Tag Archives: #HostFamily

CIEE false marketing

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

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

Unsanitary conditions

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

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

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

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

Host family nudism

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

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

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

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

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

Host families who bully

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

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

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

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

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

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…..

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

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

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

https://i0.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.

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: 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

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.

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.

2008 Mar 27: Thinking of Hosting a Foreign Exchange Student?

… don’t host a student if you are short on money. Hosting a student costs at least a few hundred extra dollars per month. If you can’t spare that, then don’t host. Don’t put a student in a situation where you are always pinching pennies. You will also tend to resent that unknowing student, and that’s just not fair to them. Most of these exchange programs cost many THOUSANDS of dollars for the student and his family. Many scrimp and save for years or have to ask a rich uncle to help them out. This is a big thing for them. Don’t blow it for them, and be prepared to be somewhat generous. I think many host parents don’t realize the costs involved going into this (both in time and money), so I just wanted to get that out there so you can mull it over! (Life of a Military Wife)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The entire article can be found at the Richmond Register

Mallernee convicted of sexual abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Amie Lou Neely sentenced to prison

Guilty of sexual battery/coercing child by adult

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014 Jun 04: Tucker arrested for illicitly filming exchange student

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

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

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

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

Police say Tucker admitted videotaping the woman.

Tucker teaches physical education at the McLean School of Maryland.

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

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

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

2009 Jun 19: Jack sentenced for sexual abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julkaistu: 21.2.2015 20:34

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

”Tytölle annettiin kirjallinen varoitus”

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

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

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

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

Reilun kuukauden kestänyt vaihto maksoi tuhansia euroja

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:58 PM EDT

By Anna Schecter Rock Center

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

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

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

Watch the full Rock Center investigation HERE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012 Mar 20: Bag Facaden – Misbrugt i værtsfamilien

Skrevet af: Christian Rask

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

———————————————————

2003 Apr 26: Local student exchange group reprimanded

2005 Aug 02: Robert Medley convicted for sexual battery

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

2005 Aug 02: Medley sentenced for sexual battery

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

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

———————————————————

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

2003 Apr 26: AISE reprimanded by US Department of State

This article has been removed from the original site

By Leslie Wolf Branscomb
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

April 26, 2003

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One home to another

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Smith asked Mary to come live with her.

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

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

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

From Denmark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thousands of students

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

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

Host families are not paid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

2013 Mar 19: Hamilton appeals sentence

COURT OF APPEALS OF VIRGINIA

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

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

FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF FAIRFAX COUNTY

Brett A. Kassabian, Judge

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

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

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

———————————————

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

– 2 –

BACKGROUND

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

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

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

– 3 –

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

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

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

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

– 4 –

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

This appeal followed.

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

– 5 –

ANALYSIS

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

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

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

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

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


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

– 6 –

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

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

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

– 7 –

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

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

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

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

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

—————————————-

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

– 8 –

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

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

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

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

– 9 –

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

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

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

– 10 –

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

CONCLUSION

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

Affirmed.

————————————————————–

2012 Mar 20: Misbrug af udvekslingsstudenter hemmligholdes (Danish)

2011 Jun 27: John E Hamilton, deemed sexual predator

2009 Jun 5: Additional Victims In Hamilton’s Sex Offense Case

June 5, 2009 | Published in Courts & Crime

On Friday, June 5 shortly after 10 a.m., detectives charged John E. Hamilton with two counts of sodomy in connection with their ongoing investigation. The warrants were obtained and executed on Hamilton who remains incarcerated at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.

The new charges stem from allegations made by two additional victims; one is now 19 years old, the other 28. In the case of the 19-year-old, the incidents allegedly occurred from October through December of 2001. The 28-year-old victim alleges that the offenses took place from December 1992 until April of 1993. Both victims lived in the Hollin Hall area at that time. Hamilton acted in a coaching capacity for both of these victims.

Due to the complex and delicate nature of this investigation, additional resources have been allocated.

The most recent charges do not reflect all of the allegations or all of the potential victims in this case. Detectives understand that victims may fear coming forward for various reasons, but want to encourage them to do so in order to bring this investigation to a comprehensive, successful conclusion as soon as possible.

Anyone with information that might help this investigation can use the contact information at the bottom of this news release. Correspondence may also be sent to FCPD-ColdCase@fairfaxcounty.gov

Volunteer Coach Arrested for Sex Offenses

An investigation was launched in late February of this year, when a 24-year-old victim of a sexual crime came forward after 12 years. Detectives from the Child Investigations Unit, assisted by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, conducted the investigation that led to the arrest of John E. Hamilton, 37, of 14120 Gabrielle Way in Centreville, Virginia.

According to the male victim, who was 12 years old at the time of the offense, Hamilton engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with him periodically, from March through July of 1997. One incident occurred in the parking lot of Carl Sandburg Middle School, 8428 Fort Hunt Road. Another took place at Hamilton’s home at that time, in the 6600 block of Wakefield Drive in the Belle View area. Hamilton was a little league baseball coach for the Fort Hunt Youth Athletic Association at that time.

During the investigation, detectives learned that Hamilton currently had a 16-year-old, foreign exchange student living with him. That student has been removed from the home by authorities.

Hamilton was arrested at his home on Friday, May 22, shortly before 10 a.m. He was transported to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center and was charged with one count of aggravated sexual battery and three counts of taking indecent liberties with a child by a person in custodial or supervisory relationship. He was held without bond.

Hamilton has lived in the Northern Virginia area for many years. During that time, he has held several positions in the athletic community that would have afforded him access to children. Detectives are asking parents who are concerned that Hamilton may have engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with their children or those who may have been a victim themselves, to call police.

The investigation continues and additional charges are possible.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Solvers byphone at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477), e-mail at http://www.fairfaxcrimesolvers.org <http://www.fairfaxcrimesolvers.org/>  or text “TIP187″ plus your message to CRIMES/274637. You may also call Detective J. Hinson at 703-246-7893 or the Fairfax County Police Department at 703-691-2131.

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

———————————————————

Related stories

State Department statement

2008 Sep 19: Mice-infestation, fundamentalism and prejudice

This article by Ray Parker shows some problems that exchange students experience. One home with a mouse-infestation, another is fundamentalistic and the third is prejudiced against their student.

… The teens are staying at homes temporarily, but they’ll need more permanent arrangements for the next eight months while attending Chandler and Westwood high schools.

 “These are very cordial, A students,” said Stephen Wasche, local representative for the Center for Cultural Interchange, a non-profit with headquarters in Chicago. “I just have to find places for these kids. I’ve got to get back to work.”

Kacper Guglas, 16, of Poland, had a host home infested with mice, while Ove Daldy, 18, of Norway, had problems with the religious fervor of his host family. … .

Then there’s 17-year-old Tung Lam of Vietnam, who is attending Chandler High.

“The host in Chandler had some family move back in with her,” Wasche said. “The relative was involved in the Vietnam War and was prejudiced.”

“A host family has to have a bed for them,” said Wasche, a teacher. “I don’t want to send them home if there’s any way possible to help them where they’re supposed to be.”

….

2009 Feb 04: Foreign exchange program controversy

The U.S. State Department is investigating whether a major non-profit foreign exchange agency violated regulations by not having proper homes in place for visiting students. Local families who thought they’d have kids for a few weeks say they got stuck with students who had nowhere to go.

The Investigators Sarah Wallace has more on this exclusive story.

State Department regulations are clear — before a foreign exchange student comes to in the United States the sponsoring agency is supposed to have secured a home placement and a school placement for the year.

Well now there are allegations that an agency called ASSE International has blatantly violated those regulations. ASSE denies it.

“I just think it’s wrong. It’s wrong all around ” said Michele Renaud.

Michele Renaud thought it would be a great experience for her son TJ to have foreign visitors. So this summer, she welcomed Hee-Sung from Korea, to stay while he attended an English language camp in Putnam County. She also took in Lenny from France — both students would then go to a different, permanent home for the school year.

Sarah Wallace: “Your understanding was you’d have them for how long?” Michele: “Four weeks.”

The sponsoring agency — ASSE International — is headquartered in California, with area representatives in several states, including New York.

“They did not have placement for either one of my boys … And could I keep them for a few more days. … And it was going on the third month,” Michele said.

Ira Drescher and his family, who also live in Putnam County, took in three exchange students — two from Japan, and one from France.

“We found out none of them had placement. I mean we were told they all had placement and they’d be here for a month,” Ira said.

The Dreschers say they scrambled to get the students enrolled in the local school because ASSE had done nothing. Federal regulations require that a school placement is secured before students arrive.

