Tag Archives: #Lawsuit

2008 Mar 13: Foreign exchange troubles come home

Couple accused of scamming students say they did their best, are victims themselves.

March 13, 2008|By Brian Callaway Of The Morning Call

The Allentown couple accused by the state of scamming foreign exchange students and area Christian schools out of more than $130,000 say the trouble stems from bad business moves, not illegal behavior.

“Finances are just not our cup of tea,” Tina Sweet said earlier this week.

She also denied allegations made by the state attorney general’s office in a lawsuit that she and her husband, Timothy, had subjected students to “substandard” conditions, including threats and forcing them to find their own way home from local malls.

Tina Sweet said she’s “tough” with children, but would never harm them.

Her husband said they wanted to do right by the students.

“We have the thing to help people,” he said. “That’s just our nature.”

The attorney general’s office filed its lawsuit against the Sweets last Thursday, the same day Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin confirmed his office is investigating the couple.

A man who didn’t identify himself answered the Sweets’ phone after the suit was filed said the Sweets weren’t there, and referred calls to their attorney. The attorney, Robert Rust, later agreed to set up an interview with his clients at their west Allentown home.

Tina Sweet said she decided to help find host families and schools for exchange students after hosting a Hungarian girl about 10 years ago.

She said she worked for various exchange agencies over the years, including a stint placing students in this region for a Texas-based nonprofit group called United Students Association.

While the Sweets were working for United Students Association, the group lost its certification to place students in public schools from the U.S. State Department.

The group can still place students in private schools through a separate visa program, which is subject to less government oversight.

Darlene Kirk, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said the group lost its certification because of complaints that students were brought to this country without arrangements for schooling or host families.

Tina Sweet and Moacir Rodrigues, United Students Association’s executive director, blame each other for those problems.

“They did not complete the job,” Rodrigues said. “The job was to place students in Christian homes … and to take care of them.

“I lost my designation because of what they did.”

Sweet said Rodrigues sent students here before she’d had time to find homes for them. She said she continued working with him out of “loyalty.”

Tina Sweet said she wasn’t always able to make sure host families were compatible with students.

“At that point, we were just trying to make matches,” she said.

Exchange students, sometimes as many as eight at a time, have stayed at the Sweets’ home over the years. The Sweets also have several children of their own and foster children.

Some of the students stayed in basement bedrooms. The Sweets declined to allow a Morning Call photographer to take pictures of the rooms, saying they’ve been changed into offices since then. They did allow a reporter and photographer to see the rooms, though, to verify they were finished and heated.

Sweet acknowledged that many of the allegations made in the state’s lawsuit are at least partially true, but said they lack the “context” to show students weren’t mistreated.

She said she did periodically threaten to send students back to their home country, for instance, but typically only did so to get students to behave.

She also said foreign students in her care went places unsupervised, but denied there’s anything wrong with that.

“Their parents sent them halfway around the world unsupervised,” she said. “Why can’t they go to the mall unsupervised?”

The Sweets set up their own company, which has been called both United Student Exchange and United International Studies, a little more than a year ago.

It has not been certified to place students in public schools; instead, it places students in schools such as Bethlehem Catholic High School, Lehigh Valley Christian High School and Faith Christian Academy in Sellersville, Bucks County.

According to court papers, the Sweets charged foreign students $3,500 to be placed in a school, another $2,500 to be paid to the host family, and additional money for tuition.

In its lawsuit, the attorney general’s office accused the Sweets of not passing along tuition and host family fees paid to them for dozens of students. The suit seeks to recoup those funds. The students were recruited by the Human Centre, a company with offices in South Korea and Australia.

Court papers say the Human Centre turned over records showing it referred 24 students and transferred nearly $134,000 by wire and check to the Sweets.

Tina Sweet said the records are faulty or faked.

“Anybody can create a spreadsheet,” she said.

She said it’s really the Human Centre that owes her and her husband money, claiming it never paid for many of the students.

She said she spent months forgiving bills left unpaid by Centre Chief Executive Officer Edwin Hong, thinking he’d eventually pay up; she also said she took $20,000 she’d gotten from other exchange students and used it to help cover various expenses.

“I don’t think what I did was wrong,” she said. “I think it was a bad business choice.”

Hong, in a phone interview from his office in Australia, said the records he gave the attorney general’s office are accurate.

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“I would be very stupid turning over something fabricated,” he said.

