323. The Academy and Scotts Valley School
Long ago there was a program called “The Academy”. They had departments in Oregon and in Fiji.
Former students stated on Fornits:
My name is Grace and i lived at the Academy for 22 months. i barely survived the mental and physical torture of the Bridge campus and the Brainwashing life “seminars”i lived with a girl who was molested in Fiji, I was there when a boy with tourettes was made to dig a hole in bridge. i was there when male staff sexually harrassed female students in bridge.I saw patricia Thomass compleat lack of compassion. As a student i can tell you that no one there had any right helping people change there lives. A person who staffed my training and worked at the school and LIVED on the bridge campus commited suicide from a drug overdose. He was supposed to be teaching me how to live?
My two years there i spoke to Patricia once and all she did was push me to tell my parents to go to the Life Training Seminars ( 3 grand a session) that they forced on me.
i will give ANY information to make sure Patricia and Ryan Thomas NEVER run another program.
I attended The Academy’s Oregon and Fiji campus. six months at each and left when i turned 18 in april of 2005.
I was in Fiji there for about 5 or 6 months. while i was there, we did have someone from the embassy come by and we were instructed to be “on our BEST behavior” by the director, Victor Kissun (i think thats the right spelling)
dont speak unless spoken to. dont discuss anything you are not directly asked about. tell them how well we take care of you and how happy you are here.
it was effectively, a gag order and instruction to not make the school look bad in any way.
At the very least, i would say that this facility does condone the abuse of children when they see fit.
I saw a student be restrained and beaten by a staff member and another student. When i tried to stop this, i was
held down, had my hands and legs tied together behind my back and the other end of the rope tied to a beam in the ceiling so that i was unable to move or roll around anywhere. I was left like this for several hours. was forced to urinate on my self because they would not untie me. after this, i was held in isolation for about three weeks and had to sleep on the concrete floor.
After being released from isolation, things became alot better because i was able to trade american clothing, shampoo/conditioner and other items we had for Marijuana and Tobacco leaf and rolling papers. I once smoke Marijuana, with one of the staff members, on the front porch of the directors house while he was off campus. The students in my dorm were almost always chewing Tobacco and some times even smoked Marijuana in the dorm room.
I smoked Marijuana with about 4 or 5 staff members in the 6 months i was there. I never could have gotten away with that at the Oregon campus.
I am still in contact with others who attended these campus’ at the same time as my self. We would be happy to help out with any requests for information on this ‘school’.
The Academy as the first program was called didn’t bring profit in leading staffmembers created Scotts Valley School.
Late 2015 Scotts Valley School became the center of an investigation by the Department of Human Services. Among the issues the investigation targeted were:
- food wasn’t always available for the students
- improperly conducting reference and background checks since 2009
- did not properly maintain required medication logs for the students
According to several sources, it closed in 2016. It was not a fun place to be as a a teenager
- The Academy in Oregon and Fiji – what is known about them? (Fornits Home for Wayward Web Fora)
- Staff list for Scotts Valley School in Yoncalla (HEAL-online)
- ‘Lack of food’ among abuse and neglect complaints at boarding school (Statesman Journal)
I am now 32. We both attended The Academy in Fiji around the same time. I was in Fiji for over a year, until a month before my 18th birthday. I actually was the girl who discussed the issue with staff when the young women revealed to me she was abused. That is not my story, so I will not comment on the details. I will comment on some of your interesting comments! The reason being that this school was mentally abusive and has created mental health issues and has caused me PTSD and anxiety as an adult. It tore away any self esteem or individuality I had. But we will never get justice if the absolute truth is not given.
1. Yes there were members of the American embassy who came to visit. We were never told as a group, I was never told, not to discuss anything negative. We were never actually alone or interviewed by these government officials. They literally just came for lunch every 6 months.
2. There was no building for isolation. When I first arrived to Fiji there was 2 dorm style buildings. 1 for girls and 1 for the boys. Another two were built during my stay. So no, you weren’t held in isolation for 3 weeks. We all shared a dorm room with mental bunk beds. Never once was someone allowed to sleep on the floor. You said ‘when I was released from isolation’, there wasn’t an isolation to be released from. We were literally around each other at all times. That’s how the bullying worked. We told on each other. Used our levels and friendship alliances to cause terrible emotional stress to weaker, less liked girls.
3. I was the 2nd group of girls sent to Fiji from Oregon. The 1st group of girls arrived and there was only 1 girl remaining in Fiji. I arrived a month after the 1st group. The abused girl left during my stay in Fiji. As you mentioned Victor and he left employment before I did, we were in Fiji the same time.