Michele Renaud echoes the Dreschers. “We went to the school. They were not even registered. The school didn’t even have their names,” she said.

“Those students, before they departed their home country, were supposed to be promised a properly screened and secured host family, as well as a high school,” Danelle Grijalva said.

Danelle Grijalva says her Internet based watchdog group has received complaints about ASSE from families in nine different states.

Independently, we received several e-mails and phone calls. One area representative writes: “This has been a bait and switch program from the beginning.”

“To get them here and have them fend for themselves and just hope that the temporary families fall in love with them is a recipe for disaster,” Danelle said.

In Buffalo, New York we heard a disturbing case of a young girl from Thailand happily living in a temporary house, then placed by ASSE with a family living in a mobile home on the side of the road in the Adirondacks.

“She was distraught. She was crying,” Barbara said.

Barbara Costuros says she drove four hours each way to bring 18-year-old Sufrete back to Buffalo. “It was dirty … I see mice … yes I was scared” Sufrete said.

Sufrete says she was told by ASSE she’d be sent back to Thailand if she didn’t stay in the Adirondacks. But her parents, who paid more than $10,000 to the agency, had had enough. She flew home.

ASSE declined to be interviewed but released this statement: “ASSE is has always been committed to full compliance with all U.S. Department of State regulatory requirements governing its programs.”

When we visited the Dreschers several weeks ago, they decided to keep their French student for the year. But with two children of their own, the family just could not keep the other students.

“They start school, they get upset. It’s very disturbing to them. … All of them is too much,” Ira said.

Michele Renaud still had one of her foreign students waiting for a permanent placement,as well.

“It just feels that we were lied to … blatantly lied to,” Michele said.

The students from Putnam County have all now been placed in permanent homes, although a couple of them say they found families on their own without ASSE’s help.

The Agency claims as of a few weeks ago, all its students had been placed.

(Copyright ©2014 WABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
————————————————

Lauret D Hooks and aliases

OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

Name: LAURET D HOOKS / ODOC# 281969

Alias: D Hooks / Jean Miller / Lauret Hooks / Lovin’ Spoonful Hooks / Lauret DeJan Hooks

IDs ODOC#: 281969

Birth Date: 08/19/1961

Appearance White Female; 5 ft. 3 in. tall; 190 pounds; Brown hair; Hazel eyes;

Body Marks No data available

Sentence
CRF# 1999-973
County: OKLA
Offense: False Declaration To Pawnbroker / Embezzlement By Employee
Conviction: 12/20/1999
Term: 3 Y
Term Code: SUSPENDED
Start: 12/20/1999
End: 12/19/2002

Facility
Current Facility: INACTIVE
Phone#
Reception Date
Discharge Date: 01/07/2000
Parole Hearing Date


2007 Jun 10: ASSE: Exchange-student problems bring shake-up

2007 Jun 10: School of hard knocks? Every story has two sides, but tales about Bayard Rustin Living Learning Center couldn’t be more further apart.

2007 Jun 10: Storrs, Hooks, Lamonte and Bayard Rustin Living Learning Center

The Oklahoman | By Randy Ellis | Published: June 10, 2007

Three high school foreign exchange students had high expectations last summer after they learned they had been accepted into a private Oklahoma City school funded in part with a grant from Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates’ foundation.

Nobody said anything about fights in classrooms. Nobody said anything about living with convicted felons. Nobody said anything about cockroaches.

Those were things they had to learn from experience.

Welcome to Oklahoma City’s Bayard Rustin Living Learning Center — a nonaccredited, unregulated school where foreign exchange students say they received an education — just not the kind they were expecting.

The students said they were ultimately rescued by caring Oklahoma families that took them in and got them transferred to public schools. They talked with The Oklahoman about their experiences.

Cockroaches
“I learned a lot about cockroaches,” said David Lorenz, a 17-year-old foreign exchange student from Germany. Lorenz said he was placed with a host family headed by the school’s secretary, and her home was crawling with them.”The cockroaches were everywhere — in the refrigerator, in the oven,” he said.

Lorenz said he tried not to complain because foreign exchange officials had stressed the need to be tolerant of different cultures during a student orientation.

However, he said that became impossible when he woke up one morning with a throbbing pain in his left ear.

“We went to the emergency room and the doctor looked into the ear and there was a cockroach in it. I could feel it crawling around in there,” he said.

Antibiotics were prescribed and it took about a week for the pain to ease, Lorenz said.

Bayard Rustin secretary Lauret Hooks, Lorenz’s host parent, said the cockroach invasion was a temporary problem created when a neighbor moved out. She said she bombed for the cockroaches and took Lorenz to the hospital.

“I don’t know what more I could have done,” she said.

Lorenz said he discovered later that Hooks, 45, had a 1999 felony conviction. Hooks confirmed that she pleaded guilty back then to embezzlement by an employee and making a false declaration to a pawnbroker.

A representative of ASSE International Student Exchange Programs, the exchange organization that placed students in her home, said its criminal background check failed to turn up that information.

Hooks, however, said the organization knew all about it, but said it was OK.

Hooks said her experience with the exchange program wasn’t so great, either. She said a student from Japan tore up her son’s comforter, ruined food by leaving the freezer door open and ran up long distance phone bills.

Founder’s troubled history
Bayard Rustin is the brainchild of Toshav L. Storrs, a gay man with a criminal past and pending felony charge who said he started the 32-student school in hopes of helping troubled inner city youth avoid the mistakes he made. The pending charge in Tulsa is for allegedly writing nine bogus checks totaling more than $2,600. His half-dozen prior convictions in New York and Oklahoma are for grand larceny, bogus checks and forgery-related offenses.

“I started out with great gifts and didn’t use them well,” said Storrs, 46. “It’s not anything I’m at all proud of. From those experiences — whatever I have learned — I hope I can pass on to these young people.”

Storrs said he started Bayard Rustin two years ago with a vision of creating a small school that would embrace diversity.

Many students founder in public schools when they don’t fit in because they are gay, shy, from broken foster homes or have discipline problems, he said. Storrs said he invited six foreign exchange students to attend Bayard Rustin last fall because he thought it would increase diversity and the multi-lingual, high performing exchange students would be an inspiration for the school’s other students.

Unexpected surprises
Lorenz and fellow foreign exchange students Daniel Balser, 17, of Germany and Petr Dolecek, 17, of the Czech Republic told The Oklahoman that Bayard Rustin provided them and three other exchange students with one bizarre surprise after another.

While Lorenz was dealing with cockroaches, Balser and Dolecek were placed in Storrs’ home. Balser said he came to Oklahoma City with the understanding he would be living with former Bayard Rustin Principal Sean Lee. But after arriving, he learned Storrs would be his host.

Balser said Storrs told him he was gay, but not being familiar with all the nuances of the language, he thought Storrs might be saying that he was a “happy person.” Balser said he realized Storrs was a homosexual after meeting his gay roommate.” They didn’t do anything to us. Just the feeling wasn’t so cool,” he said.

Dolecek said he understood before he came to Oklahoma City that Storrs was homosexual, but it wasn’t a big deal to him.

The students said they had never heard of Bayard Rustin when the exchange program notified them that they would have an opportunity to attend school there.

They said they looked up the school on the Internet, but about all they discovered was that Bayard Rustin was a private school that embraced students from diverse social and racial backgrounds and received part of its funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Gates Foundation tie seemed promising.

“I thought it was a prestigious school,” Dolecek said, adding he also thought it might be high tech.

He was wrong.

An IBM employee who worked on the computers said some of them were so old they wouldn’t load 10-year-old software. Storrs said he bought the computers cheap as surplus property.

School moves
As for the school, students said they were surprised to discover it was located in a warehouse on E Reno Avenue. They were even more surprised when officials packed up and moved the school a few weeks into the fall semester. The new location at 726 Colbertson Drive is in a strip shopping center southeast of the state Capitol.Jimmy Nix, the warehouse owner, said he was trying to evict Storrs when school officials moved.

“They were in there probably two or three months,” Nix said.

Nix said he received two bad checks from Storrs, along with a lot of excuses.

Other suppliers reported similar experiences.

And it wasn’t just the suppliers who weren’t being paid.

Former teachers told The Oklahoman they weren’t, either, which prompted many of them to quit mid-semester.

“Most of the time, we were just sitting there doing nothing,” Balser said.

The students said they would have one morning class, then do whatever. Fights frequently broke out between students, they said.

The state Education Department never stepped in because it doesn’t have oversight of private schools that don’t seek accreditation, said department spokeswoman Shelly Hickman.

