Cedu Documentary Clip 10 – Run Away pt. 1

Is it possible to escape the bonds of mountaintop reform school? Students tried, and tried, and tried again…

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About Liam Scheff

"Author, Artist, Film, Permaculture." Liam Scheff is a writer, artist and stand-up lecturer on issues that people usually don't make comic books about. (Visit liamscheff.com). Liam's highly-praised book "Official Stories" reveals the complex details behind the myths of our times.

Posted on April 23, 2009, in Surviving Cedu. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Thank you for posting these video clips. I’m looking forward to seeing the documentary in full. Regarding the running away, I always found it scary when people would take off. The whole campus would be on an extra close watch, lots of whispering between staff, older students were expected to keep an eye on people the staff would think might follow the runaways examples. I remember having to be an older student escort for people who had run away and following them around wherever they went, hearing their stories of what happened in those few days they were gone.

    When people attempted to go down the “backside” of the mountain (in Cedu California), they would be caught in 2 to 3 days, because that is how long it took to get down the mountain. I remember hearing two people say that they would go as far and as fast as they could until it was too dark to see and then lay down to sleep and when they woke up they would have to lay there and just thaw out because their limbs felt as if they were frozen. They would also come back looking scraped up and dirty. No wonder everyone (almost) got caught. I think you would stick out like a sore thumb being a young teenager with no identification, money, etc and looking like you just got back from a wilderness trip in the middle of a city.

    Good job on the documentary so far. Looking forward to seeing more. Thank you.

  2. Great clip!!! Haven’t seen the pit and some places since I went to visit in 99. And him getting a strip search with Martin isn’t a search as much as a fit test, also what was the nickname we called those rocks anyway. I never “split” though I wanted to. I didn’t have the street smarts to really make it. I just fought the good fight.

  3. Shannon (Joseph) Rosenthal

    At CEDU I think we called it the “stone couch”.
    I “Split” 3 times, eventually making it down the mountain barefoot, with another girl. We didn’t want the Running Springs or Arrowhead people to recognize us as runaways, not that the plaid shirts wouldn’t have given us away! For the record, I/we didn’t see any bears. I did however end up at RMA two weeks later, only to run from there a year and a half later, after having sex and being threatened with a full time. I miss being on bans sometimes.

  4. Danny Ray Pursley

    My brother is Blake Pursley, if anyone remembers him I would love to hear from you. My email is kinda_wild_02@yahoo.com. Please make Blake the subject line.
    Danny Ray

  5. I went to cedu in 2003 and I ran away twice and had no issues getting down the mountain. haha, the first time I hitched with another girl and we made it back to my hometown only to get picked up by the cops. Im pretty sure I blocked the punishment for that out of my memory. The second time I went with another girl and, well, Id rather not say what happened from there but we were gone for a few days. Yup, that place sucked royally and they kicked me out to send me to second nature bootcamp in utah. Thank god they did because anything was better then being there and the staff werent complete assholes.

    The first day I was there my parents just dropped me off and didnt tell me anything. They took me into a “group therapy session” with a bunch of kids staring me down and I had to listen to a guy talk about having sex with a horse and how it has scared him for life. I almost fell over in my chair laughing and I was the only one! But I mean, come on its funny right?

    The method they used for discipline was ridiculous. Digging stumps out with a spoon? retarded! It was so cold in my dorm that i had to sleep in the main common room at night. Obviously they didnt give us proper blankets for snow and winter weather. I was in and out of that place within 3-4 months and thank god I did run away and gotten kicked out. I would have had to stay there for another year….no way. Glad that place is gone so they cant make any more kids suffer!

