Friday, March 30, 2012

Christopher Michael Boothe at Red River Academy (From:youthrights.org)

This story was originally written on a webpage created to provide statements for a GAO hearing in 2007. The address is cafety.youthrights.org and it waits for your statement if you believe that your stay at a boarding school included unfair treatment or even abuse. All rights and credits goes to the author Christopher Michael Boothe, who posted the original story on cafety.youthrights.org

It was November 17th, Friday, 2007. Around midnight, my parents came to my room and told me to get up. I was a little disoriented, having been asleep, so I refused and asked them what was going on. My parents said nothing and left the room. Just as I started to get up, two young men entered my room. This is when I started to panic. I knew it was immature to fight, but I struggled nonetheless. Obviously these guys knew what they were doing, as I went down hard and fast. They tried to tell me everything would be okay and that I'm just going to a school for suicidal teens. I wanted to believe them, so I gave up struggling. After I dressed we left my room. One of the men had his finger in my belt loop, to make sure I didn't run. My parents were putting luggage into a car I didn't recognize. A lot of luggage. This wasn't going to be a short endeavor. My parents tried to talk to me, but I pushed them away and got into the car. The two guys told me I could sleep, so I tried to. It was no use and they knew it. The guy who was in the back seat with me told me I was going to a school in Louisiana called Red River Academy. And that it would be a 7 hour drive.

When we finally arrived, I was exhausted. I figured that I'd just go inside and sleep the day away. How wrong I was. The men walked me to the front gate and used the intercom. Out came two extremely large males, who turned out to be brothers. They said nothing to me, only thanked the men I was with and then grabbed me by my arms and led me inside. This didn't look like a school. I was later informed by one of the staff members, that this place used to be a retirement home. That would explain the sickly smell of urine that seemed to fill every inch of the place. The dorms... if you could call them that, were small 10 by 10 foot rooms with 2 sets of bunkbeds. Each room was connected to another room with a bathroom. So it went... room, bathroom, room, room, bathroom, room, room, bathroom, room. Eight students to one bathroom.

The two large men, Justin and John... (I was to refer to them as Mister Jusin, and Mister John)led me to a white room where they unceremoniously dumped my belongings and rummaged through them. They pulled out nearly everything and told me that most of this I wasn't allowed to have. Uniforms would be purchased for me, on my parents credit. Nine Hundred dollars for six shirts, three pairs of khakis, and one pair of shoes. I found out later that the clothes I was given were used. This was already starting to feel like a nightmare. Mr. Justin, a fat balding man who looked to be 35 but was actually 25, handed me a Red River Academy rule book. I became more stressed as I read through it.

Students were to get up promptly at 7:00 and ready themselves for exercises. At 7:05 we went to the "Activity Room" and exercised for 30 minutes. 7:35 - 8:00 was breakfast. 8:00 - 9:00 was school. 9:00 - 11:30 was "educational video & emotional growth video". 11:30 to 12:30 was PE. 12:30 to 1:00 was Lunch. 1:00 to 5:00 was school, with a 5 minute restroom break in between. Then on to Dinner, showers, reading time and then sleep. This was how things worked 365 days a year. No weekends. No holidays. Nothing.

The school was built on points and levels. You earn points for following rules, and with enough points you gain levels. When you reach the highest level, you graduate. The most you could earn a day was around 15 points if you were perfect. You needed 200 to reach level 2. 1000 to reach level three. 3000 to reach level 4. 5000 to reach level 5. 5000 to reach level 6. Points started over at 0 when you attained a new level.

