This blog is dedicated to "The Children Left Behind." We will not rest until the safety of our children and those that are entrusted with their mental health care are held accountable for abusing the children's God given rights, those rights upheld by our constitution, and those that have been complicit in obfuscating the truth!

Monday, August 1, 2011


After spending an entire day writing a commentary on this report, Jilliestake decided there was no gracious way to add a commentary that would be short, sweet, inoffensive, and to the point.  Phone  calls, emails, and comments have reflected shock and disappointment. 

Jilliestake will state:

For the child that drew in his own blood on the bathroom wall, or the myriad of children that were beaten, or those children that tried to take their own lives, or those that were zip-tied, cold-cocked, neglected and abused both physically and psychologically, this just strengthens our resolve to make certain this can never happen again.

The Ridge Creek School facility was most certainly not, nor ever was conceived as a "sanctuary" for children.

And that's my take,

"For the Children Left Behind"


  1. The Horsewoman was an odd choice for Ridge Creek defender. She was only at HLA/RCS for a few years, as she states in the interview. She's been gone over 4 years. She was never seen on campus except at lunchtime. She had no idea what was going on beneath the hype. Why not investigate what happened to the Chapel Fund, hundreds of thousands of dollars solicited by Buccellato to build a school Chapel, and not a cent of it went to anything except his favorite charity... himself.

  2. "Odd" is an understatement. "Hundreds of thousands of dollars" is an understatement.

  3. I thought the woman interviewed on the report... Denise?.. was an unusual choice, to say the least. She was only there a few years and has been gone for more than 4 years, as she stated. She was never on campus except during lunch. She knew very few staff at Hidden Lake and had no real knowledge of what went on there. Bucchi and his strawmen, and women, can always pull a letter or two out of their pocket from an HLA/RCS student who did well in life, and that's great. The kids who made it through and succeeded should be applauded. For every one success story, however, there are at least a dozen different stories from kids who hated every minute they spent there and truly believe they came away with psychological and emotional damage. Some claim they will never get over their time at HLA/RCS, and that it will be remembered as the worst time of their life. If Fox wants it fair and balanced, Travis should interview some of those kids.

  4. 105 violations, which the State said were "minor"... How many violations weren't reported or discovered? That number would significantly increase and the severity would scale as well. But again, how many states would consider suicide attempts "minor" violations? Georgia - you are a disgrace to the United States.

    The Horsewoman was not only an odd choice, but a poor choice as she never really worked for HLA/Ridge Creek School. Wasn't she a 1099'r that was part of his bankruptcy suit a while ago? How ironic is it that all the money that was supposed to go to the Equestrian Center never materialized? I suppose those funds went the way of the Chapel Fund, too.

    I find it rather interesting and telling that Mr. Travis couldn't find a legitimate former HLA/RCS employee who was willing to go on camera to attest to the school's positive impact on students. There may have been a few individuals who truly cared, but they aren't willing to stand up for Len - are they? Again, it speaks volumes.

    It's taken time and countless hours of work, but the truth will prevail. It always does.

  5. Can't trust the media. One could forgive Travis if he were ignorant of the facts. He knows the "105" violations weren't "minor", and that there were 17 suicide attempts, not 7. He knows that HLA/RC has a bad record going back to it inception. I'd guess he also knows that one settlement didn't bankrupt the PROGRAM- it's not a SCHOOL. A program that sold torture as therapy, using unorthodox "treatment" that was not evidence-based.

    Would Travis, or the horse lady put one of their own children/ grandchildren there, allowing Buchi to sever contact between the child and everyone in his life?

    No real Investigation on Travis's part. He chose not to report all the damning facts, which were cited.
    Sell out, but what can you expect, it is FOX?

  6. I am going to respond to this as best I can while staying professional. I was there for everything in the news report. The current stuff, meaning the past year and a half or so. And I have talked to Randy Travis personally about this very issue. I am more than willing to talk to him, because it needs to be said. I saw many things, good and bad, like other programs I have worked in, just like this school. What i cant wrap my head around though is the fact that no one mentions the 25 or so kids that at the end of the day when the program shut down, how they were affected. Because of this constant back and forth on who is right, who is wrong, there is one population that suffers, the kids.

    I for one am not okay with that. Like someone mentioned above, "For every one success story, however, there are at least a dozen different stories from kids who hated every minute they spent there and truly believe they came away with psychological and emotional damage." I can tell you right now, in the short time I was there, I could give you 25 plus success stories and those are the last 25 kids, not counting the ones before them. I can not speak for what happened before I got there, but I was there for the last two years and can say that place did change lives, not just one.

    If you look for fulfillment in every kid that walks in a program like that to be successful, you are crazy. Plus what is your definition of success, never doing a drug, never getting in another fight, never arguing with your parents. My definition is seeing a light bulb that did not exist before that goes off. Does not mean he/she will follow it, at least it is there.

    Those kids at the end had to say goodbye before they were ready to go. When we told them at the lake that day, all of them cried. All of them were scared, all of them did not know what lay in store for them. Not one of you guys had to be there for that and for you to talk so bad about a school consistently, it is just heartbreaking.

    I know someone will respond to this and over-analyze and question something I wrote and try and blow it up and exploit it. I know someone will criticize certain points. The fact of the matter is, i don't care and tell me something I already didn't know.

    I hope all of you guys have a good night...And for the many people that did go to that school and read this blog site everyday, you know exactly who i am and I love each and every one of you...

  7. Dear "Professional",

    At least the kids got to say goodbye to you. More than many who were incarcerated at HLA/RCS, who didn't get to say goodbye to their families and had contact severed with all except their parents; and that was limited and censored.

    Curious about the day at the lake. How were the children told? Was drama used to manipulate their feelings? More maverick "therapy" that's not evidence based?

    If you were there two years, then you know of all the violations of regulations. You knew about the attempted suicides that went unreported. You knew the environment you were working in was unethical and that the unorthodox methods induce violence.

    In the interest of demonstrating your 'care' about the children, please elaborate on why you didn't report the heinous abuse and dangerous environment? Which was largely understaff and lacking employees with credentials.

    You can't speak to what happened before you arrived, but others can. You also can't speak to how long any "success stories" last after the child leaves. History has shown HLA/RCSs definition of success is skewed. There's a reason they don't keep track of these kids. Have you ever seen a demographic of 'graduates'?

    Are you interested in how many kids rebounded into taking drugs worse than before; or those who started using who hadn't before and/or those whose first exposure to drugs was at the very facility claiming to 'treat' it? And what of the many who suicided after leaving? Yes, let's see the numbers of success stories.

    Parents who are paying $5400 a month, refinanced their house to get the 'best' care possibly, or took out loans; expect more than glorified baby-sitting; and poor quality at that.

    What of the violent children taken throughout the years, which was against HLA/RCSs stated policies? You are aware that that amounts to lying to parents, right? The legal term- FRAUD. People placed their children there to keep them out of the juvenile system where violence is rampant.

    What of the severely distressed children who HLA/RCS was not qualified to 'help', in any sense of the word. Head for beds. That's what your employer is interested in. This was a business, not some philanthropic endeavor on his part. Far's I can tell, he is a cold-blooded snake who lacks any care or concern for other people.

    You're an apologist for the program, lack ethics yourself. And the sad thing is that you are out there working with children with no clue of how ignorant you are about the needs of children. If you hold a credential, it should be revoked.

    Perhaps you'll think about that and a "light bulb that was not there before" will go off for you.

  8. Pat yourself on the back if it makes you feel better. Why don't you take a trip down your two years of memory lane and name all the children that were hospitalized because they were bludgeoned by your wonderful intakes of violent, felonious, adjudicated out-of-state youths, or combined violent DJJ/DFCS funded youths, or possibly the children that were severely, behaviorally, and psycho-socially disturbed, inappropriately admitted to an unlicensed PRTF or RTF for that matter. Yes, let us speak of those children and their caretakers that were night staff and recreation staff, that did not know anything about their care, nor were they qualified, other than in "Mind Restraint." Let us speak of the DFCS and DJJ youths that were admitted there that were MAXIMUM RBWO's that were violent, and no other facility would take them but Ridge Creek, who in turn commingled them; they too needed special care, round the clock supervision, and got none by qualified licensed staff. Most required Special Education for their IEP's like the other children, but there was none, which also violated ICPC laws. Let us speak of the children that have nowhere to go because the owner bilked their parents of everything knowing they were going under. Records were not kept or manufactured, which parents cannot get. Let us speak of the latest staff that the owner brought from Alabama, fine people, knowing good and well the facility was going under. He didn't care. You speak of the children? You were a mandated reporter and did nothing. It is more than clear from your statement "I don't care," that regarding ethics, you have none. Heartbreaking? No we weren't there, we just took the calls to hear the sobs and wails of parents whose children were horribly hurt, where hospital bills mounted and the school took no responsibility, where attempted suicides by hanging were not reported, and statutory rapes were contained and deemed consensual, a "sanctuary" where sexual predators were admitted into the facility. Knock yourself out and pat yourself on the back some more, then think of M.A.'s face, broken, and the myriad of other children that were broken when you go to sleep at night. You have taken on your mentor's narcissistic qualities. Be proud.

  9. Hello!

    Like I said you would do, you took points in my response and criticized it to the fullest. Something I knew you would do in the first place. I am just first going to first start off by saying I am glad that they got to say goodbye to us, especially the staff who was there till the end. They will not forget that, parents thanked us numerous times on how it was handled.

    They were told the truth, that the place would be closing down. It didn't need a long explanation, they trust us so that is all that mattered.

    Who said we didn't report attempted suicides? Direct care staff did that, the State of Georgia would come in and question us, on every single one that happened, and it was not that many. I agree, one is too many, because it is severely traumatizing, but it was reported and documented, Every single one that I was there for.

    We were always in ratio for the students during the day and throughout the night. Never went understaffed. If there was a problem, other staff were pulled to fill the ratio. Were you even there? Could you attest to seeing it differently?

    You seem to try and create this utopian facility that has everyone coming out holding hands never making a mistake again. That is not how it works. Would love it too, but you are asking kids to not be kids. The problem and always has been is they go back to the same environment they came from, and more importantly they go back to the same guardians who were in charge of them. Not all of them are bad, but when one does not make changes at home, it does not matter what type or treatment you send them too, it has a high chance of going back to the way it was...Look up that statistic as well.

    What is violent to you? I agree that it should not have been listed in policy or the website about violent children, but some of the most stable/non-violent kids before even getting admitted into the program, broke their parents windows, threatened their parents to not put them there, etc. Is that violent, some would say yes? But on that area I don't understand why that was said either, because it is a debatable area, one that people could take to heart.

    Then of course Bucci has to be named in here. Yea some kids couldn't be helped and needed more treatment. We did not dump them out on the streets. We found placements for them, or did the best we could. The place could have been run better, definitely.

    And your last paragraphs. Who are you to say my license is to be revoked? Who are you to say I lack ethics? I never once said anything to bad about you in that regards. If we are going to make assumptions, that is not fair, you dont even know me or what I have been through.

    I have been proven to work well with kids, take care of their best interest at heart. I don't need a license or some blogger to tell me otherwise. If you are so evidenced based, then I go by the evidence too. I have had over 20 different kids parents come to me months after they left thanking me. I have kids write me, I have kids tell me they loved me for me helping them the way I did. That is the only evidence I need. I don't judge anyone. I treat every kid with the ultimate of respect. I refuse to say anything bad towards you, because in the end it is not about you or me, it is about the kids, at least that is something I hope we can both agree on.

    P.S. I don't have a license, but when I do, i will sure as heck make sure I help any kid that needs it

  10. How many attempted suicides did you hear of in the last 2 years.-- 16? How many do you know were reported to Lumpkin County Sherriff- 0 according to the Sherriff. How many were reported to The Department of Human Services (DHS) Office of Residential Child Care (ORCC).
    Numerous ORCC reports cite inadequate supervision-- under ratio. The ORCC cited one of the underlying causes of the the riot the lack of staff on duty that day- which flies in the face of you always being in ratio.
    Where you and the others that were in ratio, properly trained? ORCC regularly cited Ridge Creek for inadequate training.
    How did children sneak out and not get noticed or how did children smoke in dorms and not get caught was that because bed checks were not made in compliance with requirements.
    who supplied the cigarettes, dip and weed--- Staff?
    Why were parents not told about Food Service Pulling out on Friday ? and given the weekend to come and pick up students or make plans rather than wait till Monday to notify them.
    Was that so that a sale of equipment could be planned before attorneys could react to protect their Liens?
    Would you consider the following as violent acts?--- knocking someone's teeth out, breaking their nose, breaking a cheek bone, shooting up a house with a Tech 22, stabbing someone
    If it truly was about the kids you would have ensured what you saw was reported and That students were treated with respect by all including the owner,
    Numerous ORCC reports cite staff taunting students, verbally abusing children even physically abusing students- if you were present on any of these occasions did you step in and stand up for the kids against fellow staff?
    The Road to hell is paved with good intentions. Many who worked at Ridge Creek had good intentions, but if you stood by and watched what went on that makes you complicit.

  11. I obviously can not comment on all those but I I will say parents were notified, in some cases e sheriffs were called to escort kids who were thinking of attempting to suicide to go get evaluated, the day of the riot, the staff were in ratio, and any time there was a staff that was not maintaining safe behavior whether allowing kids to hurt others, or providing them with negative substances, if that happened at all, they were gone. I would never work for a place that allowed that to go on. Kids were protected and I stood up for them many times if need be. There were good staff there but you have to remember we were not there all the time. I never would back down from anyone that was trying to negatively affect the kids. I loved them and still do, that is why I stayed. I reported what I could, I talked to dhs, I can assure you that it was not a riot...four kids broke stuff, the rest walked out and was alarmed when they realized those kids had broke stuff. It doesn't matter if you have thirty staff on, if everyone decides to walk out, it is hard to control...that is why the sheriff was called. But my bet is that you were not there. They had great meals that weekend..ask any kid there, we had so much fun, but I'm sure you don't know any kids that were there. Thank you for your time, but I am sure you will need the last word...

  12. This is in response to the previous postings on this blog from “Anonymous”, who was a Ridge Creek employee.

    I was there too, dude, so I know where you’re coming from. My guess is you were “rec”, so you had a different take on things than the counselors and teachers; and judging from the years I was there, a totally different relationship with students. If I’m right, you also had no, or extremely limited, interaction with management, read Buccellato. If you’d had that kind of experience, you might have an entirely different view of Hidden Lake Academy/Ridge Creek School.

    You probably don’t know, except through rumor and innuendo which you may have discounted, what kind of man you were working for. You may not know that Buccellato himself is a psychotic basket case… a sexual predator who has settled numerous sexual molestation lawsuits by paying off those staff whom he tried to coerce into a homosexual relationship. You probably don’t know about the huge sums of money that was diverted from the HLA/RCS operating budget to pay for his “boy toys”… money that could have been used to pay for desperately needed school supplies, and salaries for staff, and even food for the students. Do you know about that, Anonymous? Probably not.

    You were there for the last couple years. How many “therapists” did you know there whom you would trust to counsel your own children, if you have any? How many teachers did you know there whom you would trust to teach your children? If you owned a school, Anonymous, would you have employed the admissions staff who were there at Ridge Creek School during your tenure to ride herd over the admission of students into your school? Somehow, judging from what I know of you only from your postings here, I doubt it.

    From what I know about you, which admittedly is very little, my guess is you are competent, committed, and idealistic. But you are also naïve, Anonymous; and as is typical of those of us who are naïve, you see only what your ideals allow you to see. Your intentions may have been, and most likely were, pure; but you bet on the wrong horse, dude. Buccellato screwed you just like he did hundreds and hundreds of families, and at least as many staff who believed in him and the deception he presented as his “vision”. You were used, pal; and I hope that pisses you off as much as it did me and the legion of other former HLA/RCS staff who were used, too. My advice would be to take a second look at where you’ve been and where you are; and after you’ve done that, maybe you’ll have second thoughts about where you want to go.

    At the end of the day, Anonymous, it’s all about the kids, the students at this or any other school, and their parents who desperately grasp at any straw to help their sons and daughters. It’s about truth; it’s about being honest regarding what you can, and what you cannot, do to help them. What it’s not about, or shouldn’t be about, is how much money you can make off the misfortunes of others.

    Good luck, Anonymous.

  13. In reponse to Ridge Creek School staff: The staff was cited countless times in ORCC reports over the years as not in ratio and throughout the intake reports by DFCS and the ORCC, "****Based on record review, resident and staff interviews, the agency failed to provide for the
    needs, care, protection, and supervision of the children in care." More importantly, "ORCC rules require that staffing is based on the needs of the children in care, not a specific ratio even if your agency's policy contains a ratio." ORCC document "INTAKE ID #GA00094081. Please educate yourself. The 2nd "riot" - according to your statement, the LCSO logs and their reports are fabricating and elaborating on these incidents.

