce would call the high school Beul was supposed to be attending and report her ill. With his wife at work and his daughter at school, Bruce and Beul could continue their sexual relationship. By February of 1996, Bruce had reported Beul as ill 27 times. He showed Beul a gun and told her that should she tell anyone about their relationship, he would kill himself. Id.

In January, Bruce called Breber and told her that his wife “appeared to be jealous of the time” that he spent with Beul. He invited Breber to dinner on January 21, 1996. During this time, Breber did not meet privately with either Beul or Mrs. Bruce, and she did not observe anything out of the ordinary. In February, Mrs. Bruce told Breber that she and her husband were getting divorced, and Breber found another host family for Beul. Beul did not want to leave the Bruce residence. Breber brought a sheriff’s deputy to the Bruce house to remove Beul. During this time, the deputy asked Beul–in front of Bruce–whether any inappropriate sexual activity had occurred. Beul answered “no.” Breber learned that same date of Beul’s many absences from school when Breber called to indicate Beul would be living with a different host family. Id.

Beul lived with Breber for a few days until the new host family situation could be finalized. During the period, Breber never inquired about a possible sexual relationship between Beul and Bruce. Breber advised the host family that Beul was not to contact Bruce for a month, but Breber never informed Bruce he should not contact Beul. They continued to communicate. Beul “decided that she was in love with Bruce and considered herself engaged to him.” Id.

In April, Mrs. Bruce discovered some of Beul’s love letters to Bruce and alerted law enforcement. A deputy interviewed Bruce. Bruce had a previous conviction for having sex with a sixteen-year-old girl. The day after the interview, Bruce killed himself, leaving a suicide note expressing fear of jail. “It is undisputed that the events culminating in Bruce’s suicide inflicted serious psychological harm on Kristin[.]” Id.

The 7th Circuit rejected ASSE’s argument that Beul’s determination to conceal her relationship with Bruce negated any failure of ASSE’s agent–Breber–to maintain closer contact with Beul, the Bruce family, and the high school. There is no causal relation between ASSE’s negligence and Beul’s harm, ASSE argued.

But it is improbable, and the jury was certainly not required to buy the argument. Suppose Breber had inquired from the school how Kristin was doing–a natural question to ask about a foreigner plunged into an American high school. She would have learned of the numerous absences, would (if minimally alert) have inquired about them from Kristin, and would have learned that Kristin had been “ill” and that Richard Bruce had been home and taken care of her. At that point the secret would have started to unravel.

Id. at 447. The 7th Circuit opined that the high school would not be liable for the consequences of Bruce’s sexual activity with Beul, even if the high school should have reported her frequent absences to Breber. The criminal sexual activity and resulting suicide were not foreseeable by the school.

But part of ASSE’s duty and Breber’s function was to protect foreign girls and boys from sexual hanky-panky initiated by members of host families. Especially when a teenage girl is brought to live with strangers in a foreign county, the risk of inappropriate sexual activity is not so slight that the organization charged by the girl’s parents with the safety of their daughter can be excused as a matter of law from making a responsible effort to minimize the risk. [Citations omitted.] Sexual abuse by stepfathers is not uncommon [citation omitted], and the husband in a host family has an analogous relationship to a teenage visitor living with the family.

Id. at 448. The court also found that ASSE was “standing in the shoes of the parents of a young girl living in a stranger’s home far from her homeland and could reasonably be expected to exercise the kind of care that the parents themselves would exercise if they could to protect their 16-year-old daughter from the sexual pitfalls that lie about a girl of that age in those circumstances. ASSE assumed a primary role in the protection of the girl.” Id.

In Indiana

Indiana has a statutory reference to foreign exchange students. It can be found at I.C. § 20-26-11-10(b). The relevant language is reproduced below.

I.C. § 20-26-11-10 Tuition for Children of Certain State Employees and Foreign Exchange Students

* * *

(b) A foreign student visiting in Indiana under any student exchange program approved by the state board is considered a resident student with legal settlement in the school corporation where the foreign exchange student resides. The student may attend a school in the school corporation in which the family with whom the student is living resides. A school corporation that receives a foreign student may not be paid any transfer tuition. The school corporation shall include the foreign student in computations to determine the amount of state aid that it is entitled to receive.