We had to walk in line structure and turn all corners at a 90 degree angle. We were not allowed to speak out of turn. We were not allowed to look at the female students or staff members (we had to turn our heads when they entered the hallways). We could not have contact with anyone outside of the facility, except through letters to our parents (letters that were sent to "family reps" and edited to fit the needs of the parents). We could not have any clothing with zippers or any other metal material. We had to sit "sitting structure" during school, meals, and videos. Videos were supposed to be on a 180 day rotation, but were rarely changed. We usually ended up watching the same videos 3-5 times. The Chaperones were our dorm parents. Chaperones didn't need any form of education to apply for the job. They only needed to be 21 or older. We had to do whatever the chaperone ordered us to do. Chaperones gave out "consequences" for breaking of school rules. Consequences ranged from Category 1 to Category 5, each with it's own punishment and point demerit. If you didn't have enough points to cover the consequence, you were sent to "Study hall" where you copied lines from the rulebook until the day was over. Sometimes you'd be in Study hall for more than a single day. Unruley students were sent to Intervention, where they were to lie spread-eagle on the floor and not talk or move. If a student did talk or move, chaperones were allowed to physically harm the student. This wansn't in the rulebook, but it went on.

Now, it is impossible for me to explain what exactly happened here at RRA without a biased opinion. But that doesn't make it any less terrible. I'll try my best to make a list of everything I think is important in the most objective way.

- I attempted to run away, and was tackled by chaperones. They literally threw me into the Intervention room and sat on me until I stopped struggling. I was bruised badly, and I asked to take a picture of myself to send to my parents. My request was refused. - A chaperone broke a student's tooth. - A chaperone broke a student's arm. - Three boys managed to escape and were found seven hours later in a mall. - I witnessed a student being molested by a fellow student. - I listened to a staff supervisor tell parents (over his cell phone) that we went on fishing trips and visited theme parks regularly. - I listened to the same staff supervisor tell parents that we did school work in Study Hall. - I witnessed a student stab a chaperone with a pen. - I witnessed a student break a lightbulb and attempt to harm another student with a glass shard. - I witnessed a student being slapped by a chaperone. - Fire alarms went off during the night for no apparent reason. I recall nearly 50 times. - Students were given 5 minutes to shower. - Four more students tried to escape. - Students began talking about a revolt. This was suppressed by chaperones not allowing us to talk to one another. - Students who could not keep up in exercises went to Study Hall. - Students who cursed went to Study Hall. - Students who attempted to make contact with people touring the school were stripped of all points and were sent to Intervention.

I was forced to live this nightmare for 362 days.

I don't think I've even scratched the tip of the iceberg here, but I'm going to stop now. This is bringing back terrible memories, and I don't want to experience them again. I hope this helps you with whatever you try to do, and I pray that you stop these things from happening. Feel free to edit my text, I know I'm not the best typist. Thank you for the opportunity to share my experience.

Sincerely,
Christopher Michael Boothe

References:
Datasheet about the boarding school at Fornits Home for Wayward Web Fora
The original statement on cafety.youthrights.com

32 comments:

  1. i am so sorry, my friend went there and i feel soooo bad....

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  2. Okay um, I'm assuming that you never get on this blogspot ever but I feel like I should say this. I was send to the RRA December 1st of 2012 and got back May 2nd of 2013. I was abused and manipulated as well. I spent nights laying in a bed of my own urine and my days were spent being spit on by the chaperones. I wish my mother had seen this before sending me there. I think you're absolutely beautiful for doing this and I just can't express how much I appreciate it. My name is Danielle Holcomb and I just can't believe I went through this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was there when you were Danielle, I was the other girl from Georgia named Amanda. We went to seminars together. Add me on Facebook @ Colbie Spann from Nashville, Ga.

      Delete
  3. yea i remember that nut with the light bulb sheesh that guy had some problems

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  4. I went there i think in 2011 i was the youngest guy there, constantly in intervention.i remember hearing about Osama bin Laden being killed when i was there. Anyways, no parent should ever send their kid here, it never helped me for sure, just created an unbreakable hate for the two who put me in there. Who eventually sent me away so i live with my father now and am VERY happy. If you want to help your child why dont you actually BE a parent and help them yourself insted of sending them to a place with 8ft walls and abusive "chaperones" until theyre 18 and you dont have to deal with them anymore? Anyways if anyone went there and remembers me, feel free to email me and catch up
    Djohnson7579@gmail.com