As the Sweets’ troubles developed, exchange students, area families who’ve hosted students and school officials have complained about their operation.

As part of the state’s legal filing, a judge issued an injunction barring the Sweets from bringing in any new students and largely freezing their bank accounts. There are no foreign students living with them now.

brian.callaway@mcall.com

610-820-6168

LAWSUIT ACCUSATIONS

In a lawsuit, the state attorney

general’s office said Timothy and Tina Sweet, an Allentown couple who ran a business called United Student Exchange, did the following:

Improperly handled $130,000 meant to cover Christian school tuition and other expenses of foreign exchange students.

Subjected some students to

“substandard’ care.

Left students unsupervised at malls on weekends.

Threatened to send students back home and to keep their money.

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2008: Pennsylvania Sues Exchange Student Business

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

Tim and Tina Sweet sentenced for fraud

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

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

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

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

South-Korea

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

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

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

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

Attorney General Corbett said that violations include:

  • Failure to pay host families, as promised.
  • Failure to pay school tuition, as promised.
  • Misrepresentation of support to students and host families.
  • Contract terms in violation of Consumer Protection Law.

USA: Are People to People really part of President Eisenhower’s effort?

NO!!!!! They are not!!!!!

People to People on the I-net

Projects inspired by the ended People to People program

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In 1960 Mr. Samuel Montague informs the president that he (Mr. Montague) is organizing a Greater Kansas City People to People Council with financial backing from Mr. Joyce C. Hall.

1961: Greater Kansas City People to People Council, Incorporated Missouri, co.no: N00002979, active (non-profit)

In 1961 Joyce Hall establishes People to People International (charter no: N00003473). She had previously founded Hallmark Cards Inc. The head office for People to People International was placed in Kansas City, Missouri. Joyce Hall had been one of the people at the conference held by Eisenhower in 1956. His responsibility was to organize a committee of one hundred or more American leaders who would be the governing group of the People to People Council. Mr. Hall also provides the seed money for the Council and ends up being its CEO.

  •  1961: People-to-People, Incorporated Missouri, charter no: N00003473, active, (non-profit). These are GKC People to People.
  • 1961: People to People International, Incorporated Missouri, co.no: N00003473 – (non-profit)
  • 1969: People to People Foundation, Incorporated California, co.no: C0568797, suspended
  • We then have a lot of People to People companies that are registered and suspended in Missouri.
  • 1996: People to People International, Incorporated New York, co.no: 2093070, (non-profit)
  • –   There are several People to People non-profits that were started in the late 1960’s. The 1996 New York company is the only non-profit I find that is still active. It cites its head-office as being in Missouri. I think they are referring to the 1961 company.

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  • 1964: Ambassadors International, Incorporated Florida, co.no: 707911, Inactive (non-profit). As you see they start off as a non-profit. Then the name is claimed in 1995.

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Legal cases

2010: KS et al v. Ambassador Progams Inc et al

2008: Gutierrez v. People to People International et al

2007: Wellner et al v. People to People International

 

2007 Sep 21: Programmes Internationaux D’Echanges v. Grijalva: Conspiracy; Defamation; Tortious Interference

From DMLP

Location of Filing/Threat: North Carolina
Source of Law: North Carolina

Court Name: North Carolina District Court, Forsyth County
Court Type: State

Case Number: 2007-CVD-656

Threat Type: Lawsuit
Date:  09/21/2007
Status: Pending
Location:  North Carolina
Disposition: Injunction Issued
Verdict/Settlement Amount: n/a
Legal Claims: Conspiracy; Defamation; Tortious Interference

PARTIES

Party Issuing Legal Threat: Programmes Internationaux D’Echanges; ASSE International, Inc.; World Heritage, Inc.

Type of Party: Organization
Location of Party: California; New York; France
Legal Counsel: Robert M. Elliot; Richard D. Menaker (Programmes Internationaux D’Echanges)

Party Receiving Legal Threat: Danielle Joyce Grijalva; Veronica Beddick

Type of Party: Individual
Location of Party: California; North Carolina
Legal Counsel: Jennifer Arno (Grijalva)

DESCRIPTION

Programmes Internationaux D’Echanges (P.I.E.), a French nonprofit that organizes student exchange programs, filed suit against Danielle Grijalva, director of the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students (CSFES), over emails and postings on CSFES’s website that criticized the organization’s handling of students. P.I.E.’s complaint asserted claims of defamation, civil conspiracy, interference with contract, and interference with business relationships. The suit also named as a defendant Veronica Beddick, a former employee of ASSE International, a nonprofit that assisted in student placements, alleging that she provided confidential information to Grijalva and assisted in the disputed acts.

