Victory Forge Military Academy is the same as Southeastern Military Academy

In December 2009, Weierman decided to change the name for Victory Forge to Southeastern Military Academy. Nothing about the school has changed, except the name. Even their website is the same (save for a new URL).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

David Weierman

One individual, the son of Alan and Molly Weierman, has also been accused of abusing the students at Victory Forge. We are in the process of finding out additional information on both David and Jonathan Weierman. If you happen to have any information, please send it to us.
The picture above shows David with his son, Seth.
Now here is a question for you David -
How would you feel if someone physically and mentally abused that sweet little child that you have?
How would you feel if someone molested him and everybody looked the other way?
Well that is what you and your folks at VF have been accused of doing.

Summary of Some DCF Findings - Victory Forge

A DCF report summarizing the case was made public after The Palm Beach Post and Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers filed a joint lawsuit petitioning to make it public. Here are some findings from that report:

1. DCF officials found enough evidence to determine that a boy had been choked and subjected to bizarre punishment and mental injury, and that other boys had been threatened with harm.

2. Many cases were reported where kids where thrown across tables, heads banged against the wall, choked to the point of passing out, made to eat their own vomit.

3. DCF also noted staff at the academy, who are not related to Weierman, had a “pattern” of leaving the facility during an investigation. {Note: David and Jon Weierman also work at this school, as "enforcers". These are the sons of Alan and Molly Weierman}.

4. DCF officials used a private investigator to find staff member Justin Reaves, who then told DCF officials he left because of the DCF investigation. He told DCF he felt abuse was occurring.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

35 investigated cases of Child Abuse - where there is smoke, there is fire.

DCF has investigated 35 child-abuse claims at Victory Forge Military Academy
By Keona Gardner (Contact), Will Greenlee Saturday, June 14, 2008

ST. LUCIE COUNTY — Since 1994, the state Department of Children and Families investigated 35 prior child abuse allegations against Victory Forge Military Academy, according to an investigative summary released late Friday afternoon.

At the request of a lawyer for Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers and the Palm Beach Post, Circuit Judge Ben Bryan made public a 12-page summary of DCF investigations of child abuse at Victory Forge Military Academy, a private school for troubled teenage boys. The final summary redacted the names of children mentioned in the summary and some details of incidents.
Earlier this week, DCF announced it had completed its most recent investigation into the school and had “serious concerns about the safety and welfare of children” at the facility. DCF investigators asked parents in late April to remove their children from the school while they looked into a child abuse claim involving a student who ran away in shackles.

However, a police investigation and review by state prosecutors that concluded this week found no criminal activity at Victory Forge.

Col. Alan Weierman, the academy’s commanding officer, could not be reached for comment late Friday. He earlier said the academy did nothing wrong and said three students have since returned to the school, with more than two dozen parents sending applications for enrollment after the incident became public.

Victory Forge attorney Robert Stone opposed making the DCF investigative summary public to protect the privacy of students.

“We’re putting out a report about children who are not here to be heard,” Stone said about Victory Forge students, who were not in the courtroom Friday. Bryan ultimately disagreed, but he declined to rule Friday on whether the underlying incident reports should be made public. He instead allowed for the newspapers to request a second hearing on the matter.

On Friday, the Port St. Lucie Police Department also released more than 100 pages of police records it accumulated in the case, which led to detectives finding there was no criminal activity at the facility. DCF and PSLPD police began investigating Victory Forge after a student ran away April 6 and was found hours later in shackles at St. Lucie West Middle School.
The child “appeared very upset and on the verge of tears,” a report said. “Please take me to jail, I don’t want to go back,” the boy is quoted as saying.

The Victory Forge student said he’d been beaten and choked by employees, forced to eat “stuff” — a combination of vegetables, barbecue sauce and spices — and shackled for nearly two weeks. Weierman denied the abuse to police and described the “stuff” as “healthy food that just tastes bad,” according to the DCF summary.

Assistant State Attorney Jeff Hendriks said in a memo released Tuesday even though a student was in shackles for about 12 days “there is nothing that rises to the level of criminal activity at this point.”

