Behind the Bastards

There’s a reason the History Channel has produced hundreds of documentaries about Hitler but only a few about Dwight D. Eisenhower. Bad guys (and gals) are eternally fascinating. Behind the Bastards dives in past the Cliffs Notes of the worst humans in history and exposes the bizarre realities of their lives. Listeners will learn about the young adult novels that helped Hitler form his monstrous ideology, the founder of Blackwater’s insane quest to build his own Air Force, the bizarre lives of the sons and daughters of dictators and Saddam Hussein’s side career as a trashy romance novelist.

Part Two: Elan School: The Worst 'Troubled Teen' Facility

Part Two: Elan School: The Worst 'Troubled Teen' Facility

Thu, 29 Jul 2021 10:00

Robert is joined again by Miles Gray to continue to discuss The Elan School.

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Hello, I'm Erica Kelly from the podcast Southern Fried True crime, and if you want to go from podcast fan to podcast host, do what I did and check out spreaker from iheart. I was working in accounting and hating it. Then after just 18 months of podcasting with Spreaker, I was able to quit my day job. Follow your podcasting dreams, let's break or handle the hosting, creation, distribution, and monetization of your podcast. Go to That's Hey there, it's Ebony Monet, your co-host for the San Diego Zoo's Amazing Wildlife podcast. In this special episode, we're speaking with Doctor Jane Goodall about the fascinating journey that led to her social discoveries on chimpanzees. So four whole months, the chimps ran away from me. I mean, they take one look at this peculiar white ape and disappear into the vegetation. Bing wildlife on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. In the 1980s and 90s, a psychopath terrorized the country of Belgium. A serial killer and kidnapper was abducting children in the bright light of day. From Tenderfoot TV and iHeartRadio, this is La Monstra, a story of abomination and conspiracy. The story about the man who simply become known as. Lamaster. Listen for free on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. The zoom lady has commanded us and we are back. This is behind the ******** the podcast that exists entirely to glorify, elevate, and worship the zoom lady, our only God and master. And in fact, the only thing sacred in our entire cosmology of universal ethics. My guest today, Archbishop of the Zoom, Lady Miles Gray. Miles. Praise her. Oh, praise be to the ZL, the zoom lady. That is. For without her contributions to our mortal Galaxy, we would have nothing. Thank you for having me. Thank you for being on miles. And thank you for creating the first religious schism in our new cult that will eventually turn into a war that kills billions. Which is, of course. Whether or not we can abbreviate the zoom ladies name to ZL0. Yeah, I know. And we've talked about this off mic and like I said, you come with your people, I'll come with mine and well, I guess we'll see who's alive in the end. Umm, yes, I am excited for when we both gain access to nuclear silos and can really, really take this, this, this disagreement over theology to an apocalyptic level. But I mean, I think that's the one thing we both agree on and we're excited for. Secretly we are. We are. It's just about the joy of starting a nuclear war, miles. It's just about doing that thing we saw during a mushroom trip. We're like, dude, what if you saw a mushroom cloud right in front of you, though? Wouldn't that be red? Look at us, our zoom lady colt. Now. Hmm. Praise be. Praise me so, miles, when we were talking last time, if you remember how, you might have forgotten. That's right, some kids spanked a girl so badly she lost control of her bowels and had to be hospitalized because everything in a lawn was done communally, including physical punishments. Which we're going to talk about a lot more today. There's a lot of it gets so much worse, miles so much worse, so. By the mid 70s Alan had moved to the facility would occupy for the majority of its existence in Poland Springs. Most of its residents lived on the five acre facility which included a lawn one an administrative trailer and six other numbered buildings that acted as dormitories, classroom space, etcetera. There were two other Alan facilities, including one in Parsonfield, Maine that had once been a TB sanitarium. The space for all these facilities was necessary or all of the space was necessary because in the early 70s along got a bunch of positive press reports. Which brought hundreds of new residents to the program. So again, what are positive pressures? What's a positive press resort for this? That this is saving kids who, whose lives are completely out of control, that this will give you back your kid, this will get them off of drugs. You know, nothing is worse than having a kid who's a drug addict. So anything Alan does is just and the idea that this is, this is like the best kind of treatment for them, like this specific program is Joe Ritchie build it as the Rolls Royce of teen treatment programs. Right. OK, yeah. And I remember even like cause this is even like with Kellogg, right? Like, although just whacky remedies that were, you know, just essentially a waste of **** people up. Were there at least a success stories that they would be like, oh, and then check out this kid who, I mean stopped nagging like a horse. Yes. Throughout the throughout the existence of the program, there are kids who will claim it'll save their life. There's even some kids who hated it but also will say like it's saved my life because I was like really into heroin and I probably would have. Need without it. It also has permanently damaged my brain. Like, like that, like the the positive stories tend to be like, I would have died without it. Also, I am forever like changed because of this program in ways that are profoundly like, negative and complex and right. I feel deeply disconnected to from who I used to be. This is not to say there are some positive stories and we can speculate on some of those people. Sure, sure. But. When you go through reports of people who were there, the overwhelming reports are not positive. Now that said, this is the early 70s, nobody's talking about this place online. You don't have a lot of former kids coming out and a lot of these kids, it's a mix of rich kids who go there. And and generally if you're rich, you do get some kind of special treatment, right, and wards of the state. And so nobody cares what the wards of the state say, right? And nobody's really able to check up on them to tell whether or not they actually have a high success rate. Which we're going to talk about in a bit. So it was certainly the popular perception that the Alan School was like, again, the Rolls Royce, like, this is the nicest place you can syndicate for this kind of intense rehab facility. It's that this, this beautiful compound in the woods and Maine, like it's like a summer camp. You know, that was kind of the way this was marketed. Now 1975 was a key year in the evolution of the Allan School. It's the year where a number of the most questionable aspects of early Allan procedures started to turn toxic. And one possible catalyst for the growing toxicity of the Allan School may be the fact that Joe Ritchie had an increasingly severe drug addiction of his own. So Joe's friends seemed to be pretty consistent that he was not a heroin addict as a kid. But whatever. The truth was, his old injuries from his car accident started bothering him while he worked prior to opening the Alan School, and a number of his colleagues there mentioned to his wife that they were worried about how many pills he was taking. Sherry confronted him, and he told her that he needed the pills because his pain was unbearable. Now, once the Elan school started, Joe kept using. Sherry eventually realized that Doctor Davidson, their business partner, was prescribing her husband opiates, which is again very ethical Dr here. She went to the doctor saying, hey, Joe is an addict and you should probably not give him a blank check for drugs. And he told her, hey, I know what I'm doing. Don't tell me how to do my job. I'm a psychiatrist. Back off, lady. I'm running the Rolls Royce. Of abuse, Thunder domes. And one of the things that's interesting about this is that later on in like the late 90s when Joe Ritchie stops being on working there most of the time, like he he eventually like the school is still running, but he's not really there most of the time not involved in the day-to-day. The guy who replaces him running the program is also a heroin addict and is using actively while he's running the school. It's interesting. So Joe had a problem, Doctor Davidson. Does not know what he was doing, and although Joe didn't really drink much, his pill usage caused wild mood swings, irritable and abusive behavior. When he would have a mood swing, the easiest people for him to take it out on were the patients at his school. So by 1975 this was becoming a serious problem and that same year his 54 year old Father Bamboo shot one of his friends during a bar fight with his friend. Tried to de escalate things after he called another patron. The N word. So Joe's dad goes to prison for shooting a dude. And yeah, this is so this is a bad year. 75 is a bad year for Joe Ritchie is the point I'm building towards. And on July 22nd, it got even worse. The state of Illinois sent a team of five investigators, a psychiatrist and four social workers to Elon for a surprise evaluation. This was standard procedure when more than 10 wards of the state had been placed in the facility. So more than 10 kids from Ellen, Illinois get sent to the Alan School and they say, like, oh, we have to send a team up there to make sure that it's