In emails and postings to the CSFES website, Grijalva allegedly accused the plaintiff organizations of numerous wrondoings related to their treatment of foreign exchange students.

According to the complaint and other court filings, the accusations included that the organizations failed to place students in schools, failed to place students in permanent homes, placed students in homes with felons, and otherwise violated laws that regulate foreign exchange programs.

According to press reports, Grijalva has said that she sent an email to the father of a foreign exchange student at the student’s request but that she has not engaged in any “mass effort” to contact students, their families, or host families.

P.I.E.’s complaint included a request for a temporary restraining order against Grijalva and Beddick. On September 21, 2007, the court granted the request, ordering the defendants to cease communicating with P.I.E. students as well as the students’ familes, host familes, and educational institutions. The temporary restraining order, by its terms, expired after 10 days unless the court renewed it.

On Dec. 12, 2007, the court granted a preliminary injunction against Grijalva that reiterated the prohibition on direct communication with students and others involved with the plaintiffs and further ordered her to refrain from disseminating false or misleading information about the plaintiff organizations via email or her website.

On May 30, 2008, the court granted a near-identical preliminary injunction against Grijalva brought by P.I.E. associates (and plaintiff-intervenors) ASSE and World Heritage, Inc.

2013 Oct 17: USA: Allentown Diocese priest didn’t report sex abuse disclosed during confession, lawsuit alleges

By Tom Shortell | The Express-Times
on October 17, 2013 at 6:28 PM

A South Korean student who was sexually abused at a Pen Argyl academy is suing Pius X High School and the Diocese of Allentown.
In a lawsuit filed today in Northampton County, the student said she alerted a priest at Pius X of the sexual abuse four times during confession. The priest never alerted authorities, according to the lawsuit.

Matt Kerr, a spokesman for the diocese, declined comment. The diocese does not publicly comment on ongoing litigation, he said.
The student was one of dozens who lived at Ace Academy USA in order to attend class at Pius X. Getting into a South Korean college or university is extremely competitive, so the students attended American schools to better their chances of getting into an American college, ACE Academy Director Richard Kim said in 2007.
Three years later, Kim began sexually assaulting the 14-year-old girl left in his care, according to police. The abuse lasted from November 2010 to February 2011 before police were notified, the lawsuit stated.

Kim was sentenced to five to 10 years in state prison. His parents, Min and Yong Kim, who were heavily involved in running ACE Academy, pleaded guilty this year to failing to report suspected child abuse. Min and Yong Kim were sentenced to one year of probation.
The academy is also named in the suit. There is no public phone listing for the Kims and they couldn’t be reached for comment.
In the lawsuit, the student’s attorneys say the diocese and high school officials either knew or should have known that Richard Kim posed a risk to the students at the school. ACE and the Kim family also failed to protect the students entrusted to their care.
“We feel they had a major responsibility to these kids. They traveled thousands of miles to attend that school. You can’t just disclaim any responsibility,” said Howard Myerowitz, an attorney representing the victim.

Myerowitz said the abuse came to light only when the victim told a friend also attending ACE Academy. The friend alerted her mother back in South Korea, who alerted the victim’s mother, who contacted authorities, he said.

That differs somewhat from information offered by Assistant District Attorney Patricia Broscius, who prosecuted Richard Kim. During the sentencing, she also credited a Pius X priest with stepping forward and alerting authorities, she said. She confirmed tonight that the priest was willing to testify about the victim’s confession at trial if needed.
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2011 Jul 07: Ace Academy director accused of sexually assaulting student at the Pen Argyl foreign school

2012 May 04: Former director at Ace Academy pleads guilty to sexual assaults on student

2009 Jun 20: Grijalva v. Brandt

The August 8, 2008 order is reversed. Grijalva is entitled to costs on appeal.

D053856.

DANIELLE GRIJALVA et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. HELGA BRANDT et al., Defendants and Respondents.

