Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Who IS Patti Atwoods?

Dear Readers:

There seems to be some question as to who Patti Atwoods is and why it even matters. Patti Atwoods does not exist. She was made up by a deceitful woman - a liar and a fraud - someone claiming to be her in an effort to harm Isabelle Zehnder – a Child and Family Advocate - the Founder and President of the Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse (CAICA). Patti called from San Antonio, Texas - 210-251-2902.

Patti found Isabelle's friend, Sandy, on MySpace and contacted her. Patti lied to Sandy and to Isabelle. This selfish caller took up over three weeks of precious time that could have been used to help other families. She claimed she wanted to remove her nephew from what she believed was an abusive program. (E-mail correspondence below).


It now appears the motive was to try to discredit Isabelle and CAICA who have devoted the past four years to helping families whose children were abused in teen programs and to provide a service to the public by creating what others are calling the most comprehensive website on the topic of institutionalized child abuse.

Isabelle is not radical - she does not believe all programs should be shut down. What Isabelle is trying to accomplish is bringing awareness to the fact that children and teens are being abused in programs and to find a way to not only stop the abuse but to make those who abuse children accountable for their actions.

Who are these people and what drives them?

We have seen a pattern that victims of abuse in these programs seem to despise anyone and anything that is not in line with their ways of thinking. Perhaps this is a result of the years of abuse they themselves endured. Many were mistreated in teen programs and they are very angry, understandably. Some are people with their own hidden agendas.

The sad thing is that victims are misdirecting their anger. The truth of the matter is there are kids who need help that their parents and local therapists can't provide. The anger should be directed at those who abuse children. And rather than stay angry it would be more useful to the cause if everyone worked to find positive solutions and to try to get this industry regulated so that kids do not have to continue to endure abuse behind closed doors. It is daunting – there is a great deal of work to be done to accomplish this. But Isabelle and those at CAICA believe it is a cause worth defending.

“Patti Atwoods” wasted three weeks of precious time that could have been used to help others. "Her" supporters continue to do everything in their power to discredit Isabelle. Threatening e-mails being sent are being taken seriously and have been forwarded to the proper authorities. There is a fine line between free speech and Internet Slander and Defamation. That line has been crossed.

June 27, 2007
Written by:
Editorial Board
Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse (CAICA)

May 9, 2007 6:53 AM
Hello Isabelle,

Thank you for writing.

Sandy has been so great in helping me., and I appreciate her support and time.
My sister enrolled her son, Jason, at Tranquility Bay in January. This is the first special school he has attended. She chose an out-of country school because of he has run away before. Besides Jason's behavioral problems, there is much conflict at home, especially between Jason and my sister's current husband.

My sister planned to use Jason's college fund to pay for TB. I am the executer of Jason's college fund and other funds. I have not approved payment of TB, because the inadequate educational benefits; and what appears to be a lack of psychological counseling. Sandy asked many questions - and I hope she shared the information with you. I will try to remember the important ones: Jason's biological father is not in the picture. I don't know how my sister has been paying TB these past months; or what type of contractual agreements she has signed with this organization. I'm preparing to attend a conference next week, and need to get things nailed down. I'm a CPA, and I am used to working "a plan."

Now, I am confused, and worried about my nephew. I need a "plan" to present to my sister, to convince her to remove Jason from TB immediately. I don't believe Jason can live back at home, due to the ongoing conflicts, and his own issues. If a summer program can be arranged, to be followed by a boarding school in the fall; I believe I can convince my sister to follow this "plan," especially if I agree to release funds to pay the expenses.
I need assistance in finding the proper summer program and school for Jason.[Emphasis added] The school must have academic standards, as well as provide counseling for Jason.

If this does not work--then I will speak with my attorney. I have no "custodial rights," and really do not know my legal rights to intervene in Jason's release from TB. My assistant, Noreen has been helping me research these issues. She confided to me that her brother is having serious problems with his teenage daughter, age 15. They live in Flagstaff, AZ. This girl has been skipping school, using "drugs" (I don't know what kind), ignoring curfews and rules, constantly fighting with her mother, and running around with an older boy they don't approve of. Recently the mother found birth control pills in her purse. There parents have been talking to an Educational Consultant, and have been told about a school in Utah. Noreen doesn't know the name of the school, but now, she wants to be sure it's not one of these wwassp schools.