like a good school. You know, very reasonable. Dear right, yeah. When the team, yeah, the team stayed for two days, they talked with staff and residents and they observed daily activities. Now, this was the first inspection along school had, and so it came as a surprise and as a result, they hadn't prepared ahead of time. Then cleaned anything besides down to get the signs down. Well, we gotta stop hitting the kids till they **** themselves. Turns out psychiatrists don't usually like that. Ohh guys, we've been doing this all wrong according to them, so we could just pretend we don't do all this ****** ** stuff. So the team found a number of horrifying things. One staff member in charge of a house where 7 Illinois residents lived admitted he had a criminal history of assaulting women. His third such assaulted seriously injured his victim, which is why he had been sent to a lawn before graduating and being hired as staff there. He admitted to investigators that he had difficulty relating to women. And was monitored by other staff to make sure that he didn't assault any female residents. My God. Now, that might be a mark against you. You know, maybe you shouldn't be in charge of a house full of teenagers, including teenage girls. If you have a history of repeatedly criminally assaulting women. Perhaps not, right? Maybe, yeah. Yes, I don't. You're not. I don't think you. That's a part of the evaluation that most people realize, just in general, that you don't want to be. Well, I guess I don't know who's fault that is. I mean, honestly, like, they hired him, so they did hire him. And here's my truth. Hmm. And they're like, ohh, he's right. Trust this is all that I love criminally assaulting women. Well, good news about this job. So do we. Yeah. You know what? And and that's their fault for hiring you. Honestly, it was. Now, the investigators were also horrified by general meetings, the constant pattern of verbal abuse in Alan and the frequency of spankings. They eventually found out that the resident. Director with a history of assaulting women had spanked numerous residents. So the staff had claimed like, well, we make sure he doesn't assault women even though he has a history of it. And then they were like, well but yeah, but he gets to spank them. He's using a paddle, OK? It's professional. Like, what the **** are they thinking, T team members of this Illinois monitoring team overheard constant verbal assaults from staffers to residents, including lines like you ****** ******* ***** you **** ******* ***** sucking ************* ******* and other things that did not seem like therapeutic criticism. How this is so wild to me, though. Like, you know how bad this is where outside observers come in and it's become so normal that they're like, yeah, OK, back to our regular scheduled programming, which is just tearing people down verbally and like, with the worst language. Now, when they interviewed the nurse, she revealed that she had gotten vaginal smears and rectal exams from female residents before they started class, as well as semen samples from male residents. She said this was to test for VD. Semen samples were obtained by giving boys a small cup, directing them to a private room, and ordering them to masturbate. So the team from Illinois was like, this seems not like the way you test for STD's. And they reached out to several doctors to be like, is it normal to get a come sample from kids to test for STD's and all of the doctors? That's exactly right. All the doctors are like, what the **** are you talking about? You don't need semen to test for this. Loud, yeah. We need to get this person away from children immediately. What the **** are you talking about? I almost fainted. I was at a Oh my God. What? So ****** **. So the team from yeah, the nurse also admitted to handing out controlled substances without prescriptions to kids. For what? For whatever? Mainly birth control pills, which were given upon request and without carrying out a physical exam first. Now, none of that's great, but what really freaked the investigators out was learning about the ring. Now the ring has become one of the most infamous facts about a lawn. The ring was a boxing ring where two people would beat each other up with gloves, but it was also a literal ring of people miles. The individual being punished would be forced to fight everyone in the ring sometimes. More than 10 people. So that even if they were good at fighting and big, they would eventually be overwhelmed by sheer exhaustion and beaten bloody. In interviews when this became widely known later, Joe Ritchie claimed that the ring was only given as punishment to bullies who had used or threatened physical violence against others. His argument was that you had to show these people that there was always someone bigger than them. So that's what Joe claimed. Yeah. Either way, either way, that's not how you teach children. I'm like, OK, just shut up, right. Yeah, you're still, so you do admit you're making them fight each other? Child fight format. Yeah, yeah, but hold on, hold on, hold on. The point is no, there's no point. I don't care about your reasoning. These kids doing it. **** **. Yeah, I don't care about your reasoning. You're making children fight in a ring. Ohhh my God. Here we go. OK, So what do you suggest? So here's the reality the team from Illinois saw. I'm going to quote from Duck and a raincoat again. Those used to defeat the person being punished were mostly large, well built. Always fighting both male and female residents 2 residents independent Ohh wasn't yeah you're having issues already miles? Yeah, they picked the big kids for it. Two residents independently independently talked about a young female being forced into the ring. When she resisted, she was held down while residents attempted to tie boxing gloves on her hands. When that failed, she was sent into the ring bare fisted and without headgear. Investigators also cited an incident where a pregnant girl was put in the ring and defeated evaluators. Reserved that God, yeah, that's pretty bad. What the ****? Evaluators observed that residents could be sent into the ring for any infraction, including not sharing and discussion groups. So no, not just bullies. If you don't want to talk in the group about who you have a crush on, you're going to get beaten up by large teenage boys in a circle because you're not forthcoming with your pain in a ******* environment that is only meant to, like, exploit it and make you feel worse. And then you have to. What can be yeah. Beating a pregnant girl. This is. I mean, this is happening. This is happening in the 90s miles, this evaluation 75. But the ring goes on for decades. The ring goes, Oh my God. What the ****? Yeah, please tell me, like, just this better have a ******* good ending, man. It doesn't, ************. I mean, elements of it are good. So we'll talk more about this. We'll talk more about the ring later. Another punishment? The investigator? Yeah. Miles. So, buddy, ohh yeah. I mean, yeah, we gotta talk about the kid it killed. But first, we're gonna talk about another punishment the investigators discovered, which might actually be worse. Now, this was called electric sauce. You know, what do you get? Take a guess as to what electric sauce was. Smiles. Dude, no. That's so ****** ** sounding. Yeah, I know it's really bad quote. Yeah. Miles. No, I don't even. I I can't even don't do it. Have brains like short circuiting, even trying to combine this. It's a really bad school. Like, we've covered some bet. Like, honestly, elements of this sound not as bad as the German school that raped all those kids. Like Waldorf school, right? No, no, that was just the one. That was the weird cult school you did. Yeah. Oh yeah. Uh. So I'm gonna here's, I mean we've covered, we've covered some beds rules between the residents. Definitely not as bad as the residential schools Ireland. But I mean, I guess they're the residential schools like killed thousands, right? So much worse. There's a there's a it's this is there's an element of this that is more disturbing just because of in those schools they're killing kids systematically through neglect and through just a lack of caring about their health. This is what this is obviously less horrible. It's not an act of genocide, but the level of thought Joe Ritchie put into how to craft this engine of child abuse. There's something like uniquely unsettling about it in a way that I it hasn't been present before in any of these other schools. It's just such an intricately crafted machinery of child abuse. That's what's like, so like the **** about this to me. Yeah, not trying to like, play like, which is worse than the obviously. Like, again, the genocide schools are worse. But there's something about this that's like, primarily disunion, settling like the level of thought. This man spent decades designing an engine to abuse children again. Like, like, so many of these, like, stories that it's just repeating cycles of abuse because, like, he went to some ****** ** like, who knows what the **** happened at the place he went. Yeah, right. So Are you ready to finally learn about what the electric sauce was, miles? Oh, God, I'd forgotten about that. Yeah. We still haven't gotten into the electric. Boss quote electric Sauce was the term used to describe a mixture of garbage, ketchup, mustard, cigarette butts, and other refuse which was poured over a person's head as a form of punishment. The report indicated that human feces was sometimes included in this sauce. What? Yeah, they're they're ******** and coming into buckets and throwing in trash and pouring it on people's heads when they're bad. And again. And if you're this is therapy, by the way, what is what is Richie saying? And I'm sorry, Richie Electric ******* sauce