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).

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another alternative, which is very cost effective is to use a parent support group in your area. There are a lot of support groups which provide classes, tips and other suggestions to help out your teen. This is a great place to start and will also help provide you with ideas.

Counselors sent us a list of some of the support groups they were familiar with. We wanted to compile a list, but we noted that such a list has already been compiled by Parenting Teens. In some cases, a few states are still missing and we will try and complete the list on that site.

To find a support group in your area, click here.

If you have additional questions, please forward them to us and we will send it out to our counselors.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Alternative 1

We will be posting a list of alternatives to the miserable boot camp, known as Victory Forge. We will then be providing a brief write-up on some of them.

The one alternative that has garnered rave reviews for the counselors who we have been talking to, is run by a foundation called "The Starr Foundation". They run several schools in Michigan and Ohio which are part of the Starr Commonwealth. We ran a brief query of news story on this organization and it appears that local government officials and MI and OH senators visit these locations frequently to get a first hand look at the potential. President Elect Obama has also stated his admiration for this place. We talked to some of the people running this program and they are professional, grounded and have NO past history of run-ins with the authority. Now that is a refreshing change. We also had a parent visit one of the locations and they reported back to us that the grounds were beautiful and looked like something out of a well manicured golf course. The housing is first rate and the children are not placed into a tiny little house. They have the opportunity to be free but disciplined and guided. A stark contrast to the little house on Biltmore crammed with children.

For more information, go to the Starr Commonwealth website. You can see pictures of the place and get a good idea of what a place for troubled teen should look like.

If you have information on this or other schools, please send them our way.

Laughing all the way to the bank

Our sources have informed us that Alan and his wife have been stating that the best thing to happen to them was that the DCF started investigating their school. This forced the parents to remove the children.

To see why these Weierman's have been so happy, consider the math. Assume there were 20 children in school right before the DCF started their investigations. Each of then paid, at a minimum $28,600. Let's assume for the sake for brevity (Alan, that means being brief - try it sometime!), that the average time that these students spent at Victory Forge was 6 months. Meaning that they had 6 months left. Do the math - the Weierman's pocketed about $200,000 of unearned income - this is money that was prepaid by the parents that was not used on the children. So what happened to this cash? Only the Weierman's know and they are not telling.

My guess is that it was not used for school purposes. Looking into the money trail to see where that may lead us as well. Alan, you can run but you cannot hide. If Bernie Madoff can be caught, you are a petty little wannabe compared to him.

Anybody have any ideas on what Alan and Molly did with all this cash?? Any guesses?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Alternatives to this Prison

We will now begin a series of posts helping parents find alternatives to Victory Forge. This institution has been accused, time and time again, of child abuse. I guess the old saying still holds, "where there is smoke there is fire". In many cases, think of this - "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me". The Weiermans have done a fantastic job of fooling parents and the community, but the truth is being exposed. Here is part 1 of alternatives:

Most troubled adolescents have underlying emotional and behavioral problems that are rarely addressed in military-style boot camps. Boot camps are about discipline, deferring to authority, and saying, "Yes, Sir!," often in response to pointless directives. Does running miles on a muddy track carrying a log teach the same thing as cooperating with peers in creating a camp fire so you will can cook a meal and be warm at night?

Therapeutic programs that combine therapy, the teaching of survival skills, and the impact of the natural environment create more profound, lasting changes in struggling adolescents.
Boot camps, even more juvenile offenders, have a history of problems, from accusations of abusive staff to poor training that has led to serious incidents and even death of their adolescent participants.

Therapeutic Wilderness Program teach:
- Respect of authority

- Self-DisciplineCooperation
- Responsibility
- Self-Esteem
- Self-confidence

Military-Style Boot Camp teach:
- Fear of authority

- Doing "as told"
- Obedience
- Repression
- Resentment

Source: CRC Health Group

Friday, October 31, 2008

Still Here

No, we have not wandered away. We are still here, busy with our day time jobs and creating a new website. The web developer has been busy with other projects, so things have slowed down a little on that end. Since we are underpaying the web developer, we only think it is fair for him to concentrate on other jobs that pay him his full rate. We also have been receiving a steady flow of emails from all sorts of people - thanks for that. Interestingly, we have been getting a few emails from prospective parents asking us for more information on VF. We will be happy to provide them with our opinions and perspective. What bothers us is that VF is on their propaganda streak yet again, but this time their venom is reserved for this blog. For example:
  • They have been telling people that we do not publish anything positive about Victory Forge or the Colonel. If there was something positive to publish, we would. We did receive 2 emails from supporters of VF, but they were laced with obscenities or non-factual information and we did not think it was appropriate to publish them. If VF has proof they want to provide to refute any of the comments or allegations posted here, we will be more than happy to publish them. But of course, those people do a better job of lying than providing information. We have given VF and the fake Colonel ample opportunities to defend themselves, but they have not. We have point blank asked them for information, and they have not provided it to us. So beware of their manipulative tactics. These are the people you are entrusting your children to.