Victory Forge has adopted state Department of Juvenile Justice policies in terms of restraining juveniles, using restraints to “secure juveniles that pose a threat of running away” as opposed to using them as punishment. While Victory Forge violated the Department of Juvenile Justice shackling policies, it wasn’t a criminal matter, Hendriks wrote.

Although nothing criminal was found, DCF officials said they still had serious concerns, according to the summary.

“This case will be closed with verified findings of threatened harm, mental injury, physical injury, bizarre punishment and asphyxiation,” the summary said. “This facility is registered with the Department of Education but is privately run.”

According to the summary, Victory Forge staff “engaged in physical discipline that is harmful to children, such as choking to unconsciousness, punching, kicking, banging heads into walls and cabinets.”

The summary listed the names of 18 students, whose names were redacted to protect their privacy, who in 2004 DCF officials found had “some indicators of physical injury.”
DCF also noted staff at the academy, who are not related to Weierman, had a “pattern” of leaving the facility during an investigation.

For example, DCF officials used a private investigator to find staff member Justin Reaves, who then told DCF officials he left because of the DCF investigation. Although he told DCF he felt abuse was occurring, he denied all abuse claims made against him and would not specify any responsible party.

Tuition is about $28,000 a year and parents are given a contract and manual describing possible discipline, according to Hendrik’s memo. According to the summary, many parents said Weierman “misrepresented the practices of his facility.”
Weierman has previously said the academy tries to instill discipline in teenage boys and instructs them that if they run, they will be shackled.

“There is no abuse here. It’s a tough program. It’s made to be tough,” Weierman said in a past interview.

Make the report public!! If there is nothing to hide, why is Stone confusing the issue with lame comments. Weierman, make the documents public, and let the people decide for themselves.

Friday, June 13, 2008

If you had a black kid like that ....

"If you had a black kid like that you would put him in handcuffs also."

So said Alan Weierman when confronted by the Police on the use of shackles on children.

He also went on to threaten the police, and I am surprised that the coppers are afraid of this man as well. I quote: "You're wasting my time call the (expletive) chief"

Do you really want this angry and bitter man teaching your children about self-respect and discipline.

More to follow...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Appeal to Parent of Victory Forge

Let's compile a list of stories and statements made to us by the Colonel and his wife. They have obviously not told us the entire truth about their past or what has been going on at the academy.

We can then communicate this information to all parents who intend to enroll the children into VF so that they can be fore-warned.

It's been a see-saw

First came news that the DCF had "serious concerns about the safety and welfare of children" who enrolled at the Victory Forge Military Academy. Then came news that the State Attorney's Office has decided not to pursue criminal charges against the academy. To those not familiar with the ways of the criminal justice system, the the burden of proof would be on the State Attorney to prove that the Colonel and his minions were guity beyond a reasonable doubt - something not easy to do in a system that is as opaque as Victory Forge. So in the end, VF lives to fight another day, but this time there will be people like us keeping them honest and telling the world of their escapades.

Port St. Lucie Victory Forge Military Academy for troubled boys out of trouble
By Will Greenlee Wednesday, June 11, 2008

PORT ST. LUCIE — The State Attorney's Office has decided not to pursue criminal charges against the operators of the Victory Forge Military Academy, a private school for troubled teenage boys, after reviewing a police investigation that began after a student ran away from the facility in shackles.

Assistant State Attorney Jeff Hendriks said in a memo released Tuesday that even though the student was in shackles for about 12 days "there is nothing that rises to the level of criminal activity at this point."

State Department of Children and Families investigators asked parents in late April to remove their children from the school while they looked into a child abuse claim, and three have since returned.

Victory Forge has adopted state Department of Juvenile Justice policies in terms of restraining juveniles, employing restraints to "secure juveniles that pose a threat of running away" as opposed to using them as punishment. Hendriks wrote while Victory Forge violated the Department of Juvenile Justice shackling policies, it wasn't a criminal matter.

Alan Weierman, Victory Forge commanding officer, said Victory Forge officials allow enrollees to have their shackles removed by asking. In the referenced case, the teen was asked that the shackles be taken off, but when Victory Forge officials asked if he'd run if they were removed, he said yes. This, Weierman said, is why the shackles were not removed.

