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    Attachment Therapy Deaths
    Beyond Evergreen - Candace's Law

    Four unlicensed therapists, were charged in the death of Candace Newmaker, a 10 year old girl who died during "attachment therapy" in Golden, Colorado. It's not the first time that a child died because of so-called "holding" or "rebirthing" treatment for emotional disorders.

    They were convicted in April, 2001

    Proposed Candace's Law in Colorado

    We are happy to report that "Candace's Law" has sailed past another legislative marker. On a 7-0 vote, the Colorado Senate's Health, Health, Environment, and Children and Families Committee passed the bill to the full Senate. It will probably not go to second reading on the Senate floor for about another 10 days. We will be urging a floor amendment to strengthen the bill. A new web page answering some questions about the bill has been set up by Bill Sarner and Linda Rosa. You can view it at www.candaceslaw.org/FAQ.html.

    Comments and suggestions are welcome. Short news reports that appears in Denver papers can be found at:

    Trial Ends - 2 therapists convicted

    • Rebirthing team sentenced to 16 years - June 19, 2001
    • Rebirthing team convicted - April 21, 2001 Two therapists face mandatory terms of 16 to 48 years in jail. Two Evergreen therapists sobbed as they were led to jail in handcuffs Friday night after a jury found them guilty in the rebirthing death of 10-year-old Candace Newmaker. An emotional Jefferson County District Court jury took about five hours to convict Connell Watkins and Julie Ponder of child abuse resulting in death.

    • Rocky Mountain News

    An entire section of the October 29, 2000 issue of the Rocky Mountain News was devoted to a special investigation into the "rebirthing" death of Candace Newmaker. RMN journalists located Candace's biological family and notified them of her death. More information emerges to the public about the sadistic nature of "rebirthing" and "therapeutic holding" practices inflicted on kids diagnosed with the dubious "Attachment Disorder."

  • Full story: Her Name Was Candace
  • Side story -- Therapist has strong defenders:
  • Photos:
  • Background stories

    • Seeking Child's Love, a Child's Life is Lost - Los Angeles Times Review - Barry Siegel

      The people who own the LA Times wanted $250 to put this on my web site. I wonder how these folks can sleep at night. This information concerns the death of a child.

    • 'Rebirth' Brings Death - Newsweek, June 5, 2000
      This article is not available on the Newsweek-MSNBC website, but it was a feature article in that issue. A controversial therapy for children diagnosed with attachment disorder draws intense scrutiny. In the four years since Jeane Newmaker adopted Candace, then 6, the little girl had never let her mother hold her. But while an initial reluctance to give her heart to a stranger might have been understandable, Candace's problems went further: she had been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. Desperate for help, mother and daughter traveled from their home in Durham, N.C., to Evergreen, Colo., last month so Candace, now 10, could undergo a two-week, $7,000 program to give her the ability to form emotional attachments.

    • 'Rebirth' death spurs warning - June 4, 2000 Following April's "rebirthing" death of a 10-year-old girl, state authorities are threatening to pursue child-abuse charges against mental-health professionals who physically restrain children as part of psychotherapy.

    • Linda Rosa takes aim at alternative medical quackery "Rebirthing" therapy that claimed Candace's life may sound like a legitimate technique for the treatment of "reactive attachment disorder" to desperate parents. A look at its origins reveals otherwise.

      When practitioners convince you to use their nostrums in addition to scientific health care, "alternative" therapies become "complementary." When they convince your doctor to go along too, they become "integrative." Whatever they are called, they are, almost without exception, useless. And, as Candace's case indicates, dangerous.

    • Web site supports therapists charged in death - Supporters of the Evergreen psychotherapists accused of killing a 10-year-old girl have launched a Web site urging people to fight "a miscarriage of justice" and to contribute to a legal defense fund. The site asks viewers to contact Colorado law enforcement and mental health officials to protest the charges against the four people who allegedly smothered Candace Newmaker of Durham, N.C.

      "We have to fight if we want to keep helping difficult kids!" the site says.

    • Mother sought in Candace Newmaker death - May 24, 2000 An arrest warrant was issued Tuesday for a North Carolina mother who witnessed her 10-year-old daughter's smothering during "rebirthing" therapy in Evergreen.

    • Mother sought in 'rebirth' death - May 24, 2000 Prosecutor Steve Jensen said he expects Jeane Newmaker to be charged with one count of child abuse resulting in death once she returns to Colorado from her North Carolina home. He expects her to return voluntarily. Also Tuesday, two Evergreen psychotherapists were ordered to stop their practices after being charged with child abuse resulting in death. The Colorado Mental Health Grievance Board issued the cease-and-desist order against Connell Watkins and Julie Ponder, who were operating without licenses last month when they performed the rebirthing therapy on Candace Newmaker.

    • Oversight board meets as therapists leave jail - May 23, 2000 Patient's death has panel weighing curbs - The Colorado Mental Health Grievance Board held an emergency meeting Monday over concerns that two Evergreen therapists can continue to practice while facing child-abuse charges in the death of a patient.

    • 'Rebirth' a killer concept - May 22, 2000 - editorial by Chuck Green "...here are a few insights into the death of a 10-year-old girl whose adoptive mother spent $7,000 to have her child killed by some quacks in Evergreen recently. The mother and her daughter had been having trouble "bonding," and so the desperate mom decided it would be a good idea to re-enact the "birthing" experience so her child would emerge from a womblike environment and accept her adoptive mother as her natural mom.