In essence, a foreign exchange student placed with an Indiana host family through an approved student exchange program has “legal settlement” in the public school district where the host family resides and may attend the public school without payment of transfer tuition. The statutory provision does not address a host of other concerns, such as whether a foreign exchange student who completes all graduation requirements (including passing the Graduation Qualifying Examination) can receive a high school diploma (the student can); who determines whether a foreign exchange student has met all State and local graduation requirements (the local public school district does); and who is responsible for providing to the public school district a translation of the student’s transcript from the student secondary school program in the student’s home country (under federal regulations, it is the Sponsor’s responsibility, see supra).

The Indiana Department of Education also maintains information for schools, Sponsors, and students at its web site. See http://www.doe.state.in.us/opd/studentexchange/stu_exch.html. The web site contains a Question-and-Answer document on various issues as well as links to pertinent federal agencies involved or interested in foreign exchange students.

1999 Jul 29: Former exchange student who had affair suing program

BEUL v. ASSE INTERN., INC.No. 98-C-426.

233 F. 3d 441 – Kristin Beul, et al. v. Asse International, Inc., et al.

Red highlight added by me

2008 Dec 17: African American Student in Russia Stabbed by Neo-Nazis

By Maria Rozalskaya

On December 5th in Volgograd (Southern Russia), an 18 year-old African American was stabbed. Stanley Robinson came to Russia to participate in a student exchange program. On a Volgograd street he ran into a group of local teenagers who picked a quarrel with him, as a result he was hospitalized with two knife wounds. His mother who spoke with him by phone said they are sure it was racially motivated.

This case is one of hundreds occurring every year in Russia. According to the statistics gathered by a Moscow based NGO “SOVA Center for Information and Analysis”, by December 1st there were 83 people murdered and 365 injured. These figures are far from being correct; the real number of violent hate crimes is much higher. The majority of crimes go unreported both by police and mass media.

However, the statistics mentioned above do help to monitor hate crimes to a degree. Although the incidence of racist violence is not increasing dramatically every year, they are becoming more and more cruel, making such cases as Robinson’s appear quite lucky.

One of the last high profile cases is the one of a 20 year-old guest worker from Tadjikistan who was murdered and beheaded by neo-nazis in Moscow. His head was found in another district, placed stealthily next to one of the Moscow municipality offices. The case stands out not only because of the gruesome particulars, but also because it was a clear terrorist act: before the head was discovered, neo-nazis sent e-mails to several NGOs and media outlets taking responsibility for the action, and announcing that the head was placed in the same district where a few months before a Russian girl had been raped and murdered, allegedly by an Uzbek man.

Anti-fascists and human rights defenders often become victims of hate motivated violence or death threats themselves.

On June 19, 2004 in St. Petersburg, Nikolai Girenko, an expert on right-wing extremism, was gunned down in his apartment. On November 13, 2005, 20-year-old human rights activist and musician, Timur Kacharava, was murdered and his friend Maxim Zgibai stabbed in St. Petersburg. On April 16, 2006, in Moscow, Alexander Ryukhin, a human rights activist, was stabbed to death on his way to a concert. On December 22, 2006 in Moscow, Tigran, also an activist, found a bomb on his staircase and on March 27, 2007, in Izhevsk, Stanislav Korepanov, a supporter of human rights, was beaten by nazis and died from his injuries a few days later. On July 21, 2007, 21-year-old Ilya Borodaenko was stabbed to death during the attack of a group of neo-nazis at an ecological camp in Siberia. On March 16, 2008, in the center of Moscow, 20 year old Alexey Krylov was stabbed to death on his way to a human rights concert. On October 10, 2008, in Moscow, 27-year-old Fyodor Filatov, one of the leaders of the human rights movement, was stabbed to death as he was leaving his home.

Photos, home addresses and telephone numbers of human rights defenders repeatedly appear on hate websites with calls for violence against them.

The response of the law enforcement is not satisfactory, though it is slowly improving, with more and more neo-nazis convicted for committing crimes with a hate motive. Law enforcement tends to prosecute singular and low profile individual nationalistic statements rather than to fight with popular and influential hate websites and to detect and put on trial perpetrators of violent crimes. Moreover, in a number of cities, there is a strong suspicion that many police officers sympathize with neo-nazis and not only avoid investigating hate crimes, but also help neo-nazis by criminalizing human rights activists and leaking their personal data to the right wing websites.