Dolecek said he thought it was strange the school didn’t have money to pay teachers because it bought thousands of dollars in football equipment for a joint team with some charter schools.

The school still owes several thousand dollars on the equipment, an employee of the business that sold the equipment said.

Money problems
Storrs said Bayard Rustin is a private school that doesn’t charge tuition. He admits money was a constant problem.The school’s two primary sources of funding were a $150,000 model schools grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and federal money the school collected for doing after-school tutoring of Oklahoma City students, Storrs said.

The Gates Foundation grant was pulled in September, before the last $50,000 installment was paid, after grant officials learned the school was writing bad checks and not paying teachers, said Isaac L. Ewell of the Black Alliance for Education Options, which administered the pass-through grant.

The state Education Department removed Bayard Rustin from the list of eligible tutoring assistance providers after investigating complaints involving many of the same issues, Hickman said.

Storrs said he still plans to hold classes next fall and hopes the school can become self-sufficient.

He said he understands the complaints of foreign exchange students, but thinks they stem largely from their expectations.

“I think they were looking for ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’. They wanted a big high school with lots of kids,” Storrs said.

Storrs thinks many struggling inner-city students were much happier with the Bayard Rustin experience.

The foreign exchange students said they will have a lot to talk about when they get home.

“Overall, we experienced everything, I guess,” Lorenz said.


2007 Jun 10: ASSE: Exchange-student problems bring shake-up

2007 Jun 10: ASSE: Exchange-student problems bring shake-up

By Randy Ellis Modified: June 10, 2007 at 7:02 am •  Published: June 10, 2007
Troublesome situations that six foreign exchange students encountered at Oklahoma City’s Bayard Rustin Living Learning Center should never have happened and steps have been taken to make sure they don’t happen again, said the regional director of the exchange organization that placed the students there.

ASSE International Student Exchange Programs has replaced its local representative and will never again send a student to Bayard Rustin, said Terri Joski, ASSE’s regional director.

Concerning ASSE’s former local representative, Joski said: “Clearly, his judgment was not very good.”

Criminal background checks by The Oklahoman revealed that two host parents used by the organization for Bayard Rustin students had felony criminal convictions.

Those felony records should have been uncovered during a criminal background check required by the U.S. State Department, Joski said.

ASSE paid an outside company to perform the background checks, but for some yet to be explained reason, those checks did not reveal the felony convictions, she said.

“If we had gotten results like that back, we cannot place a student in a home with a convicted felon,” she said.

Name changes possible

Individuals with minor criminal infractions in their distant past can sometimes serve as host parents, but the exchange student and the student’s natural family must approve, Joski said.It is unclear whether name changes and aliases were a factor in the organization’s failure to discover the criminal backgrounds of Lauret Hooks and Toshav L. Storrs.

Court records show both have gone by other names in the past. Hooks has used at least seven other names, including Jean Miller and Lovin’ Spoonful Hooks, records show.

Storrs used to be known as Tony Lamonte Greene. He changed his first name to Toshav when he converted to Judaism in 1990 and took the last name Storrs when he and Phillip Storrs united their lives in a gay commitment ceremony in New York in 1995. The couple since has split and Toshov Storrs now lives with another gay partner and his partner’s elderly mother.

Joski said ASSE was not told that Storrs was living with a gay partner when it placed students in his home.

The organization does have some gay host families, but ASSE’s policy is to fully inform students and their natural families before placing a student in a nontraditional home, she said.

Joski said it also upset her when students reported that Storrs and his partner would leave them to care for the partner’s elderly mother, who suffered a stroke a few years back, while they left on some weekends.

“That is not an acceptable situation,” Joski said. “We weren’t made aware of the partner or the mother.”

Not like a school

ASSE also did not know that Hooks’ home was infested with cockroaches, Joski said.ASSE requires its representative to do home visits, but there is no guarantee that home visits will detect that type of problem, she said.

Just by chance, Joski said she and a coordinator happened to be in Oklahoma City in January and decided to drop by Bayard Rustin.

“It was a very eye-opening experience,” she said. “I thought it was more like a community hang out place for kids than a school.”

Joski said ASSE gives every foreign exchange student the telephone number of his or her local representative as well as the telephone number of the regional office.

They are told to call if there is any kind of emergency, she said.

All students removed

All six Bayard Rustin foreign exchange students were removed from the school and their original host families as problems became known, Joski said. Some were at Bayard Rustin for a few weeks, while others were there several months.The students finished the year living with other host families and attended various public schools — where they reported much happier experiences.

“I’m a little sad it didn’t come up sooner,” Joski said. “We want them to have a good time on the program.”

2011 Jan 05: Ley sentenced for sex abuse of high school exchange student

Oregon Live | By Emily E. Smith | esmith@oregonian.com
updated January 05, 2011 at 9:50 PM

A Beaverton man who sexually abused the high school exchange student he hosted last school yearwas sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison.Craig Steven Ley, 51, facing five counts of first-degree and five counts of second-degree sex abuse, took a plea deal last month and pleaded guilty to four counts of second-degree sex abuse.Washington County Judge Eric Butterfield sentenced Ley Wednesday afternoon, granting the sentence Ley and prosecutors agreed to in the deal.

The victim, a 16-year-old European boy, was living with Ley and attending a Beaverton school as a foreign exchange student when the abuse occurred.

In June 2010, the boy reported months of abuse that began early in his stay with Ley.

Deputy District Attorney Paul Maloney said Ley, an active member of the Beaverton lacrosse community, had hosted exchange students previously, but officials found no evidence of prior abuse.

Maloney described in court Wednesday how the relationship between Ley and his victim quickly escalated to the two sleeping in Ley’s bed every night and having daily sexual contact.

A visitor in a foreign country, the boy “was completely and utterly reliant on the defendant,” Maloney said.

“When he would talk to his parents over Skype,” Maloney said, “the defendant would always be lurking about; he would pop in and out sporadically throughout the phone calls.”

His parents never knew that their son’s host father lived alone, had filed bankruptcy and had a 2004 federal felony mail fraud conviction.

The teen didn’t see his family in person until his aunt came from Germany to visit him at Ley’s home in June 2010, shortly before his high school graduation, Maloney said.

He then admitted to his aunt that he slept in Ley’s bed, and his aunt recognized, “this was not the American dream,” Maloney said.

His aunt took him to CARES Northwest, a program that assesses and treats child abuse, and a criminal investigation began.

Ley pulled off the inappropriate relationship by taking advantage of the victim’s vulnerability, Maloney said, and playing off the behavior as fun and normal.

Defense attorney Devon Fooks said Ley’s actions were less sinister than Maloney described.

Fooks said his client didn’t groom or prey upon the student but leaned on him for emotional support during a troubling year. Ley developed a friendship with the boy that “went too far,” Fooks said.

The abuse didn’t occur daily or “with great frequency,” Fooks added, and sometimes the victim initiated the acts.

While those facts don’t relieve Ley of any responsibility, Fooks said, the abuse was “situational more than predatory.”

Ley addressed the court, offering an apology to his victim and family, and explaining that he genuinely cared for the victim and the previous 18 exchange students he had hosted.

“To hurt anybody who I cared for … in my home – that hurts and tears my heart apart,” he said.

For years Ley and his ex-wife alternated hosting boys and girls each year, he said, and he treated them as he would his own children.

In the 2009-10 school year, Ley said, “I had a difficult time stepping up and being an adult that year.”

Butterfield ordered Ley to register as a sex offender when he is released from prison.

Emily E. Smith


2004 May 17: USA v. Ley Oregon District Court, Case No. 3:03-cr-00576-KI

2008 Jul 18: Programmes Internationaux D’Echanges v. Grijalva: Conspiracy; Defamation; Tortious Interference

2010 Jun 15: Beaverton lacrosse coach arrested on multiple sex abuse counts

2010 Dec 21: Exchange student’s Beaverton host father pleads guilty to sex abuse

2003 Apr 04: Swiderski denies sex charges

News-Herald | By Tracey Read
Posted: 04/30/03, 12:00 AM EDT | Staff Writer

A retired teacher accused of molesting a foreign exchange student he hosted said he hopes his experience doesn’t stop others from welcoming exchange students into their homes.

Frank Swiderski, 69, of Eastlake, appeared Tuesday in Willoughby Municipal Court on charges of multiple sex offenses involving a teen-age male who began living with the suspect in August.

Swiderski remained in jail on $50,000 bond.

The never-married suspect, who taught foreign language and audiovisual classes at North High School in Eastlake before retiring 20 years ago, denied the allegations to news reporters after waiving his right to a preliminary hearing.

“There has never been any impropriety,” Swiderski said. “I hope other people will still take exchange students into their houses.”

