On January 4, 1979, Congress began a hearing on the Abuse and Neglect of Children in Institutions. Escuela Caribe, then called Caribe Vista, was condemned for its abuse of children.
Children’s Advocate Kenneth Wooden delivered the following testimony:
“I would like to share with you my 1976 observations of the facility that is currently charging taxpayers in Evansville, Indiana $8360 a year per child. Caribe-Vista was totally unsupervised by any outside American. Blossom’s daughter and son-in-law ran all three group homes. Staff was paid $100 per month and a promise of a better job elsewhere, because of their experience gained at Caribe-Vista. A key point is parents were not permitted to visit for the first four months. The mail was censored at all times. I submit to you parents cannot visit their children so Gordon Blossom can brainwash their children on his religious programs. If the child had any dental problems, local unqualified students who pulled tooth for quarter. Education was nothing more than correspondence courses.
Forms of discipline were demonstrated to me as I was talking to him about 10 kids. One young girl who had her head shaved was taunted by a staff member to tell me why she was bald. As she stood in silent shame, he harassed her about her weakness of the flesh-she ran away for the weekend and mingled with the local Dominican male.
The director of religion freely admitted that the children were beaten with a stick on the rump “hard enough to make them fear it.” Three days of solitary confinement was given before the beatings.
Can you imagine forcing a child 16 years old to explain to a strange man, myself, why her head was shaven and how the director of religion required that girl to talk about her sexual life on weekends when she would slip out of the facility and how she was beaten with a stick and how she was placed in solitary confinement?
The young girl who was so degraded by these people was there without any government scrutiny on the part of the United States.
Gordon Blossom is making a lot of money figuring the amount of kids there down there, figuring what he is paying, the cost he is paying for his program-what appears to be a glorified babysitting outfit, could have madeGordon Blossom a millionaire and four years. His program is now eight years old. I believe that the state of Michigan is refused to allow New Horizon’s Youth Ministries to operate at home, certainly someone from the State Department with a background in public health, should visit and evaluate the operation in the Dominican Republic.”
The only outcome of this hearing seems to be that Escuela Caribe changed its name to Caribe Vista. Prior to that, when the program came under scrutiny, it moved from Michigan to Indiana.
In 2011, after pressure from our alumni website, The Truth About New Horizons Youth Ministry, response to Julia Scheeres’ memoir, Jesus Land, a protest at the Marion facility, publicity over Kate Logan’s forthcoming expose, Kidnapped for Christ, etc., the program changed ownership.
Escuela Caribe is now Caribbean Mountain Academy, operated by Crosswinds Youth Organization, a division of Lifeline. At least seven former staff are employed. Many alumni doubt that their tactics have changed.
Incidentally, in 1979 Wooden also delivered testimony detailing abuse at Provo Canyon, a facility where Mitt Romney’s Utah finance co-chair, Robin Lichfield, was employed at the time of the hearing. Lichfield went on to found the infamous World Wide Association of Specialty Programs, which is known for abusive practices, including locking teens in cages.