As for Stanley Robinson’s case, two 17 year-old neo-nazi skinheads have been detained and confessed to the attack. Stanly was moved from Volgorgad to a hospital in Helsinki for recovery. He is in grave, but stable condition.

Maria is a researcher at the SOVA Center for Information and Analysis (Moscow, Russia), and a volunteer with several antifascist and refugee aid projects.

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Color and blocked text added by me to make access to SR’s case easier.

2008 Dec 12: Russia: Stabbing of African-American Exchange Student May Be Hate Crime

2008 Dec 15: Hurt R.I. Student moved to Finland

2008 Dec 15: Hurt R.I. Student moved to Finland

Monday, December 15, 2008

MOSCOW – The mother of an American exchange student who was stabbed in Russia says her son has been transferred to a hospital in Finland.

Stanley Robinson, 18, of Providence was stabbed by unknown assailants in the southern Russian city of Volgograd Dec. 5.

Robinson was studying Russian on a program arranged by the American Field Service, or AFS.

The organization said Saturday it had arranged his transfer to Finland, and his mother, Tina Robinson, confirmed by phone yesterday that he was hospitalized in Helsinki.

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2008 Dec 12: Russia: Stabbing of African-American Exchange Student May Be Hate Crime

2008 Dec 12: Russia: Stabbing of African-American Exchange Student May Be Hate Crime

An African-American exchange student has been stabbed by unknown assailants in a southern Russian city in an attack officials say may have been racially motivated.

Stanley Robinson, 18, of Providence, Rhode Island, was in grave but stable condition Friday at Hospital No. 12 in the southern city of Volgograd, the hospital’s head doctor said.

Investigators were trying to determine if the Dec. 5 assault on Robinson was a hate crime, said city police spokeswoman Svetlana Smolyaninova. No suspects have been detained, and she said authorities have not ruled out robbery or random violence.

But Robinson’s mother, who has spoken twice with her son by telephone since the attack, has no doubts about what motivated the attack.

“I believe it happened because he is a person of color,” Tina Robinson said in a telephone interview Friday from her home in Providence. “It was completely unprovoked.”

The stabbing took place in Volgograd, an industrial city of 1 million people 550 miles southeast of Moscow.

Tina Robinson said her son had developed pneumonia, and said she was trying to arrange his transfer to a Western-style medical facility. “I’m very concerned about the care he’s getting there,” she said.

The U.S. Embassy declined comment, citing privacy concerns.

In recent years Russia has seen a rising number of attacks against members of non-Slavic ethnic groups, particularly darker-skinned migrants from the Caucasus region and Central Asia. African students and immigrants are also frequent targets of attacks, but attacks on Westerners are rare.

Two Tajik men were attacked in a town north of Moscow last week. One was beheaded and Russian media reported his head was found 12 miles away. On obscure nationalist group claimed responsibility in an e-mail to the Sova hate-crime monitoring group.

Tina Robinson said she was unaware of Russia’s troubles with racism when her son left for a year abroad. “If I had any inkling that there was any possibility of this happening, I would have tried to dissuade him,” she said.

The victim’s mother and police gave slightly differing accounts.

Smolyaninova said three men approached Robinson at about 6 p.m. in a dark street far from his host family’s home. The assailants stabbed Robinson twice in the chest, she said.

Tina Robinson said her son had just finished working out at a gym and was headed for a bus stop when a single stranger approached and punched him. Robinson punched back, his mother said. The attacker then pulled a knife and stabbed Robinson in the chest and side, she said.

Relatives said Robinson, a graduate of East Providence High School in Rhode Island, was three months into his stay. He was studying Russian on a program arranged by the American Field Service, or AFS.

A woman who answered the phone at AFS’s Moscow offices said no one could comment. She declined to give her name.

Tina Robinson said she did not blame the host family. The host family could not be reached for comment Friday.

Galina Kozhevnikova, the deputy head of Sova, said at least 385 people have been hurt in racially motivated attacks this year. According to Sova, at least 85 people have been killed in such incidents.

2009 Oct 23: Aspect asked to change routines after Scranton scandal

The Times Tribune | BY SARAH HOFIUS HALL (STAFF WRITER) | Published: October 23, 2009
Edna Burgette 1Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2009:07:22 16:15:52
Edna Burgette

Click here to read the report (pdf)

Insufficient oversight and resources plague the department responsible for overseeing foreign-exchange student programs nationwide, a report released Thursday found.