The youth eventually ran away with the shackles on and got more than three miles away before Victory Forge staff members found him and called police.

There also wasn't enough probable cause to support allegations of a battery. Hendriks stated it would be difficult to prove another alleged case of battery in which the same student was reportedly "touched on the face with residue that has been wiped from the toilet area."
After DCF completed its probe into Victory Forge, DCF Circuit 19 Administrator Vern Melvin said, "We have concerns about the safety of the children there." The findings are confidential by state law, and while Melvin said there were several other reported victims of alleged abuse at Victory Forge, he declined to elaborate.

In spite of the allegations, Victory Forge sent out about 30 applications to parents who've requested them after seeing the recent news coverage, Weierman said.
"We're going to continue forward," Weierman said. "There is no abuse here. It's a tough program. It's made to be tough."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

DCF Report

The Florida DCF is in the process of releasing their report of the investigation undertaken on the abuse allegation at Victory Forge. Although information is sparse, we will provide details as soon as we get a hold of one of these reports. In either case, should make an interesting read.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


COPYRIGHT 2000 The Palm Beach Post
Jim Reeder, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

PORT ST. LUCIE -- Victory Children's Home could lose its license as a shelter for abused and neglected children if a complaint from the state Department of Children and Families is upheld.

District 15 Administrator Vern Melvin is reviewing his staff's recommendation to revoke Victory's license because of alleged rules violations in its dealings with two boys at the shelter on Biltmore Street.

"Melvin said he'll delay the action for 10 days while he reviews the complaint," said Dr. Alan Weierman, president of Victory Children's Home. "That's all I've asked, is for someone with logic and common sense to look at it."

Melvin did not return a phone call seeking comment Monday.

Melvin's staff urged in a Nov. 16 complaint that Victory's state license be revoked because it abandoned a 17-year-old boy in the parking lot of another shelter and failed to protect residents from an 11-year-old the department said is a danger to others.

Weierman instructed a staff member to leave the 17-year-old in the parking lot of Wave Crest, a shelter operated by the Children's Home Society, according to the state's complaint.

Weierman denied giving such instructions but said Wave Crest would not accept the boy if its staff knew he had threatened Victory's personnel.

"He was threatening my staff and refused to follow the rules," Weierman said. "We had to get him out of here. They said we failed to do a prerelease plan."

Weierman said the 11-year-old attempted to involve another boy and two girls in a sex game of "truth or dare" in January.

Six months later, state officials asked Weierman to sign a "family safety agreement" calling for close supervision and other steps to ensure sexual activity wasn't repeated.

State officials said the boy should have a bedroom separate from other children.

"If the child is a danger to others, why did they wait six months?" Weierman said. "There have been no other complaints about him."

He said staff members check on the boy's activities every 30 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes after bedtime.

Victory Children's Home moved to Biltmore Street in 1993 after St. Lucie County evicted it from a building on Selvitz Road because it lacked a state license.

Weierman said no license was needed because the home was affiliated with a religious organization.

But Weierman obtained a state license about a year ago, and six of 12 children there are under state supervision.

Those children would be removed and no more state money would be paid if the license was

History littered with abuse and shady behavior.


The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, FL) (June 25, 2002)

Byline: Nirvi Shah, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

PORT ST. LUCIE -- About a year after Victory Children's Home surrendered its state license while under fire from state welfare officials for violating rules for caring for children, youths staying at the home for abused and troubled teens accused their caretakers of abusing them, according to a police report.

Some of the 15 children now staying at the home at 602 S.W. Biltmore St. told police Friday "they had been struck with metal pipes and a wooden paddle as methods of punishment. . . . Shackles were used if children attempted or had 'thoughts' of running away from the home."
The home's president, Alan Weierman, and several members of the board of directors could not be reached for comment Monday. No charges have been filed, but police and the Department of Children and Families are investigating the allegations.

When a DCF investigator tried to look into the allegations on Friday, staff members would not allow her to go inside, despite a court order allowing the agency to enter the home and interview the children, according to the police report.