Swiderski, a onetime Eastlake Chamber of Commerce “Man of the Year,” said he never even asked for the boy, who is now 18, to live with him.

“The family and the school who had him fell through,” he said, adding, “He was the one who chose me.”

Swiderski was arrested last week after the student asked a teacher if the suspect’s interactions with him were normal American customs.

The suspect said the alleged victim appeared happy the day before the allegations came out when the two enjoyed dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant.

“He’s a hard-working young man who does more than people realize,” said the suspect. “I tried to relieve his stress by taking him wherever he wanted to go.”

A Lake County grand jury must now decide whether there is enough evidence to indict Swiderski on eight counts of gross sexual imposition and one count of pandering obscenity involving a minor.

If convicted on all nine counts, he faces a maximum 131/2 years behind bars.

Meanwhile, Eastlake police said they are still talking to at least four other former exchange students from countries including Holland, Germany and Sweden who may have been molested by Swiderski.

The suspect has admitted on tape to being a predator of young children since 1968, Detective Chris Bowersock said.

“It’s an ongoing investigation, and the evidence will speak for itself,” Bowersock said.

However, Swiderski denied that he ever told police he has a history of inappropriate conduct with minors.

Swiderski, who was also involved in Boy Scouts and was under contract as a news correspondent for The Plain Dealer before the arrest, remained in jail Tuesday on $50,000 bond.

“We don’t think he’s a flight risk,” Eastlake City Prosecutor Judd Hawkins said.

As a condition of allowing the suspect to be released if he posts 10 percent of the bond, Judge Larry Allen ordered Swiderski to turn in his passport and not go near schools or minors – especially the alleged victim.

Swiderski’s attorney, Paul H. Hentemann, said the suspect will have no problem abiding by those restrictions.

“We recognize that this is a sensitive case,” Hentemann said. “My client will mind his own business and have nothing to do with anyone under the age of 18.”


2005-Ohio-6705, State v. Swiderski

Frank Swiderski convicted of sexual abuse

[Cite as State v. Swiderski, 2005-Ohio-6705.]

THE COURT OF APPEALS
ELEVENTH APPELLATE DISTRICT
LAKE COUNTY, OHIO

 

STATE OF OHIO,                :     O P I N I O N
Plaintiff-Appellee,              :
                                                           CASE NO. 2004-L-112
– vs –                                            :
FRANK Z. SWIDERSKI,  :
Defendant-Appellant.     :

Criminal Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 03 CR 000255.

Judgment: Affirmed.

Charles E. Coulson, Lake County Prosecutor, and Amy E. Cheatham, Assistant Prosecutor, 105 Main Street, P.O. Box 490, Painesville, OH 44077 (For Plaintiff-Appellee).

Daniel S. Chaplin, 1148 Euclid Avenue, #300, Cleveland, OH 44115 (For Defendant-Appellant).

COLLEEN MARY O’TOOLE, J.

{¶1} Appellant, Frank Z. Swiderski, appeals from the judgments of the Lake County Court of Common Pleas, sentencing him to an aggregate prison term of thirty months and adjudicating him as a sexual predator. For the following reasons, we affirm.

{¶2} On July 1, 2003, the Lake County Grand Jury indicted appellant on eight counts of gross sexual imposition, each count a fourth degree felony in violation of R.C. 2907.05(A)(1); three counts of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor, each count a fourth degree felony in violation of R.C. 2907.322(A)(5); and four counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor, each count a fourth degree felony in violation of R.C. 2907.321(A)(5). At his arraignment, appellant pleaded not guilty to the foregoing charges.

{¶3} On January 12, 2004, appellant entered a written guilty plea to one count of gross sexual imposition and two counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor. The written guilty plea did not include a recommended sentence.

{¶4} During a change of plea hearing, the court advised appellant of his constitutional and non-constitutional rights incident to trial. Appellant acknowledged that he understood these rights and that his guilty plea would act to waive these rights. The court then accepted appellant’s guilty plea and convicted him on one count of gross sexual imposition and two counts of pandering sexually oriented matter.

{¶5} This matter proceeded to a sentencing hearing and sexual offender classification hearing, which were held contemporaneously. During the hearing, the court considered the testimony and report of Dr. John Fabian (“Dr. Fabian”), and the report of Dr. Michael Arnoff (“Dr. Arnoff”), regarding two separate psychological evaluations of appellant. Also, the court considered the submitted pre-sentence investigation report.

{¶6} The evidence established that appellant’s convictions were based upon his improper sexual contact with a foreign exchange student and his possession of pornographic pictures depicting minor males engaging in various sexual activities. The victim of the improper sexual contact was a seventeen-year-old, male foreign exchange student. Appellant was acting as the victim’s host parent when the improper sexual contact occurred.

{¶7} At the conclusion of the hearing, the court discussed the relevant sentencing and recidivism factors and pronounced its sentence. The court sentenced appellant to a fifteen-month prison term on each of the two counts of pandering sexually oriented material, with the prison terms to run concurrently. The court also sentenced appellant to a fifteen-month prison term on the single count of gross sexual imposition. The fifteen-month prison term for gross sexual imposition was to be served consecutive to the concurrent fifteen-month prison term for pandering sexually oriented material.

{¶8} On June 24, 2004, the court issued a judgment entry which re-stated its findings and sentence. The judgment entry also included the court’s determinations with respect to appellant’s sexual offender classification. Based upon its findings, the court adjudicated appellant as a sexual predator.

{¶9} From this judgment, appellant filed a timely notice of appeal and now sets forth the following five assignments of error:

{¶10} “[1.] The trial court’s sentence violated Blakely v. Washington *** and the case must be remanded for a new sentencing hearing.

{¶11} “[2.] The trial court’s consecutive sentence violated the Ohio Supreme Court’s requirement that consecutive sentences are reserved for the worst offenses and worst offenders pursuant to State v. Comer ***.

{¶12} “[3.] The court’s conclusion that the appellant is not amenable to an available community control sanction is not supported by the record.

{¶13} “[4.] The trial court failed to ensure that the 30 month sentence imposed on the appellant was consistent with similar sentences imposed on similar offenders in violation of R.C. 2929.11(B).

{¶14} “[5.] The evidence is insufficient to sustain a finding that the appellant is a sexual predator.”

{¶15} Under his first assignment of error, appellant contends that, per Blakely v. Washington (2004), 124 S.Ct. 2531, the trial court erred by sentencing him to a nonminimum prison term and consecutive prison terms. We disagree.

{¶16} In Blakely, the defendant pleaded guilty to kidnapping involving the use of a firearm, a class B felony. In the state of Washington, the statutory maximum for a class B felony was ten years; however, other provisions of Washington law limited the range of sentences a judge could impose. Consequently, the “standard” statutory range for the offense to which the defendant pleaded guilty was forty-nine to fifty-three months. Although the guidelines set forth the “standard” sentence, a court could enlarge the “standard” sentence if it found any of a non-exhaustive list of aggravating factors justifying the departure. In Blakely, the trial court determined the defendant acted with “deliberate cruelty” and imposed a sentence of ninety-months, a thirty-seven month upward departure from the “standard.”

{¶17} The United States Supreme Court reversed the sentence, holding a trial court may not extend a defendant’s sentence beyond the statutory maximum when the facts supporting the enhanced sentence are neither admitted by the defendant nor found by the jury. Id. The court defined the statutory maximum as “the maximum sentence a judge may impose solely on the basis of the facts reflected in the jury verdict or admitted by the defendant.” (Emphasis sic.) Id. at 2537.

{¶18} Appellant maintains that the court’s imposition of non-minimum prison terms and consecutive prison-terms exceeded the statutory maximum. Therefore, appellant concludes that, in exceeding the statutory maximum, the court made statutory findings not made by a jury or admitted by appellant, thereby violating Blakely and depriving him of due process.

{¶19} With respect to the non-minimum prison terms, appellant was convicted on three separate fourth degree felonies. The statutory minimum prison-term for a fourth degree felony is six months, while the statutory maximum prison-term is eighteen months. The trial court sentenced appellant to prison terms of fifteen months on each fourth degree felony.

{¶20} R.C. 2929.14(B) states:

{¶21} “(B) *** if the court imposing a sentence upon an offender for a felony elects or is required to impose a prison term on the offender, the court shall impose the shortest prison term authorized for the offense pursuant to division (A) of this section, unless one or more of the following applies:

{¶22} “(1) The offender was serving a prison term at the time of the offense, or the offender previously served a prison term.

{¶23} “(2) The court finds on the record that the shortest prison term will demean the seriousness of the offender’s conduct or will not adequately protect the public from future crime by the offender or others.”