The probe by the U.S. Office of Inspector General was initiated after up to 12 students alleged they were neglected after being placed in Scranton-area homes during the 2008-09 school year. The case exposed the national lack of oversight and significant lapses in background checks for hosts of the 30,000 international students who come to the U.S. each year.

In the Scranton case, local coordinator Edna Burgette allegedly placed students in homes without completing background checks and shuffled some students from home to home.

The students told investigators they lived in filthy homes, some of which were later condemned. Several said they were living with an ex-convict, and at least one student required medical attention for lack of adequate nutrition. All said Ms. Burgette, now the former area coordinator for San Francisco-based Aspect Foundation, ignored their complaints, even though she was paid by Aspect to place the students and check up on them.

Last summer, Ms. Burgette was charged with five counts of endangering the welfare of children. She was fired when Aspect learned of the allegations.

The Department of State has penalized Aspect. The department is limiting the number of student visas Aspect can receive in 2009-10 by 15 percent, leading to a potential $540,000 loss of revenue.

The inspector’s report, while it did not mention the Scranton case, made several recommendations that could have made a difference in Northeast Pennsylvania.

According to the report, individuals within the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, responsible for overseeing exchanges, have not been directly monitoring students and instead were relying on the private educational associations, such as Aspect, to oversee students.

“There is an inherent danger in ascribing major responsibilities without clear guidance and support,” the report stated.

Aspect relied on Ms. Burgette to report problems and to make sure students were safe, and she did neither, Aspect officials have previously stated.

The report recommends the department be given adequate resources to conduct periodic unannounced site visits, and to establish a database to record student complaints and incidents so it is easier track problems.

The report also calls for national criminal history background checks to be given to potential host families.

Background checks vary significantly across the country, from not being done at all or relying on references from family and neighbors, to comprehensive checks, said Danielle Grijalva, director of the California-based Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students.

“You’ve got to do it right the first time,” she said.

While Ms. Grijalva had some reservations about the report, she said if taken seriously it could make a difference in the overall quality and safety of foreign-exchange programs.

“The problems will only repeat themselves if we do not get serious and make changes,” she said.

In a statement, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, who has called for an overhaul in exchange program oversight, said incidents in Scranton “were allowed to happen, in part, because of a lack of clear regulations that allowed sponsor organizations to interpret the rules in a manner that ultimately endangered these students.”

The “real measure of progress will be what specific steps are taken to prevent this problem from happening again.”

Contact the writer: shofius@timesshamrock.com

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Related stories

State Department statement

2010 Sep 09: Foreign exchange student goes home to Kazakhstan (PIE)

Maryland Community Newspapers Online

Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010

Mix-up prevented her from being enrolled in Frederick High School
by Katherine Heerbrandt | Staff Writer

A foreign exchange student who was denied entrance into Frederick County Public Schools this semester returned to her home country of Kazakhstan last week.

Taissiya Kryazhova had hoped to be a student at Frederick High School, but a mix-up with her entrance paperwork and other complications prevented her enrollment.

She was a scholarship student in the Future Leaders Exchange Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by Pacific Intercultural Exchange, based in California.

Her host family, Gerry and Peg Marose of Frederick, tried to enroll her in Frederick Christian Academy, but she was sent to a host family in Massachusetts instead.

According to John M. Doty, president of the Pacific Intercultural Exchange, Kryazhova asked to return to her home country while in Massachusetts. Kryazhova had expressed her unhappiness with the situation in several e-mails to the Maroses.

In an e-mail to the Maroses, Doty called the situation “one misunderstanding after another,” and thanked them for the advocacy and care they provided Kryazhova during her brief stay in Frederick.

The Committee for the Safety of Foreign Exchange Students, a nonprofit also based in California, reported the Pacific Intercultural Exchange organization to the U.S. Department of State, saying the organization violated regulations by not having Kryazhova enrolled in school before she came to the U.S.

Doty countered in an e-mail that he had addressed the allegations with the Department of State, and that interpretations of his organization’s role in the fiasco are “inaccurate.”

The Maroses said in an e-mail they were “extremely saddened” that Taya was sent to Massachusetts.

“This has been an experience that none of us will forget,” the Maroses said in the e-mail. “We are grateful for the community response to the needs of the wonderful student and especially to those in the media that have championed on Taya’s behalf.”