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  5. I went there i think in 2011 i was the youngest guy there, constantly in intervention.i remember hearing about Osama bin Laden being killed when i was there. Anyways, no parent should ever send their kid here, it never helped me for sure, just created an unbreakable hate for the two who put me in there. Who eventually sent me away so i live with my father now and am VERY happy. If you want to help your child why dont you actually BE a parent and help them yourself insted of sending them to a place with 8ft walls and abusive "chaperones" until theyre 18 and you dont have to deal with them anymore? Anyways if anyone went there and remembers me, feel free to email me and catch up
    Djohnson7579@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hello, i need to talk to some of you who went to red river academy, my child was abused there and i need to talk to others. thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Contact me at Justinjc33@hotmail.com

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    2. My name is Logan Dunagan look me up on facebook I was the fith boy who attended RRA

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. Christopher, I believe you were there same time as my son. Please contact me. Ddoucen3855@gmail.com.

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  9. This place needs to be shut down. Im 21 and I was there when I was 15-16 old for 16 months. Still to this day I think of this place, not as a memory, but imagining what kids are going through right now in that dreaded place. The people in charge are the ones you want. Mr. Brent, the owner, may or may not know the full extent of what's going on, but as long as his staff is saying the right things to parents, money keeps coming in.
    It angers me when I cried to my parents for help. Angered that my letters may have been altered which I wouldn't think was going on. I was a kid. When you're a kid, you believe that every adult is doing the right thing. at Red River Academy.. you trust them because they put you in a vulnerable state where you cannot trust yourself.
    I was hit and bruised in the eye, I reported it to my parents and like this story, a photo wasn't taken. My mother and spoke on a phone during our 3 monthly allowed calls. I told her and she lashed our at Mr justin. Few days later, she was told that it was another student and encouraged me to tell the truth...

    I couldn't believe until now that this wasn't punishment. This was a crime.

    The ones you want:
    Mr.Brent
    Mr.Larry
    Mr.Justin
    Mr.Dustin
    Mr.Joshua Wells

    Mr. Wells is the prime alleged man that just lives puting his hands on kids. He's a small man and his size encourages him to prove he can hurt people bigger than him.

    I thank who ever read this entire story. I couldn't fit it all in one sitting ask me more justinjc33@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Justin
      Chad
      Josh
      Eric
      Dustin
      All of those men are horrible people. I attended 2007-2008. My parents never realized what was going on. They muffled everything. Limited contact. Only screened through emails.

      Delete
  10. I was there for three months. It was a living hell. I still have the scars on my body as a reminder of that place.

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  11. I was there for three months. It was a living hell. I still have the scars on my body as a reminder of that place.

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  12. I was there for aprox a year, 2010. the emotional damage this place has left me is indescribable.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Email me
    Tomballtshirts@yahoo.com
    Im sorry for your pain. I live with it with my son.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Email me
    Tomballtshirts@yahoo.com
    Im sorry for your pain. I live with it with my son.

    ReplyDelete
  15. My name is Logan Robert done again and I also attended Red River Academy the same time Christopher Booth then we were in the same family Rapids family and I would just like to say that I can confess to everything you just said and then some Red River Academy by far was one of the worst experiences of my life and took far more mental and emotional harm than help actually really didn't help me in many ways except being appreciative of the family in life and the real world

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  16. My name is Logan Robert done again and I also attended Red River Academy the same time Christopher Booth then we were in the same family Rapids family and I would just like to say that I can confess to everything you just said and then some Red River Academy by far was one of the worst experiences of my life and took far more mental and emotional harm than help actually really didn't help me in many ways except being appreciative of the family in life and the real world

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  17. I was also in RRA around 2007. I remember the red head breaking the bulb from the "intervention bathroom" after that no lights allowed in the bathroom. This place was awful in every aspect. My first day Mr.Justin ended up busted my head and having another staff member mace me. I was scared, confused, and not aware of where I was at. So I was asking questions and didnt want to walk through the door. So to him I wasnt cooperating and earned that.