4. Never once was anyone physically abused. Mentally, yes, every second of the day. Terrible things happened, but it was never physical. We had to write essays.
5. You weren’t tied up with rope to the beams. We both know exactly what the dorm buildings looked like. I’ve no idea why after all this time you wouldn’t comment on the real horrors that happened. Just because we weren’t physically and dramatically tortured, doesn’t mean what happened to us was ok! We NEED to talk about the emotional torture, the power dynamics, the cult behaviors. If we discuss what really happened we can educate future parents about what to look out for. Everyone knows being hit is bad, but how we were tortured daily, with brainwashing and a smile, isn’t as easy to spot.
6. Never once did I see pot, drugs or cigarettes. 4/5 staff members you stated. Most were Indian women in arranged marriages, used to being led without questioning authority. I can’t see any of the staff smoking with us. I also don’t know what ‘American’ clothes you are talking about. We were all send with a list and certain amount of clothes. We were additionally given wraps to wear. We were made to start wearing shorts underneath, but we didn’t have anything of value to staff. They had shops & beautiful Indian style and ‘American style’ clothes already. We were also kids, no one would have fit into our stuff. As for shampoo & conditioner. We were given toiletries. We had awful cheap rolling deodorant. Powder we used to combat sweating, we would put between our legs to stop chafing. Remember how everyone always wanted the menthol powder. It was so refreshing during the hot & humid months.
1. I entered Fiji as a Red level 1, I stayed until level 4 Blue and became ‘head girl’ of the original girls dorm or junior staff.
2. Sexual abuse led to one staff member being fired and leaving. I was never abused physically by this man but was mentally, i was left alone with him, off campus, multiple times. I do completely believe he touched a girl student and he abused his power with me.
3. Time with this staff member was seen as a privilege. Cult behavior. We, I, started to idolize him, even after knowing the truth of the past sexual abuse. I would suck up and with my whole heart, just wanted to be around him. He would openly tease us. Mention a zit on our face to the entire dorm. Say something and made everyone laugh at us. He openly called me an derogatory term (POM), I am British but was living in America. That was his nickname for me. Things like cleaning his house, washing his car, I was so thankful to do. A privilege. Every morning he would run a mile around the school property and pick a handful of girls who were allowed to go with him. If you did something to displease him, you were not picked that morning. Randomly he would not pick me, for no reason. I would worry all day, completely consumed with the reasons. Then in the evening he would call on me individually and I was allowed to do something special to help him. No reason to why I wasn’t picked. I believe he just loved the power of knowing he had the control and I was his sheep.
4. We would sit around every day at ‘group’ and pick on people. When I was higher up in the levels I personally would attack certain girls. Call them out, make them feel terrible. All to make myself look better, I was the one setting a good example. I was making these girls see their shortcomings. I knew I was being mean. It didn’t stop me. I never tried to change. I was a cult trained sheep.
5. One girl bleed in her underwear, so afraid, she hid them. When we found out, she had to wash them and we spent days making her feel disgusting and bad.
6. We would tell on each other. Form friendships, gang up on others. I was on both sides. The self esteems that were absolutely crushed was insane. The staff were not mental health workers, they didn’t realize how these behaviors were affecting us.
7. I once got caught touching/scratching myself during the night. I was shaken awake and told to take a cold shower. The night staff then told me I had bad ghosts/ spirits. I was just itchy from the humidity and underwear/powder we used. I never once went to the doctor for these problems. I should have. Looking back I had infections. I was afraid to say anything to get brought up in group.
8. Each year, I had a checkup. I had 2 during the course of my stay as it was a little over a year. Maybe 1.5y. I don’t really know. Time doesn’t really exist in these programs. You learn to disconnect. Anyway, at one of these doc appointments, I needed glasses but the staff member whispered the letters to me. I followed along without question.
9. We as girls cooked & cleaned. We did dishes and other gender conforms.
10. We were not allowed to eat anything other than the times allotted amounts were provided.
11. We had two showered a day. My hair was never really dry for my entire stay. It would go up in a bun wet & stay wet with all the humidity.
12. Toilet paper: we were constantly having random rules thrown on us. We were only given 1 roll of toilet paper for a certain duration. I think it was a week or month. I wish I could remember. I do remember that when it was used too quickly, we would be attacked during group. This only lasted a short period of time and then we went back to having toilet paper in the bathroom stalls.
There are many more examples of cult behaviors, I listed a few. Let’s all speak our real truths. I found this site because I still struggle with my time in Fiji. The guilt, the fear, I am sorry to all the girls I harmed. I am sorry I wasn’t strong enough to say something. I’m sorry I went along with everything. I sorry for the awful things I did and said. I hope we can all heal one day.