{¶24} To support its upward departure from the minimum prison-terms, the court relied upon a finding that the shortest prison terms would demean the seriousness of appellant’s conduct and not adequately protect the public from future crime.

{¶25} This court has previously not applied the holding of Blakely to the sentencing factors of R.C. 2929.14(B). In doing so, we have concluded that the Blakely holding does not render the trial court’s findings with respect to these factors constitutionally infirm. See, e.g., State v. Fielder, 11th Dist. No. 2003-L-190, 2005-Ohio-3388; State v. Semala, 11th Dist. No. 2003-L-128, 2005-Ohio-2653; State v. Morales, 11th Dist. No. 2003-L-025, 2004-Ohio-7239. We have provided the following explanation:

{¶26} “In State v. Morales, 11th Dist. No. 2003-L-025, 2004-Ohio-7239, we began our analysis by noting that Blakely and the prior case law of the United States Supreme Court had not had the effect of depriving a trial judge of the discretion to consider aggravating circumstances in deciding the length of a defendant’s sentence; instead, the Blakely decision only held that a trial judge cannot make a factual finding which would result in the imposition of a sentence longer than the maximum prison term permissible under the jury verdict. In other words, we concluded that, under Blakely, the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial had no application so long as the trial judge was imposing a sentence within the general range of terms permissible based upon the jury verdict. The Morales court then held that the factors set forth in R.C. 2929.14(B) were similar in nature to aggravating circumstances because a trial court’s finding concerning the existence of one of the two factors in a particular case only meant that a longer term within the acceptable range could be imposed. As a result, the Morales court ultimately held that the procedure under R.C. 2929.14(B) did not constitute a violation of the basic constitutional right to a jury trial.” Fielder at ¶44.

{¶27} The clear precedent of this court establishes that the trial court’s use of the sentencing factors under R.C. 2929.14(B) did not constitutionally invalidate its imposition of non-minimum prison terms. Instead, the trial court obtained proper statutory authority to impose prison terms which were longer than the statutory minimum when it made the appropriate findings under R.C. 2929.14(B). This portion of appellant’s first assignment of error is not well-taken.

{¶28} Likewise, the court’s imposition of consecutive prison-terms was not constitutionally invalid per Blakely. When imposing consecutive sentences, the trial court must first determine that consecutive sentences are “necessary to protect the public from future crime or to punish the offender and that consecutive sentences are not disproportionate to the seriousness of the offender’s conduct and to the danger the offender poses to the public[.]” R.C. 2929.14(E)(4). Next, the trial court must find that one of the following factors listed in R.C. 2929.14(E)(4) is also present: (a) that the offender was awaiting trial or sentencing or was under community control sanctions; (b) that the harm caused by the offenses was so great that a single prison term would not adequately reflect the severity of the conduct; or (c) that the offender’s prior criminal history demonstrates that consecutive sentences are necessary to protect the public from future crime. State v. Norwood (June 8, 2001), 11th Dist. No. 2000-L-072, 2001 Ohio App. LEXIS 2573.

{¶29} In the case sub judice, the court found that consecutive prison-terms were necessary to protect the public from future crime or to punish appellant and are not disproportionate to the seriousness of his conduct and the danger he poses to the public. The court further found that the harm caused by appellant’s multiple offenses was so great or unusual that no single prison term adequately reflects the seriousness of his conduct.

{¶30} Despite the court’s findings with respect to the statutory sentencing factors, this court has consistently held that a sentencing court’s imposition of consecutive sentences does not violate the rule set forth in Blakely. See, e.g., State v. Taylor, 158 Ohio App.3d 597, 2004-Ohio-5939, at ¶26. See, also, State v. Allen, 11th Dist. No. 2004-L-038, 2005-Ohio-1415, at ¶29; Semala at ¶37. In doing so, we noted that Blakely is distinguishable from the instant case where consecutive sentences have been issued for multiple crimes. Specifically, we noted that Blakely dealt with sentencing for a single crime. See, e.g., Semala at ¶36. Therefore, Blakely does not apply to consecutive sentences “as long as the sentence does not exceed the statutory maximum for each individual underlying offense.” Id.

{¶31} The court sentenced appellant to prison terms of fifteen months on each of the individual underlying fourth degree felonies. As noted previously, the statutory maximum prison-term for a fourth degree felony is eighteen months. Thus, the trial court’s imposition of fifteen-month prison terms did not exceed the statutory maximum. This portion of appellant’s first assignment of error is also not well-taken.

{¶32} Appellant’s first assignment of error is without merit.

{¶33} Appellant’s second, third, and fourth assignments of error challenge the validity of the court’s felony sentence. In examining these assignments of error, we note that, under R.C. 2953.08, our review of a felony sentence is de novo. State v. Bradford (June 1, 2001), 11th Dist. No. 2000-L-103, 2001 Ohio App. LEXIS 2487, at 3. However, this court will not disturb a given sentence unless we find, by clear and convincing evidence, that the record does not support the sentence or that the sentence is otherwise contrary to law. State v. Thomas (July 16, 1999), 11th Dist. No. 98-L-074, 1999 Ohio App. LEXIS 3334. Clear and convincing evidence is that evidence which will produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction as to the facts sought to be established. Id.

{¶34} Under his second assignment of error, appellant maintains that the court’s consecutive prison-terms were not justified as he did not commit the worst offense nor was he the worst offender. Instead, appellant contends that an examination of certain statutory factors under R.C. 2929.12(E) establishes a low likelihood of recidivism. Thus, appellant concludes that the court erred in issuing consecutive prison-terms.

{¶35} In arguing that the court was required to specifically find that appellant was the worst offender or committed the worst offense, appellant relies upon the following statement by the Ohio Supreme Court:

{¶36} “Consecutive sentences are reserved for the worst offenses and offenders.” State v. Comer, 99 Ohio St.3d 463, 2003-Ohio-4165, at ¶21.

{¶37} Such reliance is misplaced. The Court’s general statement did not mandate a specific finding by the trial court that a defendant committed the worst offense or was the worst offender. Instead, taken in full context, the statement merely established that the trial court’s application of R.C. 2929.14(E)(4) will ensure that consecutive sentences are reserved for the worst offenses and offenders. Id. at ¶13-21. A review of the statutory factors under R.C. 2929.14(E)(4) demonstrates that the court was not required to find that appellant was the worst offender or that he committed the worst offense prior to imposing consecutive prison-terms.

{¶38} The only instance in which R.C. 2929.14 requires the trial court to find that the defendant committed the worst form of the offense is under R.C. 2929.14(C). R.C. 2929.14(C) requires the trial court to find that the defendant committed the worst form of the offense before imposing the maximum prison-term. However, as stated previously, the statute does not require this finding when imposing a consecutive prison-term per R.C. 2929.14(E)(4).

{¶39} Nevertheless, the court was obligated to follow the requirements set forth in R.C. 2929.19(B) when sentencing appellant to consecutive prison-terms. Specifically, R.C. 2929.19(B)(2)(c) requires that the trial court justify its imposition of consecutive prison-terms by making findings that give the court’s reasons for selecting that particular sentence.

{¶40} In the past, this court has held that the findings mandated by R.C. 2929.19(B)(2)(c) and 2929.14 “must appear somewhere on the record of sentence, either in the judgment or in the transcript of the sentencing hearing.” State v. Rone (Dec. 4, 1998), 11th Dist. No. 98-A-0001, 1998 Ohio App. LEXIS 5813, at 6. In Comer, however, the Ohio Supreme Court held that when ordering a defendant to serve consecutive sentences, the trial court must also make its statutorily required findings at the sentencing hearing. Id. at paragraphs one and two of the syllabus.

{¶41} In the case sub judice, the court sentenced appellant to two consecutive fifteen-month prison terms. As stated under appellant’s first assignment of error, the court set forth its findings pursuant to R.C. 2929.14(E)(4), at the sentencing hearing, and as part of its sentencing entry.

{¶42} With respect to the aforementioned findings, the court provided the following reasons in support: (1) the victim was a foreign exchange student and appellant used his position of authority as a host parent to facilitate the offenses; (2) appellant used manipulation and acts of intimidation to assist in committing these offenses; and (3) appellant has admitted to a long history of sexual criminal conduct.

{¶43} The foregoing demonstrates the court’s compliance with Comer and the statutory prerequisites for issuing consecutive sentences. The court’s findings and reasons for issuing consecutive sentences are substantiated by the record and were made part of the sentencing entry and sentencing hearing. Thus, this portion of appellant’s second assignment of error is not well-taken.