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  18. London Thomas is my name. I live in Texas. LC Thomas on facebook. I attended 07-08

    ReplyDelete
  19. Man. That place sucked. The only one who truly cared about anyone was the girls family rep. I loved her. I was always in intervention and study hall. Man, fuck red river����

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Miss Latrice was amazing as well as mis tiffany and mis taranisha they were all genuinely good people and cared about our safety.

      Delete
  20. Chris, you were brave to write this. I was incarcerated there for a year in 2010-11.
    I witnessed some horrible things, things that still give me nightmares and wake me up at night. The emotional damage has been truly irreversible. It’s hard to talk about.
    Thank you for sharing this.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I was there as well...I was always in study hall... all because of a medical problem that they refused to excuse..I was always alone.. I wanted to scream half the time or cry, but basically wasn't allowed to do either.. I was fine to be in study hall and eat by myself..I personally didn't take to the female reps..they didn't bother trying to understand me..I always found it terrible that they fit the letters to the parents' likings but one day I got a letter from my parents asking why I never asked for them to pick me up or apologizing. I had been asking and apologizing... I found all of these things very disturbing.. I was almost finished with my school year by the time I got out of that jail yard..and I warned everyone I could whose parents my parents told about this "miracle school". I never wanted another kid sent there. I am so glad that court cases were found and brought to attention about this place. I still have nightmares about this place.

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    Replies
    1. can talk to me at any time..I can definitely relate to the fact that it brings up bad memories.... even now my dad threatens to send me again..luckily I finally turned 18..so no point in taking them seriously..but..it gives me nightmares and serious anxiety nonetheless.. if you want you can shoot me an email and discuss it if you ever want to at nunallypeytoncollege@gmail.com I hate that place..and was waiting for something like this to happen..thank you..it was so brave of you to publish this..

      Delete
  22. Lot of complications with my story of why I ended up being here but I was put here by court and not by my parents as my parents wanted me to leave this place asap and were very sad that I had to be here. I had committed some crimes from another state and so I was transferred here for the court to observe me and then release me afterwards to remove the crimes from my record or reduce them. I am from New York but went to North Carolina for something, committed a crime there and then got sent here to finish my school year.

    I was 17 years old at the time and I came to this facility on October 30, 2014. I will never forget that day as my mom and I were told lies as we entered the place by that stupid fat lady who advertises the school and two of the upper levels (Albert was the black upper level and I don't remember the other one but he had glasses, black hair and was short at around 5 feet something). She told us that everything would be fine and that it was a safe and fun place. The upper levels took me to a room and talked to me privately and I had no suspicion that it would be a bad place. My mom left and I went inside the building.

    They took my stuff and dumped it all in a room. Riley and Dylan were the ones checking my stuff. Riley was much younger than me but I was cool with him. Dylan was also younger but he was an asshole so I ignored him.

    I spent most of my time in Study Hall as I could never reach above level 2. I just had trouble following the rules because they were something I never did like taking 5 or 7 minute showers. I always took long showers so I never adjusted and broke every other rule even though I tried my best not to. I was one of the best chess players in the facility and even got an award for it put up there. I also was one of the top students and the staff would always tell me to "stop playing dumb" because they said I took Pre-Calculas and was good at it but I legitimately did my best and still got in trouble. I was the most troubled kid there. So much that Mr. Green would let me go to class and join the family because I would never do work in study hall and I would harass him so he just didn't want to see me at all.

    I met a lot of great friends and people there that I wish I could meet again. I hate that place though because I spent my 18th birthday there and now I have a hatred for Louisiana. I hope no child ever experiences what I experienced there and that it gets shut down if it hasn't been already

    Thank you for making my stay much more comfortable even though I was miserable:

    Mr. Dave
    Mr. Matt
    Mr. Allen
    Very tall black chaperone (sorry I forgot your name but you were the best chaperone there)
    Jason
    Daniel
    and most importantly, Stefan

    Court discharged me after 7 months.

    ReplyDelete

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