Suit alleging abuse names GOP donor
May 6, 2007
Romney / Lichfield news ...
Robert B. Lichfield, the donor
linked to a $250,000 contribution to the Maine governor's race, is
facing allegations that teenagers were mistreated at youth treatment
centers associated with him.
Lichfield is currently a trustee in
the World Wide Association of Specialty Schools and Programs, a
Utah-based organization affiliated with numerous residential
treatment centers in the United States and abroad.
The facilities market themselves to
the parents of defiant teens, advertising what is often described as
a "tough-love" approach aimed at modifying adolescents' behavior.
But the facilities are also a
magnet for critics who believe the centers' tactics go too far. A
lawsuit alleging abuse filed last December in U.S. District Court in
Utah names as defendants Lichfield, the association, and two other
businesses connected to Lichfield.
The plaintiffs allege in court
papers that former residents of youth facilities in Utah, Montana,
South Carolina, New York, Jamaica, Mexico, Costa Rica and American
Samoa were subjected to multiple forms of physical and mental abuse.
The defendants have argued through
their lawyers that the case should be dismissed, according to court
Lichfield did not respond to calls
seeking comment. In a 2003 interview with the Los Angeles Times, he
defended himself against allegations of wrongdoing regarding the
treatment centers. "We're here getting kids off drugs and other
evils," he said. "Do I believe, being a God-believing person, that
the adversary to all good is going to sit back and let that happen
without a major unleashing of dark forces? No, I don't."