Weierman eventually allowed the investigator to question youth at the home but only under conditions the DCF investigator found unacceptable. So police took all 15 children to the police station, questioned them, then released them to their parents. More than one youth made the accusation, police spokesman Chuck Johnson said.

Victory Children's Home works with children of all ages up to 17 who have behavior problems that are the result of abuse, neglect and drug and alcohol addiction. It also hosts a residential boot camp-like program that, according to its Web site, will push boys' bodies to their limits. Boys spend hours in the home's physical training area. They may not call home for the first two weeks after joining the program.

"Your son may complain to you about unbearable pain, crying that it's too hard. DON'T BE FOOLED!" the site states. Photographs on the site show young men wearing fatigues crawling in the sand and crossing shallow water walking on narrow logs.

"You've come to the right place for help for your daughter or son," writes Weierman in a message to people thinking about using Victory Children's Home. "Our professional staff work hard to insure that your confidence in us is never betrayed and I personally pledge the very best therapeutic care available. You will find our methods unconventional and unorthodox. Our expectations are very high, but I know that you will be very pleased with the progress you see in your child over the course of their stay with us."

Although the state no longer licenses the home, the Web site states it is a member of the Florida Association of Christian Child Caring Agencies, National Association of Christian Child Care Agencies and the Florida Coalition for Children. The Department of Children and Families no longer refers children to the home, spokeswoman Betty Robinson said.

Victory Children's Home opened in Fort Pierce in 1984, then moved to Port St. Lucie in 1993. Weierman has been president since 1987.

In a 2000 complaint, DCF wrote that that Victory officials left a 17-year-old alone in the parking lot at another children's shelter run by the Children's Home Society. Another alleged violation involved allowing an 11-year-old with a history of sexual offenses to share a bedroom with another child. The home surrendered its license without a hearing about six months after the complaint was filed and as the license was set to be revoked.

Victory Forge Abuse Allegation

The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, FL) (June 26, 2002)
Byline: Nirvi Shah, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

PORT ST. LUCIE -- When a single mother from Lake Worth enrolled her son at Victory Children's Home more than a year ago, she was delighted by the thought her unruly, disobedient son would be surrounded by other boys in a structured, Christian environment.

"I wanted him to be around other Christians and learn about the Word," said the woman, who did not want to be identified. "We knew it was going to be kind of strict. . . . (But) I felt safe. I slept at night."
For a while it seemed the regimen was working. Then, she said, something changed. The home began its boot-camp-like program that tested her son's and other boys' physical limits.

On Friday some of the youths living there with the woman's son told police they had been hit with metal pipes and wooden paddles and shackled if they tried to run away. Port St. Lucie police and Department of Children and Families investigators took all 15 teens staying at the home for abused and troubled teens and released them to their parents, pending the outcome of an investigation.

The case may be turning cold, however.

"It does not appear right now that the other children substantiated any of the allegations," Port St. Lucie police spokesman Chuck Johnson said Tuesday, although he said Monday that more than one child made the allegations. Police and DCF still are investigating, however.
Victory Children's Home President Alan Weierman did not return several phone calls placed Monday and Tuesday.

The Lake Worth mother said while she notices improvements in her son - he's more obedient, polite and smarter - after hearing from him how the program has changed in the last few months, she is glad he is home and wouldn't want to send him back.

"I just don't feel comfortable," she said. "I don't know if I'm putting him in danger."

DCF was on the verge of revoking Victory's state license in 2000, but the home surrendered its license without a fight about a year ago. DCF no longer places children at the home.

Then DCF said in its 2000 complaint that Victory officials abandoned a 17-year-old at another children's shelter run by the Children's Home Society without advance arrangement. Another alleged violation involved allowing an 11-year-old with a history of sexual offenses to share a bedroom with another child.

On the Victory Children's Home Web site, it says the home is a member of the Florida Coalition for Children. However the group said Tuesday Victory is no longer eligible because it is not licensed by the state.

