Friday, August 25, 2006

Happy Birthday No. 3 Pumpgate

Is there intelligent life on Treasure Island, Florida? When dumpster divers claimed they found a discarded Depends' wrapper in TV talk show host Larry King's trash, Mr. King simply replied that the adult sized diapers were not his! In 2003 when Ray Bradbury, a former employee of Ambassador Melvin Sembler and his Straight program, found Sembler's discarded penis pump in a trash can outside Sembler's Treasure Island home, Sembler's attorney promptly admitted in a court document that the instrument did in fact belong to Mel Sembler. What's more his client wants it back!

For 17 years Melvin and Betty Sembler operated one of the most destructive juvenile drug rehabilitation programs in the world. Ray Bradbury was a client in that program. And like all Straight clients he was physically and emotionally abused. But Straight practiced brainwashing and convinced parents and kids alike that what it was doing was a good thing. Bradbury was seduced by Straight's methods and became a paid employee of Straight upon graduation. This was typical of Straight graduates since Straight is a destructive, mind-control cult where you never really leave.

One day it suddenly dawned on Bradbury that he had become part of the abuse and he tried to correct Straight's faults from within--but to no avail. So he became a Straight critic. Ever since then Mr. Bradbury has combed the Semblers' discarded trash (the same way law enforcement does) looking for evidence to document Straight's abuse. To document Sembler's involvement in covering-up what he knew about the abuse but failed to stop it. And to make sure Sembler was not operating new Straights.

Only Ray Bradbury knows what documents he has found in the trash through the years, but the whole world knows that one day he found Mel Sembler's penis pump. Penis pumps are sold as sexual toys and also as sexual aids for erectile dysfunction problems. Essentially a penis pump consists of a glass or plastic cylinder open on one end which is placed over a soft penis. The other end is connected to an electric or hand operated pump that essentially sucks the penis hard. Sembler alleges that a medical doctor prescribed his pump.

Bradbury says the pump belongs to him because the ambassador threw it away. The ambassador says it belongs to him and he wants it back. Since Bradbury feels he is the new owner of a novelty item, he placed it for sale on eBay--the way others have sold teeth belonging to Elvis Presley. Bradbury says he hoped the stunt would be a gimmick to bring attention to the plight of former Straight detainees. And also he planned to help some of those survivors with the money he hoped to raise from the sale of the pump.

Ambassador Sembler says Ray Bradbury has invaded his privacy. So exactly three years ago today, Aug. 26, 2003 Leonard Englander, representing Ambassador Sembler, filed a "Temporary Injunction without Notice" against Bradbury to keep Bradbury away from the Semblers. This was the start of a law suit the Semblers have filed against Ray Bradbury claiming invasion of privacy. The "Without Notice" meant that a judge conducted a hearing affecting Ray Bradbury without Bradbury's knowledge. That judge was Florida Sixth Circuit Judge Walt Logan. Nine months before the same Lenny Englander convinced the same judge Walt Logan to issue a gag order against another man "Without Notice" whose work was being used by the state attorney general to expose alleged fraud at Kane's Furniture. That story made it to USA Today. Worse still, Judge Logan and his wife, the president of Kane's Furniture and his wife, Mel Sembler's son and his wife, and Lenny Englander and his wife served on a social function together!

Mel Sembler is Mr. Republican Party in Pinellas County, Florida. He buys people. Nobody in the Sixth Judicial Circuit which services Pinellas County wants to be associated with this bizarre case or with any implication of influence buying because the Sixth Circuit itself has come under national scrutiny twice by the Reader's Digest for having the country's worst judges. Circuit Judge Anthony Rondolino was originally assigned this case in 2003. To his, no doubt, delight he was rotated out of the case earlier this year even though the Semblers had filed a motion to keep Rondolino on.

Three years later and Mel Sembler has not even been deposed. Alas a new date for his deposition has been set once again. This one for Sept. 18, 2006. Three years later and there has not been a trial. A trial date had finally been set for April 10 - April 21, 2006. Former Straight victims from all over the country had been making tentative plans to be there to, hopefully, finally, to see the man they feel responsible for the horrors they endured at Straight. But then that date was postponed, in what has become the joke of the year, because at the last minute Mel Sembler was granted a motion to reschedule the trial because he decided to take his family to Israel for the Passover from April 10 to April 20!

And now there is talk that Sembler's camp may have violated federal HIPAA laws concerning Bradbury's medical history. At least a new trial date has been set for Feb. 12, 2007. The press is betting that Sembler will ask for a postponement again--this time to take his wife to Paris for Valentine's Day. How many more postponements? It's reminiscent of Lawrence Wallersheim's lawsuit against the so-called Church of Scientology (TM). How many more judges will preside?

Melvin and Betty Sembler brought this trial on, and now, because of it his penis pump has been discussed at cocktail parties all over the world. His hometown paper (The St. Petersburg Times) seems reluctant to discuss the case without first (apparently) clearing what it can say with Mel Sembler. But the Washington Post does not need his clearance. The Post has run the story. Even Wonkette, the mouth of the Internet, has discussed Mel Sembler's Penis Pump. Happy Birthday Penis Pump law suit! See you next year.