{¶44} Moreover, the trial court was required to consider the recidivism factors of R.C. 2929.12(E). The trial court stated that it had considered the recidivism factors of R.C. 2929.12(E) and balanced its consideration of such factors against its findings and the principles and purposes of sentencing. In doing so, the court ultimately determined that certain factors demonstrating a low likelihood of recidivism were outweighed by those factors justifying a consecutive prison-term.

{¶45} The trial court was in the best position to evaluate and balance the relevant statutory factors when determining appellant’s sentence. As a result, we will not substitute our judgment for that of the trial court’s when there is clear and convincing evidence supporting its findings and when the sentence is not otherwise contrary to law. See, e.g., Thomas; Bradford. Here, the court, within its wide sentencing discretion, determined that despite its consideration of recidivism factors, a consecutive prisonterm was necessary. Because the record supports the court’s findings and because the sentence was not contrary to law, the court did not err in issuing a consecutive prisonterm. This portion of appellant’s second assignment of error is also not well-taken.

{¶46} Appellant’s second assignment of error is without merit.

{¶47} Under his third assignment of error, appellant maintains that the court erred in concluding that appellant was not amenable to an available community control sanction. Specifically, appellant argues that the court failed to consider the availability of specific community control sanctions and whether appellant was willing to submit to community control.

{¶48} When imposing a sentence for a felony of the fourth or fifth degree, the trial court must determine if one of the factors enumerated in R.C. 2929.13(B)(1) is present. This statute provides that:

{¶49} “In sentencing an offender for a felony of the fourth or fifth degree, the sentencing court shall determine whether any of the following apply:

{¶50} “***

{¶51} “(d) The offender held a public office or position of trust and the offense related to that office or position[.]”

{¶52} If the trial court finds that (1) one of the foregoing factors is present; (2) that a prison term is consistent with the purposes of sentencing; and (3) that the defendant is not amenable to community control sanctions, a prison term must be imposed. R.C. 2929.13(B)(2)(a). In making these determinations, the court must consider all relevant factors, including the factors affecting the seriousness of the offenses and the potential for recidivism found in R.C. 2929.12(B) through (E). R.C. 2929.12(A).

{¶53} In the case sub judice, the court found that a prison sentence was consistent with the purposes of sentencing and that appellant was “not amenable to an available community control sanction.” And the trial court found that appellant had facilitated the offense by abusing his position of trust as a host parent of the victim. The court also noted that it had considered all relevant factors including the recidivism factors of R.C. 2929.12(B).

{¶54} The trial court clearly considered all relevant statutory factors prior to determining that appellant was not amenable to community control and adequately stated its findings. Thus, the court did not err in sentencing appellant to a prison term rather than community control. Appellant’s third assignment of error is without merit.

{¶55} Under his fourth assignment of error, appellant contends that the trial court failed to ensure that its thirty-month prison term was consistent with sentences for similar offenses. Appellant maintains that the trial court ignored evidence presented at the hearing of similar cases in which the trial court’s sentence did not include a prison term. Therefore, appellant concludes that the court failed to adhere to the sentencing consistency requirement of R.C. 2929.11(B).

{¶56} We agree with appellant that R.C. 2929.11(B) mandates consistency when applying Ohio’s sentencing guidelines. See, e.g., State v. Lyons, 8th Dist. No. 80220, 2002-Ohio-3424, at ¶30. Accordingly, “it is the trial court’s responsibility to insure that it has the appropriate information before it when imposing sentence in order to comply with the purposes of felony sentencing.” Id. However, this court has reasoned that sentencing consistency is not developed via a trial court’s comparison of the existing matter before the court to prior sentences for similar offenders and similar offenses. State v. Spellman, 160 Ohio App.3d 718, 2005-Ohio-2065, at ¶12. Specifically, we stated:

{¶57} “We agree with the rationale of the Lyons court, insofar as the trial court must adhere to the statutory mandate to ensure consistency in sentencing. However, we note, as that court did, that the trial court is required to make its sentencing decisions in compliance with the statute, but need not specifically comb the case law in search of similar offenders who have committed similar offenses in order to ascertain the proper sentence to be imposed.” Id.

{¶58} In short, a consistent sentence is not derived from a case-by-case comparison; rather, it is the trial court’s proper application of the statutory sentencing guidelines that ensures consistency. As discussed previously, the court properly applied and considered the necessary statutory sentencing factors before issuing appellant’s sentence. Moreover, the court’s findings were supported by clear and convincing evidence. Thus, the court’s sentence met the consistency requirement as espoused by R.C. 2929.11(B). Appellant’s fourth assignment of error is without merit.

{¶59} Under his fifth assignment of error, appellant contends that the trial court erred in adjudicating him as a sexual predator. In support of this contention, appellant maintains that several factors, including his age and the absence of a prior criminal record, establish a low likelihood of recidivism. Thus, appellant argues that the court’s sexual predator adjudication was not based upon clear and convincing evidence.

{¶60} R.C. 2950.01(E)(1) defines a sexual predator as a person who has been “convicted of or pleaded guilty to committing a sexually oriented offense and is likely to engage in the future in one or more sexually oriented offenses.” In applying the sexual predator definition, a common pleas court can classify an individual as a sexual predator only if it concludes that the state has established both prongs of the definition by clear and convincing evidence. R.C. 2950.09(B)(4). Clear and convincing evidence is the measure or degree of proof which “will produce in the mind of the trier of facts a firm belief or conviction as to the facts sought to be established.” Cross v. Ledford (1954), 161 Ohio St. 469, paragraph three of the syllabus. See, also, State v. Eppinger, 91 Ohio St.3d 158, 164, 2001-Ohio-247.

{¶61} To assist a common pleas court in determining the second prong of the sexual predator definition, specifically, whether appellant is likely to engage in the future in one or more sexually oriented offenses, R.C. 2950.09(B)(3)(a)-(j) sets forth a list of nonexclusive factors that the court must consider. These factors include: (1) the offender’s age; (2) the offender’s prior criminal record; (3) the victim’s age; (4) whether the underlying sexually oriented offense involved multiple victims; (5) whether the offender used alcohol or drugs to impair or incapacitate the victim; (6) whether the offender has previously participated in a rehabilitative program for sexual offenders; (7) any mental illness or mental disability of the offender; (8) the specific nature of the sexual conduct involved in the underlying sexually oriented offense; (9) whether the offender acted cruelly in committing the underlying sexually oriented offense; and (10) any additional behavioral characteristics that contribute to the offender’s conduct.

{¶62} Here, the record demonstrates that the common pleas court considered the factors of R.C. 2950.09(B)(3), and after doing so, concluded there was clear and convincing evidence to support a determination that appellant satisfied both prongs of the sexual predator definition. In particular, the court noted that appellant had pleaded guilty to a sexually oriented offense as defined by R.C. Chapter 2950. The trial court then proceeded to the second prong of its sexual predator classification and provided the following analysis of the requisite factors under R.C. 2950.09(B)(3):

{¶63} “a.) The defendant was sixty-eight (68) years of age at the time of the offense;

{¶64} “b.) The defendant has no prior criminal record;

{¶65} “c.) The victim of the sexually oriented offense for which sentence was imposed was between seventeen (17) and eighteen (18) years of age at the time of the crime;

{¶66} “d.) The sexually oriented offense for which the sentence was imposed involved multiple victims:

{¶67} “1) On Count 1 – the offense involved one (1) victim;

{¶68} “2) On Counts 9 and 10, the Court finds multiple victims depicted in the images of child pornography;

{¶69} “e.) The defendant did not use drugs or alcohol to impair the victim or to prevent the victim from resisting;

{¶70} “f.) The defendant has no prior offenses and, therefore has no prior treatment;

{¶71} “g.) The defendant does have a mental illness or mental disability, to-wit: per Dr. Fabian’s report, the defendant has traits of obsessive/compulsive disorder, traits of pedophilia and traits of ephebophilia;

{¶72} “h.) The nature of the offender’s sexual conduct, sexual contact, or interaction in a sexual context included touching/massaging of the buttocks and thighs. The defendant’s sexual actions were part of a demonstrated pattern of abuse which occurred from August 2002 through April 2003, including possession for several decades of images of child pornography;

{¶73} “i) The nature of the defendant’s actions during the commission of the sexually oriented offense displayed cruelty or threats of cruelty, to-wit: the victim reported verbal threats from the defendant. The defendant yelled at the victim and threatened to send the victim back to Vietnam;

{¶74} “j.) Additional behavioral characteristics that contributed to the defendant’s conduct include the following:

{¶75} “1) The defendant has a long-time history of inappropriate sexual behavior, including sexual activity with young boys.