Court of Appeals of California, Fourth Appellate District, Division One

July 20, 2009

B. Application

The primary arguments that ASSE and Brandt advanced in their anti-SLAPP motion in the trial court in attempting to carry their threshold burden of demonstrating that plaintiffs’ claims arose from protected activity are contrary to well established law. First, ASSE and Brandt claimed that the “`convenient’ “timing of the filing of this action, a “mere one month” after ASSE filed its complaint in intervention in the North Carolina action, demonstrated that plaintiffs’ lawsuit arose from ASSE’s participation in the North Carolina proceeding. However, as noted above, the Supreme Court has clearly held that the fact that a party files an action after protected activity has taken place does not demonstrate that the action arose from the protected activity. (Cotati, supra, 29 Cal.4th at p. 69 [fact that municipality’s action was filed “shortly after” owners filed separate action did not mean that municipality’s action arose from owner’s action].)

Second, ASSE and Brandt claimed that plaintiffs’ action was a “clearly-retaliatory lawsuit.” Even assuming that plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in retaliation for ASSE’s participation in the North Carolina action, any such retaliatory motive would be irrelevant in determining the merits of ASSE and Brandt’s anti-SLAPP motion. (Cotati, supra, 29 Cal.4th at p. 77; see Kajima Engineering and Const., Inc. v. City of Los Angeles (2002) 95 Cal.App.4th 921 [“Kajima wrongly focuses on the City’s filing of the amended cross-complaint as a supposed act of retaliation without demonstrating, as it must under the anti-SLAPP statute, that the amended cross-complaint `alleges acts in furtherance of [Kajima’s] right of petition or free speech in connection with a public issue'”].)9

ASSE and Brandt made the related argument in the trial court that, “The SLAPP character of Plaintiffs’ action is . . . clear from the obvious insufficiency of the causes of action.” We are not aware of any authority, and ASSE and Brandt have cited none, that indicates that the insufficiency of the allegations in a plaintiff’s complaint may be used to demonstrate that the claims alleged therein arise from a defendant’s protected activity.10 ASSE and Brandt apparently intend to suggest that that the alleged insufficiency of the plaintiffs’ amended complaint demonstrates that plaintiffs’ motive in filing the action was improper. (Cf. In re Marriage of Gong and Kwong (2008) 163 Cal.App.4th 510, 516 [“`”the total lack of merit of an appeal is viewed as evidence that appellant must have intended it only for delay”‘”]). However, as noted above, a plaintiff’s motive in filing an action is irrelevant for purposes of determining the merits of an anti-SLAPP motion. (Cotati, supra, 29 Cal.4th at p. 77.)

Any alleged insufficiency in the plaintiffs’ amended complaint regarding the context in which the purported defamatory statements were made would tend to negate, rather than support, the conclusion that ASSE and Brandt demonstrated that the statements were made in a judicial proceeding or in connection with an issue before a judicial body. ASSE and Brandt implicitly acknowledged this in their anti-SLAPP motion when they stated, “Because plaintiffs have not sufficiently alleged Defendants’ allegedly `defamatory statements’ in the instant action, the exact origin of and circumstances surrounding the alleged statements are currently unknown.”

A defendant seeking to carry its burden of demonstrating that a plaintiff’s action arises from the defendant’s participation in a judicial proceeding does not carry this burden by demonstrating that the statements that form the basis of the action were made under “unknown” circumstances. Further, a defendant seeking to establish that the plaintiffs’ cause of action arises from protected activity is not limited to the plaintiffs’ pleadings. Rather, in seeking to carry this threshold burden, a defendant may submit declarations attesting to the context in which statements that form the basis of the plaintiff’s claims were made. (See, e.g., Sylmar Air Conditioning v. Pueblo Contracting Services, Inc. (2004) 122 Cal.App.4th 1049, 1057 [defendant submitted declarations of its attorney and employee demonstrating that statements forming the basis of plaintiff’s complaint arose in connection with judicial proceeding]; § 425.16, subd. (b)(2) [trial court shall consider “supporting and opposing affidavits stating the facts upon which the liability or defense is based,” in ruling on anti-SLAPP motion].) In this case, ASSE and Brandt provided no such declarations. Their assertion in their anti-SLAPP motion that the statements forming the basis of plaintiffs’ claims “appear to directly relate to ASSE’s participation in the North Carolina action,” does not establish that this is in fact so. (Italics added, formatting omitted.)