    • Evergreen chock-full of therapists May 21, 2000 California therapist taught technique that ended in girl's death. When 10-year-old Candace Newmaker died after being bound in a flannel blanket with pillows piled on it, her Evergreen therapists were performing a birth simulation that their trainer said he's done 500 times with no ill effects.
    • Greeley, Colorado - Evergreen Clinic - May 18, 2000 - Reuters report Police on Thursday arrested three people for conducting a controversial "rebirthing" therapy on a 10-year-old girl who died after being wrapped in a blanket despite telling them she could not breathe and was going to die.

    • 4 accused in 'rebirthing' death - May 19, 2000 Rocky Mt. News - Affidavit states girl, 10, smothered while adults pushed and therapist yelled, 'Die right now'.

    • Therapist possibly broke law - April 22, 2000 Girl died in care of woman with no license. The therapist treating a 10-year-old girl who died suddenly Wednesday was likely breaking the law because she was neither licensed nor listed with regulators, a state official said.

      Therapist Connell Watkins also was known to practice the controversial holding therapy in which troubled children suffering from attachment disorders are tightly hugged to encourage physical connection with adults.

    • Home page of Connell Watkins Connell Watkins & Associates
      Evergreen, Colorado
      303-674-6860

      mailto:phage@lynx.csn.net -- I don't know if they are allowed to use the internet in prison

    • She had long and controversial ties to "holding therapy" Evergreen therapist Connell Watkins played a role in a counseling session years ago that resulted in the lead doctor being disciplined for what officials called "grossly negligent medical practice."

    • Neil Feinberg Neil Feinberg, LCSW, is a nationally recognized presenter on attachment theory and therapy. He has worked with abused, neglected, abandoned and adopted children and adults for fifteen years. He is a therapist at the Attachment Center of Evergreen, a therapeutic foster placement program for severely emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children with attachment disorders, in Evergreen, Colorado. He has published a workbook for adolescents and adults entitled "Becoming Your Own Parent: A Journey of Self- Discovery".

      He may reached by phone at 303-674-9851.

    • Concerns about this attachment disorder stuff This attachment therapy doesn't work. In fact, it's abusive. As long as adoption records are kept closed, adopted children are going to be subjected to this abusive treatment. If I uncover another death from these attachment or holding or rage reduction therapists, I am going to really get angry. How can we stop this? Adoption is supposed to be a second chance for kids who really do need adoptive homes.

    Who killed David Polreis?

    • Terrible Two - WestWord - Oct. 10, 1996 - Renee Polreis and her adopted son had a miserable life together--until someone put an end to it. By Karen Bowers Emergency-room doctors said the boy was cut and bruised over 90 percent of his body. According to the autopsy report, the boy was beaten so badly that he threw up and choked on his own vomit, cutting off oxygen to his brain. A second pathologist, after reviewing the autopsy report, says the boy suffered what amounted to "abject torture."

    • A Deep Attachment WestWord - March 13, 1997 A New Mexico couple grieves for David Polreis, the prospective son they never got to meet.

    • Psychological Warfare - WestWord - March 27, 1997 The defense loses a key battle over attachment disorder for the upcoming Polreis toddler-death trial.

    • Little Boy Lost - WestWord - May 22, 1997 Accused murderer Renee Polreis pulls out all the stops in a pre-trial hearing

    • Attachment Center testifies as to its theories in criminal case: David Polreis Jr. - A dead child, a troubling defense - 1997

      Renee Polreis says her son was fatefully scarred by his infancy in a Russian orphanage. Prosecutors say she killed him.

      Northern Colorado is the nation's center for the treatment of attachment disorder. Norton himself trained with Dr. Foster Cline of the Attachment Center at Evergreen, the most well-known purveyor of attachment disorder diagnoses and therapies. According to statements given to police by Polreis's friends, Norton told her that David's chances of developing a happy bond with the family were slight and that he might well be dangerous and grow up to be a criminal like serial killer Ted Bundy.

      In the attachment disorder support group Polreis joined, she heard parents tell how they locked their bedroom doors each night, fearing for their lives. Polreis talked of being so afraid of her son, friends reported to police investigators, that she feared that "if she ever started hitting David, she would not stop."

      The brutal nature of holding therapy was tragically proved last January, when Donald Lee Tibbets, 37, a nurse from Midvale, Utah, was sentenced to up to five years in prison for the July 1996 murder of his 3-year-old adopted daughter, Krystal. He killed her using the therapy to cure her attachment disorder, said to have been caused by abuse in her biological home and frequent moves to different foster homes. The therapy, he testified, involved pinning the 35-pound girl to the ground with his body and pressing his fist into her abdomen to evoke and release her pent-up rage. Even when another foster child told Tibbets that Krystal was turning blue and "looked dead," he continued.

      Defense Attorney Ed Brass told the court that Tibbets had been taught that the child's loss of consciousness was normal "dissociation" and that she would revive; she died "because Tibbets loved her so much and believed so much in the therapy." He also noted that holding therapy had been recommended by the Utah Division of Family Services when Krystal was adopted.

    Therapy or child abuse?

    • Rage reduction therapy: help or abuse?- CNN review of Texas doctor tied to Colorado therapist Rage reduction therapists believe that angry, misbehaving children will realize why they're so hostile if a therapist holds them down and talks to them.

      District Judge Ken Curry of Tarrant County, Texas ruled that her psychiatrist had committed assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He ordered Dr. Robert Gross to pay more than $8.4 million in damages.

      Many rage therapists follow the teachings of psychiatrist Foster Cline, a pioneer of rage reduction therapy who has been admonished by the Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners for giving treatments involving pain and verbal abuse.

    • What does the APA have to say about "attachment disorder"? - When children donít bond with parents Psychologists are providing a controversial treatment for reactive attachment disorder. I can't find any other links or even warnings anywhere in the APA web site, can you?

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