We have also been asked to recommend alternatives to Victory Forge for parents who are at wits end about disciplining their children. While we are not experts at that, we have forwarded those queries to legitimate counselors in the community and asked them for suggestions. We will post their recommendations once we get them.

In the meantime, if readers have suggestions for potential parents looking for VF alternatives, please let us know.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Manifesto for Change at Victory Forge

To mitigate the lies being propagated by Alan Weierman, here in a summary format is what many parents, former students, and residents of PSL want to accomplish. A few others are taking a different approach, but it may behoove the folks who run Victory Forge to pay heed to this.

  1. The Weierman’s should acknowledge that there are major changes that need to be made to the way that they run this business (yes, it is still a business). Time and time again, the same accusations are made against them. An intelligent person would make structural changes to avert the allegations from re-surfacing. Al Weierman has done no such thing and stubbornly refuses to even acknowledge that there is any truth to any of the allegations. Al, implement a strict procedure which prohibits all activities you and your ilk have been accused of. It is that simple.
  2. Open the school to regulatory bodies who should be allowed to make spot checks and ascribe to a preamble that prohibits child abuse – physical or mental. Hire trained individuals instead of those off the street making minimum wages. These people have no training whatsoever in behavioral sciences and make the problem worse. In addition, nepotism should be prohibited as your children may not be the ideal instructors as they themselves have had no training and may be guilty of abuse. The difference, you will fire outsiders but protect insiders.
  3. Stop spreading lies that parents are extorting money from you. The money belongs to the parents who pre-paid for their son’s education - education that was never completed. So now if they want a portion of their money back, it is NOT called extortion. Actually, you are stealing from the parents because you have taken their money and refused to provide the services promised. But of course, you don’t hear the parents telling the world that you are a thief. Discuss with parents and figure out a reasonable solution to the monetary problem. You do not want to fight parents who are in the right. You do no good to the school or yourself.
  4. Once you have accomplished 1-3 above, then you can work to see what has been done on the legislative and PR front to bring the plight of those abused by your school to the forefront. In addition, when 1-3 are accomplished, I would think that parents would be more open to supporting the place and the activities of a school of this sort.

Again, parents have been in touch with FL legislators and have gained tremendous support from the Governor’s Office and FL AG’s office, not to mention several senators. In addition, a lot of information has been collected that has not been made public to us, but a few parents are holding this to make available at the appropriate time. We are trying to get some of that to post on our website which is still in development.

Al, your arrogance and antagonistic behavior is the reason why the tide has and continues to turn against you. Remember, “with courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity and humility the foundation of humanity”. Humility will serve you well. Try it!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Purpose of this Blog

Some have asked us about the purpose of this blog. Some have asked Alan Weierman (no, not Colonel or Dr. since he is neither) about the purpose of this blog. The answer as you can imagine, are diametrically opposed. We want to set the record straight.

Let us start with Weierman’s take on the blog. He has stated, on the internet, and to several parties that this blog is to extort money from him or Victory Forge. He has also stated that this blog is being administered by one or two disgruntled former parents who are uneducated or not connected to "powerful people".

We want to correct Weireman on all accounts. First, extort means “obtain through intimidation” something which does not belong to the parties extorting. I am sure Weirman knows that extortion is a criminal offense. Also I am sure Weierman knows that the money that the parents are asking for is money that was prepaid by the parents and rightfully belongs to them. Second, Weierman is under the impression that Victory Forge and he are synonymous. So to clarify, Alan, if someone is asking for money back, they are asking for money from Victory Forge, not from Weierman (legally, he should know that). Finally, this paroxysm by Weierman is yet another example of his duplicitous tactics, one that he has employed in the past and thinks he can do so again. He has stated that the parents who send their kids to this school are not very educated or well connected to cause him any damage. Now that is where he is wrong. This blog is not being supported by one or two parents. It is not being supported by parents who are uneducated. On the contrary, this blog is being supported by parents, former employee, former Port St. Lucie police, former students of Victory Forge, and other well wishers who know the awful place Victory Forge is.

Our next post will lay out a plan of action and provide more on the supporters. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Weierman has no PhD Either?