While ASSE and Brandt did request that the trial court take judicial notice of various documents from the North Carolina proceeding, there is no reference in the plaintiffs’ amended complaint to the North Carolina proceeding, and nothing in the complaint suggests that plaintiffs seek to hold ASSE and Brandt liable for statements they made in any pleading in the North Carolina action. On the contrary, rather than alleging that ASSE made the statements in a judicial proceeding, plaintiffs’ amended complaint suggests that ASSE’s statements were “directed to the parents of the students and to citizens with concerns regarding the problems caused by . . . ASSE’s misconduct . . . .” (Italics added.)

Further, while plaintiffs’ amended complaint alleges nine defamatory statements,11 ASSE and Brandt’s anti-SLAPP motion fails to address, in any fashion, eight of these statements. The only allegation from the plaintiffs’ amended complaint that ASSE and Brandt mention in their anti-SLAPP motion is plaintiffs’ allegation that the defendants had falsely accused Grijalva of “making `false statements.'” ASSE and Brandt argued in their anti-SLAPP motion that this allegation arose from ASSE’s allegation in its complaint in intervention in the North Carolina action that Grijalva had disseminated “false and misleading information.”

Even assuming for the sake of argument that ASSE and Brandt demonstrated that this single allegation is premised on a statement made in the North Carolina pleading, or in connection with an issue under review in the North Carolina action, this would not satisfy their burden to demonstrate that the gravamen of plaintiffs’ claims arises from protected activity. (Martinez v. Metabolife Intern., Inc., supra, 113 Cal.App.4th at p. 188.) “[C]ollateral allusions to protected activity should not subject the cause of action to the anti-SLAPP statute.” (Ibid.)

In sum, ASSE and Brandt did not demonstrate that the defamatory statements alleged in plaintiffs’ amended complaint were made in a judicial proceeding or in connection with an issue under consideration or review by a judicial body. (§ 425.16, subd. (e)(1) and (2).) Accordingly, the trial court erred in concluding that ASSE and Brandt carried their burden of demonstrating that plaintiffs’ action arose from petitioning activity that is protected by the anti-SLAPP statute.12

IV.

DISPOSITION

The August 8, 2008 order is reversed. Grijalva is entitled to costs on appeal.

WE CONCUR:

HALLER, Acting P. J.

O’ROURKE, J.

FootNotes

1. “CSFES” is the name plaintiffs used in their complaint to identify this party. Although CSFES appears to be an acronym, plaintiffs did not provide the full name of the entity in their complaint. In their complaint, plaintiffs alleged that both Brandt and Motycka were agents or employees of ASSE. Motycka is not a party to this appeal.

2. “SLAPP” stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. (See Equilon Enterprises v. Consumer Cause, Inc. (2002) 29 Cal.4th 53, 57.) Unless otherwise specified, all subsequent statutory references are to the Code of Civil Procedure.

3. Plaintiffs also claim that the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to allow them to file a late opposition to the anti-SLAPP motion. In light of our reversal of the order granting the anti-SLAPP motion, we need not consider this contention.

4. The original complaint indicated that the case was a “Limited Jurisdiction” case, i.e. one in which the amount in controversy did not exceed $25,000 (§ 85). The amended complaint prayed for a judgment within the “unlimited jurisdictional limit” of the trial court.

5. Several of the pleadings contained in the record, including the demurrer, do not bear a file stamp. We assume for sake of this decision that the pleadings that do not bear a file stamp were filed on the dates indicated in the documents.

6. Implicit in the court’s comment is that the court’s docket no longer precluded holding a hearing on the motion.

7. In her notice of appeal, Grijalva refers to the “judgment entered on August 8, 2008.” (Italics added.) We construe the notice of appeal as referring to the August 8, 2008 order granting the anti-SLAPP motion. The order is appealable. (§ 904.1, subd. (13).)

8. ASSE and Brant did not argue in the trial court, and do not argue on appeal, that either of the plaintiffs’ causes of action arose from statements or conduct defined in section 425.16, subdivision (e)(3) or (4). Accordingly, we restrict our analysis to section 425.16, subdivision (e)(1) and (2).

9. ASSE and Brandt reiterate these arguments on appeal, claiming that plaintiffs’ filed this “retaliatory lawsuit” a “mere thirty-two days after ASSE intervened in the North Carolina action.”

10. We express no view in this opinion on the merits of ASSE and Brandt’s demurrer to the plaintiffs’ amended complaint. As noted previously, the trial court concluded that the demurrer was moot, in light of its ruling granting the anti-SLAPP motion.

