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October 22, 2009

Letter alleges abuse at Hancock school

About 4,000 Delaware County residents and officials recently received a letter alleging abusive conditions at the Family Foundation School in Hancock.

Brian Lombrowski, president of the Brooklyn-based Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth, said the letter was sent out by the group to gather information about school conditions.

Jeff Brain, the Family Foundation School's vice president for external relations and acting director of admissions, said the institution is a private therapeutic boarding school for at-risk teens.

On April 24, 2008, Jon Martin-Crawford, a former student at the school and an adviser to the Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth, testified before the House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor about abuse he said he witnessed while at the school from 1995-97, when he was 16 to 18 years old.

Following Martin-Crawford's testimony, Brain wrote the following response:

"We will not dispute his testimony. His experiences are his own and will always remain so, regardless of anything anyone says or does.

"Rather, we wish to unequivocally state: we deeply regret that anyone who has come through our program feels in any way damaged by their experience."

Lombrowski, 29, said he was never a student at the Family Foundation, and that plans for the countywide mailing began after Martin-Crawford's testimony but were delayed because the mailing list was compiled by going through the white pages of Delaware County phone books.

The two-page mailing begins with a page that states, "Attention citizens of Delaware County, a school in your county called the Family Foundation School at 431 Chapel Hill Road in Hancock was recently cited in a federal investigation for institutionalized child abuse."

It asks that anyone with information about the school contact the group and visit The second page is a list of excerpts from seven former students' testimonials.

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