This 2002 incident seems very similar to the current incident, doesn't it? The kids who did not substantiate the allegations were afraid back then, as they are right now, to speak out against the Colonel and his employees. It is simple - most of these kids know that they are going back and if they say something against the program, no matter how truthful, they will pay the price back in school. So they clam up in fear.

So Who is Alan Weierman

The person who runs Victory Forge Military Academy is an unknown entity to most parents. He is a self-proclaimed Colonel and a Phd. Based on interviews with former employees, we have the following facts for you.

1. Worked as an employee, at a now defunct youth home, called Brinkhaven. The founder, William Brink was charged with sexual abuse and imprisoned. Brink's daughter is Molly Weierman who is married to Alan Weierman. So a checkered professional history to start.
Note: The Rev. William Brink didn't find just a wife among the residents of his Brinkhaven Homes for Youth. He also found a daughter. Both the wife and the daughter say Brink, sexually abused them, and their allegations are being investigated by the Stark County Sheriff's Department. Richard Tobias, a former member of the Brinkhaven board of trustees, said he gave local police copies of statements detailing allegations of sexual abuse written by 16-year-old Kathryn Brink. A Stark County jury took less than 2 1/2 hours, to find the Rev. William Brink guilty of sexually abusing two former residents of Brinkhaven, the home for troubled youths he founded in Lawrence Township. At this point, we are unsure if Molly is Brink's biological daughter.

2. Alan Weierman met Molly at this facility while he was incarcerated at the facility for being a troubled child himself.

3. While working at the facility, Alan had several abuse allegations levied against him. The most promising one was when a girl charged that she had sex with Alan Weierman, a Brinkhaven staff member, more than 30 times between August 1985 and June 1986. She was a minor at the time, while Alan was an adult.

4. Victory Forge was an offshoot of the Brinkhaven home. This was taken over by the daughter of the founder after Brinkhaven declared bankruptcy as a result of its founder going to jail on sexual abuse charges.

5. So Alan and Molly did not start Victory Homes as they so often have claimed.

Open questions for Alan Weierman:

1. Why do you call yourself a Colonel, when you are not one?
2. Where did you get your PhD?

More to follow.....

Shackled teen 'was running for his life'

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 02, 2008

PORT ST. LUCIE — When her son ran away the first time from Victory Forge Military Academy, she thought she understood why.

It was a strict place, there was discipline and rules, she thought. Maybe he wasn't used to it.

But when he fled again from the boot camp-style boarding school - this time in leg shackles - the woman says she knew something was wrong.

The 16-year-old Port St. Lucie boy said "he was running for his life," his mother, who declined to give her name or his, said Friday.

Academy staff found the boy and called the police. Port St. Lucie officers who responded saw the boy wearing the shackles.

Police questioned whether using the leg restraints was legal, said Victory Forge school commander Alan Weierman. So police decided to contact the Department of Children and Families, he said.

As a result, both police and DCF are investigating whether the use of the shackles was child abuse.

Although police officials say they can't discuss the case because it is still open, the case has been forwarded to the state attorney's office for review, a spokesman said.

DCF officials also declined to discuss their investigation.

But DCF did contact parents last week informing them of the accusation and telling them to remove their sons from the school.

By Monday afternoon, all 16 boys had left the academy.

Weierman says the shackles are not abuse. They're used only to restrain the boys and are removed as soon as the student agrees not to run away again. The head of the academy also says parents are told what they could expect if their son ever ran away - he would be placed in shackles, and an extra three months would be tacked on to the 12-month commitment they make when they enroll their teen.

But the mother of the Port St. Lucie boy says she never knew her son was being shackled. She learned about the restraints, she says, when her son was found in early April.

By that time, Weierman has said, the boy had been wearing shackles on and off for 10 days.
The teen's mother called the shackles "child abuse" during an interview Friday.

"To shackle a kid, hey, that's abuse," she said.

The woman said she sent her son to the academy because, as a single mother, she was looking for a way to discipline the boy after he had been showing her disrespect.

A friend of hers suggested Victory Forge and since the boy had expressed an interest in one day joining the military, she believed the academy would be a good experience, she said.
The teen's first day at the school was Feb. 26. He ran away about two weeks later.