The Maroses said they have been in touch with Yerlan Kubashev, counsel of the Republic of Kazakhstan in New York, who requested contact information for those involved in Kryazhova’s stay in the U.S.

The Maroses assured Kubashev they are happy to assist.

“Taissiya worked all her life to earn the right to the FLEX scholarship, and I am appalled that we were not able to truly welcome her to America with open arms.”

kheerbrandt@gazette.net

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Pacific Intercultural’s downfall

2012 Dec 6: AP: PIE lost its government designation

Yahoo | November 30, 2012 | By Holbrock Mohr | Associated Press

JACKSON – (AP) An organization has lost its government designation to bring foreign exchange students to the United States after facing allegations of mismanagement and lax oversight that included students being placed in homes where they were sexually abused.

State Department spokeswoman Susan Pittman told The Associated Press that Pacific Intercultural Exchange, or PIE, was removed from the department’s list of official sponsors.

State Department officials haven’t said exactly what problems led to PIE’s removal, but documents and emails obtained by AP in July showed allegations of serious problems, including sexual abuse by host fathers. The documents also showed that the State Department had concerns about PIE’s operations for years.

The San Diego-based company was part of a network of organizations that brings close to 30,000 high school students to the U.S. annually.

PIE and other sponsors charge the students’ families thousands of dollars to arrange for them to live in American households and go to high school. The U.S. government also gives grants to students from some countries.

PIE was suspended from the program in July. The company challenged the suspension, but it was upheld during an administrative appeals process. The suspension affected more than 455 students from 18 countries for this school year.

The State Department also decided at that time to deny PIE’s sponsor re-designation, which comes up for renewal every two years.

The company faced a deadline earlier this month to appeal the decision, but decided not to challenge it, meaning the company was removed from the sponsor list, Pittman said.

“The department has had long-standing concerns that PIE operated its exchange program in a manner that put at risk the health, safety and welfare of student participants,” Pittman said. “The department remains vigilant in its oversight of exchange visitor program sponsors to ensure that the participants’ experiences are safe and rewarding.”

Two of the most serious cases of problems involved host fathers convicted of sexually abusing exchange students, including one in which PIE was accused of failing to do an adequate background check.

Craig Steven Ley

In one of the sexual abuse cases, PIE host father Craig Steven Ley of Beaverton, Oregon, pleaded guilty in 2010 to sexually abusing a German boy. PIE didn’t do an adequate background check which would have disclosed Ley had a felony record for using another exchange student in a bogus insurance claim, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of the student.

PIE President John Doty testified in September as part of the lawsuit that his company had known since 2006 that Ley was a convicted felon, though he denied personal knowledge of Ley’s criminal record and said his company didn’t know the prior crime involved an exchange student.

The company also tried to falsify records in 2010 to conceal the fact that it brought a 17-year-old girl from Kazakhstan to Maryland without having her registered for school, according to documents reviewed by AP. The students are supposed to be registered for school before coming to the U.S. The girl ended up going home disappointed and distraught.

Officials in Louisiana were so alarmed by the living conditions of PIE students that in 2010 the Vermillion Parish School Board banned the company from placing students in the district.

Doty, the PIE president, told his staff in a 2006 email that the company narrowly dodged sanctions for canceling “a number” of students who signed up to participate in 2005. The email also said Doty went to Washington D.C., in 2006 to meet with State Department officials because he was again faced with canceling participants, this time 113 Korean students.

PIE’s website says it has brought more than 25,000 students to the U.S. since the 1970s.

The company generated nearly $3.5 million from October 2009 to September 2010, according to a 2011 IRS filing required of nonprofit organizations. About $1.26 million was from government contributions or grants, but the majority of the company’s money, about $2.26 million, came from its foreign program fees, according to the document. The company’s website says it has facilitated exchanges for more than 25,000 high school students since the 1970s.


Craig Steven Ley

Shernon N James

2004 May 22: Sex Abuse Lawsuit against Former St. Ann’s Priest Settled

2006 Feb 24: U.S. Increases Protection for Foreign Teens

2006 Sep 05: Exchange Students from Middle East Arrive in America Without Homes, an alert for student community

2008 May 07: Agencies seek to silence child protection group (article about this case)

2010: Student Exchange Programs an Unregulated Industry

2010 Apr 08: Vermilion Parish School Board “Approved terminating the Board’s relationship with Pacific Intercultural Exchange for the placement of foreign exchange students at parish high schools.”