So we received a tip from a resident of Port St. Lucie who has followed Victory Forge rather closely for a number of years. He provided us with a very intriguing tid-bit: Alan Weierman is not really a PhD. In order to corroborate this information, we called all the universities in Florida and Ohio (States where Weierman has lived) and asked them if anyone by the name of Alan Weierman enrolled in a PhD program and graduated. Some universities have online searches where you can search for alums. A few universities needed written letters from us before they could respond - letters which we have sent out. The others had no knowledge of this man. We then thought that maybe Weierman attended a program in another state and so we decided to ask him directly. Here are the email excerpts (typos and all).

In a message dated 8/19/2008 11:23:56 PM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:
received an email from a former resident of PSL stating that you really don't have a PhD. it is from a diploma mill, probably costing $699. maybe in you case, they gave you a discount due to to prove this resident of PSL wrong? if you prove the statement wrong, you will receive a positive post on the blog. writes:
I would certainly like the oportunity. How do you suggest I go about this.

In a message dated 8/22/2008 6:42:36 PM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:
fax or email us a copy of your diploma. it is that simple. writes:
Fax Number please and real name if you don't mind.
Col. Weierman

We sent Weierman our fax number and did not hear from him so we sent him another email

In a message dated 8/27/2008 11:00:41 PM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:
so it is fair to say that our source was right. you really don't have a Phd do you? it is from a diploma mill, isn't it? your silence speaks volumes. writes:
I need a real fax number and a real name please. The fax that you gave is not your fax number. as long as you want to play games I don't trust you. writes:
that is where i get all my faxes. you fax me your alleged diploma, i will confirm i received it. i will issue a statement on my blog confirming that you are a legit phd and that the information provided to us is incorrect and malicious. it appears that you are playing games. you send me what we need you get what you want.

fax #: 360-364-3233

We never heard anything from Weierman. Two universities responded to our written queries and Weierman never attended those schools. We have a few more universities remaining. It could be that he did receive his diploma from a diploma mill. Or maybe, like his Col title, the PhD title is something that he decided to confer upon himself.

P.S. We have received a lot of intriguing information from readers, residents, and other well-wishers. Some of them wanted the cash offered by one of our readers (which will be processed once their statements can be corroborated), the others provided this information gratis. More to come.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Letter from one former student

Received an email from a former student. He was ok with us posting this letter (we withheld his name until the appropriate authorities can be contacted). We have received quiet a few letters from former students echoing the same thoughts. We will consolidate and start placing them on the website (which is under construction).

Much has been said about what happened at Victory Children’s Home prior to April 24. As a former enrollee in the academy, I have first hand knowledge and want to inform you and your readers about this. First of all, thank you for bringing the plight of the helpless to the forefront.

My year at VF was nothing short of miserable and torturous. When I read about what POWs endured in foreign countries, I cannot help but think how similar my experience was to theirs. The only difference, I was being tortured in the USA. Many times, food was withheld from me. I was not allowed to go to the bathroom and had to defecate in my pants only to be ridiculed by my instructors and other students (who were forced to do so). I was slapped, hit, beat up in numerous time both by instructors and by my fellow students (again against their will as it was them or me getting beat up).

People will think that the students sent here are bad and that is why this behavior is acceptable to reform our youth. They will also say that this treatment was necessary to break the kids will and build them back up again. All I can say is that kids need love, guidance, and role models, not abuse. Sure, our will was broken down, but it was never rebuilt and we have to live with this scar for the rest of our lives. I visited a psychiatrist for about 1 year after I left the place and I often times still have nightmares about what I endured.

My thought on why this is hard to prove comes down to one word – FEAR. Kids are afraid of the consequences of what will happen to them once they tell the outside world the truth. VF does a great job of telling the parents and others how we will manipulate, deceive, lie – do whatever it takes to get out of our place. Parents, who are emotionally weak at this stage and want their kids to improve, will always believe the academy and the academy will get away with lying to everyone. They can fool all the people all the time, or at least have until now. Also, kids are warned by the instructors not to say anything negative about the place. We are told that the staff will find out about it and then the kids will have to pay the price. When my parents came to take me out, I was forced to tell them all was well with the place and hide the facts that I was being beaten up and abused. I had to do this to survive the place and am assured that others followed the same survival instinct.

Once I found out about what you are trying to do, I decided to help you. I will try and reach out to other former cadets so that they can come out and tell you the truth. My means are limited, but my motivation is high. I am willing to talk to anybody you like.

