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WWASP/Teen Help Debate « click here

By William J. Seitz

We received a phone call about 8PM on Friday, Nov 6, from a fellow Moravia Academy student's mother, informing us of the situation there, involving the Czech Police. It appears a disgruntled Czech ex-employee who had been fired for mistreating the students and for dressing inappropriately for a behavior modification school, had gone to the local Police and accused the school of abuse. The television networks and newspapers got the story, blew it out of proportion, and pressured the Police to take action because Americans were involved. At that point the local Police started taking groups of kids to the Police station for interrogation. They strip searched the first couple of groups to look for signs of abuse. For the most part these were kids who'd been taken to the academy because of the lifestyles they'd been leading; they did not want to be there. The first group to go to the Police station consisted of about 12 kids, including three of the most difficult cases. These three told the Police anything they wanted to hear, to be able to leave the school and go back home to the states!

We verified the situation with Glen Roach, the Director of the Academy in Moravia. We concurred with Glen that help was needed at the Academy, and within 10 hours my fiancée and I were on a plane heading for the Czech Republic. We wanted to provide our much needed support to Directors Glen and Steve Roach. From our personal experience, we knew of their unconditional love and their willingness to help these children get their lives back through their program.

We arrived in Stuttgart Germany and while waiting for the plane to depart for the Prague Czech Republic, realized there were three other mothers of students on board the plane. Upon arriving in Prague we rented a van and a car and proceeded to drive the two and a half hours to Bruno to meet with the head investigator. We wanted to find out where they were holding the daughter of one of the mothers in our newly-formed group. We discovered the investigator lied to us about the daughter's location. It turned out the girl was back at the Academy. When we arrived at the Academy, we found a very nervous situation on hand, not only for the kids, but for the staff and the Directors as well.

At this point I would like to state that the staff members at the Moravia Academy were probably some of the most intelligent, caring, and loving individuals in whose care you would ever want to entrust your children. The staff was dedicated to putting these kid's lives back together, and looked to Directors Steve and Glen Roach as role models. The staff's main concern was for the kids. They were also deeply concerned about being part of these farcical and perfidious lies. We had been with the mothers for a week and had bonded with them; we were sad to leave them behind.

We arrived on Sunday morning, the 8th of November. The kids whose mothers we had traveled with, were overjoyed to see that their mothers had arrived to give support to the Academy during this difficult situation. Once there we were briefed by the Directors and staff as to the urgency of the events unfolding. We spoke with the Worldwide Association of Specialty Programs (W.W.A.S.P.) associate there and were advised to 'sit tight' and see if the accusations would blow over.

On Monday, November 9th, the mothers got on the phone with worried parents to confirm that their children were safe and not in immediate danger of further harassment by the local Police. We were informed that the three students who had told the Police whatever they wanted to hear about abuse were granted their wish and sent back to the states to their parents on Saturday, November 9th. Their parents weren't happy to have them back home because they were not finished with the program. It demonstrated that teenagers are masters of manipulation; they find a way to get what it is they want, on their own terms.

Early in the morning on Tuesday, November 10, the Immigration Officials, armed Police Officers and Czech Investigators showed up unannounced. Later that morning, while investigators were still examining records, the U.S. Embassy showed up to oversee the events taking place. Immigration officials confiscated all passports and put tremendous stress on the staff and kids.

By Wednesday, November 18, it was apparent the Academy would be closing. The Police had jailed Steve Roach on the false accusations filed by the fired, disgruntled ex-employee. The mothers and I proceeded (without waiting for the W.W.A.S.P. associate to give the go ahead) to arrange transportation and coordinate the facilities in the states to which the parents wanted their children sent. To our amazement, the W.W.A.S.P. had not even informed many of the parents as to the events unfolding. Needless to say, they were outraged that W.W.A.S.P. had not done something to inform them prior to learning from us. They were put in the position of making placement decisions at the spur of the moment.

The mothers helping at Moravia worked around the clock from Wednesday through Sunday, arranging airline tickets and passports. Some got three hours of sleep, some, none at all. I, along with Richard, one of the lead staff persons, daily drove two vans full of kids and their belongings to catch flights in Vienna, Austria, roughly two and a half to three hours in each direction. We had to leave at 5:30 AM, to get the students on the 11:00 AM flight.

When Steve Roach was released from jail on bail, his welcome home from the kids was a real tear jerker, to say the least!!! As I mentioned before, the love and respect that flowed between the kids, staff and the Directors was unbelievable, leaving the parents and me awestruck and watery eyed!

AT NO TIME WHERE THERE EVER SIGNS OR COMPLAINTS FROM THE CHILDREN, IN REGARDS TO ANY KIND OF ABUSE FROM THE STAFF OR DIRECTORS!!!!! The only reports of abuse anyone had heard of were the accusations made by the ex-employee. That he was the only source of these reports was confirmed by the kids, staff, and Directors.

In closing, I would have to say that this was probably one of the most incredibly awakening experiences that I will probably ever have in a foreign country. The same is probably true for the mothers involved. Our lives in the United States seem so simple after seeing the turmoil of a threatening society where you are basically guilty until proven innocent!

My personal perspective of the situation was that the kids were healthy, happy, loving and content. They were in the best of care, under the supervision of the highly qualified Directors, Glen and Steve Roach and their professional staff. After weeding out those that weren't in it for the kids' well-being, the staff that Glen and Steve Roach put together would probably be at the forefront of most American school staffs, in terms of willingness to see kids succeed. Glen and Steve were in it to help kids become the young adults their parents so longed for them to be, instead of the runaway, drug using, abusive, sexually active, manipulating troubled kids they had become, prior to going to the Moravia Academy!

If I had a troubled teen and Glen and Steve Roach were directors of a facility in the states, I wouldn't think twice about putting my son or daughter under their supervision! They are quality people who know how to turn kids' lives around and help them to become an important and vital part of our society!

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