2010 Apr 16: Shernon N James deemed predator

2010 Jul 04: Schools have problems with foreign  exchange student companies

2010 Sep 09: Foreign exchange student goes home to Kazakhstan (PIE)

2011 Jan 05: Beaverton man will serve 5 years in prison for sex abuse of high school exchange student

2011 Dec 06: Homestay Services International, Pacific Intercultural Exchange Under Fire

2012 Jul 20: Pacific Intercultural Exchange, Sponsor Company For High School Exchange Students, Suspended By State Department

2012 Jul 30: Utvekslingsåret ble et mareritt (“Live kontaktet utvekslingsorganisasjonen Pacific Intercultural Exchange (PIE). Der fikk hun beskjed om at hun måtte sette seg ned med familien og ordne opp selv.”)

2012 Aug 02: US student exchange group hits a hurdle (“The San Diego-based Pacific Intercultural Exchange (PIE) has been suspended from the US visa program used by students on exchange trips over undisclosed rule violations.”)

2012 Sep 26: Pacific Intercultural Exchange president tells jurors he didn’t admit to feds he knew of felony in Beaverton case

2012 Sept 28: Multnomah County jury learns Pacific Intercultural Exchange host father possessed adult gay porn

2012 Oct 03: Exchange student’s lawsuit against Beaverton host father, Pacific Intercultural Exchange ends in settlement

2012 Nov 30: Non-Redesignation of Secondary School Student Exchange Sponsor  (“The Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) has removed Pacific Intercultural Exchange (PIE) of San Diego from its list of designated Secondary School Student Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) sponsors, effective November 28, 2012.”)

2012 Dec 06: AP: Exchange student sponsor out over abuse claims

2006-2013: Closed Sanction cases – 2013

2014 May 05: Exchange year in the US was a nightmare / Austauschjahr in den USA wurde zum Albtraum

From 20 Minuten – Germany
Austauschjahr in den USA wurde zum Albtraum
«Dreckskerl» nannte die EF-Koordinatorin den 16-Jährigen, und seine Gastfamilie kontrollierte ihn von A bis Z. Wie das Austauschjahr eines Zürchers in Kalifornien zum Horror wurde.

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Für den 16-jährigen Konstantin begann das Austauschjahr in Kalifornien – hier die Golden-Gate-Brücke in San Francisco – unschön. (Bild: Keystone/AP/Eric Risberg)

 

«Bist Du bereit für das grosse Abenteuer?», fragt die Firma EF Education First in ihrer Werbung. «Während deines EF High School Years hast du die einmalige Chance, neue Herausforderungen anzunehmen, viele nette Menschen kennen zu lernen, eine Fremdsprache zu erlernen und erwachsen zu werden.» Klingt gut, doch der 16-jährige Konstantin aus Zürich hat keine guten Erinnerungen an den Beginn seines Austauschjahres 2012 in Kalifornien.

Von Beginn sei er in seinem neuen Zuhause mit Vorwürfen konfrontiert gewesen: «Meine Gastmutter baute ein Kontrollsystem auf, verbot mir auszugehen, drohte mir mit Konsequenzen bei Alkoholkonsum und nahm mir meinen Laptop und mein Handy weg», sagte Konstantin dem «Tages-Anzeiger». Sie solle ihn sogar beschuldigt haben, 500 Dollar von ihr gestohlen zu haben. Die Gastmutter und die EF-Hauptkoordinatorin Sandra Woods sollen dabei in permanentem Kontakt gestanden haben. Nach diversen Vorwürfen drohte Konstantin die Kündigung und die frühzeitige Heimreise.

Mehr Provisionen einstreichen

Es kam gemäss «Tages-Anzeiger» der Verdacht auf, dass die Hauptkoordinatorin sehr daran interessiert war, Konstantin frühzeitig nach Hause zu schicken. So könnte sie einen anderen Schüler in der Gastfamilie platzieren und mehrfach Provisionen einstreichen. Diese Vorgehensweise wird im Bericht durch den Ex-EF-Koordinator William Alexander bestätigt, der sich nach seiner Kündigung an das Departement of State in Washington wandte. Zudem bestätigte Alexander laut «Tages-Anzeiger», dass Woods eine persönliche Aversion gegen Konstantin hatte. Alexander suchte für Konstantin schliesslich eine neue Familie, wo er sein EF Highschool Year zu Ende bringen konnte.