do. Richie denies. That this is a part of the school, right? Like, this is not the kind of hill defend, like the ring and stuff. And they do stop using the electric sauce eventually. Yeah. Because there's no defense of electric sauce. Then I would the ring, if we're going to weigh the two. Good to know where you're lying, is smiles. Yeah. I mean, I'm like, if I got to own one, I'm like, well, he's no kids dying from being in a fistfight ring and it's just straight up. Well, I mean, I don't even actually smiles like ones better than the other. Again. That was done to me. I'm gonna read you another fun quote about other punishments. At the Alan School miles digging ditches was apparently still another reprimand. A day of digging ditches under surveillance was a common practice. After each ditch was dug, the resident being punished would be required to fill it back up again and repeat the process for the duration of the punishment. The use of handcuffs was also alleged. One resident explained that he had been handcuffed for about 5 hours for striking someone. Another had been ordered by a staff member to handcuff a girl to a table by placing the cuffs around her ankles. One of the Illinois wards had his shoes. Taken away during his six weeks at Alan, he had made repeated requests for shoes, but the requests were denied because he was told that if he had shoes, he might run away. When this child was brought back to Chicago, he had blood poisoning in one foot. What the ****? OK, so alright, you might expect miles, that when a government agency finds all of this **** out and writes a report on it in 1975, the end of the program would come soon after, as would criminal charges for a lot of the people involved, right, this would be a pretty full episode. Just ended in 1975 because we've talked about some bad **** here, but this is the United States of America. I need to remind you of that again. As I did in episode one, miles and the Elan school continued to operate for more than 30 years after this point because, again, parents have a sacred right to pay people to torture their children if they think it's a good idea. That's unbelievable. So they they were just able to skate under that premise. Well, we're going to talk about how they got away with it, but the core of why they got away with it is there is a widespread. Idea that is particularly normative among conservative Americans, that as a parent you are the ultimate arbiter of what happens to your child and they don't have rights. You have a sacred right to do whatever the **** you want to. That kid is a punishment, right? Of course, it's a popular refrain. I'm the adult. Maybe the child children should have equivalent rights to adults, even though we all agree children should not have equivalent responsibilities. Maybe shouldn't have access to all of the same things that adults do, for example. I don't think 9 year olds should be able to buy cars or guns, but perhaps they are entitled to the exact same human rights. Come on down to miles as catalytic converter barn where no matter your age, you're walking out of here. Juiced up baby, I think we should be teaching kids because kids can get under the car easily. Their little hands can reach in there. Yes. Yeah, we should train. That's miles. We could start a teen rehab facility where we get kids off of dope by teaching them to steal catalytic converters. No, Sophie, you always stomp my dreams to create residential schools for children. Is this one illegal too? Like they'll other 15 ideas. You said no to Sophie. Yeah. Yeah, she she hates it when I talk about crimes. I like being able to pay my rent. Well, you could pay your rent. And catalytic converters? Just drop a bag of them off at the the manager's office. Sophie, there you go. No, be like, hey, here's a bag of cats that's going to take care of me for the rest of the year, right? Wink. Give him a little wink. If he's smart, he'll take the deal. So. The good news is that the Illinois investigators did take the kids who were wards of the state away from the Allan School. They issued a damning report that includes these lines. Quote. Alan will argue that the evaluation team has taken occurrences out of context and that contrary to the findings of the evaluation team, the incidents were in the best interests of the child. Regardless of the reasons given by Alan excusing or justifying the instance incidents, each and every incident reported is directly contrary to Illinois law and regulations and under no circumstances can the agency permit any of its wards. Reside at an institution where such events occur. These practices violate the child's civil rights and liberties and deprive him of his self respect and dignity. Under no circumstances can the Department of Education and Family Services permit any child to be subjected to a loan, which is good. Good on you guys who tried in the ******* state of Illinois. I don't have a lot of praise for the state of Illinois, but they did their best. And so at the very least that meant no more wards of the state would be going to this program. Oh no, good God, no, no, no, no. Which just means Illinois won't send kids for a while. Oh, oh, just for all well. And just that the state won't. Other kids from Illinois keep getting sent there. We'll talk about that in a minute. It citizens can now endlessly indulge in. Yeah. Very little actually changes. And I'm going to talk about to talk about why. So there's a lot of blow about this, right? This becomes very public. The news is like the all the like the ******* electric sauce and the the beating pits. Like, people are not wild about this, but you know what people are wild about, miles? Umm. This the new bottle line of electric sauces from Heinz. Exactly. Heinz Electric sauce, now with 80% more feces and come squirted on a child's head when they disc, behave, misbehave, whatever. Ah ****. Mint Mobile offers premium wireless starting at just 15 bucks a month. And now for the plot twist. Nope, there isn't one. Mint Mobile just has premium wireless from 15 bucks a month. There's no trapping you into a two year contract. You're opening the bill to find all these nuts fees. There's no luring you in with free subscriptions or streaming services that you'll forget to cancel and then be charged full price for none of that. For anyone who hates their phone Bill, Mint Mobile offers premium wireless for just $15.00 a month. Mint Mobile will give you the best rate whether you're buying one or for a family. And it meant. Family start at 2 lines. All plans come with unlimited talk and text, plus high speed data delivered on the nation's largest 5G network. 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Listen to revisionist history on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. I've never seen less enthusiasm for a great idea in my life. Hey, it's Rick Schwartz, one of your hosts for San Diego Zoo's Amazing Wildlife podcast. In this special episode, we sit down with Doctor Jane Goodall to hear her inspiring thoughts on how we can create a better future for humans, animals and the environment. Anything, particularly young children out into nature so that they can experience it and take time off from this virtual world of being always on your cell phones and so on. And get the feel of nature so that you come to be fascinated, then you come to want to understand it, and then you come to love it, and at that point you want to protect it. And then we'll come to the sort of healthy world that I envision as a good future for us. And the rest of life on this planet. Listen to amazing wildlife on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. We're back and we're talking about how constant exposure to the horrors that this show exposes us to May, may, may have, may cause me to make some some off color comments that I ought not. We have these moments, we have these mini. It is like a real problem. We had this with like the the Irish Schools episode where I think Sophia and I went a little bit hard on the dark humor because it's so you just get overwhelmed with this eventually. There's nothing to do but like laugh about the electric sauce, you know? It's like you're like, you're like, like someone who's been on the seas too long, like looking sharks in the eye, like at a certain point, like you're just like they're kinda, you know, they seen a lot of they ever look at you. Didn't do an Alan school teachers eyes. Dead eyes like a dolls eyes. OK, Sir, again, I'm just here to take your order. Yeah, I do have fun with the Wendy's girl. So Miles, there's this report comes out right, it's it's bad. There's a bunch of bad press for the Alan school and this prompts the Governor of Maine to visit the school. Now obviously they have warning this time and they clean up the school ahead of the governor's, the governor's visit and he's like, oh, this seems fine. But once he reads the report from Illinois, he has Maine's Department of Human Services issue a very speedy interim report. And the purpose of this report was to protect the Allan School, which had become a multi $1,000,000 business. And thus protect Maine's economy as well, right? His concern is this would be bad for Maine's economy of this big business has to leave so good. Since Richie had warning before this investigation, he tasked his employees with making everything look squeaky clean, one teenage staff member later told Mara Curley. Quote we lied through our teeth. What we couldn't cover up, we admitted to as the exception rather than the rule. The residents were thrilled when the place was overrun with investigators because they had a real fun time. We laid off everybody then, but everything the Illinois investigators said was true. Every last word. It now the Illinois investigators found a bunch of