{¶76} “2) The defendant has a long-time history of taking and viewing images of child pornography, nude photography of [high school] students and nephews.

{¶77} “3) The defendant has a history and has admitted engaging in sexual activity including sexual conduct with his nephews;

{¶78} “4) The defendant is in denial. Based upon investigation, the defendant ‘does not get it’ – behavior with students/young boys/men, is not tolerated by society;

{¶79} “5) The defendant has a history of engaging in lewd and lascivious sexual behavior with male [high school] students in the 1970’s;

{¶80} “6) During the 1970’s, the defendant admits to having high school students at his home and engaging in sexual activity;

{¶81} “7) The defendant’s single, male status, per psychological reports elevates his risk[.]”

{¶82} Despite the trial court’s extensive and detailed findings, appellant claims that clear and convincing evidence did not support a sexual predator adjudication. For instance, appellant claims that the record established that neither Dr. Arnoff nor Dr. Fabian found appellant to be a pedophile. Also, appellant contends that there was no evidence that appellant was diagnosed with an impulse control disorder by Dr. Arnoff and that Dr. Arnoff could not predict with any certainty whether appellant would reoffend.

{¶83} To the contrary, our thorough review of the record demonstrates that the court’s findings were supported by clear and convincing evidence. Namely, the findings are substantiated by Dr. Fabian’s testimony and psychological report, Dr. Arnoff’s psychological report, the pre-sentence investigation report; the victim’s statement, and appellant’s own admissions. As noted by the trial court, Dr. Fabian testified that appellant demonstrated traits of an obsessive compulsive disorder. The record also established that Dr. Fabian found appellant had traits of pedophilia. Further, Dr. Arnoff’s report recognized that appellant’s test results placed him in a medium-high risk of recidivism.

{¶84} While the record accurately reflects the absence of some factors which would support a sexual predator adjudication, the overwhelming majority of factors found by the common pleas court demonstrated that appellant was likely to commit a sexually oriented offense in the future. Many of these relevant factors were based upon appellant’s self-reporting. Thus, the court’s findings are supported by clear and convincing evidence and both prongs of the sexual predator definition have been satisfied. Appellant’s fifth assignment of error is without merit.

{¶85} Based upon the foregoing analysis, appellant’s five assignments of error are without merit. We hereby affirm appellant’s sentence and sexual predator adjudication.

DONALD R. FORD, P.J.,

CYNTHIA WESTCOTT RICE, J.,

concur.

2013 April: 20 more years for ‘host father’ serial sex abuser

April 2013

Takashi Kajiwara, who was taught by Ricks in Japan, told the Washington Post that, on a 1994 US road trip Ricks plied him with tequila in a hotel room until he passed out and then molested him and took nude photos. The following year Ricks was accused of shoplifting and returned to the US, where this pattern of behaviour – plying teenage boys with alcohol until they passed out before being molested – continued.

In the mid-1990s two international students hosted by Ricks and his wife in Georgia found pornographic photographs of themselves and burned them, according to the Post. Local police were alerted but the students did not press charges. Shortly afterwards Ricks was fired from the exchange programme for allegedly stealing $2,000 from a Brazilian student. He moved across the state border to Maryland, where he taught in local high schools and began to host students for another agency.

Ricks’s contract to teach in Maryland expired in 2003 after parents’ concerns were passed to child protection services, but he continued to host students. In his next teaching job, in Virginia, parents alerted his school principal of an inappropriate online message, and he was later denied a full teaching licence. Facebook exchanges between Ricks and a former student led to a 2010 police raid which uncovered numerous journals, videotapes and photos documenting decades of abuse by Ricks, including those of the German victim.

Under 2005 US law all families hosting the 30,000 foreign exchange students who study at US high schools each year must have criminal record checks. But since sex offender registers are kept by individual states, abusers can avoid detection by crossing state lines. Last year the US State Department turned down requests for host families to be vetted by the FBI, a system used for Scout masters, among others.

———————————————————-
2010 Jul 27: Former Danville teacher arrested for sexual assault
2010 Jul 28: Manassas Teacher Charged with Child Pornography Offenses
2010 December: North Carolina revokes Kevin Garfield Ricks’ teacher’s license
2011 Mar 08: FBI victim declaration for victims of Kevin Garfield Ricks

2011 Mar 08: FBI victim declaration for victims of Kevin Garfield Ricks

FBI Letter Kevin Ricks

—————————————————————
2010 Jul 27: Former Danville teacher arrested for sexual assault
2010 Jul 28: Manassas Teacher Charged with Child Pornography Offenses
2010 December: North Carolina revokes Kevin Garfield Ricks’ teacher’s license

2010 Jul 27: Former Danville teacher arrested for sexual assault

By Catherine Amos – Danville Register & Bee

DANVILLE – A former Danville teacher with no record of complaints from the local school system has been exposed as a possible sexual predator with a history spanning decades in multiple states.

Kevin G. Ricks, 49, was arrested in Prince William County in February and was indicted on felony charges of aggravated sexual battery, sodomy and two counts of indecent liberties stemming from a December incident, according to court records. Ricks has a court hearing Thursday in which he is expected to plead guilty to one count of indecent liberties with a minor under his supervision, according to The Washington Post.

In a massive four-month investigation, The Washington Post uncovered Ricks’ history in a story Sunday, revealing the former teacher spent time living and teaching in Danville from 1995 to late 2000. According to the Post, Ricks continuously hosted “dozens of students” through a foreign exchange program at his Marshall Terrace home.

Juliet Jennings, assistant superintendent of human services for Danville Public Schools, began working with DPS a few months after Ricks was hired as a full-time teacher in 1997, although she said she did not remember him. According to DPS records, Ricks worked as a substitute teacher from 1995-97 before the school system hired him to work as a full-time teacher for the 1997-98 school year.

“We had no complaints about him,” Jennings said, “in terms of his interactions with students as a substitute or a teacher. That never came to us.”

Jennings said the foreign exchange program, Education First, had no affiliation with DPS, and the students Ricks hosted did not attend Danville Public Schools. School officials’ first inkling of any problems with Ricks came in March when a Post reporter called about his employment history here, Jennings said.

Ricks worked as a high school English teacher at Langston Focus School, where at the time the campus was split into four “schools” of focus areas, such as literature or science. That structure was disbanded more than eight years ago and the Langston campus currently serves as an alternative high school for at-risk students.

Although Ricks did not have his teaching license, Jennings said, it was policy at that time to grant a new hire one year to obtain his or her full license. But Ricks failed to get his license by the end of the school year, and DPS dismissed him. Jennings said he continued to work for the school system as a substitute teacher until November 2000.

Jennings noted that the district’s current policy for obtaining a teaching license gives new hires 30 days to obtain a license.

Hiring procedures require extensive background checks, which include running a candidate’s fingerprints through the FBI database and conducting Child Protective Services checks. Jennings said Ricks passed both checks.

“Looking at it from a human resources standpoint,” she said, “the only other way the information could have been shared is from reference checks. Reference checks were made (on Ricks), but the information, were it known, was not shared.

“… Without a conviction, unless information is shared (through references), we wouldn’t know. That’s what hurts school systems.”

Although there were no allegations on record during Ricks’ tenure with Danville Public Schools, Jennings said the news of his exploits was “disgusting.”

“It’s not something that good educators need to have haunting them,” she said. “It just makes me angry.”

————————————————————
2010 Jul 28: Manassas Teacher Charged with Child Pornography Offenses

2010 Jul 28: Manassas Teacher Charged with Child Pornography Offenses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 28, 2010

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Kevin Garfield Ricks, 50, of Federalsburg, Md., was charged in a criminal complaint today on charges of transporting and possessing child pornography.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Shawn Henry, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office; and Douglas W. Keen, Chief of Police for the City of Manassas, made the announcement.  Ricks faces a minimum of five years and a maximum of 30 years in prison and up to a lifetime of supervision if convicted on all charges.

According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, between about September 2007 and his arrest on Feb. 18, 2010, the defendant was a teacher at a high school in Manassas, Va.  After his arrest on local charges stemming from allegations that Ricks had sexual relations with a 16-year-old boy, Ricks’s laptop computer was searched.  The search allegedly uncovered several images of child pornography.  The affidavit alleges that further investigation revealed that Ricks brought the laptop from his residence in Virginia to his residence in Maryland when he returned on weekends.

The investigation into the case remains ongoing. Ricks is currently incarcerated in the Prince William County Adult Detention Center.

This case is being investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office and Manassas Police Department.  Assistant United States Attorneys John Eisinger and Jerry Smagala are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

Criminal complaints are only charges and not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov.