Der Fall war aber deswegen noch nicht abgeschlossen. Konstantins Mutter wehrte sich weiter und erreichte schliesslich, dass Danielle Grijalva, Direktorin der ausländischen Studenten in Kalifornien, beim Departement of State eine Beschwerde gegen Woods einreichte. Dabei wurde auch aus dem SMS-Verkehr zwischen Woods und Alexander betreffend dem Austauschschüler Konstantin zitiert. Demnach schrieb Woods Dinge wie «I wish we could just send his ass home.» (Ich wünschte mir, wir könnten diesen A… einfach heimschicken) oder «He’s a punk.» (Er ist ein Dreckskerl).

«Kinder werden hin- und hergeschoben»

Grijalva sagte dem «K-Tipp»: «Das Problem von EF und ähnlichen Organisationen ist, dass sie nicht genug passende Gastfamilien finden. Deshalb werden die Kinder ständig hin- und hergeschoben.» Sie kritisierte auch das Besoldungssystem für EF-Betreuer, die auf Provisionsbasis arbeiteten. Pro Austauschschüler gebe es mindestens 300 Dollar. Je mehr Schüler EF-Betreuer unterbringen würden, desto mehr Boni bekämen sie.

Zwischen der Mutter von Konstantin und dem Zürcher Büro von EF gab es zwar nach diversen Anläufen der Mutter ein Gespräch. Dabei habe EF zwar zugegeben, dass nicht alles optimal gelaufen sei, doch erhielt sie weder eine Entschuldigung noch eine finanzielle Entschädigung. Gegenüber dem «Tages-Anzeiger» äusserte sich EF-Programmleiter Mario Tschopp schriftlich: «Der Fall ist uns bekannt, und wir haben die angezeigten internen Schritte unternommen (…).» Unklar bleibt, ob Woods weiterhin bei EF tätig ist – dazu will man sich aus «Gründen des Persönlichkeitsschutzes» nicht äussern.


Google translation:
He had from the beginning been confronted in his new home with allegations: “My host mother built a system of control, forbade me to go out, threatened me with consequences of alcohol consumption and took my laptop and my phone away,” Constantine said the Tages-Anzeiger, She should have even accused him of having stolen $ 500 from her. The host mother and the EFmain coordinator Sandra Woods should it have been in constant contact. After various allegations Constantine threatened termination and early departure.

Reap more commissionsIt came under “Tages-Anzeiger” suspected that the main coordinator was very interested in Constantinople to send home early. So they could place another student in the host family and multiple reap commissions. This approach is confirmed in the report by the ex-EFcoordinator William Alexander, who turned in his resignation to the Department of State in Washington. In addition, according to Alexander confirmed “Tages-Anzeiger” that Woods had a personal aversion to Constantine. Alexander was looking for Constantine finally a new family where he EF High School Year could be put to an end.The case was therefore but not yet completed. Constantine’s mother struggled further, and finally reached that Danielle Grijalva, director of foreign students in California, the Department of State filed a complaint against Woods. Here the exchange student Konstantin was also quoted on the SMS traffic between Woods and Alexander. According to Woods wrote things like I wish We could just send his ass home.” (I wish we could this A … simply send home) or He’s a punk.” (He’s a bastard).“Children are pushed back and forthGrijalva said the “K-Tip“: “The problem of EF and similar organizations, that they can not find enough suitable host families. Therefore, the children are constantly being pushed around. “She also criticized the system of remuneration for EFworkers, who worked on a commission basis. Per exchange students there were at least 300 dollars. The more students would accommodate EFworkers, the more bonuses they would get.

Between the mother of Constantine and the Zurich office of EF although there were various attempts by the mother a call. This EF had indeed admitted that not everything was done perfectly, but received neither an apology nor a financial compensation. Compared to the “Tages-Anzeiger” is EF program director Mario Tschopp expressed written: The case is known to us, and we have the next internal steps taken (…).” It is unclear whether Woods continues to work with EF – to if one is not comment of privacy protection reasons”.

Tim and Tina Sweet sentenced for fraud

Lehigh County Judge J. Brian Johnson ruled against Timothy H. Sweet and Tina Sweet in the lawsuit brought against them in 2008 by Attorney General Tom Corbett.