horrible **** and they wrote about it very unsparingly like this is a child abuse factory and should be closed immediately. The main investigators, who again were sent there specifically to exonerate the Allan School to keep money in the state of Maine, found this quote. No evidence of unjustifiable denials of civil liberties or of mistreatment, brutality, or anything that could be considered abhorrent to all accepted standards of childcare. The residents of a law and interviewed usually expressed newfound. Feelings of dignity, self assurance and mental well-being. They attributed these feelings to the treatment they received at a lawn responding to the charges of the ring, spankings and a physical abuse main, investigators wrote. One of the cardinal rules of the Alan program is that the use of physical violence by either a staff member or a resident is strictly outlawed. Again, Joe Ritchie, head, admitted to the the using the ring like it's just nonsense. It's just a a report full of lies paid for by the government of Maine to keep a business in the state. Because, in part, probably because Joe Ritchie bribing, bribing people, he does that a lot. He's very involved in politics in Maine because he's a millionaire after a certain point, right? Ohh my now God. Since the ring had by this point gone viral as the most terrifying measure in Alonzo Arsenal, Maine State investigators had to make a declaration on that too. They defended it after writing that violence wasn't used by saying quote only acts of repeated physical violence result in a person being placed in the ring where rounds last about one minute and where the participants are evenly matched. Again, all of this is a lie based on hundreds of reports like, and now they're acting like, ohh, but we've made that, we've made it at the regulations are way better now. We're seeing a way, we're getting fair ones now. We got kids engaging and fair ones, not just straight up. Even if it was like a school where it's like, well, we only have one minute boxing matches for kids. It's like, wait, why do you have children fighting? Yeah, but they're but they're matched based on their weight class. OK. I mean, if you do have a boxing class, that's fine. Boxing is a punishment I would call child abuse. Yeah, absolutely. Also, we should have a conversation about whether kids should be able to box or play things like football that will damage their brains and when they're too young to make an informed decision about whether or not they want to damage their brains. But that's a that's a subject for a different day. Not that you shouldn't be able to box or play football, but maybe not as a child. I don't know. So since the ring had by this point gone viral is the most terrifying measure in Alonzo. Right. I'm sorry. With that. So we'll talk more about the ring. Later, what's important for now is that hundreds of former students have come forward representing decades worth of time at a lawn, and all claimed that this is ********. The report had a bunch of other frustrating nonsense in it, but the gist of it was that Joe Ritchie and his school get a clean bill of not committing crimes against humanity from their host state. They use this to repost back at Illinois, filing a civil complaint and alleging that the evaluation team had defamed Elan and done $6.1 million in actual damages and $4 million in punitive damages. Illinois filed suit in response. Suing a District Court and it's charging that a lot employees had abused wards of the state. They requested damages too. A flurry of lawsuits followed, and in the end both sides settled without any money going anywhere except into the pockets of lawyers. The state kind of gives up after a point because, again, these kids are wards of the state. They don't have anyone behind them, right? It's not worth it, right? Purely just, yeah, statistics. Because our legal system is perfect. Now, earlier I quoted a teenage staff member, one of the people who was technically an inmate but reached a high position within the program. That person's name was Kim Zaretsky. He was part of the architecture of violence at Alon, organizing the ring, verbally abusing and physically abusing other children, and making sure it all ran smoothly. Years later he told Mara Curley quote but I was brainwashed. I may have abused someone, but I was a victim too. It can be compared to a mother in the concentration camps pushing the buttons on her children and the ovens. How can you fault her for that now? This is not a thing that ever happened at concentration camps. They just didn't work that way. That's nonsense. Ken didn't have an education though, so. Yeah, I'm like, what's. I'm sorry, what was that bit of his, his broader point there. There actually is if he knows anything about the Holocaust, there's a better point you can make, which is that a lot of the actual, the physical work necessary to make the death camps run was done by Jews who were interned in the camps. Right. And these were Jewish inmates who got some kind of privileges, more mainly the privileges that they didn't get killed as quickly, but they were the ones who were like pushing, shoveling the bodies in, like literally making the gas chambers were doing the maintenance. The poison was always put in. By a doctor. But they were necessary to make it work, and these guys did. Obviously, even though they're making a concentration camp work, you can't judge them for it. Like, he's right about that when you are within the confines of your yeah. And when. And at that point, I think he's right about if you're a child forced into this and you do horrible things to other kids in order to make your own experience less terrible because that's what this place is designed to do, you're not really at fault. You know, I think there's a certain point, especially if you grow up and you come back to as an adult, where you become culpable. But like a ******* 16 year old, like agreeing to beat kids up in the ring because, like, otherwise you're gonna get the **** kicked out if you like. I can't. It's not. You're going to beat this **** out of this. Yeah, you you out of your own self-interest. Yeah. And in the same way, like if you're forced into a death camp and your chance to avoid getting murdered is to help the death camp operate, you're not morally responsible to that, I would argue. Zaretsky again received no education, so I don't think he knows much about the Holocaust. You heard she heard some interesting things along the way, so Zaretsky provides us with some interesting context for how the whole system functioned outside of the school itself. He was a private referral sent to Alan by a doctor named Marvin Schwartz. Marvin's nickname was Mr Adolescent, Illinois, which is one of the worst nicknames I've heard about in my life. He is said to have single handedly built along with his private referrals. Schwartz was a friend and colleague of Doctor Davidson, and he received a kickback for every child he sent to a lawn. We now know that. Doctors are risky. Was only wrong in his statement that Schwartz built Elan single handedly. Doctor Davidson was also responsible for referrals, and there were a whole network of other psychiatrists, like Doctor Schwartz who knew Doctor did. He would basically go to his friends in other States and be like, hey, I got this school. Every time you send a kid to us, I'll kick you a few 100 bucks, you know? That's that's how. Yeah, that's how this place works. And it's just multi level marketing for, you know, exactly, yeah. And the same you know, very similar models now. And one of the most ****** ** things about the work of those Illinois investigators is that like ultimately you could argue it helped the school because it brought them a bunch of press and they were able to defend themselves. Journalists went to them for they were able to make statements in their defense and a lot of people decided, oh, sounds like this tough love approach works like it's just some weak liberals in the Illinois State don't want it to keep going. So they got. So they got more? Yeah, they got money. Yeah, and they got to make statements like this to the press and this is Doctor Davidson speaking to the corrections magazine in 1979 about the Illinois investigation. What happened was we got some conventional middle-aged mental health workers who saw certain things they did not understand. The other thing was that the Governor of Illinois at the time was a self-righteous guy. He was trying to make political hay by bringing all the juveniles back to the state. They were disruptive. They were disrupting things, asking kids, why do you obey? Now, in the same interview, Joe Ritchie was asked about the Illinois team and he claimed it was a raid. From the start they were very unprofessional. They got drunk at one meal and then came back to Alan to work. I didn't like that. Richie would also claim, accurately, that three of the kids removed from Alan by Illinois eventually fled back to the Elan School. He claimed this was evidence that the program helped those kids. I think it was more evidence that when you abuse someone enough, they can't exist outside of the system of abuse that you built for them, which is why so many kids went to work there as adults. Because you break people in such a way that they can't exist outside of this weird little society you've built in your school, yeah? Would be my argument now. This does, however, bring us to a very valid question. Is there any evidence that Alan's program worked? That 1979 Corrections magazine article notes that at the time it was written, a lawn had only been doing follow up checks on former residents for two years. They claimed that of the 500 people who'd been admitted to a lawn at that .326 had been tracked down. Of these hundred, of these, 190 had graduated the program. 78% of these people had stayed out of trouble with the law on that strength. Logan claimed that nearly 80% of their graduates were successful, right? 80% success rate, basically. Now that's a lie based on their own data. Because they tracked down 326 kids, right? 190 graduate, and they say 78% of these people stayed out of trouble with the law that makes it a success. But 136 of them didn't graduate and only 26% of those kids were arrested or jailed again, which means dropouts had an identical success rate to graduates, basically. So number one, that makes it seem like maybe it had nothing, you know, whether or not you graduate. The law school didn't have anything to do about your success, but Corrections magazine and their write up gave further reasons to doubt that data. Alan's recidivism figures are so low, especially given the fact that many of their referrals are from state, from state agencies or ******** delinquents, that most researchers would find them suspicious. Perhaps one explanation is that most of the follow up was done by questionnaire without any attempt to confirm the information the former resident supplied through official records. Of the 12 states who refer children to a law, and only four have ever done any follow up. And that was limited and informal. Maryland, Rhode Island, Oregon, and Vermont surveyed a total of 71 former Alan residents. They found that 1217. Percent of them were in jail, 17 were working or in school, and 42 were in the words of 1, official living, marginal lives that included some petty crime, frequent unemployment and overuse of alcohol or drugs. So that doesn't sound like a great success rate to me. It also, again, they're basing this whole no trouble with the law that they're basing. 80% of our students went on to have, you know, law abiding lives based on self reporting from those students rather than actually confirming anything. All of their data is ******** basically. There's no evidence that. Who helped any? There's no evidence this school helped anyone. Obviously individuals will say it helped me, but there's no evidence that, like as a population, Alan students were less likely to commit crimes or have drug abuse problems than any other group of kids in a similar situation. It's almost like it's a total crock of sadistic **** that wasn't intended to do anything except make money just to child abuse factory. Rhode Island sent a team of investigators to Alan who were horrified to find that not only did the business lack a board of directors, it lacked any oversight mechanism to review tactics or employee behavior. The investigators talked to Doctor Davidson and were shocked to find out that he spent no time at the facility and was unable to provide answers about stuff like the ring. There were three MA psychologists on staff, but all were recent hires who, like Doctor Davidson, knew nothing about how the school functioned on a daily basis. And some students will claim that, like, those people were very. Were protected from knowing anything about the school. They were brought in to do therapy sessions and like you never got to do therapy alone. There would always be a student watching you. So if you said anything, you would get punished. So you would only tell, yeah, exactly. They would do this for every visit. You're talking to your parents on the phone. Someone's listening. They'll disconnect it if you say anything bad is going on. We'll talk more about that later. 60% of former residents were found to were later found to have been arrested for criminal violations. They noted that this was likely to be a conservative. Estimate of failure because criminal records did not reflect child abuse, neglect, mental health, institutionalization, or a variety of other factors. So Rhode Island finds 60% of former Alan residents go on to be arrested for something and that more are probably having some sort of issue. It's just wasn't reflected by the criminal justice system because they were beating their own kids, right? Like, that's literally what the state says. None of these investigations did anything to stop Joe Ritchie or Doctor Davidson for becoming millionaires. Joe and his wife. Hairy bottom mansion they got all the status symbols of success, a bunch of fancy cars. But the wealthier Joe gets, and the more expansive the Alan School becomes, the more abusive and deranged he gets in his own relationship. I'm going to quote from Duck and a raincoat again. Here in his marriage, Richie began employing the techniques he used at a lawn. If his wife annoyed her, angered him, she'd be punished. 1 Punishment was embarrassment and humiliation in the presence of other staff members. According to one former staffer, he'd shoot her down in a long term to describe the taking of authority. Away from someone who had misused it by humiliating her at staff meetings or he'd purposely exclude her from decision making and instructing people not to tell her something. At first we were led to believe that they had the perfect marriage, a former resident recalled. But after a while, it was apparent to some of us that it was far from it. Sometimes Richie would disappear, and when Sherry called Alan to find him, he wouldn't speak to her once she was informed that he'd taken a blonde social worker with him to Las Vegas. Yeah, there's a lot to say about like, his kind of sexual relationships. It doesn't seem like he mostly wanted to ****. It was just kind of a power thing. He wanted these young women around doing what he was saying. I don't know. Richie would insist on forcing attractive female residents of Alan to ask act as babysitters for his children. If Sherry complained, he would call her neurotic. One of these nannies later admitted to burning their son with a cigarette. When Sherry complained, Ricky told Richie told her that the the staff member had changed or the resident had changed and he wasn't being fair to her by not giving her another chance. Oh my God, he's a weird. Yeah. Cool. So Sherry had a number of nervous breakdowns for which she was hospitalized in 1976 while she was in recovery. Joe showed up to present her with a diamond and a sapphire necklace in full view of the nurses in order to, like, make the nurses. So the nurses wouldn't believe anything she'd say about him being abusive. Because looking part of this necklace, he's the dream house. I mean, yeah, this looks like the husband of the year. I mean, those are chocolate diamonds by Jane Seymour. Yeah, like, we're mostly going to focus on the Alan. School here. And not Richie's personal life, but he's just a comprehensively abusive person. Right. So you know who isn't a comprehensively abusive person? Unless it's a Koch brothers act. Yeah. Or, I don't know, Volkswagen kind of gas lit all of us with the like, literally. Actually with the diesel. With the diesel stuff. Yeah. So unless it's one of those here, yeah, everything's fine. Mint Mobile offers premium wireless starting at just 15 bucks a month. And now for the plot twist. Nope, there isn't one. Mint Mobile just has premium wireless from 15 bucks a month. There's no trapping you into a two year contract. You're opening the bill to find all these nuts fees. There's no luring you in with free subscriptions or streaming services that you'll forget to cancel and then be charged full price for none of that. For anyone who hates their phone Bill, Mint Mobile offers premium wireless for just $15.00 a month. 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And the shocking discovery I made where I faced the consequences of writing a book I thought would help people? Isn't that funny? It's not funny at all. It's depressing. Very depressing. Religious history is back with more. Listen to revisionist history on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. I've never seen less enthusiasm for a great idea in my life. Hey, it's Rick Schwartz, one of your hosts for San Diego Zoo's Amazing Wildlife podcast. In this special episode, we sit down with Doctor Jane Goodall to hear her inspiring thoughts on how we can create a better future for humans, animals and the environment. Don't help them find ways of making a living without destroying the environment. We can't save chimps, forests or anything else, and that becomes very clear when you look at poverty around the world. If you're living in poverty, you can't afford to ask as we can. Did this product harm the environment? Was it cruel to animals like, was it factory farmed? Is it cheap because of unfair wages paid to people? And so alleviating poverty is tremendously important. Listen to amazing wildlife on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. We're back. So Sherry started going to therapy and came to accept how ****** ** Joe Ritchie was and how unhealthy their marriage had become. By 1978, they'd filed for divorce. The following year, Joe bought a nearby racetrack. The details of this transaction are sketchy as hell, and it seems like he was involved with the mob. The FBI certainly thought he was also. At one point the racetrack burnt down conveniently and he made a bunch of money burner race track down. Just like this stain. Yeah, whatever. OK, yeah, there's some sort of. Anyway, we're not gonna dwell too much on that. I wanna tell a couple of stories of other kids who were sent to the Allan School. First, let's talk about Phil Newell. In 1981, Phil's father beat their mother, his ex-wife, nearly to death, with a pipe. She spent the next 28 years almost insensate in a nursing home. Phil and his sister became wards of the state and were sent first to a foster home. By 1982, Phil had grown into a sweet but troubled teen, his sister later recalled. He was beautiful. All the girls liked him. And I remember I used to get mad because that was