Corporate Accountability

CRC Cries Foul and Art Levine Responds

Dr. Philip Herschman, CRC's clinical director, responded to our July 18 investigation into Bain Capital's investment in the troubled chain of residential treatment facilities by calling the investigation “inaccurate, unbalanced and disheartening.” Here is reporter Art Levine's response:

I wish that CRC had provided me access to “top executives” at the chain. Unfortunately, CRC did not allow me to speak any of the firm’s decision-makers, including current and former CEOs and facility executives, despite repeated requests. I was allowed access only to clinical director Dr. Phil Herschman, spokesperson Kristen Hayes, and two leaders of SUWS of the Carolinas, including executive director Shawn Farrell. But I had to track down on my own former staffers, some of whom risked their livelihoods in the field to speak with me, and only managed to speak with many facility officials by going undercover, posing as a concerned parent or guardian. My reporting was based on these interviews, along with extensive review of lawsuits, reports by state regulators, and interviews with former CRC residents — not the outside “critics” Dr. Herschman derides.

Dr. Herschman goes on to repeat CRC claims familiar from the promotional materials I cited that the vast majority of CRC clients report positive outcomes. He has no basis for this claim. CRC’s much-touted 10,000-parent survey was returned by less than 15 percent of respondents. And when researchers have looked closely at their outcome surveys, they’ve been found to lack good science. We never disputed that residential treatment programs for adult addicts can be helpful, when the facilities are well run by well-trained staff. But Dr. Herschman doesn’t cite a single peer-reviewed study in any reputable journal that makes the case that CRC’s teen residential treatments work, and that’s because there are none.

The 20 quality control officials that CRC claims to deploy somehow missed the major failings later found by state regulators in California, Oregon, Arizona, and Pennsylvania we cite in the article. And CRC’s claims of “erroneous media reports” don’t appear to have any substance: there have been no retractions and no known defamation lawsuits by CRC following any reports of alleged wrongful deaths and abuse mentioned in outlets as varied as Time,Fortune, The Salt Lake Tribune, and the small web magazine Momlogic.

About the reporter

Art Levine

Art Levine

Art Levine is a contributing editor of the Washington Monthly.

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