11. The nine statements are quoted in full in part II, ante.

12. Although the trial court ruled that ASSE and Brandt demonstrated that plaintiffs’ amended complaint arose from “statements made by Defendants in the complaint-in-intervention in the North Carolina case,” Brandt did not make any statements in ASSE’s complaint-in-intervention. (Italics added.) Further, ASSE and Brandt did not argue in their anti-SLAPP motion that Brandt had any involvement in the North Carolina proceeding. However, we need not resolve whether an employee of a entity may prevail on an anti-SLAPP motion based on its employer’s alleged petitioning activity under these circumstances, in light of our conclusion that ASSE and Brandt failed to demonstrate that plaintiffs’ amended complaint arose from ASSE’s participation in the North Carolina proceeding.

2010: CETUSA v. CSFES

Attempt to ‘Sue’ Child Advocate’s Mouth Shut
Court Date Scheduled for Local Child Protection Advocate 
Oceanside resident, Danielle Grijalva, will be taken to court by a student exchange placement agency for her efforts to protect foreign exchange students in Minnesota.
Grijalva formed the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students, a California-based 501 (c)(3) child protection organization five years ago.  She has since been nominated twice for the City of Oceanside Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Award; received a Certificate of Recognitionin 2008 by San Diego County Board of Supervisors for being selected to receive the Channel 10 News Leadership Award for her hard work and service to the San Diego region and is currently Ambassador of Child-Safe, Ltd., of the United Kingdom.
In June, 2009, a lawsuit was filed in San Diego County Superior CourtCouncil for Educational Travel USA v. Danielle Grijalva; Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students; Complaint for Damages; Slander Per Se; Libel; Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary and Permanent; Injunction; Intentional Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage.
In 2009, a Norwegian foreign exchange student’s complaints over living conditions he endured with a host family in Minnesota prompted a state investigation by Minnesota Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann.  Gelbmann called upon lawmakers to expand the state’s authority to oversee foreign exchange programs.
Star Tribune’s Aimee Blanchette’s story, “When a foreign exchange year goes bad” dated May 17, 2009, which explained, “Another Norwood parent began making inquiriesaboutEspen’s predicament, and that’s when the secretary of state’s office got involved. WhenGelbmann began contacting some of the 37 other Minnesota schoolswhereCETUSA has placed students, he found more reports ofproblemsencountered by students.”

On July 16, 2009 during WCCO News Radio 830 interview by Don Shelby with Minnesota Deputy Secretary Jim Gelbman discussed the importance protecting these visiting teens.
Part of the interview:
GELBMANN:  … “Sure, Don.  Probably the most common problem that happens with the CETUSA organization in multiple high schools throughout the state is that they would bring more students over to Minnesota than they had families to place them in.  And, again, that is against the federal regulations, as well.  Federal law requires the organization to have as signed contract with a host family one month before the student arrives in the States.  And what would regularly happen is CETUSA would have three or four host families signed up for a specific school and five or six students would be brought over, and then CETUSA would frantically search for host families for the students.  In one case that was documented actually WCCO TV a number of years ago, I think back in 2006 um, one CETUSA organization, uh, uh, coordinator had six students living in her basement, had six foreign exchange students living in her basement because she couldn’t find host families for them —
SHELBY:  And that is violation of law —
GELBMANN:  And that is a violation of law right then and there.”
To read entire interview:
 
CETUSA is allegedly blaming Danielle Grijalva, Director of the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students (CSFES) for the attention given to the vital importance keeping foreign exchange students protected and safe.  “Foreign exchange students deserve a positive impression of our country.” she said.
Director Grijalva, remains firm, “Abuse by those in positions of trust will not be tolerated.”
“Do I believe this is an intimidation tactic?  Absolutely.”  said Danielle Grijalva.  She continued, “Let me emphasize that children’s safety must be first and foremost in foreign exchanges and every other aspect of education.  We want to ensure that visitors to our country enjoy a safe and enriching academic and cultural experience that builds bridges for future collaboration, be it social, educational or economic.”
Court date scheduled Friday, October 22, 2010 at 1:30 pm, San Diego Superior Court, North County Division, Dept. N27, 325 S. Melrose Drive in Vista, CA.
Trial date scheduled December 10, 2010 at 8:30 am, San Diego Superior Court, North County Division, Dept. N27,325 S. Melrose Drive in Vista, CA.
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2008 May 07: Agencies Seek To Silence Child Protection Group

Posted on Wednesday, 7 of May , 2008 at 10:24 am

OCEANSIDE, CA—A child protection organization is being taken to court by student exchange placement agencies due to efforts to protect foreign exchange students.   