The couple is permanently barred from working with international students and must pay more than $178,000 in restitution to various victims, including numerous host families and schools throughout the Lehigh Valley and Central Pennsylvania and civil penalties. To make sure funds might be available at such time as judgement was made, Judge Johnson froze USE’s funds after the lawsuit was brought against the Sweet’s.

Tim and Tina Sweet, of 1746 Roth Avenue, South Whitehall Township in Pennsylvania, ran the foreign student exchange organization United Student Exchange. They were sued for illegally diverting funds intended to pay for school tuitions and support for the students. Indeed, Attorney General Corbett claimed that

“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’.”

South-Korea

Most of the exchange students the Sweet’s scammed were from South-Korea. Upon arrival none of the Christian families promised were available and the exchange students were crammed together in so-called temporary homes. Background checks were not performed nor did host-families recruited after the students arrived complete application forms. In fact, the Sweet’s deceived new host-families into taking in exchange students.

If complaints were made about housing conditions, the host-families or lack of supervision, USE threatened to return the exchange students to their home countries.

United Student Exchange was not registered with either the Pennsylvania Department of State nor the federal J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa program, supervised by the U.S. State Department and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

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

Attorney General Corbett said that violations 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.

2008 Nov 04: Foreign exchange student incident under review by federal department

Posted: Tuesday, November 4, 2008 12:00 am
Special to the Daily News

There have been no sanctions against an Arizona foreign exchange student placement company, but three incidents currently are under review, including one involving students placed in the care of a convicted Norfolk felon.

Darlene Kirk of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State said STS Foundation reported two of those situations themselves. Both of those incidents involved host fathers.

The third situation came under review after a Daily News article was published regarding the arrest of Fayette Klug of Norfolk.

Klug is accused of stealing more than $10,000 from two foreign exchange students in her care. Klug was a representative of STS Foundation even though she is a convicted felon.

“When we receive word of an incident involving the health, safety or welfare of a student, we contact the sponsor to ask for a report on the situation,” Kirk said. “This includes incidents or allegations of actual or alleged sexual exploitation or abuse, and serious problems or controversies which could bring notoriety or disrepute to the Department of State.”

Since the three incidents are under review, Kirk declined further comment.

When an incident comes to the attention of the department, standard operating procedure dictates that the sponsor, such as STS, send in a full report including copies of host family applications, proof of criminal background checks and personal references, a detailed profile of the school, family and community in which the student was placed, among other information.

STS told Mike Bowersox of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office that it ran a standard criminal history check and the database turned up no convictions on Klug.

STS became a program sponsor in 1986 and currently has 393 active high school student participants.

STS has paid back some of the money that was stolen from the two students.

© 2014 The Norfolk Daily News

2010 May 12: Office of Investigations: Scranton, Pennsylvania

OIG conducted an investigation of a subcontractor to a Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs grantee that received $835,670 to conduct a project entitled “Youth Exchange and Study Program” (YES) for the 2008-2009 academic school year. An employee of the subcontractor was assigned to serve as the local coordinator for the students enrolled in the program and was responsible for finding host homes for the students in Scranton, PA. The employee accepted money from the grant and failed to provide the students with basic provisions as outlined in the grant. On February 12, 2010, the subcontractor employee pleaded guilty to one felony count of Mail Fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 12, 2010. Possible civil action against the subcontract company for knowing violating the terms of the grant is currently pending. (09-107)

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OIG conducted an investigation of a subcontractor to a Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs grantee that received $835,670 to conduct a project entitled “Youth Exchange and Study Program” for the 2008-2009 academic school year. An employee of the subcontractor was assigned to serve as the local coordinator for the students enrolled in the program and was responsible for finding host homes for the students in Scranton, PA. The employee accepted money from the grant and failed to provide the students with basic provisions as outlined in the grant. On February 12, 2010, the subcontractor employee pleaded guilty to one felony count of Mail Fraud and on May 27, 2010, she was sentenced in the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania, to 3 years supervised probation and 100 hours of community service, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,900. (See OIG Semiannual Report to the Congress, October 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010, pp 68) (09-107)

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House Report 111-187 – STATE, FOREIGN OPERATIONS, AND RELATED PROGRAMS APPROPRIATIONS BILL, 2010

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Warrant of arrest of Edna Mary Burgette

Investigation of EF Education programme 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


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 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


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.