At the time, she thought he wasn't used to the discipline. Then the boy called and told her he had been called names, including a racial slur.

The mother says the boy returned after she talked with the school. But during his return, she says, she began having regrets.

The woman says she was about to pull her son out of the school when police contacted her on April 6 asking whether she had seen the teen. He had run away again, police said.

When she discovered her son had been shackled, she began to regret making him go back to the academy.

"Right there and then, I felt so guilty putting him there," she said. "It really hurt."

She says the boy later told her that while at the school he had also been punched in the face and choked.

The woman said she and her son both gave statements to police about their allegations. She says she's now talking with attorneys to fight the contract requiring her to pay the academy the rest of the $28,600 she agreed to pay for her son's enrollment.

On Friday, Weierman said the woman's claim that she didn't know about the shackles is a lie. He denies that the teen was ever punched or choked. Had it happened, he would have called police, Weierman said.

"To my knowledge, that never took place," he said.

Weierman says the mother is making the allegations because she wants to back out of her contract with the school. "To me, it's rather suspicious and convenient," he said.

But the woman says she's concerned about what happened to her son. "As a parent, as a mother, I'm still angry," she said. "I'm upset."

There have been several other students who have claimed that they were punched and choked by a certain employee of VF. The students could not bring it to antibody's attention for fear of reprisal and the vindictiveness of the Colonel.

ARE THERE OTHER PARENTS OUT THERE WITH SIMILAR STORIES? If so, please contact us so that we can start civil or criminal proceedings. In addition, we want to present a united front to the Florida State's Attorney.

Shackled 'students'?

Palm Beach Post Editorial
Thursday, May 01, 2008

Whatever parents might have agreed to regarding treatment at Victory Forge Military Academy, a Port St. Lucie boot camp-style boarding school for boys, the state is correct to offer a second opinion.

A city police officer saw a 16-year-old runaway from the school shackled in chains. Police notified the Florida Department of Children and Families, which asked parents to pick up their sons. The school remains closed while the agency investigates, which a spokeswoman said could take until early June.

Since 2000, city police have visited Victory Forge to check on three complaints of child abuse, one complaint of sexual activity between students and at least 12 runaways. An investigation in 2004 found no truth in allegations that the staff severely beat a boy. Detectives praised the academy staff for hospitalizing the boy despite his parents' objections. The boy had early-stage kidney failure, which doctors said could have been caused by dehydration and rigorous exercise.
Victory Forge's board president and commander, Alan Weierman, acknowledged that the school uses shackles. He said the school follows Florida Department of Juvenile Justice restraint policies. School officials remove the restraints if a student agrees not to run away again. Also, parents are told when they register their sons that the academy uses restraints on runaways.

As a spokesman noted, however, DJJ is not a school; it deals with young criminals. Victory Forge is a nonprofit registered as a private military academy, operating on donations and charging $28,600 for a one-year residential treatment program. Its "tough love" approach emphasizes structure, military-style discipline, physical training and "behavioral redirection."

When the Port St. Lucie officer saw the 16-year-old runaway in restraints, the school commander said, "No one knew if it was legal ... or if it was child abuse." Mr. Weierman complains that the state wants to shut down his school by removing the students. But Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder, who ran a successful boot camp until lack of state money forced it to close, said that his operation did not routinely use shackles. "We'd have to have violence before we'd do anything like that ... If you're trying to encourage kids in the right direction, to overuse (shackles) could drive them in the opposite direction."

Anyone who has children can empathize with desperate parents. But the state has a responsibility to see that schools like Victory Forge deliver what they promise to relieve that desperation.

The Colonel has allegedly removed one of his employees who physically abused the cadets. What we need to ask is if that is enough or does the program need to take responsibility and come clean. The editorial is a worthwhile read although no new information is offered.

Police found teenage boy in shackles

Palm Beach Post Staff Writers
Friday, April 25, 2008

PORT ST. LUCIE — The Department of Children and Families told parents of boys at a boot camp-type boarding school to remove them this week after police found one of the boys shackled, according to the school's leader.

