Head of Camp in Arizona Is Arrested in Boy's Death

New York Times/February 16, 2002
By James Sterngold

Seven months after a 14-year-old boy died from exposure at an unregulated boot camp for troubled youth near Phoenix, the head of the camp, Charles F. Long II, was arrested yesterday and charged with second- degree murder.

Mr. Long, 56, who calls himself a colonel in the America's Buffalo Soldiers Re-enactors Association, the organization that runs the camp, was also charged with eight counts of child abuse, aggravated assault and marijuana possession. At a hearing in Phoenix this afternoon, a judge set bail at $100,000, and Mr. Long was ordered to have no contact with children other than his own. He will be arraigned on Feb. 22.

David Burnell Smith, Mr. Long's lawyer, said that his client, though filled with sorrow over the death, intended to plead not guilty and to fight the charges.

"This was a case of negligence, pure and simple," said Mr. Smith, adding that the negligence was on the part of other camp employees, not Mr. Long. "He's spent 10 years running the camp because he's trying to help kids, not hurt them."

In addition, a worker at the camp, Raymond Burr Anderson, 39, was charged with child abuse for his role in what the sheriff's department described as a pattern of abuse at the camp, which is in the desert west of Phoenix. His lawyer, David Derickson, said that Mr. Anderson would plead not guilty at his arraignment, also on Feb. 22.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, said that his officers had also arrested a 17-year-old worker at the camp, Sirveorge Jones, on child abuse charges and that two more arrests were expected shortly.

The arrests followed the death last July of Tony Haynes, a troubled 14- year-old who, the authorities said, collapsed after being forced to endure temperatures of well over 100 degrees without adequate water, shade or care. According to the medical examiner, Tony died of complications from dehydration and near- drowning from a bath intended to cool him off.

Other youths at the camp told of beatings, of being denied food and water and being forced to eat mud. Sheriff Arpaio called the camp "horrific," and said his officers found bruises on many of the youths. One camper, Justin Hurff, has said that counselors singled out Tony for particularly tough treatment.

The camp, which is said to have closed for two months after Tony's death and reopened in September, is now in the middle of its spring term.

"It's operating this weekend," Mr. Smith said.

Gov. Jane Dee Hull set up a panel to investigate the camps and now there are two bills in the legislature that would regulate such camps and require them to obtain licenses, just as child-welfare agencies do.

The boot camps are highly debated, with their supporters saying that the "tough love" approach, forcing youngsters to adapt to a rugged environment, can transform children who have had trouble with rules. Critics say that the methods used amount to child abuse.

Some parents and even some children who had attended Mr. Long's camp have praised him as helping improve the self-esteem and sense of discipline of the campers.

Carol Kamin, executive director of the Children's Action Alliance in Arizona, a nonprofit child-advocacy group, sat on the governor's panel and said the legislation was important in bringing proper oversight to such camps. Under current law, if the camps are in session for less than a year, then they do not need licenses.

"The current loophole in the law is the size of the Grand Canyon and it needs to be closed," Ms. Kamin said. "Unless that happens nothing will have come of this tragedy."

Tony was sent to the boot camp by his mother, who said she had been unable to control his behavior. Tony was one of roughly 40 boys and girls, ages 7 to 17, who had been sent for a 14-week session.

Tony apparently collapsed after hours in the heat. He was left in a motel bathtub to cool off; when counselors returned, a sheriff's affidavit said, they found him face-down in water. Tony was then returned to the camp. One camper said the counselors called for help when Tony stopped breathing and turned blue.

An emergency medical crew came to the camp, about 15 miles south of Buckeye, Ariz., after a 911 call, but Tony was declared dead shortly afterward.

Although there have been complaints about how long it has taken to arrest Mr. Long, Sheriff Arpaio said he needed to be sure the investigators had all the evidence before pursuing charges.

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