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Posted December 2, 2004 

Dear Sir: I am attaching you a copy of the letter we sent the AG's Office on Monday.

Our daughter has been enrolled at the Whitmore for 2 and a half years. Her improvement is so great it's just really hard to explain. We are thankful for Mark & Cheryl's help.

Best regards,

Alex Willis

---- Original Message ----

November 30, 2004

Honorable Mark Shurtleff
Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
US Capitol Complex
East Office Bldg. Suite 320
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-2320

Dear Honorable Shurtleff:

My 16 year daughter goes to a private school in Nephi, Utah. It is the Whitmore Academy Boarding School. They specialize in helping children at risk, making wrong decisions, anger management and low self-esteem. They provide a loving, caring Christian environment, which is extremely hard to find now days. They also excel in equestrian therapy which is an extra added value. The Sudweeks family have been providing this type of service for over 28 years and had many years of success.
As with many programs, a few kids with severe problems may try and sabotage a loving environment. The Sudweeks generally try and discourage kids (parents) with severe behavior (mental) problems to seek other facilities. This is not a lock down facility; it is a school with specific goals.

Our daughter has been attending Whitmore Academy for 2 and a half years. My wife and I visit the school quite often. We had the whole school (all the children and teachers) come to Texas in March of 2004 and stay at our house. I provided rodeo tickets for all the students to attend the Houston Livestock & Rodeo Show. The reason I am telling you this is, if there was any sign whatsoever of physical or mental abuse (or any type of abuse) going on we would certainly have seen signs of this. We would definitely have heard about it from our daughter. We’ve gotten to know a lot of the kids and they had every opportunity to talk with us alone.

Your Honor what I’m leading up to is, there is a serious flaw regarding the Nephi DCFS. The first we heard of anything going on with the DCFS investigating the school was when we received a hysterical call from our daughter about the people and government workers (and police) storming into the school telling them they were shutting down the school. They separated the kids without any explanations, were rough with them and talking down to them as if they were worse than juvenile delinquents that had been caught at something. When one child said they had rights too, one of police told them they had no rights, he was the law. Does that sound like to you that they were investigating in the best interests of the children? I have yet to receive a phone call from anyone in the DCFS offices. NO ONE has notified me from the Utah DCFS telling me that there is any type of investigation happening at all. I have received at least 4 crying phone calls from my child about them coming back into the home and pretty much causing havoc and hysteria among the kids. You want to discuss emotional abuse? The Utah DCFS has caused more emotional trauma within the ranks of the school than anything that I can imagine. I spoke with one DCFS official that was at the school one evening; He was not informative when I asked why they were there. He told me he could not discuss the case with me. I then told him that I was a parent of a child going to that school and I had every right of knowing what the allegations were and what they were doing. He just said that they were investigating reports of abuse. I asked why I had not been notified (I believe this was the 3rd day) and he said he had no idea, that he had to go now. I requested his supervisor and he stated he was the officer in charge. I asked what office I could call to find out more information and he gave me the local office’s number. He also stated that if I wanted another office (such as the main one in Salt Lake City) I would have to look it up. I then called the Nephi office to discuss the situation. I was not given any information. I was not even able to get the name of the official that had interviewed my daughter. I was not given any reason as to why I had not been notified. I asked for the worker that had interviewed my daughter to please call me to discuss what was going on. I was told they would call me the Friday after Thanksgiving or on the Monday after. I still have not received any word from the Utah DCFS.

Over the last few days I have been in contact with several parents and they have all expressed concern over the lasting affects of the trauma that the DCFS have caused their children. Some of these kids have turned a corner in their life and this could be a big setback to their improvements. Many of them stated that their children felt they were being led and manipulated to say something bad about the school even when they had nothing to say. The kids were very upset while this was being done. They are being taught at the school to respect each other and to NOT manipulate situations. What a great example the DCFS is being.

My daughter called me hysterically crying and telling us that the DCFS was telling all the kids they were shutting down the school and taking all the kids to jail, then having all the kids sent home. THIS SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING NATZIE GERMANY WOULD HAVE DONE.

Sir, we would like to file a formal protest against the Nephi DCFS and possibly file legal criminal assault charges against them. My wife had heard that the children were being given the option of leaving the school – which meant they would be put in foster care until other arrangements were made. My wife had to tell them not to touch our child and that no matter what she would not be leaving the school!!! Many parents told us the DCFS said they were shutting the school down. It is like they came into the school on a witch hunt based on one very sick, manipulative child’s false accusations. There was no prior investigation before their actions. No phone calls to the parents, etc. No investigation into the accuser’s background or credibility. I understand that the state needs to look out for the child’s welfare, but hopefully, they are experienced enough to know when someone is screaming “wolf” before tearing down the house.

I am also sending you copies of letters of explanation from Mr. Sudweeks and some letters of support from several other parents.

We would really appreciate your office’s prompt investigation into the DCFS actions and a reply to us as to what is being done to correct their investigation tactics.

Respectfully yours,
D. Alex Willis, lll
PO Box 890051
Houston, Texas 77289

Copyright © 2004, Woodbury Reports, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
(This article may not be reproduced without written approval of the publisher.)

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