  14. Response to former Ridge Creek Staff member:

    You can have the last word!
    Let the last word be the answers to the unanswered questions from my comment.
    For reference, the previous posts in response to your comments are not mine.
    You may be dealing with 2 or 3 different responses to your comments.
    Under Georgia Mandatory Reporting Law failing to report is a crime whether you thought someone else was reporting or not you had a responsibility to report.
    Calling the Sheriff for an escort is very different to calling to report a child just attempted suicide, or was beaten so badly he needed to go to the hospital.
    If you were truly aware of what was occurring on campus you would know that several staff supplied students pot and for months nothing happened. Several staff even smoked with students on field trips and were not fired for that. Staff abused a student and it wasn’t even reported by the staff who witnessed it. The reason for many of the ORCC investigations were not that Ridge Creek reported the incidents; as with most of the self reported incidents ORCC took Ridge Creek’s word and did not investigate.
    It was incidents reported by parents and others who became aware of the incidents that resulted in investigations by ORCC.
    Also, ORCC does not have set ratios--the rules require the number of staff necessary to serve the needs of the student population. Some of the students admitted had IEPS with DFCS or DJJ that called for Maximum Oversight, which would have called for one staff for that one student if the rules were followed. If staff was told there was a set ratio they were not told the truth and probably were also not told the truth about the admission policy being violated on a regular basis with inappropriate placements?
    I have not questioned the need for facilities to help troubled youth; I have questioned the ethical management and operation of the facility for the children and not the profit.
    I have no doubt your heart is in the right place and you probably related better and helped many students more than their assigned therapists. With all the violations going on around you did you just do your job, or did you advocate for change and for the facility TO DO THE RIGHT THING FOR THE STUDENTS
    Rules for management to consider when running an above board program to help children and not yourself
    Don’t tell Parents or for that matter State Education Departments that are paying you to provide Special Ed services when you don’t have a Special Ed certified Teacher on staff and create individual education plans to meet the student’s needs.
    Don’t tell parents you use the Psychological evaluation to help provide the services the student needs as well as provide the teachers guidance in what the student needs, when the evaluation is not even share it with the teacher.

  15. "Mandatory reporting" - not to worry it is a crime not to report it, a misdemeanor, fine, 'cause it's only a child's life. But you do not need to worry because you don't have a license, so the state can't take it.

  16. To the previous staff member,

    I completely agree with you, I never said I liked Buccellato. I was there for a different purpose. I loved certain aspects of the job. I said myself it could have or should have been run by better people. That place would still be running if he had cut his losses and left a long time ago. My problem was from the beginning that it hurt the last kids that were there tremendously bc there was direct care staff and counselors that were there were trying hard to turn it around... I just did not want to have people forget about that. But I agree with you and thank you for that...I can tell that you saw good things there and that you seem like a honest man. I was just difficult at that place because at times I felt like a one man army, but knew my purpose was to stay there to provide some sort of stability. Working with that program did not change me, working with the kids did and everything I saw there, heard about, saw that was unethical, whatever, I turned in to my supervisors and at times told outside sources as well. If I ever felt like I did not do that, i would have left. I was a kid like many of them at one time, so I know what they are going through. Some kids even read this site and would come back from breaks talking about what was on here, same with Fornits. Some kids would even post on there or here. Probably a lot of the information on here was gotten from the kids, as they knew everything. I just wish for the sake of everyone things would have turned out different for all paeries. At the end of the day, we have kids who were shortcutted, good staff without a job, and many upset parents, something that should not have happened. Have a good night, and i pray that things one day will change. Thanks!

  17. To clarify for the above poster: No information was acquired regarding the Ridge Creek School facility from students by Jilliestake.

    Jilliestake staff

  18. what about the kids that supposedly graduated but their problems were not dealt with.
    what about those who left because parents saw the negative environment and did not get the therapy they needed
    What about those that were negatively impacted by the adjudicated students being admitted and disrupting their therapy.
    who cried for them
    Why were the 25 still enrolled at the end any more important than the others that attended Ridge Creek.
    It had to come to an end, while it might have done some good It never even had a chance of doing what it promised. the greed and lack of ethics resulted in too many shortcuts, broken promises to children staff and families. I believe anyone would have a hard time saying the positive impact was felt by more people than those who experienced a negative impact
    Many more have gone before the 25 that were still enrolled at the end Most of them were short changed or never received the services they paid for.
    Who spoke up for them being shortcutted.
    I pray justice will prevail and the owner and the state will be called to task for all their sins-- Including those of ommission

  19. Ridge Creek School, it's owner and every staff person I dealt with there are the biggest frauds, liars and incompetents I've every met in my life. Save the rhetoric and the I-closed-my-eyes to-everything and the I-didn't-know crap! I don't know how any of you sleep at night. If you want to be honest and care about the kids so much, tell parents how they will get the refunds many of us are owed. I'm Anonymous Truthful, not the Anonymous above who worked at this concentration camp and is obviously on a guilt trip.


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