Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)




Physical Abuse

When is the Family Foundation School going to take responsibility for their actions?
Click on the name to view the person's full testimonial
“The horrors I faced at The Family School are so many that I could probably fill
an entire book… I quickly found myself denied every imaginable right. I spent
most of my time sitting in a chair facing a corner. They took my shoes and I had
to walk through the winter snow in sandals. I would spend hours at a sitting
facing the corner of the room….” - Charlie Carson

“Three staff proceeded to then throw me on the ground and restrain me. As a
result I got a cut on my face and my wrist was sprained. I also had many bruises
on my body.” - Alex Dellinger

“While on breakfast crew, I witnessed Woody literally pick up a young boy
(from family 5) and THROW HIM down the hallway, simply because the boy
wasn’t moving quickly enough for Woody’s liking.” - Marisa (Mitnaul) Diaz

“My primary abuser was Paul Geer; he would call me very sexually derogatory
names in front of Family 6 and would use information I ‘confidentially’ gave my
sponsor regarding my past against me. I was also accused of being sexually
aggressive towards him and other staff, when I absolutely had not been, but I
had to admit to whatever he said so I wouldn’t get in trouble. I was sent on
‘Exile’ in freezing cold January and had to stand for hours in an unheated
hallway.” - Kate Olshefski

“When it came time to stand for the Pledge I did not stand. Two staff members
pulled me out of my chair by my throat; I pushed him off of me like anyone
would if someone was hurting them, then they tackled me on the ground and
one of them took my head and beat it on the floor three times, I remember so
vividly.” - Chris Austin

“A staff member was chasing me and I can remember running until I tripped,
then the guy jumped on top of me and buried my face in snow. I took a swing at
the guy and hit him in his face, then the staff member (a grown man) hit me back
in the side of my head, then put his knees on my arms until other people got there
to take me back. They locked me in the little room for 5 days.”
- Chris Austin

“I watched my friend stand outside in the cold for months because staff and
senior students didn’t like him. […] I watched people urinate on themselves
because they were denied bathroom privileges and were locked in a tiny room
for days on end.” - Corey Ciresi

“Once in the locker room, I started towards the door, and was immediately
slammed against the ground with two female staff members and two male staff
members on top of me. I had no forewarning that this would happen if I moved
towards the door, they simply jumped on me. I was scared, and they were
cutting my air supply off.” - Chavaya BeeBee-Galvo

“I experienced a lot of physical pain during my stay. The limited bathroom rights
caused me much discomfort. Sometimes I was made to wait for long periods
before I was permitted to use the bathroom. This would cause my pelvic area to
really hurt.” - Grace Cole

“He was supposed to be mopping the floor, so they threw him on the ground
dumped mop water on him and used him to mop the floor until he agreed to
mop the floor with the mop. […] I would step over squirming bodies on the floor
in the dorm while talking and brushing my teeth like it was perfectly normal.” -
Brendan McMahon

“We were all forced to impose sanctions and punishment on each other. This was
simply sick. To live with yourself after being forced to abuse a peer us
unbearable. The visions that I still have from that make me, literally, sick. There
was no choice in the matter. Many times I refused and found myself on the
receiving end of the abuse myself. If someone ran away we were to chase them,
tackle them and restrain them. Many students, myself included, spent a few
evenings wrapped in a blanket and duct tape. We were forced to sit with
students wrapped and watch them suffer. There was no release from the abuse.”
- S.H.

“I was getting more and more frustrated and whenever I showed the slightest
sign of anger or depression I was rolled in a blanket and duct tape and thrown in
the janitor closet alone for hours, one time a whole day. I couldn’t use the rest
room and was forced to urinate myself. When they saw what I had done they
called me a disgusting pig and threw me in a scalding hot shower with my
clothes on and threw insults at me. The abuse was getting so bad that I was
suicidal and started wetting my bed. I wasn’t getting better at the FFS I was
getting worse. I was forced to tell my parents how happy I was there.”
- Melanie Bilcik

“I packed a bag anyway and Bob Runge grabbed, hit, and wrestled me to the
ground with two girls from my family.” - Melanie Bilcik