2010 Jul 28 - Criminal Complaint against Kevin Garfield Ricks

………………………………………………………………………..

Case progression

Kevin Garfield Ricks: Case progression: Sentenced to 20 + 25 years

1978: First known abuse case

2004: First time Kevin Garfield Ricks was charged

2010 Jul 25: Kevin Ricks’ career as teacher, tutor shows pattern of abuse that goes back decades

2010 July 28: Complaint filed: Case no 1:10 MJ-515

2010 Jul 28: Official press release: Manassas Teacher Charged with Child Pornography Offenses

2010 Jul 30: Kevin Garfield Ricks pleads guilty

2010 Nov 10: KGR charged with additional sex charges (German exchange student)

2010 December: Teacher’s license revoked by North Carolina State Board of Education

2011 Mar 03: Official press release: Former Manassas School Teacher Pleads Guilty to Producing Child Pornography Over 17 Years

2011 Mar 08: Notice of sentencing sent to victim

2011 May 26: Official press release: Former Manassas School Teacher Sentenced to 25 Years for Producing Child Pornography

2012 May 08: Kevin Ricks faces charges in Caroline County

2012 Jul 25: Pleads guilty to additional charges

2013 Jan 23: Ricks sentenced to 20 additional years

2013 Apr 25: U.S. v Ricks: Appeal denied

2013 Oct 13: US v Kevin Ricks: Appeal denied

————————————————————————

Kevin Garfield Ricks: Work history of a sexual predator

Kevin Garfield Ricks – Work history of a sexual predator

List has been copied from PilotOnline.com

Kevin Garfield Ricks 2010
Kevin Garfield Ricks; Molester of high school/exchange students in various states. See list over places of employment.

Camp Holiday Trails in Charlottesville

Hampton Roads Academy, Newport News, a private school, 1982-83

Northeast Academy, Lasker, N.C., private school, 1984-85

Brandon Hall School, Dunwoody, Ga., a private boarding school, 1985-86

The Cottage School, Roswell, Ga., a private school, 1986-87

Worked at schools in Japan, 1988-95

Danville Public Schools, substitute teacher, 1995-97

Alamance-Burlington Public Schools, Burlington, N.C., full-time teacher, 1996-97

Danville Public Schools, full-time teacher, 1997-98

Danville Public Schools, substitute teacher, 1998-2000

Education First Foundation for Education, host and local coordinator:

“Ricks entered into a foreign exchange program, Education First, and hosted young students from all over the world in his home. A Danish student who was hosted by Ricks, Uffe Emborg, says that after drinking with Ricks one night, he discovered nude photographs of himself by Ricks’s bedside table. Out of fear, Emborg did not report this to the police, and instead burned the photographs with Ricks in the backyard. Ricks and his wife left Danville after Ricks was fired from Education First after being accused of stealing $2,000 from a student’s bank account.” (Wikipedia)

Col. Richardson High School, Caroline County, 2000-03

Wye River Upper School, Wye River, Md., a private school, 2003-04

Walbrook High School, Baltimore Public Schools, 2004-07

American Scandinavian Student Exchange (ASSE), host and local coordinator:

“Even after he stopped teaching in Caroline County, Ricks continued to host foreign exchange students, this time with American Scandinavian Student Exchange. After a German exchange student was removed from Ricks’s home during the 2003-04 school year, a restraining order was filed against Ricks by the student, who alleged that Ricks frequently called and offered gifts. Although the restraining order was not granted, ASSE fired Ricks.” (Wikipedia)

Osbourn High School, Manassas City, 2007-2010

Huntington Learning Center, tutoring, 2007-08

2009: Klug convicted of foreign student fraud

Fayette Klug was sentenced on charges of theft by deception and unauthorized use of a financial transaction device. The victims were a Chinese exchange student and a Norwegian exchange student. She was both host-mother and sponsor-representative. Following is an extract from an article by Trisha Schulz at

The Norfolk Daily News

Posted: Friday, July 24, 2009 12:00 am

Judge Robert Ensz sentenced 35-year-old Fayette Klug to one to three years in prison on charges of theft by deception and unauthorized use of a financial transaction device. …

Ensz said a greater sentence would’ve been justified in the case, but he went along with a recommendation by the Madison County attorney’s office.

The two foreign exchange students – one from Norway and one from China – were placed in Klug’s home about a year ago and attended Battle Creek High School.

Klug asked the two girls for money to cover expenses while they were in the U.S. and used their prepaid credit cards to make unauthorized charges.

The two students didn’t understand that Klug was actually being reimbursed by the foreign exchange student placement company and didn’t need to pay her themselves.

The foreign exchange placement company, STS Foundation, repaid the girls in full. The total amount taken was more than $10,000, …

Ensz … particularly pointed out Klug’s past criminal history, which included a previous theft by deception and issuing bad checks.

He then sentenced her to prison and ordered her to pay the costs of prosecution.

STS Foundation sought restitution from Klug …

The entire article may be read at The Norfolk Daily News


Case progression:

  • 2008 Oct 11: Woman allegedly steals $10,000-plus from live-in foreign exchange students
    • The girls also told Bowersox that they were locked in the basement apartment area that they shared. At the time, Klug told them it was an accident – that the door was broken. …. Both students were removed from the Klug residence earlier this week. …. Why Klug was even hosting foreign exchange students has become a point of investigation because she is a convicted felon.

  •  

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

  • 2008 Nov 18: Bank records obtained
  • 2008 Dec 19: Woman accused of stealing enters plea
    • Klug was arrested Oct. 10. She appeared Thursday in court in jail clothing and was represented by the Madison County Public Defender’s office.

  • 2009 Jun 09: Plea agreement offered in fraud of foreign exchange students
    • Thirty-five-year-old Fayette Klug pleaded no contest to theft by deception (over $1,500), a Class II felony, and unauthorized use of a financial transaction device, a Class I misdemeanor, … The foreign exchange placement company in which Klug worked for – STS Foundation – has been scrutinized for allowing Klug to host foreign exchange students in the first place because of her being a prior convicted felon. She was sentenced in 2006 for a theft by deception charge to 264 days in jail.

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

2013 Aug 24: Stephens County man charged with molestation

Posted: Aug 24, 2013 5:16 AMUpdated: Sep 02, 2013 5:00 PM

STEPHENS COUNTY, Oklahoma

A Stephens County man has been charged with molestation and indecent exposure for incidents involving two teenage girls, one is a foreign exchange student staying in his home.

James Campbell of Corum, Oklahoma was arrested after the 17 year-old student was awakened and saw Campbell performing a sexual act over her. When she screamed, the other 17 year-old woke up to see Campbell leaving.

She told investigators Campbell had previously molested her.  Sheriff McKinney says the foreign exchange student wants to go back home to Slovakia.

 “I don’t blame her she hasn’t been in the U.S. very long, she got here last Friday so that’s not a long time frame to be here and to have something this devastating to happen to her,”  said McKinney.

The Sheriff says the fact that two foreigners have come into harm’s way while in his county is sickening but hopes the actions of the accused don’t serve as a reflection of who they are.

“This is a wonderful country and we have our faults but so does every other country, but speaking of our county I wouldn’t live here, have my grandkids live here if I thought it was unsafe to raise a family here I feel this is one of the best places to live in the State of Oklahoma, ” explains McKinney.

2001 Jan 13: Gault convicted of sexual abuse

Robert Gault was sentenced for sexually abusing a foreign exchange student in what was clearly a repeat action. Another former exchange student also told her story of sexual abuse. Has this happened to even more of the 12 exchange students who had lived with Robert Gault’s family? Support for the perpetrator is common in sexual abuse cases.

The Chicago Tribune

By Art Barnum | 2001 January 13

A former Wayne village trustee convicted of sexually abusing a foreign exchange student was sentenced … after a second student testified that she also had been abused by the official.

Robert Gault, 58, also received 36 months’ probation … the 17-year-old girl testified that when she sat at a family computer, Gault sat behind her and inappropriately touched and rubbed her.

Gault … claimed they were “innocent accidental brushes.” … DuPage prosecutors questioned a Finnish foreign exchange student who had stayed at the Gault home about five years ago. …

She testified that one evening while she was watching television, Gault sat next to her, rubbed her back and started kissing her neck and placed his hand under her bra. … Gault’s defense attorney, placed six of Gault’s friends on the witness stand to testify to his “good character,” … about 40 letters of support for Gault from neighbors and friends were given to Judge George Bakalis.

Read the entire article at Chicago Tribune

 

Use appropriately / give credit where due

%d bloggers like this: