Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Wacky World of William J. “BJ” Howard

The Wacky World of William J. “BJ” Howard

By Angela Smith, HEAL Coordinator (with commentary by Tim Brown, HEAL Coordinator and Gail Hernesto, Industry-Insider and Friend to William Howard)

William “BJ” Howard claims to be a graduate of Penn State and an instructor at the University of Phoenix.  Howard claims to have taught individuals now working for what HEAL believes to be a fraudulent and abusive residential program based on dozens of firsthand reports from families regarding fraud and abuse at Red Rock Canyon School in UT.  We also base our position on lawsuits that have been filed against Red Rock for fraud and abuse as well as news reports regarding abuse at this facility.

HEAL has been engaged in a discussion with William Howard regarding our concerns regarding Red Rock Canyon School.  Howard has sung the praises of Red Rock Canyon School while never having worked for, enrolled in, or enrolled a loved one in the program.  Howard has made sweeping claims regarding improvements and progressive problem-solving at Red Rock with absolutely no firsthand basis for making such claims and while providing absolutely no evidence that his claims are true to any degree.

Howard ignores documentation regarding the failures of Utah to protect children and families from abuse.  Howard ignores documentation of widespread fraud and abuse in residential programs for youth even after being given a copy of the Congressional Hearings from 2007/2008 providing ample evidence that supports HEAL’s position.  And, Howard provides only emotionally charged antagonistic accusations as a basis for HEAL to make any changes to our current statements and position regarding Red Rock.

Howard uses emotional manipulation and veiled threats as opposed to facts and evidence to support his claims regarding Red Rock Canyon School.  For instance, when asked for evidence Howard demands HEAL take his word alone as gospel and instead of providing any real evidence continues to disparage HEAL volunteers as unethical, unfair, and engaging in criminal “slandering” of at least two of Red Rock’s employees simply because HEAL does not respect Red Rock nor degrees “earned” at the University of Phoenix.  HEAL provided evidence of widespread fraud at the University of Phoenix.  But, Howard claims to have taught for the University of Phoenix and compares complaints regarding the University of Phoenix to complaints against Harvard or Yale.  HEAL’s reply was that it is absurd to compare the University of Phoenix to Harvard or Yale for many reasons including that Harvard and Yale have never lost a class action lawsuit for systemic fraud. 

Howard demanded that his former students and friends’ names be removed from the Red Rock staff list even though both still work for the program and they belong on any accurate staff list regarding Red Rock.  HEAL provides three options for editing and removal of staff names.  But, we require the staff to contact us directly for more information.  And, we provide programs on our watch lists the opportunity to have HEAL review their materials and post or engage in published dialogue regarding our concerns and their program methodology.  But, as usual, Red Rock and its supporters refuse to provide any real evidence or information and want HEAL to be silent, bullied, and oppressed by harassing e-mails from truly unidentified sources.  (We were unable to find any information online supporting any claim made by Howard including his education, work history, and affiliation with Red Rock/Red Rock staff.)  Howard refused to provide HEAL with any additional contact information and refused to speak with us by phone to clear up any issues he was having with our web content. 

But, in Howard’s mind, HEAL is the problem.  We won’t take him at his word with no supporting evidence.  We won’t take his friends’ names off the staff list for the program for which his friends work as long as they continue to work there and/or in this industry.  And, we won’t remove our concerns regarding the University of Phoenix.  We also won’t praise CA or UT because neither state effectively protects children and families from fraud and abuse.  You need only watch CNN on a regular basis to know that there is rampant fraud and abuse that CA and the US are not effectively addressing.  (See: http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2013/07/22/ac360-series-rehab-racket-year-long-investigation-by-cnn-and-cir-finds-widespread-fraud-in-americas-largest-medicaid-program/)

But, forget the news, court reports, investigations, government reports, and anecdotes from victims of fraud and abuse.  Why?  Because William Howard says so.  And, in his world, that is the only voice of authority that matters.

HEAL received further indirect communication from Howard through his friend and associate Gail Hernesto.  Hernesto claims to work and/or have worked for multiple residential programs for youth.  Hernesto uses the same tired “blame the victim” and “excuse the abuse” arguments popularized by pedophiles and child abusers.  Apparently, Howard forwarded his conversation with HEAL to Hernesto and Hernesto decided to contribute her own baseless and unsupported commentary.

Hernesto said, “You do not seem to understand troubled youth and their various disorders, such as, oppositional defiance, rebelliousness, authority problems, and a
number of other serious mental difficulties. Many are master manipulators and are very good at making things up, which is why witnesses are sought to find out what really happened. They also lie to their parents to maneuver them as they wish and when they get home they maintain their facade instead of owning up to their fabrications. Fabrications, by the way, which their peers, who witnessed the incidents, declared were outright falsehoods or made big when they were really small and insignificant.”

Tim Brown, HEAL Coordinator, replied to Hernesto’s rant stating: “This is B.S.  I am a witness to the fact that there is abuse going on in programs. Many of the people running these programs are serial liars.”

Bottom line, Hernesto and Howard are shills for the industry spouting unsupported and undocumented drivel while denying the mountain of evidence regarding institutional abuse and fraud at poorly and often entirely unregulated residential youth programs.  If you are among the minority who buys the lies the industry sells and/or yourself are a seller of those lies, please know we are onto your nonsense and will continue to speak the truth and share information we find of value and import with our community.

[If you are a legitimate and above-board residential program we are investigating, you may discuss and/or address our concerns by following the guidelines at www.heal-online.org/requests.htm and/or www.heal-online.org/helpteen.htm.]