Thank you for believing in us.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Email from a parent or relative

Received an email from a parent or relative (the individual did not want to be identified) that he was ok sharing with the general populace. We will be contacting parents on our email lists, but thought it was worth posting as well. Here is the relevant piece of the email:

I have been able to obtain significant amounts of information on the Weiermans, all their kids and their families. Based on the information that has been provided to me, it appears that there are factual inaccuracies between what they have communicated versus the truth. Also, it appears that they are not exactly the model of a well functioning American family and have had episodes in the past that will bring their character, ethics, and intent into question. With that in mind, I am asking for your help in helping me find individuals who can corroborate or dispute the facts that have been provided to me. Once these facts have been vetted, I will be happy to provide them to you or any parent who is dealing with the Weiermans for any reason. And for the inconvenience some families may go through to communicate with you, I am willing to provide monetary compensation for their time at the rate of $50/hour plus actual expenses.

Those interested in helping, contact us. We are still in the process of determining the best way to approach this generous offer, but be assured that your time will be well compensated.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another Approach

Now that we are progressing with our task to expose this place, we also need to put pressure on the Board of Victory Forge. We are trying to locate the phone number and emails of the Board members, but if snail mail is your preferred method for communication, you can write to them as well. Make certain you mention that they have the responsibility to look into the workings and accusations of abuse at this establishment. They need to do so independently and with ethical governance standards, which means they need to form their own opinion as 3rd parties and not rely on what is being communicated to them by the Weiermans. David Weierman is also on the Board, but could not locate his address yet. You can write to his parents, who, I am sure will deliver the letters to their son.

Active Members of VF

Michael Roberts
1510 SE 5th St
Stuart, FL 34994

Jack Berger
8544 Malberry Ct
Port St Lucie, FL 34952

Fred Gallo
2261 SW Susset Ln
Port St Lucie, FL 34953

Alan Weierman
(for David Weierman)
1800 Cameo Blvd SW
Port St Lucie, FL 34953

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
Retrieved from ""

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Weierman was not in the Military?

According to Military Personnel Records - this the repository of all military records - Alan Weierman (the self professed COL of Victory Forge) is not really a Colonel. He never achieved that rank, which did not surprise us. What was surprising though was that the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) was "unsuccessful in identifying a military service for" Alan Weierman.

The NPRC needed some specific information to be sure, but their preliminary search did not show that Weierman was in the military.

Alan, want to prove us wrong? Want to prove to us that you indeed are a Colonel and that you indeed were in the Military?

We are not holding our breath as Weierman has what is known as a compulsive lying disorder. Beware.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rants from Victory Forge's Self Professed Col

Here is a rant, one of many, from Alan Weierman that caught our attention. It was in response to a newspaper article on the DCF investigation back in April 2008. The interesting thing we gained from this tirade was Alan's immaturity - why would parents want to leave their kids with someone like this. Also, he mentioned someone by the name of Paul Hiott who is on the VF Board and running for County Commissioner. So we dug around and found out about Paul. The primaries are next month, and he is running against 3 other individuals. Now parents and children, maybe it is time to give Paul a call. Tell him that we cannot have a sympathizer of VF running for office and that we will not support him. If that does not do it, let's start a campaign to make sure that the voters know what type of institution this man is associated with. I am sure his opponents would be very interested.

Here is the unedited rant (with typos and all)

I am Alan Weierman the commander of Victory Forge. To those of you who have questions you are welcome to call me at 879-7181. I will gladly explain the resoning that we use. First let me give my credentials. I hold a Ph.D. in specialized business, a Masters Degree in counseling and Psychology, and am a certified Behavioral Analyst. I have 29 years working in the field of child care and youth services. I am a past Vice Chairman of the Human Rights Advocay Commitee as well as the Statewide Human Rights Council. I am a member in good standing of the American Council of Social Workers.
The youth that was shackled was a habitual offender. He had not aquired enough points to be placed in the Juvenile System, however his mom wanted him to get help.
The youth was shackled due to excessive running away. He refused to stay out of the shackles. By that I mean that he was asked several times a day if he was ready to stay in the program. As soon as the shackles came off he would try to run a way or would threaten to run away. Running away is a crime and more importantly it is dangerous.
The youth in this current case ran away, broke into a house and stole a pair of pruning shears. When we caught him he told us he was hurt someone and steal their car. ( Think of someone you love having this thug attack them and steal their car.I think of one of our elderly volunteers here at the Forge.)
When we apprehended him he tried to stab one of my staff with the shears. OFC BYRNE PSLPD was called to the scene by us and could not care less about the break-in or the shears he was concerned about the shackles. (go figure).
Our facility is an open facility. No bars on doors or windows and no locked doors. (Against SLC Fire Codes).I would say to all the ones who are questioning the program this: 97% of our graduates are still drug free, crime free, and being productive citizens 1 year after graduation. Thats the proof that what we do works.
I welcome people to call me. I am leading a charge to change DCF for the good. Our kids need it and so do our families.
To those that think 28,000.00 is alot of money to spend, do the math. 76.00 per day all expenses included.
To the persdon who thinks our kids are scared. I want you to know that you are wrong. Paul Hiott, Saint Lucie County Veterans Services Director and candidate for County Commissioner is one of our Board Members and volunteers. He recently told me of the great comments he gets from the public about our young men... It's not fear you see but well disciplined young men with self control. (I know that you may not recognize it in today's world.OBTW according to DJJ statistics in our District alone there are over 1000 cases of child abuse reported every month!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Contact your Senator or Representative

