Melvin Floyd "Mel" Sembler (born May 10, 1930) is former United States Ambassador to Italy (2001–2005), and former Ambassador to Australia and Nauru (1989–1993). He has also served as Chairman of the Board of the Sembler Company, which develops and manages shopping centers, and co-founder of Straight, Inc., a controversial drug-treatment center. Sembler is the chairman of the Scooter Libby Legal Defense Trust, and was a co-chair of the Florida Finance Committee for Mitt Romney.
His work as a staunch anti-drug activist and founder of adolescent drug treatment program STRAIGHT is well-known.
At one facility in Yorba Linda, California, state investigators found that STRAIGHT Inc. subjected children to “unusual punishment, infliction of pain, humiliation, intimidation, ridicule, coercion, threats, mental abuse…and interference with daily living functions such as eating, sleeping and toileting.” Samantha Monroe, who was placed into a STRAIGHT Inc clinic in Tampa at age 13, says she was locked in a room, and forced to wear a clothes stained with urine, feces and menstrual blood—a punishment her counselors called “humble pants.”
From 1976 through 1985, Mel and Betty Sembler's program was known as STRAIGHT, Inc. It had a reputation that wouldn't quit for abusing kids as a drug rehabilitation program. In 1985 it changed its name to the Straight Foundation, Inc. in order to protect its money and its principals from civil suits. And in 1995 it was changed again to Drug Free America Foundation. Today, DFAF exists as a national and international drug policy think tank. As many as 50,000 kids were in the STRAIGHT program. The Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network also calls STRAIGHT Inc. "the biggest violator of human rights and civil liberties that the USA has ever seen." "There are thousands of us out here," Fuss said. "We all still suffer, we live with unimaginable emotional scars."
Sembler was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Italy by President George W. Bush, being sworn in on 16 November 2001. [...] President George W. Bush appointed Sembler to serve on the Honorary Delegation to accompany him to Jerusalem for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel in May 2008.
Betty Schlesinger Sembler (Personal)
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