my brother and I didn't want any girls around him. We were close. We were really close. But he also dealt with fits of anger, which is very understandable and expected from a kid whose mom was beaten so badly by his dad that he had to become a ward of the state, right? Of course you're gonna have some anger issues, and he mostly hurt himself. He would slam his head into walls, and such migraines seemed to be a trigger for his violence. He had horrible migraines, and at one point during a migraine, he swung his foster brother by the ankles into a couch like he just has a fit and he attacks his foster brother. Not a serious injury, but he gets sent to a youth center as a result of this, and when that didn't work. State sent him to the Elan school, his sister continues. Quote we were told Alan was a step up from the youth center because he got transferred and that he was doing well and that everything was going good and that he was going to come home. He came home in a box. So God, at the time when he dies and, like, I think it's 76, is when he dies, she's told that it was an aneurysm, which is, I mean, it wasn't enough. She was just told that he had an aneurysm while he was at the school. And that's what she believed for 33 years, that he had just had a freak aneurysm at this normal school until in 2016, a former Alan resident named Mark Babbitt tracked her down. And I'm going to quote from the Sun Journal here, he tracked down Newell and put her on the phone with a witness who said Phil didn't. Collapse. One day, as the family had been told, he'd been forced into a lawns infamous boxing ring and beaten by other teenagers because he complained of a headache. The witness saw Phil collapse, spasm and turned blue. Eventually staff took him away. He was dead within a day. Now, the Sun Journal spoke with that witness in another, and although some of the details differ, their stories are essentially the same. And it turns out that stories of Phil's death had begun circulating online and communities of Alan survivors starting in 2003. The first reference to his death came from a friend of his who said that on Christmas weekend, Phil was forced to go 3 rounds in the ring before he passed out and started vomiting. He lay on the floor for an hour before being given medical attention. Another former student, Anne Bowen, gave a slightly different story. She agrees that they thought he was. Regulating the system by pretending to have a headache, so they put them in the ring. And basically the only difference with her argument is that, like, she thinks, she doesn't recall him passing out. At first he was just like walked away from the ring having like head issues, and then eventually went into the ring for having a migraine. Yeah, he went to the ring for having a migraine, was beaten and died soon after. Yeah, and again, possible he would have died without the ring, but also possible that if, for example, they treated his migraines seriously, he might have gotten medical care or something. Or at least wouldn't have had his last experience before death. Getting beaten by a bunch of children in a ring. Yeah. So there was an investigation into Phil's death, but it occurred so late and five years after Alan itself closed that nothing conclusive came of it. It is worth noting that this network of former students who are the reason that his sister finds out about this, we're eventually what brings the Alan school down. They start to organize and like the early 2000s and whatnot, and carry out a campaign to to report this place. It was a long process, like killing the Allan School, and it took years and years and years to do. Meanwhile, throughout the 80s and 90s, a law and saw hundreds and hundreds of new students. Joe Ritchie Gantt ran for governor of Maine several times. He never quite pulled it off, but he was very influential in the state. Research for this episode was actually sparked by a graphic novel I found online called Joe Versus Elon School. It was written by a former student who goes by Joe nobody. He went to a lawn in the 1990s. I really recommend his story to everyone. It's a fascinating graphic novel, and it gives a lot of context on how this school had evolved by that point. The electric sauce was gone by then, and safety gear in the ring was at least more common, but the whole experience was just as brutal. Solitary confinement had been added to the repertoire, and kids could be sentenced to months of being forced to live and sleep within the confines of a space roughly the size of a broom closet. The goal was to break you, because solitary confinement does that to people, so you'd be desperate enough to yield to the program just to get human contact. Again, in fact, over the course of the 1980s, the strict hierarchy of jobs within a lawn evolved for a dual purpose. It existed to police behavior and ensured that everyone was watching everyone else, and it existed to encourage people to buy into the system by working for better positions in order to get more privileges. For more on that, I want to quote from a Reddit post I found from a former student. Education was considered a right, but those of us who earned the right were still robbed of an education. School was from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM no homework, no test, no projects. Example, math class consisted of grabbing a math book and handing the teacher at least one page of work. You're supposed to read through the book and, like, write a page of stuff. Like, it was never graded. It was never, you didn't learn anything, right? It was all like, basically pantomime. We have to have these kids in a room with, like, a teacher who just, I don't know, it's probably an alcoholic living in the middle of nowhere and isn't going to. Care yeah right now the other 12 hours of the day consisted of constant conditioning and brainwashing. In the beginning you obviously rejected it, but then you would be dealt with. You would not be able to rise through the ranks of the program to earn more rights until you could prove yourself to be a good candidate for more brainwashing. Eventually it became your responsibility to begin indoctrinating the newer residents. Basically you six months later or six months earlier you had strength and non strength. Non strengths were not allowed to talk, interact or communicate in any way with other non strengths. It took a minimum of six months to earn the title of strength. It took some kids years to earn strength. Some kids never did. Elan made money based on the amount of time it took for you to graduate the program. You had to have a minimum of seven promotions before you were a candidate for graduation. Each promotion took a minimum of three months, and 90% of the kids never made it past the 5th promotion. These kids had to wait until they turned 18 and could legally sign themselves out. Other kids stayed past their 18th birthday, which is a true testament to the effectiveness of the brainwashing. I remember one dude was 23 and some of them didn't have a choice. This wasn't all. I'm washing if you're sent there at 17 or 16 because you broke a law. If you don't graduate, you go to prison, right? So you and and they can keep you there as long as they want because they decide when you're ready to graduate, right? Unless you. And then again, just like even with incarcerated people, it's like if you're treated a certain way, sometimes you know no other way to live except within there. And and keeping kids after age 18 wasn't only a manner of brainwashing. Joe, who wrote that graphic novel, did eventually yield to the program after escaping what he escaped at one point to and got to as far as New York City before being captured, and he spent months in solitary after that. So he eventually just buys into the program because he can't stand how miserable his life is in solitary, right? Like he has to now. His plan was to sign himself out when he turned 18. He didn't care about graduating, but before that day came, he had a call with his parents. Now I should note. That according to Joe and other students, phone calls and visits with parents were tightly controlled. They would end the call. If you seem to be about to say anything negative about the Alan School, Elan administrators carefully choreographed parent visits and coached parents ahead of time, preparing them for the idea that their child might lie to get out of a program that they desperately needed to be in. Of course, if, you know, students could have visits back home with their families if they earned them, but during those visits, higher strength students were sent with them to police their behaviour. So you're never alone with your parents and have a chance to convince them of what's being done to you. So Joe's about to turn 18 and he gets a call from his parents and they've been talking to the administrator who says he's doing great but that he really needs to graduate the program. And they tell him if you leave when you turn 18, we'll cut you off from any financial assistance, any college funds, whatever. Because. We love you, and we've been told this is best for you. By the way, Joe was sent to Alan because at 16, he and some friends got arrested with weed. Like, ****. I'm going to talk more about Joe story in a bit, but before we get to that, I want to read you the story of another of another student, Tatiana Kharam attended a loan from 1996 to 1998. And in her case, the fact that she was sent there by her parents was the result of a tragic error from the New York Times, quote Miss Karam, a student at the Northeastern University in Boston. Said she was sent to a loan from her home in Dubai after her parents, who were looking for an American school that would shelter her from Western sexual mores, saw a school brochure featuring idyllic photographs of the outdoors and students on horseback. At one point, when her parents sent a fax to the school saying they planned to pick up their daughter, Miss Karam said she was pressured to call them and ask for more time at the school. When she refused, a school official called her parents and told them their daughter was not ready to leave. It was only after she left her alone, Miss Karam said, that she was able to give them the details. My mother, when she found out what happened, was so disgusted, Miss Karam said. She tells me she's sorry all the time. Like that was just a freak nightmare accident and her case like. Jesus, they got just do. Yeah. It's like they're not they're not Americans, like, they don't they can't vet it, maybe as much. They don't speak the language. They they think they're doing the nice thing for their kid. She wipes up there. Yeah. She she backs up a lot of the details about like phone calls, being monitored and all of that stuff. Now, one of the things that's amazing about Joe's story is that he escaped for a while now. Alan had an intricate system to stop escapees. They had men in the woods waiting for people who might flee. But Joe got away. He actually dirt. He went on a visit with his parents and another kid, and he maced his parents and the other kid and ******* ran for it. Oh my God. Wait, and you're saying there are people just stationed in the perimeter? Yeah, like in like a hunting blind. All kind of, yeah. Here to sweep up any runaways? Yeah. Yep, holy ****. So he gets a he escapes and he like, he's like in the woods and he finds a guy and there's a couple of cases. There's another dude in a documentary who escaped into the woods and met like. A like a a a crazy hermit out there who had just been living off grid and like, this guy just adopted him and taught him. And now the and now that dude, the kid who escaped, is like a wilderness survival instructor. Like, he just lost. Like spent years living alone with this guy in the woods of Maine, outside of civilization. Escaping? Yeah. He's in a documentary called The Last Stop. It's ******* amazing. Like, he's just like, yeah, I was just lost in the woods that I meet this guy who's, like, living off the land, and he just teaches me how, which is actually rad. Yeah. And, like, in my mind, like, that guy had also escaped, like, anyone school and like, but you're and they've got their own civilization. Understand? Young, young man. I'll give you the skills to live out here. What a ****. Yeah. Three now. So Joe gets away and he's in the woods, and he probably would have gotten caught again, but he found there's this drifter in a van who drives up and like, the way Joe recalls his during his graphic novel, he's like certain he's going to be raped, and this guy's, like, is clearly doing a drug deal. Like, they stop in Boston, pick up a huge bag of something, and then the guy has a bunch of cash. But like, the guy, the guy, like, again, Joe is like, really worried about this guy at 1st and thinks, like something horrible is going to happen. But the dude just winds up giving him a bunch of cash and saying. Like, like, good luck. Don't get, you know, caught again. Like, apparently just like a nice man who was just doing some drug smuggling but realized this kid's in a bad place and need some help. So he made it to New York City. But after a day or so, he gets spotted by employees of the Daytop school because Joe Ritchie had put out a BOLO for his missing student, and he gets kidnapped again and dragged back to Maine. He was literally, like, trussed up in the back of a van. And at one point, when they get back into main, they stop at a gas station and he gets the attention of a cop. Who immediately assumes this is a kidnapping and like starts to, like, try to arrest the guys for kidnapping him. But Joe claims that the men kidnapping him gave the gave the call the cop Joe Ritchie's name, and the officer's attitude completely changed, right? Because this guy is a millionaire. He's bought a lot of politicians in the area. Now, I can't tell you that Joe Ritchie was bribing the cops, because I don't know that he was. But that's what this kid claims and that like the cop. And there's there's others. There's at least one story, a ****** ** story, of a cop encountering an Alan runaway and is this guy Max Ashburn, this police Lieutenant, like, picks this kid up. And he'd been hearing ****** ** stories about the Allan School for years from, like, former inmates and from just people in the area and had been kind of sketched out by it, but like also couldn't do anything about it because again, they're a very powerful force in the community. He picks this kid up at this runaway, and he's supposed to hand this kid back to the Alan School. Legally, that's his job. But he's so horrified by this kid's story that he drives the kid to a truck stop and hands them off to a random group of truckers. And it's just like someone here will take you away. That's the best thing this police Lieutenant can think to do, is like, I'm just gonna hand the kid to some truckers. It's better than sending him back to a lot in school. What a ******* binary to choose between. Yeah, which suggests that this guy assumed there was nothing that law the law was going to do about this, right? Like, even in your capacity as a Lieutenant? Yeah, my best option is hand this kid to random truck drivers. I don't know, these truck drivers seemed nice enough. So Joe ritchie's. Story does not get a lot happier after the 90s. At least he does that. That's I guess the good thing is he is is pretty miserable. It seems his drug abuse seems to become an increasing problem. At one point he has like this. He goes on a rant over the PA system at his horse track against a main racing official. He sued three times for sexual harassment and once for threatening to kill a female employee. He dies in 2001 at age 54. The harm caused by a lawn lives on, and it's here. I should note that you can find a number of people again who will say that the school helped them. More common are people who will say the program made them into the person they are today, but also left them with lasting trauma. And Joe's story, which I really recommend reading in Joe versus Alan School, makes it clear that this could teach children very specific kinds of strength and coping strategies. You get smart in a very specific way to survive a place like this. They're not necessarily good for living in the rest of the world. Now, I've made a conscious choice not to read any of the positive stories about Alan here, for a couple of reasons. They are dwarfed, absolutely buried by the horror stories. And two, I don't think the fact that some kids later were like, I think I'd benefited from this experience makes it less criminal. I do want to cite, before we go, the story of Stephen Smith. He was 15 years old when a Connecticut social worker sent him to Alan. He'd been a ward of the state since age 6, when his mom was convicted of armed robbery. Stephen was sent to a lawn after his neighbor kicked his dog, and he responded by shooting him in the **** with a pellet gun. His social worker gave him the choice of jail or a lawn, which she framed as a summer camp in the woods. From the beginning, he had trouble with the Elan system and was subjected to numerous haircuts and general meetings. Quote, they asked. They'd asked me if I hated my mother. They'd read my file in front of everyone in the group, things about my mother and her criminal record. I didn't dig that, so I just didn't say anything. Then when I shut up, they accused me of intimidating, the group said. Was doing some violent act against group members for not opening up. So everyone once in awhile they'd set up a general meeting and then throw me in the boxing ring until I lost. I tried to run away all the time. It's the only thing I ever did. Tried to run away every chance I got. I tried about 7 times but they always caught me because they had this posse that would go out and be rewarded by Richie if they caught someone trying to run away. Now Stephen Smith said that the first time he met Joe was at a general meeting called by a staff member named Jeff Gottlieb. Here's what he said about that day Richie came in and I was called out. Along with a girl named Nancy and another girl, Marie, two guys, Ray and Johnny, and another kid named Sean. We were all sitting around a table and Ritchie announced we have some cancer in this House, and any good surgeon knows the way to get rid of cancer is to cut it out before it spreads. Then he called us all up in front of the house and asked for everyone if they had any feelings for us. Then, Richie says. Now we're going to put you upstairs in one of the rooms. It was a room about the size of a cell. They boarded up the windows and the door and locked it, Richie said. Whatever goes on in there goes on. It was July. I know it was in July because it was my 16th birthday. The next day it was horrible. Six of us all stuck in there together. The guys, Ray and Johnny, would take turns beating each other. Ray would pound his head until he got tired, and then they'd take turns having sex with the two girls. One of them didn't care, but the other girl didn't want to, but they made her. Sean and Ray would keep her food, and that's how they got her. The day I turned 16, I mentioned it was my birthday. Sean picked me up and said, oh, it's your birthday. I have something to give you. He started to hit me in the face and stuff, and then while he raped me in there. My God, yeah. There are other stories of rape. There are other stories of rape at the Alan School. I'm not going to just go through and read them all. What I do want to read is so Steven later gets arrested, he goes to prison as an adult, right? And when he was