“You could be put in isolation or restrained solely because of your negative
attitude towards AA or staff. One day a boy told Tom Musgrove that he wasn’t
going to buy in to the program. Tom grabbed him and threw him in the door,
busting a hole through the wood. Students were encouraged to participate in
restraining their peers. Sometimes students would gang up on a kid that was
refusing to listen to staff. Students would sit on, grab, and yank each other. Not
one student was professionally trained to restrain. Students that had been there
for a while were also permitted to do strip searches on new students. This was
totally uncalled for, as no student had proper training for that.”
- Grace Cole

“…[W]e would get up at 3 or 4 am and run for a couple of hours. We had only
gotten about four hours of sleep on those days. They said we needed to learn a
lesson. Sometimes we did these runs in the winter. If you refused to run, you got
dragged. We had a staff named Tim Ellis that told us that being tired was a sign
of sloth, and that the desire for sleep was selfish.”
- Grace Cole

“I stood for about 16 hours on those days. I was only allowed to sit down when I
went to the bathroom. This was meant to make me as uncomfortable as possible.
My back and knees ached more than they ever had in my life. I was also having
horrible stomach pain and trouble having a bowel movement. I also had some
type of vaginal infection. I have done research and found out these type
infections can develop from an unbalanced diet.”
- Grace Cole

“Kevin[, a staff member,] had a husky, intimidating voice and was also a smart
guy. I actually sort of admired him, even after he ripped a chair from beneath
me, and dragged me, by the back of my shirt across the dining floor and threw
me outside against the outdoor lockers into ‘Exile,’ a more extreme sanction. He
had told me to leave the chair and when I refused, I was dragged and left
crumpled on the floor.” - Clay Hamilton

“Joe Petriella then came over to the couch and told me to get up and sit in the
corner, I felt so sick I replied with. ‘I am too sick, I can’t get up.’ He then
proceeded to grab my arm and pulled me off the couch while he removed the
pillows and cushions – leaving just the wood. I then lay on the wooden couch, as
I needed to lie down. He then went to the back of the couch and tipped it over,
leaving me on the floor in front of the whole family.” - Amanda Johnston

“[Staff member] Joe Petriella had dislocated my shoulder during my stay. He
was talking to me and I started to walk away he grabbed my backpack and
pulled me back hard.” - Rebekah Silverman

“Tommy Cummings threw me into the wall of the isolation room, which I hit
with a thud leaving me with an instantaneous bruise. […] His weapon check
included stripping me of all of my clothes and taking them somewhere that I
could not see since I was now locked in the isolation room. I was left completely
naked sitting on an ice cold floor with no chairs for about 5 minutes. There was a
camera in the room the whole time pointed at me and I found this extremely
humiliating, especially after the sexual abuse that I endured earlier in life.”  - Charlie Carson

“I was forced to trot, I couldn’t walk. No shoes. I was made to wear the most
humiliating outfit they could find, and working included shoveling and carrying
rocks in the middle of July and was told that it was God’s work.” - Leah Bonner

“[The staff members] argued back and forth for about a minute, then next thing
you know the three of them had the kid on his stomach with a knee in the middle
of his back. Another staff member went and grabbed the blanket and duct tape
and when he returned they proceeded to wrap him up and then tape the blanket
shut so he was completely immobile. […] The sick part was they all seemed to
get some masochistic pleasure out of doing this to him. Then they carried him to
the supply closet next to the locker rooms and threw him on the dirty floor. I
remember him being in that closet, only being fed dry tuna on a stale English
muffin three meals a day for almost an entire week. That’s insane!”
- Dave C.

“I had to wrap people in blankets and duct tape them closed. Once we moved
them to isolation, I would sit outside the isolation room at a desk and watch
them sometimes all night long. They were not allowed to get unwrapped for any
reason. I once told a girl who had to use the restroom she deserved what she got
as she begged with me to loosen the blanket so she could get more air and was
having trouble breathing. I refused knowing I would get in trouble if I helped
her out.” 
– Katelyn W.

