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, August 6, 2008

Article From WikiPedia

Ran into some interesting information posted on the ever-present Wikipedia (thanks to an email from a reader alerting us to this). Here is the post in its entirety (formatting edits are ours to aid in reading)

Victory Forge Military Academy
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Victory Forge, located in Port St. Lucie, is a 12 month program which purports to utilize military style components for behavior modification. The target audience is rebellious and troubled adolescent males under the age of 18. The academy is accredited by the National Association of Christian Education ("NACE") [1] . To be accredited by NACE, a school must fill out an application and be associated with a Church. No minimum educational guidelines are provided, although the school states that it follows the State of Florida's minimum educational guidelines when confirring academic credits to their students. The academy has been controversial since its beginning and recent child abuse allegations continue with that trend.

Academy History
The facility was a former children's home founded by convicted child molester, Rev. William Brink of Brinkhaven Homes for Youth, in May 1985. Brink's two sons, Dale and Mark, a daughter, Molly, and her husband, Alan Weierman, were named as corporate officers. In 1992, Alan Weierman changed the name from Victory Children's Home to Treasure Coast Victory Children's Home and filed papers to have the home incorporated in Florida. This was done to distance the school from its convicted founder [2]. In 1993, St. Lucie County commissioners voted to evict the residents of the facility from county property because Weierman refused to seek a state license to operate the shelter for neglected children [3]. Plans to move the facility to another location failed when neighbors opposed it at a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. The facility then moved to its current location, a 5 bedroom house at 602 Biltmore St. and continues to operate at this location.

Alan Weierman
The President of Victory Forge, often referred to as the Colonel, is Alan Weierman. He claims to have a PhD. in specialized business, a Masters Degree in counseling and Psychology, and is a certified Behavioral Analyst. [4] Although he never achieved a rank of a Colonel in the military, he continues to use that title. The logic is that based on his current role, he is an equivalent of a Colonel.[5] Mr. Weierman was a troubled youth himself. His dad was an alcoholic who supposedly was a very violent man who beat up the family daily. Mr. Weierman's mother died when he was 11. Mr. Weierman has stated that he was an alcoholic by age 10 and was involved with drugs, gangs, and crime. [6]
In 1986, while working at his father-in-laws Brinkhaven Home in Ohio, Mr. Weierman was accused by a 16 year old female resident at the facility that he had sex with her 30 times between August 1985 and June 1986. The police chief of Lawrence Township stated that "his investigation found sufficient probable cause to prosecute Weierman, including a polygraph test given the girl and a calendar she kept of the alleged sexual encounters" [7] Since, there was not sufficient evidence to corroborate the girl's allegations, the charges were ultimately dropped by the City Prosecutor. Summit County Children Services officials contend that Brinkhaven did not inform the authorities of these allegations, a notification required by Ohio law. Instead, when the girl left the facility (two months after the abuse), she complained to her relatives who contacted the police. On October 7, 1986 the prosecutor sent a letter to Summit County Children Services officials explaining why charges were not filed. Their reason "the length of time that had elapsed' between the girl's departure from Brinkhaven and when police were called in". [8]
In 1989, Weierman was charged with obstructing justice for not reporting an allegation of child molestation filed by two girls, against a former director of the school. The charges were later dropped due to a lack of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt [9].

Child Abuse Allegations
According to the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF)[1], there have been numerous child abuse cases reported against this facility. DCF has investigated 35 prior abuse allegations at Victory Forge [10] , the most recent being on April 24, 2008. At the conclusion of the latest investigation, the DCF stated that they had "serious concerns about the safety and welfare of children". In addition, the DCF stated in their summary report that 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." 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. 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. It had been reported in local media that there had been children found bound in shackles at the facility [11]. DCF also noted staff at the academy, who are not related to Weierman, had a "pattern" of leaving the facility during an investigation. 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 also told DCF he felt abuse was occurring. [12]

Since the parents of students had signed a contract accepting this risk, the DCF could not shut down the establishment. Moreover, since the abuse charges could not be verifed, beyond a reasonable doubt as the wounds were healed or no witnesses existed or witnesses would not talk, criminal charges could not be filed by the State Attorney's office.
In 2002, police reported that students at the academy alleged that "they had been struck with metal pipes and a wooden paddle as methods of punishment" [13] When DCF investigators tried to look into the allegations, staff members would not allow the inspector to go inside, despite a court order allowing the agency to enter the home and interview the children [14].
In 2000, the DCF was on the verge of revoking Victory Forge's state license, but the home surrendered its license without a fight the day a judge was to hear evidence against the facility. The cause of this violation was that officials from the facility left a 17-year old boy at another shelter without advanced notification or arrangements. In addition, the officials allowed a child with a history of sexual offenses to share a bedroom with another boy [15]
The facility is not licensed by any state or Federal agency. The facility has adamantly refused to obtain a license from the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS)[2] calling it "anti-Christian" [16]. The HRS would provide adequate safeguards to protect the children and accountability of public money.

Closing the Legal Loopholes
On June 25, 2008, the Congress passed the "Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2008" [17] to address the issues of child abuse in therapeutic boarding schools, wilderness camps, boot camps, and behavior modification facilities. [18]. The bill will make its way to the Senate after the November elections. The legislation forbid facilities from withholding food and shelter, limiting the use of restraints, and barring deceptive marketing techniques. [19]. Congressional investigations uncovered thousands of allegations of abuse, neglect and youth deaths in private teen behavior modification facilities in the United States. Further, "it was found that, as a direct consequence of a fragmented system where state monitoring and regulatory standards vary from state to state in both scope and reach, dehumanizing practices are being used, sometimes even integrated into the programs ‘therapeutic’ milieu." [20]

The groups which have adamantly supported this legislations include Parents of victims, National mental health organizations, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Children's Residential Centers, American Association of Community Psychiatrists, American Bar Association, American Psychological Association, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Voices for America's Children. [21]

The Florida DCF is looking for ways to close legal loopholes and give DCF the authority to offer more protection to children who are abused in private schools. [22] The Florida Legislators are also being implored by the DCF and concerned parents to take up such a legislation for teen facilities in the State of Florida.

^ "Children's Home May Lose Support", The Palm Beach Post, October 11, 1992, 1B
^ "County May Evict Children's Home", The Palm Beach Post, May 19, 1993, 1B
^ Comments posted by Al Weierman
^ Need Source
^ Ibid
^ Children's Home May Lose Support", The Palm Beach Post, October 11, 1992, 1B
^ "Children Tell Police of Abuse at Victory Forge," Palm Beach Post, June 25, 2002, 4B
^ Ibid
^ "Victory Children's Home Gives Up State License", The Palm Beach Post, March 9, 2001, 1C
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a former resident of PSL, for over 20 years, I know a lot about this place and those running it. Suggest you look into the PhD. that the director (Weierman) says he possesses. For $699 plus application fee, I could get a PhD. in Applied Mathematics as well. He has his PhD from a adiploma mill.