Danielle Grijalva of Oceanside, CA, director of the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students (CSFES), will be in court in North Carolina on May 15 facing student placement agencies, which have obtained a restraining order to thwart her efforts. At issue is whether a child protection advocate should be restrained from reporting incidences of abuse of foreign exchange students. 

CSFES is a non-profit advocacy group for the protection of foreign exchange students. A New York teacher allegedly witnessed the physical assault of a French female exchange student by her ASSE International, Inc.  representative and sent a complaint to ASSE. The teacher provided the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students (CSFES) a copy of his complaint, complete with translated letters from four exchange students who witnessed the assault. The teacher’s complaint was forwarded by CSFES to the Buffalo Police Department, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the U.S. Department of State. 

On Sept. 26, 2007, the ASSE partner in France, Programmes Internationaux D’Echanges (PIE France) filed a Complaint and Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary Injunction and Expedited Discovery against the director of CSFES. ASSE and World Heritage, Inc. filed a separate Complaint and Motion for Temporary Restraining Order against the director of CSFES.“Do I believe this is an intimidation tactic?  Absolutely.”  said Danielle Grijalva, director of CSFES.  “Let me emphasize that children’s safety must be first and foremost in foreign exchanges and every other aspect of education.  We want to ensure that visitors to our country enjoy a safe and enriching academic and cultural experience that builds bridges for future collaboration, be it social, educational or economic.”Grijalva remains firm, “Abuse by those in positions of trust will not be tolerated.”  The May 15 hearing will be held at the Forsyth County Hall of Justice, 200 North Main Street, Courtroom 4C, Winston-Salem, North Carolina  

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1999 Jul 27: Exchange student testifies in rape case

1999 Jul 29: Witness: Student, host father had consensual sex

1999 Aug 05: Company blamed in exchange student sex case

1999 Aug 05: Exchange student may get USD 649 000 for assaults

2000 Nov 15: 233 F. 3d 441 – Kristin Beul, et al. v. Asse International, Inc., et al.

2007 Sep 03: Complaint to USSD re. ASSE temporary homes

2007 Sep 21: Programmes Internationaux D’Echanges v. Grijalva

2008 Jun 26: Advocate for exchange students says order defies free speech

2008 Nov 03: Grijalva v. Brandt

2009 Feb 04: Foreign exchange program controversy

People to People Faces Wrongful Death Lawsuit

01/29/2008 | ConsumerAffairs |  People to People News

By Lisa Wade McCormick

Tyler Hill (Family photo)

Sheryl Hill hugged her 16-year-old son a little tighter — and a littler longer than usual — shortly before he boarded a plane last summer and took off on his much anticipated People to People Student Ambassador trip to Japan.

The Mound, Minnesota, woman took a mental picture of their last moments together at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport recalling every detail of the excitement in her son’s big brown eyes, his brilliant smile, and even the burgundy polo shirt and khaki pants he wore on that June 16, 2007, day.

Sheryl and her husband had worried about sending their son, Tyler — who had Type 1 diabetes and complex migraine headaches — on this People to People excursion.

But the travel organization that touts its ties to President Dwight D. Eisenhower convinced her that it had a solid safety record and a 24-hour response team that could handle any medical emergency.

That promise sealed the deal. It’s the reason Sheryl and Allen Hill let Tyler join his friends on the trip overseas.

Now that promise is at the heart of a wrongful death suit filed on Monday in Minnesota’s Hennepin County District Court.

The lawsuit alleges the organization and its delegation leaders refused to get Tyler the medical attention he requested and that his June 29, 2007, death in Tokyo is the result of their negligence.

But thirteen days before this tragedy — as Tyler and his friends said goodbye to their families in the states — Sheryl’s thoughts focused on how much this journey meant to her son.

“This was the most excited we’d ever seen him,” she says of Tyler, a history buff who was born on the anniversary of D-Day. “He dreamed of going to Japan.”

During their bittersweet farewell at the airport, Sheryl says Tyler — who had “dominated” his diabetes since its onset at age five — assured her that he’d be fine.

“He told me not to worry. Then he picked me up, did a backwards dip with me, and said ‘I love you momI’m going to make your proud of me.’

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Are P2P part of President Eisenhower’s programs?