“[B]ut wow, they really abused him physically – like over the top ramming his
whole body (two large men) against a wall of metal lockers. They locked him in
this tiny room with a bunch of padlocks on the outside. It sort of looked like an
old closet that had been carpeted on all sides. I guess I guarded it, because I
remember him kicking it so hard he almost broke the locks off! WOOOOO! He
was so angry. It’s sort of liberating to remember his anger, now. I wish we all got
that angry, instead of submitting.”
- Clay Hamilton

“I saw a 14-year-old drop kicked by male staff; a 15-year-old slammed against
dryers in the laundry room while being provoked & bullied into making another
move so he could enforce his power over her again. […] A guy ran up the stairs
knocking into another staff member’s pregnant wife. This staff manhandled the
guy & shoved him against the wall & threatened several times.” - Kelly Vanzant

“During my time at The Family School, I witnessed many things that I would
consider to be child abuse. […Once,] two staff members…picked me up by [the]
neck and held me against the wall in the corner of the room while yelling
obscenities at me. I was slammed over a table, which proceeded to fall on top of
me and I received a black eye. It should be important to note that I made no
physical advances or threats on either staff member; I just nonviolently stated
that I was not going to comply with their demands. […A]s soon as I got on the
phone I told my mom what had happened to me. A staff member took away the
phone and reassured my mom that I was lying, while looking at me and my
black eye just a foot away” - Chris Noroski

“We were not allowed to wear shoes while standing in the corner, but standing
on a cold cement floor for weeks without arch or heel support is very painful for
your whole body.”
- Corey Ciresi

“I was held up against the lockers gripped so tight that I can show you scars.
From there I was stripped of my clothing and put into sweatpants and a shirt, no
undergarments.” - Amanda Johnston

“I witnessed a good amount of violence during my time at the school. ‘Senior
Floor,’ a group of guys who were tall, big, and heavy men, some women, others
were usually in the office. They were the ones who came when the radio said so.
Oh yeah, they used this radio all of the time, it’s how they stayed connected. But
on with Senior Floor, they would use almost any method to restrain the students.
Ages 12-18 were the most common boys and girls would be taken from a
restraint into an isolation room. Watched by two students, who would even sleep
down there at all times. A lot of male staff would be overly aggressive to boys,
sometimes causing a student physical injury during sports, or verbal shoutings,
or threatening between male staff and male students.” - Fabian

“[N]ext thing I know Bob Runge throws me up against the wall and puts his
finger through the loop and is threatening to rip them out if I don’t remove them.
My right ear lobe was torn and bleeding from the pressure that Bob Runge had
put on it. Through all of this I was being ridiculed by Staff and senior members
for my appearance, they called me a ‘punk’ and a ‘freak’ and took great pleasure
in watching Bob Runge threaten me.” - Dave C.

“If demoralizing people to the point of near suicide is your cup of tea then that’s
the place for you to work. An example that comes to mind would be the physical
abuse that the kids undergo. One time a girl ”flipped out,” meaning that after
making her carry buckets of dirt all day, she desperately needed to sit down, but
wasn’t allowed to. Out of sheer exhaustion, she slumped into the corner. She
must have weighed about 95 lbs tops. A counselor named Woody would take
great pride in the fact that he could take his three hundred pound body and
literally slam her to the ground, or shove her brutally back into the corner ‘where
she belonged!!’ - Ryley E.

“Students were physically abused on a regular basis. …I spent a lot of my ‘corner
time’ reading my prayer book, which was all I had left. They decided I was
getting too attached to it and decided to take it away. I held it to my body, with
my arms crossed over it in an attempt to keep it. They ripped it out of my
hands. Then 4 people picked me up, carried me down a flight of stairs, took me
into a small room, and closed the door. They then put me on the floor and the 6
foot everything ‘enforcer’ stepped on my head to stop me from trying to escape.
Remember, I had my foot in a cast and the door was closed. I wasn’t going
anywhere.” - Rebecca Schwarzmer

“I watched friends of mine get wrapped in a blanket, tied up with duct tape, and
put in a room with no window and only one door, for days at a time, not even
being released to use a restroom or to eat.”
- Scott Conroy

“At three months there, I was forced to scrub human feces off planks of wood
used to keep a dock in a cow pond, as my sanction for standing up for myself.” -Andrea Digenno