I won't make any decisions until the end of school. But, Noreen is trying to help them find a good summer program [Emphasis added], and go from there. Isabelle, I am not familiar with parent-teen-coaching. But, I think this would be beneficial for Jason and his mom, if he was away from TB.

Now, he is only allowed letter-writing communications. I hope I answered the questions you needed. Thank you for your concerns.

Date: May 9, 2007 11:36 AM

Hi Sandy,

Patty responded. She sounds legit, but it's hard to say. Please read her e-mail (below) and see if there are any red flags or inconsistencies that jump out at you. I will wait to hear from you before I respond to her.

The only thing she has going for her is that she holds the $$ - if nothing else this child will have money when he comes home (if he ends up staying in TB - which of course I hope he doesn't).

I need to explain more about coaching and how it has helped keep families together. [Emphasis added] It would be nice if she could convince her sister to try that. One problem is the new husband - very common! These new husbands often have no patience
for the wife's teen. I've seen this over and over. And the girl who is going out, etc., she sounds like a teen doing teen things. [Emphasis added] It sounds to me that she and her mom could be helped with coaching rather than sending this child away.

I'd have to know more and be sure the child is not suicidal, etc. Thanks for keeping me in the loop.

Date: May 9, 2007 7:47 PM

Thanks for the info, it helps me understand where things are at. Please either provide me with your phone number and some times I can call you or give me a call at 360-369-6547 or 360-903-3951.

Thanks, Isabelle
Date: May 11, 2007 6:26 PM

Hello Isabelle,

I have been working extended hours in order to meet various deadlines for clients; and to prepare for the NCCPAP Spring Conference I will be attending next week. Are you available to talk by phone in the evenings? This would be better for me, since I am constantly interrupted during the day with client calls at work.

I may return home on Thursday afternoon (May 17th); rather than attend Friday's sessions at the conference. II will see how things go at the office; and how things are progressing with these family issues.

Noreen's brother is looking at a wilderness type program for his daughter, but he has not signed any papers, yet. Noreen has convinced him to look at another option she researched, because she thinks this would be much better for her niece. I't called equine-assisted-therapy, and Noreen is very excited about what she has researched so far. Apparently her niece is an accomplished rider, owns a horse and competes in rodeo type events. Do you know anything about this type of therapy; or do you know of any programs that include "equine therapy" that may be appropriate for a 15 year old girl?
My sister did not hear from Jason this week; but at times his correspondence is sporadic, which concerns me, even if it does not seem to worry her. But then, I have been reading a lot about TB; so my apprehension continues to grow.

Do you know why this Tranquility Bay Documentary film has not been released in the United States? I read the reviews of this film, and I will share this information with my sister. I look forward to discussing options for Jason when I can talk to you by phone. Noreen found a few schools/programs during her research that sound promising for Jason.

Again, I hope to have some type educational plan intact before I confront my sister, and push her to remove Jason from TB immediately. I'm sure that she will not consider removing Jason from TB, without some plan for his enrollment in a summer and fall program. [Emphasis added] Hopefully you can provide the names of acceptable schools; and then I can only hope that these schools will have an opening on such short notice.

Perhaps you can recommend something to help Noreen, too. Noreen says she is afraid her brother is acting too quickly, and needs to take the time to research more thoroughly.
I look forward to hearing what options may be available.

And here is the e-mail that I wrote in response to Patti's very specific requests - the name and number of the transport company used by another parent to transport the adults to and from the airport to the facility, NOT TO TRANSPORT A CHILD AND THIS WAS TO BRING A CHILD HOME - Sue's contact information so her sister could have options - my coaching website - and a way to donate to CAICA:

From: (Isabelle Zehnder)
Subject: Arrangements
Date: Wed, 23 May 2007 19:32:51 +0000

Hi Patty,

We just got off the phone so you know the person to contact is James.
His direct number is 435-229-9378. The main number at Sunrise
Adolescent Transport is 435-673-3202.
The person to contact re the programs is Sue at 954-349-7260. She is aware of the situation so just let her know I sent you to her. I normally don't give out her direct, home phone number but she said OK.