Victory Forge Military Academy's board president and school commander, Alan Weierman, acknowledged Friday that the school uses shackles to restrain runaways and that an investigation was launched when a Port St. Lucie police officer saw a 16-year-old runaway being restrained.

"No one knew if it was legal ... or if it was child abuse," Weierman said.
Weierman said the school follows the same restraining procedures used by the Department of Juvenile Justice.

The restraints, Weierman said, are removed as soon as the student requests it and agrees not to run away again. Typically that lasts from two to 24 hours, Weierman said.

But the Port St. Lucie teen was shackled on and off for 10 days, sometimes wearing only steel ankle shackles and at others wearing wrist and ankle restraints, Weierman said. The restraints were removed when the boy showered, attended class and during other periods.

The teen's mother knew that he was being shackled and approved of it, Weierman said.
"She called us every day to see how her son was doing," he said.
Weierman did not reveal the woman's name and she could not be reached for comment.

Weierman said police contacted DCF on April 7. The school notifies police when one of its students runs away, Weierman said.

DCF officials have contacted parents about an abuse allegation, spokeswoman Ellen Higineotham said, but she would not reveal what it involved because DCF's investigation was not complete. Higineotham also said officials had suggested parents pick up the students within 24 hours. If parents left a child at the facility, Higineotham said the agency would find a safe place for him, including temporary shelter with relatives or, if needed, state custody. As of early Friday evening, three of the school's 16 students remained.

Port St. Lucie police spokesman Robert Vega confirmed the department is investigating an abuse allegation but couldn't say whether it involved the use of shackles.

Weierman explained that he kept shackling the teen, who had run away before, because the teen showed potential for success and he wanted the boy to change his mind on his own.

The school head now believes that DCF wants to shut down the school by removing the students.
Higineotham said the agency's investigation is expected to be complete about the first week of June.

If the agency deems that the use of the shackles is abuse, Weierman said he would appeal the decision. He said the restraints were necessary to keep the boys - many of whom come to the school because of behavioral problems or because they have been involved with crime - from the streets, where they could land in trouble.

Parents are told that the school restrains runaways when they register their child, Weierman said.

Andrew Banks, whose 15-year-old has been in the school for 15 months, praised the school for changing his son for the better and said he would approve of placing him under shackles if he ran away.

"I understand how those kids are; defiance is a nice word for it," he said.

Police have responded to three complaints of child abuse, one complaint of sexual activity between students and at least 12 runaways from Victory Forge since 2000, records show.
While Detective Teresa Dennis was investigating claims that staff had severely beaten a boy in July 2004 - claims that later were unfounded - Dennis said parents of other recruits began calling for information, saying they had been told by DCF investigators that their children were in danger.

Dennis and another detective interviewed 19 boys at the academy in 2004, and each said the alleged victim fell on purpose and forced himself to throw up.

In her report, Dennis praised Weierman and staff member Travis Plummer, saying their insistence on taking the boy to a hospital despite his mother's reluctance to have him leave the boot camp may have saved his life. Doctors later diagnosed him with early-stage kidney failure they said could have been caused by rigorous exercise and dehydration.

Although the boy claimed he was denied adequate food and water, others testified that wasn't true.

Victory Forge is a nonprofit organization, taking donations and charging $28,600 for a one-year, residential treatment program.

Weierman concedes his methods are unorthodox, but claims success with more than 97 percent of his recruits.

Before Weierman converted the program to an all-boys military academy, it was a shelter for victims of child abuse and neglect. Weierman was charged with failing to report child abuse and obstructing justice in 1989 when the former director of the facility - then called Victory Children's Home - was arrested on charges he molested three girls at the home. Charges against Weierman and the former director, Ken Beck, were dismissed a few months later.


1. Are all parents told when their kids are shackled? The answer is a resounding NO. Kids were shackled without knowledge of several parents.

2. Have there been other charges made against the Col and others in the school? The answer is yes. More details will follow.

3. Why did the students then claim that Victory Forge has done nothing wrong? The answer is one word - FEAR. The cadets fear reprisal from the Colonel and his staff if word got out that they were telling people the truth. We are looking for former cadets of the school who would be willing to tell us the truth.