Friday, May 4, 2012

It Is Unwise To Trust Those That Lie...

By Angela Smith

HEAL has received quite a few requests for editing of our site by behavior modification programs, their staff, and former staff.  Often, these requests contain flat-out falsehoods that the program or staff believes will result in a benefit to it or them.

We posted a voice-mail we received with blatant lies and manipulation by Greg Hitchcock, formerly with Abundant Life Academy and Mount Bachelor Academy.  You can judge for yourself at

This week, we received an e-mail from Janine Hieb, formerly with the now closed Choteau Youth Ranch.  Hieb said, "I want my name taken off of the website for the Choteau Youth Boys Ranch. I have never worked for that ranch and do not know why my name is on there." And, "There is no one else in with my name. I also want to assure you I did not work for the Choteau Boys Ranch."

HEAL provided Hieb with the staff list from 2007 taken directly from a copy of Choteau Youth Ranch's own website at the time.  We told Hieb that she would need to have the former owner/director of Choteau Youth Ranch contact us and state that Hieb never worked for Choteau Youth Ranch and that Choteau Youth Ranch falsely advertised that Hieb worked for the program.

We received an e-mail on April 30th, 2012 from Ron Daley, the program director at Choteau Youth Ranch in MT in 2007.  Daley said: "Writing this in regards to the Choteau Youth Ranch or Choteau Ranch for Boys. You are putting a name of an individual that never even was associated with this program. I was the Program Director (Ron Daley) at one time.  Janine Heib was never part of this program."  One might think the issue is resolved.  But, it is not.  We provided Daley with the copy of Choteau Youth Ranch's website where Hieb was listed as staff.  And, we asked Daley if Hieb ever worked for Choteau or if Choteau falsified its staff list.  Here is the response we got from Daley:  "Thank you for your response so quickly. Everybody on that list was full time staff except for the counselors. They were only contracted. So Pam Johnson, Janine Heib, and Linda Blankenship weren't full-time staff."

As you can see, the initial contact and follow-up messages regarding Choteau and Hieb are full of contradictions and misinformation.  And, this is our most common experience with the industry and why working with the industry is not within the scope of what is reasonable given their propensity for dishonesty.

On very rare occasion, we are contacted with real and factual information and a legitimate request for correction to our site contents.  We check out every request for editing made and re-verify the information posted or confirm the information submitted that adds context or corrects mistakes.  Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming amount of dishonesty by those within the industry and representing the industry, we find it difficult to take anyone from the field at their word and always double-check anything they say against independent sources, public records, and available information.

It is unfortunate that lying comes so easily to operators of behavior modification programs.   It may be the primary reason that fraudulent and abusive programs continue.  They convince (con) the unwitting public (talk show hosts) and parents that they mean well and can help.  But, really, they are nothing more than snake-oil salesmen.  Your best bet is to remember the old saying "Buyer Beware" and don't go bankrupt emotionally or financially by investing in the "teen help" scam.  Sometimes nothing is better than anything.  Think about it.