She has over 7 years experience helping families so I feel confident she'll steer us in the right direction, if we need to go that direction. Here's a link to my website regarding coaching in case you want to go that route: Please let the family know I am available to talk with Jason soon after they pick him up from TB. Often it is beneficial for me to talk to the child to let them know what is happening and why. The kids trust me once they know who I am and what I do. If you would like to help CAICA by making a donation, please go to and click on the Visa/MasterCard Donate button. We'd really appreciate it!

Talk to you soon,


Mark Caldwell said...

I will tell your readers one thing you have helped and supported me when my son had his head beat into a concrete floor and all of the other abuse by Dozier staff, my son is still going through this being trapped in a failed system, and I might have broken down, if it had not been for your support in to many ways to type out, and the fact that you still support us and offer your kind help, {never asking for anything in return}, in dealing with this nightmare is real! These people who are making insults and threats, are living in a false reality, they do not know you like we do Isabelle!
If these people want a true abuse story let them call me at 251-947-9477 and I will tell them about how my son has been illegally incarcerated since the age of 13 in Florida's failed Juvenile Justice system and is still being abused by the state of Florida now age 18! How you have helped me to deal with this, and the blogs, and emails, and letters to press and media and trying to bring this abuse to public attention so we can stop it, not just the abuse of my son, but we have found so much more since we started and continue to work on this together, and your skills Isabelle, are excellent in helping others unconditionally!
We love and thank you for your continuing support, and you are an Angel to me and my family!
Most sincerely, Mark Caldwell, I love you son!!!!

Anonymous said...

CAICA, you have my full support!!!

Anonymous said...

Isabelle, I just wanted to also leave MY support for you here. Your readers need to know how much you have also helped me and my family. Without your support, and guidance I too would have broken down. These people don't realise the work and time you put into helping us, the family's that have had children in the Florida DJJ system. I can't express the appreciation that we have for all the time and effort that you have put into helping us and putting out press releases, bring our story to the Country, and never giving up in helping to stop the abuse. My son was held in the Florida DJJ system as well, without your support for him and for us, well, I don't know what we all would have done. Your readers need to know that you were there for us, never asking for anything in return!!
Whoever this group is, and this Patti Atwoods, needs to realise also that what they are doing is pure slander and liable!! Please those that hear or read any of this person's comments and defamation's against Isabelle KNOW that they are LIES and being done to purposely discredit her work.
This woman, Patti Atwoods, and these people are scum for doing this, as in doing so, they are trying to stop Isabelle from saving those who are abused, and giving all she has to
help those in need of her, and most important the kids in this God awful system!! Never give up Isabelle.. your work is the proof of your dedication to all abused Kids and family!!!
Thank you so very much for being there for us Isabelle!!! You are also our Angel!!

Anonymous said...

Isabelle has been nothing but helpful to me and my daughter since I pulled my child from Majestic Ranch Academy in Feb of 2005 after she had spent 4 months there. Isabelle is an honest person, truly trying to help the huge number of abused kids in bogus "programs" which prey on desperate parent's worst fears. You do good work, Isabelle, and CAICA is a godsend for many of us trapped between a rock and a hard place in dealing with a system that truly does not care about kids, and greedy,inhumane "programs" that claim to help our kids, when in reality they make a bad situation much worse, after picking the family's pockets.
Tricia Bolster

Dawn Chase said...

I cannot believe that this person would be so bold as to make such horrible statements, and threats to you Isabelle. I cannot thank you enough for the support and the friendship that you have given me and my Son Christopher Sholly.
He too was abused in the Florida DJJ system, and had his childhood and adolescent years stolen from him.
These rotten people do not know the support that you offer to us.
You've given us the support and help without asking for anything in return. I want to thank you for this. Your readers need to know that these people are guilty of defamation of your character, and slander. ANYONE that talks against a person that is only out there to help STOP abuse of children is guilty of abuse to each of them, and to the family's that have had to endure the pain of knowing that they are helpless against this system! Chalk all of this up to their ignorance Isabelle, and KNOW that you too have support from all of the family's and kids that you have helped and been there for!!! We love you, and thank you!!
Dawn Chase
Mother of a VICTIM of DJJ abuse!

