Calif. Police: Few Leads in Boot Camp Abuse Probe

Nov. 3, 2011
Videos showed Pasadena-area boot camp instructors urging children to drink water to the point of vomiting.

PASADENA, Calif. -- A week after two disturbing videos surfaced giving viewers an inside look at Pasadena boot camps, a police investigation has hit consistent road blocks, according to Pasadena Police officials.

"It would nice if people came forward," Pasadena Police Lt. Tracey Ibarra said. "There's a hindrance when there is modified video. It's been a laborious process to identify who the involved parties are."

The Pasadena Police Department launched an investigation Friday after this newspaper released two videos. One of the videos showed Pasadena-area boot camp instructors urging children to drink water to the point of vomiting.

A second video shows a boy, carrying a truck tire around his neck, being berated by drill instructors until he falls to the ground in tears.

The instructors, one of whom is an active duty Marine, are coaxing the boy, with the tire around his neck to say he "loves his sergeant."

The videos have been condemned by child development experts and politicians alike.

In an effort to protect the identities of the children, this newspaper obscured the faces of the children in those videos.

No arrests have been made in the video investigation, Ibarra said, and there a few leads thus far.

Kelvin "Sgt. Mac" McFarland, who operates Family First Growth Camp, was captured on the videos.

McFarland was arrested on May 27 for charges not related to the videos. He is charged with kidnapping, child abuse, child endangerment, extortion and unlawful use of a badge.

The charges stem from a May 16 incident where McFarland allegedly handcuffed a Pasadena school girl and extorted money from her family.

At the time of the taping, McFarland worked for Keith "Sarge" Gibbs and his Sarge's Community Base/Commit II Achieve Camp.

Gibbs can be heard talking on one of the videos, but is not visible on either recording.

Both men deny being present at the camps during the taping.

Ibarra said investigators are using "other means to identify who are no contained within the video."

In Aug. 2009, McFarland and Gibbs parted ways, after the pair quarreled over tactics and McFarland failed a background check.

Since the release of the videos, more parents have come forward and described harsh tactics being employed at the camp.

Helen Edwards, 74, of Pasadena and her son, Williams Edwards, 18, of Pasadena, allege that a girl was handcuffed to a fence and had dirt kicked on her at one of McFarland's camps.

Helen Edwards also described wrestling matches where children were pitted against drill instructors. A wrestling match between Helen Edwards' son Tyrone and a drill instructor named Sgt. Ronnie spiraled down into a real brawl. McFarland allegedly broke up the fight using a choke hold on Tyrone Edwards.

Copyright 2011 MediaNews Group, Inc. and Los Angeles Newspaper Group, Inc.All Rights Reserved

Sponsored Recommendations

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Officer, create an account today!