A reader has asked that all concerned parents contact these Legislators and demand that Victory Forge be investigated for abusive behavior. In addition, demand that VF not be allowed to hide behind its private school status. Ask that this institution be regulated by the DCF.

Step 1. Call the Legislators named below. Fax or email a letter against VF to them as well.
Step 2. If you are a FL resident, state that. If you are a Republican donor, state that as well.
Step 3. Ask them to close the private school loophole and support the DCF.
Step 4. Ask them to put pressure on Victory Forge and those who run this awful place.
Step5. Repeat.

Once we get a script developed, we will post here so that you can follow the same template. If you have a child who was abused, make sure he talks to these folks as well. All members of the family, friends, co-workers should be making phone calls.

Ken Pruitt
Florida Senator
District 28
Phone (District Office): (772) 344-1140
Phone (District Office): (561) 747-1166
Phone (Tallahassee Offices): (850) 487-5088
Phone (Tallahassee Offices): (850) 487-5229

Gayle B. Harrell
Florida House Representative
District 81
Phone (District Office): (772) 873-6500
Phone (Capitol Office): (850) 488-8749

Tim Mahoney
US Congress
District 16
Phone (D.C. Office): (202) 225-5792
Phone (District Office): (772) 878-3181
Fax: (772) 871-0651

Robert Butterworth, Secretary
The Florida Department of Children and Families
Phone: (850) 487-1111
Fax: (850) 922-2993

Charlie Crist
Office of Governor
Phone: (850) 488-4441
Fax: (850) 487-0801

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Victory Forge - Private abuse still abuse

This is a very apt headline. Just because someone is abused in private or in a private facility, does the government not have any rights to moderate this behavior? All those who want to help us contact legislators to close these loopholes and make facilities like Victory Forge accountable and punishable, please contact us (in confidence).

Here is an article from The Palm Beach Post.

I won't mean help for Victory Forge Military Academy cadets yet, but the Florida Department of Children and Families 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.

Detailed records DCF released about the Port St. Lucie school show that while students were subjected to "bizarre" punishments, shackled and choked, neither the agency nor the Treasure Coast State Attorney's Office had sufficient evidence or authority to act. The agency only recommended that parents remove students from the academy, and prosecutors chose not to file criminal charges. That parents signed release forms approving the school's use of shackles on runaways further complicates matters.

"I've got serious concerns about (Victory Forge)," Assistant DCF Secretary George Sheldon said. "I can't understand if a parent does something to a child that would cause us to remove the child from home, how can the parent contract out that right? And how can a facility avoid state licensure by putting itself in a certain category? I find it incredible we have no authority. We may need legislation to close the loophole." DCF attorneys are reviewing the situation at the state level, he said, and then will begin discussions with state legislators.

Victory Forge's methods became a public matter two months ago, when a runaway cadet was found shackled. The story sparked an investigation of the boot-camp-style school's practices. Before the investigation was complete, DCF urged parents to remove their sons because of the severity of the allegations, and all 17 students left. Both DCF and Port St. Lucie police investigated Victory Forge.

DCF spokesmen said the agency was unable to determine the severity of the alleged choking incident because no medical review was done immediately after it occurred. "With no bruising, no broken bones and no video," Mr. Sheldon said, law enforcement has little to go on. But a student's chance of getting a medical review in such a situation seem remote at best.
"Parents are the kids' only recourse," Mr. Sheldon admits, adding that under existing laws the state can't step in to save an abused child who is in this type of private school. Since the parents opted out of their responsibility in the Victory Forge case, the state must find a way to assert its responsibility to protect children.

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.