  6. Liam – Your documentary is powerful bud good work. It is like re living a mentally blocked school that I felt I could never explain to another person. People I have run into from Cascade give you a weird look saying let’s keep that secret. I attempted to meet with a staff member named Eric Melzer when I discovered he was near where I was working. He dodged and avoided me hmm………..? Cascade had some good people working at the school especially Barb and Craig Cass. The wilderness expeditions were awesome as well as outdoor activities and ranching. The propheets and rap sessions in retrospect seem overly intense for kids and have a mind contol framework. A difficult experience to explain to people who haven’t been involved. This was the reason they hired students as staff. The point I keep hearing, about education and training in regards to staff is weak. Many phsychiatrists and doctors were involved in this chain of events. The society as a whole in the 80’s was greedy and excessive. Our parents should be held accountable for showing no interest in the children. When the staff would say your family doesn’t want you at home which was brutal to hear ” rang true “. How harsh is that – good kids abandoned by selfish parents who want time for themselves and care about that only! The entire staff and students believed in the propheets and raps thus all were brainwashed. The fact that the staff continue on and on in the exact same field shows they are struggling to adapt out of the Syanon System. For the record in my era at Cascade 84 – 87. It was a safe place in regards to staff. We did not have any abuse type incidents. The only potential abuse claims are mental in regards to the sometimes frightening raps or propheets that encouraged sleep deprivation, malnourishment and molded thoughts as well as excessive punishment for not following the so called ” agreements “. Fascinating subject to me! I was appalled to learn about Straight Inc. and the abuse going on in those drug rehabs. What is wrong with our society and why does it accept abuse so easily and turn away. Learning about atrocities on our kids with the rehab front scam is astonishing. Sending your kids to rehab in the 80’s was standard operating procedure. If you drank beer or smoked weed you were destined to be a heroin addict. Total B.S. insanity! It was like the inquisition of the unfortunate youth who became teens in the 1980’s era. Imprisoning your own kids for just being average ordinary typical teens. It was the parents who were manipulated so easily. The students at CEDU INC had to be so strong to survive the mental manipulation and stay positive throughout. Anyone who graduated from these schools is powerful and should be commended. A battle royal with the mind and inner strength. – GH

  7. I was a staff member at the CEDU Middle School for about 3 months in 2004. I was hired because of my background in the military and corrections. My wife worked at the high school she was much better educated (She had at the time a BA in Psychology and a BA in Education and was working on her Masters) however they were more interested in hiring me because of my background and I was paid more money than she was however it was not much. I remember never really being comfortable with what my duties were and never felt like I was properly trained to take part in Raps. About 2 months into the job I was groped by a student and when I sought out advice from management I was blown off like it was not a big deal. I was seriously not comfortable with the touching and smushing at CEDU. I felt bad for the kids and really wanted to help them however I was not sure that the program was doing anything for them and believed that most of the students didn’t need that type of help. I believe the staff members of the middle school were all truly good people who wanted to help the kids however some of them seemed brainwashed to me. I still feel bad that I needed to lie to the children that I was trying to help by telling them I would come and visit them but I was creeped out by that school and never wanted to come back. It is a shame because it was such a beautiful property. It was not long before I sought out new employment and was hired for another job. Shortly after I left, my wife reported another staff member (her supervisor) at the High School for having inappropriate relations with a student. She was immediately retaliated from other supervision and management and she was force to quit.

  8. I went to CEDU in Running Springs in 1982-1983 (or around that time) I split twice, once through the main gates which did not work well, and the second time down the back of the mountain. Through perserverence, many little miracles, and the kindness of many strangers who sheltered me and transported me, I was able ovr about a week to make it several hundred miles north to my home. My parents finally understood and believed the horrors I had been trying to tell them (while being monitored on the phone of course, and letters blacked out) about CEDU and I did not have to go back.

    I still have nightmares to this day about the attack groups and profeets which were just longer, sleep deprived attack groups. I would sit in those meetings and sing banned heavy metal songs in my head over and over to protect myself from the insanity. The final straw was in a profeet when the leader (I believe it was Rudy?) told us he had had sex with a sheep or goat, and made us go around the room confessing animal cruelty we had committed…even if we hadnt commited it. Of course survival dictated that I make something up which I did. I decided then and there that I would keep running until I was free of that evil “school”. I am so grateful that I got out as fast as I did.

  9. James g Fitzgerald

    I went to cedue in the fall of I think ’81 for about month
    ran away twice I wound not go back I was only 14yrs old it seem like everyone was brain washed I had a weird feeling about the place When I ran away the second time I ran right back to juvenile hall actually it was a House Off juvenile hall. I would go back to Cede so the state of California had no choice but to put me out of bus Back to Chicago I have more stories But it’s too emotional to talk about right now But I’ll try to write back later

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