Cathy Corry, JUSTICE4KIDS.ORG said...

Isabelle and CAICA,

Tragically, many children suffer abuse by people entrusted to care for them. You are the bright light that shines over this evil darkness! I have the utmost respect for your devotion to child advocacy and I believe that you have saved many lives!

Those who slander or marginalize child advocates are typically the same people who profit from the child-warehousing industry.

I have encountered similar evildoers in my advocacy work over the past seven years. Sadly, corruption, injustice and evil are so widespread. I have come to view our advocacy as 'good' against the 'evil'. We are often the only voice to save the children!

Julie Hoefs said...

Isabelle and Ciaca were extremely supportive and helful to me and my family when my 7 year old niece Angellika "Angie" was killed due to being held in a prone restraint. She got paid nothing and still she worked very hard to spread the word to show how dangerous prone restraint is. It sickens me to think somebody would try to discredit the work you do. For someone to waste that much of your time when you could be helping someone who truely needs it is just sad!!! We appreciate Ciaca and Isabelle!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Isabelle,

Throughout the last year and a half, I have come to know and trust you. You were the only advocate who took the time to talk, listen and gain my trust. I have dealt with many professionals in the 9 years I have been managing my child's problems. You are the only one who has gone the distance to hold accountable those who assult, molest, torture and murder innocent children.

The professionals that are entrusted with our "problem" children are lacking compassion, vision, and patience. They are under paid by those who are flush with the high dollar payments the parents make hoping for REAL help for their children.

I brought my child home from a WWASP program after learning that a staff was having sex with one of the students there. The school covered up the crime. Other parents shut their eyes and claimed that "we" (the parents who knew for a fact it was true) we're lying, as an excuse to bring our child home.

My child was not totally ready to return to regular public school. I kept my child home for another nine months. During this time, I became acquainted with you and the services CAICA provides. Your support and coaching provided validation, clarity and insight in what to do next.

I am aware of the slander, defamation and threats of harm to your foundation, self and family. After reading posts about you on this offending web site, I not only found it to be vile but the level of dishonesty is appalling. Their intent is criminal. Please know that I support you 100%. I am available when you need me, as you have been there for me & my child.

In all sincerity and support,
Name withheld until pending lawsuit is settled.

July 5, 2007 10:25 AM

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I want your readers to know just how important your work is, and how much you helped our family when we were faced with removing my son from Tranquility Bay in Jamaica.

It was such a trying time, and you took time off from your busy schedule to talk with me, and calm my daughter, and help us make an informed decision.

You went out of your way to sway us from placing him in any other facility, and never once mentioned another facility as an alternative.

You spent many hours on the phone, writing letters, and sending emails to the appropriate authorities, all without ever asking for anything in return.

The statements being made on that website are slanderous lies, and I agree that it boarders on being acts of criminal-like behavior. They are trying very hard to mutilate the great work you've done for so many families, and with God's help, will continue to do for as long as you're willing and able. And your record speaks for itself, and try as they might, they can't change the facts that you are a true child advocate.

Thank you again for all the support you've given us over these past few months.


July 5, 2007 4:08 PM

Julie D. said...

Isabelle is a woman of great courage and conviction. She has never given her service for the money. She has great concern for those that can't help themselves and has tirelessly devoted herself to this cause. Those who would discredit her need to take a look at themselves.

Anonymous said...

Diana Matthews said...

Wow .I have known You and The website CAICA site for over four years now , Since the MURDER of my son Daniel in Florida PCDJJ.......

This is insaine to accuse you of anything ! You are amongst the few that help me to keep going where I may have just ended my life due to the atrocities that occure to our children on a daily basis ....

CAICA has always help me in any request I have sent and I have sent many over the years about other children.

Such as help for Mark Caldwell .... Not once have I ever heard the words money or donate to Caica.Org...

Yet I have witnessed much help for families in need .....For any that doubt it I will more then happy to give details ...

Sweetie I am so mad at reading this email. I can not think at the moment..... Why is it so hard for PEOPLE TO SEE CHILDREN ARE OUR MOST PRECIOUS GIFT GIVEN US....

Diana Matthews

July 11, 2007 2:35 PM