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When embattled White House aide I. Lewis Scooter Libby needed to raise some cash for his upcoming perjury trial, he turned to big-time Republican fundraiser and former ambassador to Italy Melvin Sembler to set up his legal defense fund.
It was an interesting choiceSembler knows a thing or two about the humiliations of involuntary confinement. For 17 years, he directed Straight, Inc., a substance-abuse rehab and behavior modification program that treated American teens like terrorism suspects. Semblers official bio boasts that the remarkable programwhere children had to flap their arms like chickens or else face shaming as sluts and homosexualstreated 12,000 kids. President George H.W. Bush hailed it as one of his thousand points of light. But in the early 90s, amid state investigations and suits filed by clients claiming physical and mental abuse, his clinics were dismantled. Hundreds of Straight alums now claim they were scarred for life, among them Samantha Monroe, who was enrolled in 1980 at age 12 and claims she was starved, raped, and confined in a closet.