interviewed by the author of Duck and a raincoat, he was asked how Alan School compared to maximum security prison, which is where he was incarcerated at the time of the interview. Quote alone's much worse here. There's a lot of **** but I get a chance for some solitude to read and I'm going to college and I've also gotten to learn woodworking and make some money in the prison. Store and a lawn. There was nothing positive. It was pure hell. You know, the worst thing is the judge that sentenced me there for 10 years, lectured me, censured me here for 10 years, lectured to me, telling me I blew the opportunity. I had it alone. I don't understand how the courts can legitimize a guy like Ritchie, who has harmed so many mixed up kids. What the ****? Yeah, now there's also yeah. I mean, it's pretty bad, right, miles? Not great. And he's just ******* out here still? No, he dies in 2001. Yeah, I think I I think the thing cut out. Yeah, he dies in 2001. The school shuts down in 2011. After the last ten years or so, it's it's gradually degrading. There's a campaign from a bunch of former students to shut it down and like the state of New York does, like goes after them to for to some extent. Like it's a process, but it finally closes its doors in 2011. Yeah, uh, and there's, you know, there's more. If there's so much more, dude. Like, there's stories that Joe Ritchie and other staff slept with teenage girls that were incarcerated at the school. Like, obviously he did **** like that. It's just a bottom, bottomless well of horror. I think it's best to end with a quote from Stephen Smith, which I think acts as a fine eulogy both for Joe Ritchie and for the Alan School. The most important thing is that the truth comes out about Richie. He has no business screwing up kids and making a fortune doing it. The state takes kids. Messed up families, but they put them in places worse. If I was not messed up before I got to Alan, I certainly was afterwards. Good stuff. Yeah. And I think. Yeah. Important to keep in mind that we still have things like this. Oh yeah. There's a ton of other schools like, into now. Yeah, there's still the. The teen troubled teen industry is a huge business. Every year there's a bill thrown into Congress to try to regulate it, and every year the Republicans make sure that nobody's going to be voting on that ************. Because Yep, how do you feel, miles? Ohh man, thoroughly ****** to be honest. But I think I more than anything I think it gives some layer of context to understanding like these schools that exist like and what that this is part. It's not just sort of like it doesn't end with this thing we just talked about like we're this is still continuing. So in a way, I'm in a very broad sense. I'm grateful for the awareness that I have on the subject. Hmm. But it's doesn't make it any less completely horrifying. Yeah, it's good stuff. I don't know, miles, what are you, what are you, what do you do about this industry? Like, how do you actually, I don't know. It it just feels hopeless because there's there's so many people have a vested financial interest in it continuing to exist. And this like culture of like coercion and power that we exist in, like it's just it allows for that sort of dimension of our culture, like manifest and like the ugliest ******* way, too. I I mean, honestly, I feel like more than anything. People. I think we just need to be comparing everything to this school so people have an idea of like truly like what it means to help someone. Not in like the sense that you got from like your grandparents who were like mainlining, like Kellogg books and like that kind of philosophy and actually like what it means for someone to develop what you know cycles and patterns of abuse look like and. Had to interrupt those and end those, but. Yeah, I don't know. I mean, I'll just stick to smoking weed and talking about reality TV. Yeah. And I think I'm, yeah. I don't know. I don't know. It's just, you know, I I started to make kind of like my bones in journalism. Some of the first stories I did were with, like, people who had gone to these these teams back when I was still working at cracked, these teen, troubled teen schools and. It just keeps going on right, like it it's been, it's, it's. The central problem, like the Elan school, is fascinating because you've got this uniquely ****** ** guy and he builds this uniquely ****** ** system for abusing children. But the whole reason why it's able to exist at all is there's this broad agreement with a lot of people in American culture that it would be fundamentally evil to take away a parent's right to choose absolutely everything for their child, and that that child doesn't get a say, but the parent is the sovereign of their child. And I think that's bad. I don't think parents should be the unquestioned sovereign of children. I don't think the state should be either. I don't entirely know what the solution to this is, but clearly there are problems with the way we do it. Yeah, I mean, at the very least, you can you can fundamentally create laws or at least guardrails to what you cannot do, or things that we can all agree on that a child should not experience, no matter what the prerogative is of a parent. Like I'm me. I'm certainly not saying we should give the state more. Power over kids instead of the parents. But we should, we should limit parents power, certainly to do this right. Could we agree, like you don't have the right to hire men to kidnap your children into the woods, right, and then turn a blind eye to abuse because for whatever reason you feel that that's the solution to your inability to do something or whatever. Maybe the yeah it's all yeah it's it's very complex, but so simple at the same time because most people can say children do not deserve. Any kind of existence like that, yeah, absolutely. No one does like, yeah, I wouldn't be supportive of this. If I thought we should have prisons, I wouldn't want them to work this way. Because this is not rehabilitating people. This is just hurting them and making them more dangerous to everyone, I think because you know, we to to to address this, we'd fundamentally have to address like a lot of these societal ills that we have like that are deeply ingrained in our psyches and our culture and. That's what it takes. It takes this, like, tremendous reckoning to have to say, like, you know, we're still manifesting these cycles of abuse. Infinitely. In every single way and like it. It's weird that we can find these rationalizations in our minds, whether it's like you broke the law, quote UN quote. And that's why you deserve this, or a parent is the one who decides what's best for their children. You mind your child, I'll mind mine. I'll mind mine. Sort of thing that, you know, will. It keeps going on. But yeah, I mean, I keep. I think the ultimate solution, miles, is that. We should adopt nationwide myprogram of hollowing out the center of the United States, take all children away from their parents and make them live in the middle of the country's a big open air child prison where they just grow feral and either survive or or, you know, thrive. Based on their their skills, they conform. Crude facts, Tik T.O.K views. No, no Internet, nothing but like sharpened sticks and bows and arrows. That's where I'm that's where we got a little more modern take. See, and this is where people are seeing the schism in the zoom lady called where you believe. The massive crater in the middle should be technologically free. Mine should be technologically advanced and tick tock based. Well, I think Tik T.O.K will come into mine when when they turn 18, they have to be brought back into society and adults get to hunt them on helicopters and you can put that on Tik T.O.K shooting kids with dart guns as and they run in their feral packs and then dragging them back to San Bernardino where they work as accountants for four years before being declared adults. We can talk about dentists, we can talk miles. But Miles, it's time for it's time for your plugable. Me ohg. Good. Goodness me. Yeah. Look, check me out talking news on daily zeitgeist everyday with your former coworker at Cracker Jack O'Brien. And you know, if you like weed and 90 day fiance, check out my reality show podcast. 420 day fiance with Sophie Alexandra. Yeah, that's always a good time. That's not the only bummer is we have or maybe some of the bad accents will do sometimes, but. Times over there. Well, well, that's, that's, that's, that's that is the episode. Hello, I'm Erica Kelly from the podcast Southern Fried True crime, and if you want to go from podcast fan to podcast host, do what I did and check out spreaker from iheart. I was working in accounting and hating it. Then after just 18 months of podcasting with Spreaker, I was able to quit my day job. Follow your podcasting dreams. Let's break our handle the hosting, creation, distribution, and monetization of your podcast. Go to That's SP. RE Hey there, it's Ebony Monet, your co-host for the San Diego Zoo's Amazing Wildlife podcast. In this special episode, we're speaking with Doctor Jane Goodall about the fascinating journey that led to her impactful behavioural discoveries on chimpanzees. It wasn't until one of the chimpanzees began to lose his fear of me, but I began to really make discoveries that actually shook the scientific world. Life on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. In the 1980s and 90s, a psychopath terrorized the country of Belgium. A serial killer and kidnapper was abducting children in the bright light of day. From Tenderfoot TV and iHeartRadio, this is La Monstra, a story of abomination and conspiracy. The story about the man who simply become known as. La monster. Listen for free on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.