The Associated Press, January 21, 1998

Judge says banish teen stays put

OAKLAND-- A 16-year-old boy who was forced by his parents into a Jamaican behavior modification program and who has written home wistfully about living where the "water is so blue. . . and the chain link fence is so high," will have to stay put, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Ken Kawaichi found that the boy's parents, Jim and Sue Van Blarigan, "were within their rights to hire a two-man escort service to force son David out of the house.

The judge said prosecutors failed to produce evidence that David had been abused and declined to order the boy back home. Kawaichi said the county could come back if they had more evidence, but a prosecutor said that decision had not been made yet.

Kawaichi's ruling' was a hit with the scores of program supporters who were crammed into the judge's small courtroom. They broke into cheers, whistles and thunderous applause as the hearing ended.

"That judge had the kid's best interest in mind" said 19-year-old Jeff Carney, who credits a 20-month stay at a program similar to the one David is in with turning his life around.

The case had been closely followed by parents and children's rights advocates who viewed it as a test of how far a parent can go to tame an unruly child.

Terry Mesple, who had an escort service roust her daughter out of bed at 4:30 a.m. two years ago for a trip to a Utah treatment program, said the judges decision recognizes the realities of trying to help troubled teens.

"If you have an out-of-control child they're not going to agree that they're out of control and they're not going to agree to go to treatment," she said. "Parents do what they have to do," she said.

But not everyone in the courtroom agreed with Kawaichi. Trampling on children's human rights merely because of their minor status is wrong and dangerous," said Jordan Riak, executive director of an Alamo-based group called Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education.

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