“There was no respect for our needs. I, as well as many others, were held from
using bathrooms, only to result in the soiling of themselves and the embarrassing
nature of the circumstances.” -Andrea Digenno

“She would come up to me and start dragging me down the hall while her nails
were digging into my arm. She would be yelling insults at me while she did this.
She would also tease me about the weight I had gained. Whenever she felt like it
she would stick her hand down my pants and touch my waist or stomach and
make a rude comment. It made me angry not being able to have any say over
who was able to touch me.”
- Grace Cole

“I experienced minor physical abuse at the school. During my last month there, I
was on yet another work sanction and I was to do dish crew. I refused to do it
and was physically dragged up the stairs by staff and students by my arms. I had
bruises all over my upper arms when I left the school.” - Sarah Forman

“I saw a student wrapped up with duct tape my first few months there.” - Sarah

“After several days, the staff and myself restrained her and forced the meat
down her throat; because she had never had meat before, her body reacted
negatively and she began vomiting on us. This did not stop the orders to
continue to feeding her. We fed her through the vomit as she choked the food
– Katelyn W.

“She would walk through the snow with plastic bags tied around her feet crying
how cold she was. I missed over a week of school to watch her carry rocks bare
foot from point A to point B only to move them back when she was done.”
– Katelyn W.

“I saw a girl get sick every time we had sausage, which was twice a week. Every
time for over two years she had to eat sausage and it made her very ill, she
would almost always throw up yet they would save whatever was left of the
sausage and she couldn’t eat anything else until she ate every bit of sausage.
Imagine the anxiety something like that would cause a person and for 2 plus
years. This tactic was used often on girls the school deemed to have an ‘eating
disorder.’ The staff would often say something to the effect of, ‘go ahead and
don’t eat, we’ll take you to the hospital and they will feed you with tubes.’” -
Matt A.

“I was yanked out of church and brought to a staff member named Phill. He
confronted me calmly, but then I, seeing the other student who I was supposed
to have gone with standing there, called him a rat, and Phill lost it on me. He
picked me up by the scruff of my neck, threw me across the Family 3 dining
room, right through a door leading outside. He followed me out, smacked me
again, then kicked me down the back stairs. I got up and ran, but this man, this
staff member charged with taking care of minor children, followed me into my
dorm, into my room, picked me up again and threw me on the bed, then ripped
my coat in half.” - Scott Conroy

“[I was] wrapped up in a blanket and duct taped… was left for a full 24 hours in
the blanket. Obviously, without the proper facilities available to me, I was forced
to twice urinate.” – Katelyn W.

“Staff punching students in the face while restraining…..not once but several
times. I witnessed both Phil Motolla and Tony Argiros (the owner) himself doing
this.” – Jon Martin-Crawford

“Typical restraint procedures were wrapping kids up in duct tape and blankets.
Kids were not let out of this wrap, even to use the bathroom, feminine hygiene,
or just to move around and let the body out of the confinement, while in an
isolation room (the 6X6 library room). […] Restraints were not only done by
faculty, but many senior and junior members of students. Usually, this was even
more brutal and was often done in front of all other students to show ‘what will
happen if you act out.’” – Jon Martin-Crawford

“Kids forced to eat food they were allergic to, and keep eating even if vomiting
as a result.” – Jon Martin-Crawford

“When kids tried to run away it was again, not only staff, but many students told
to chase, tackle, restrain, and bring them back.” – Jon Martin-Crawford

“As a dorm leader, I was told to wake up one of the kids in my dorm with the
light from the lamp…that only had a flood light as a bulb…burning his retina. I
participated in the restraining, and took part in the barrage of verbal attacks just
as did many of my peers. I am not proud of this, but we had no choice in any of
this. If we did not conform, we were ‘being negative’ and subject to the same
treatment and lack of privileges.” – Jon Martin-Crawford

“They dragged me into a closet and wrapped me in a blanket and sat on me for
about 3 hours until I eventually fell asleep.” - Jennifer Jacobs

“The director (Tony Argiros) wouldn’t even let restrained students sleep. He
would wake them violently. There was no use of the restroom provided to the
restrained student. He would tell them that if they were going to act like animals
they would be treated that way and they subsequently would have to eventually
relieve themselves while wrapped.”