By the way, what was the verdict of the case against Jeremy Jensen and Christopher Boze? Can't seem to find it anywhere.
By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
By Jeff Balke
By Richard Connelly
By Jeff Balke
By Casey Michel
By Craig Hlavaty
By Jeff Balke
At 3 a.m. on a humid night in early October, Gabriel Cortez's screams awoke his fellow cadets in the Bravo Company barracks at the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen. Boys rushed into Cortez's darkened room to find the 18-year-old high school senior soaked in blood and lying in his lower bunk bed, his throat slit almost ear to ear. His 13-year-old roommate, who caught a glimpse of the attackers as they fled, lay motionless in his top bunk, afraid to move.
The cadet company commander raced downstairs to summon drill instructor Mike Pruitt -- the only adult in charge of the 72 boys in the barracks. Pruitt dialed 911, and the police and an ambulance arrived within minutes. Cortez was taken to a local hospital, where it took 28 stitches to close the deep gash on the cadet's neck. A week passed before he felt well enough to return to classes at the school, which has a reputation for being among the most rigorous military academies in the country.
Within days, police arrested 17-year-old roommates Jeremy Jensen and Christopher Boze, after several cadets identified at least one of them as the person they saw fleeing the room the night of the attack. Jensen and Boze were corps leaders at the academy with almost spotless records, a fact that made the slashing that much more inconceivable. Although the two teenagers were indicted on December 19 on charges of attempted murder, no motive has emerged for the attack, and prosecutors have refused to discuss their case.
Except for the thick, leathery scar that encircles his neck, Cortez, a round-faced boy of medium build, with large dark eyes and cocoa-colored skin, has healed -- at least outwardly. But the damage the attack has inflicted on the school's once-stellar reputation may be harder to repair.
The Marine Military Academy's top brass and staunch supporters -- its board boasts high-profile and high-powered businessmen, including Hugh McColl Jr., chairman of NationsBank Corp., and Barry Zale, a scion of the Zale jewelry-store family -- tried to assure parents and the public that the slashing was an isolated and anomalous incident. But in the months since the attack, an unsettling picture of the academy has begun to emerge.
The school was founded and is run by former Marines, and in its promotional literature and recruiting seminars it is described as a college-preparatory school that teaches boys with "good character" to be leaders through a military regimen of strict rules and discipline. Hazing and instruction through intimidation are forbidden, as are drugs, alcohol and tobacco, according to the school handbook.
But in reality, say former cadets and their parents, drugs, alcohol and computer-generated pornography are rampant. The school, they say, more closely resembles a chapter out of Lord of the Flies than a high school version of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis.
They say it is a place where older cadets -- ages range from 12 to 20 -- frequently misuse their authority to savagely berate and beat younger cadets -- sometimes with the permission of staff -- and where younger cadets live in fear of retaliation if they report the misdeeds of their higher-ranking brethren. Inside the wrought-iron gates of the academy, say former drill sergeants, deans and trustees, is a dangerous mix of too many cadets with serious emotional and behavioral problems and too little adult supervision and counseling. Drill instructors, who are on duty seven days a week, 24 hours a day, are expected to keep as many as 80 boys in line.
Disgruntled parents claim the staff hides or minimizes the boys' accusations, telling them their sons are exaggerating in order to be taken home or that they deserved whatever beatings they got. Staff members have dismissed physical and sexual assaults as innocent roughhousing. "Boys will be boys, after all," parents repeatedly are told.
The Cortez slashing brought into sharp relief what many former cadets had been trying to tell people for years -- that a climate of violence and depravity pervades the academy. For the last two years, Dallas attorney Arch McColl has been investigating cadets' allegations of mental, physical and sexual abuse at the school. In November, McColl filed a class-action lawsuit against the MMA on behalf of 11 anonymous cadets who claim they were subjected to varying degrees of hazing and abuse. The suit, which was filed in Brownsville, also accuses the school of fraud and deception and seeks a full refund of the cadets' tuition, as well as actual and punitive damages.
Academy officials refused to be interviewed for this story. But in a news release issued shortly after the lawsuit was filed, the MMA said, "Once specific allegations are made known to us through the appropriate legal process, we will be able to address each of them. Until more information is forthcoming, the academy will not respond, but stand [sic] ready to defend its excellent reputation of providing an environment conducive to learning and of building boys into men."
Most of the cadets included in the suit have filled out sworn affidavits describing conditions at the school, which McColl has not made available to the academy. (Copies of the affidavits were provided to this reporter with the names blacked out, but some of the plaintiffs agreed to allow their names to be used in this story.) These affidavits, coupled with interviews with the former cadets, offer a chilling glimpse of life at the Marine Military Academy.
By the way, what was the verdict of the case against Jeremy Jensen and Christopher Boze? Can't seem to find it anywhere.
I attended the Academy in the early 90's and have to say that perception of daily life at MMA wasn't far off from what I experienced. Like many, my parents were impressed with the discipline and order that MMA claimed to offer and enrolled me for 1992/1993 and the summer camp preceding the school year. I'm laughing about it now, but at the open houses that they would do at various hotels around the state the just lied their pants off of the activities and opportunities that the school offered.
Hazing was a given. Whether it was from the rich foreign students (particularly from Mexico), to the overgrown jocks, to the upperclassment with major superiority complexes. It was all around. Either you were the "shitter" or the "shittee" and one way or another it would just go around like some sort of privilege or rite of passage. Some kids were particularly rough at the get go and were routinely busted, demoted, and sent to another company. The schools way of disciplining that sort of action, but actually made it worse in some ways. They would just not care anymore without the responsibilities of rank and just harass without a care. A lot extortion from older kids to the vulnerable younger kids. I still remember some of the names. Ransom, Peterson, Tomiyama, Ritch, Jayne (big time loser), Carlson (both of them), and a few others that I just don't care to remember. Tomiyama I hear became a cop in Dallas which is fitting for a classy guy like himself. Shit student and a shit person who just lived to harass students in Bravo Company. I don't think I ever got cornered into any massive beatings or anything like that. I kept my nose clean, minded my own business, played my sports and that's it. Its funny that the article talked about Clair Woertendyke being a better student. Hope that was the case and that he's doing well in life. At the time, he was just an odd, and at times, horrible person. It's like he just didn't care or wasn't cognizant of his actions. I thought he was just clueless. I had to do a lot of PT as punishment for him since the cadets got tired of making him do it. The Drill Instructors had minimal contact with the students. We'd be invited to have dinner with him during the month of our birthdays and we'd see him passing by here and there. Sgt. Maj. Brown was a decent guy, but I do recall him being unhappy that a few cadets went to him directly instead of through the Chain of Command to voice their concerns. At my recollection, I don't think he did anything about it and life went on as usual. Like the article says, I think they were in the mindset that the students were professional Marines instead of typical teenagers.
That being said, I did meet and make some great friends while I was there. There were a lot of kids that you could just tell were going to do well in life. I hope their esteem and confidence wasn't crushed by their experience at MMA. I think there I'm genuinely interested to see how they're doing and catch up over a beer, but I just wanted to get out of there and its pretty much too late at this point in our lives to even care or remember about our time at the Academy. Unfortunately, I found out that John Bonin took his own life in Houston this year and in 2010, Jeremy Henwood was killed in the line of duty in San Diego. Jeremy was okay. Was in Alpha Company, but never bothered me and was decent for an upperclassman.
Perhaps due to the system and culture shock of the military lifestyle, my grades improved and I achieved Dean's List status for the first half of the semester. But as the article states, the daily life at the Academy just wore me down and I started to lose interested in many things and just became depressed with what I had to live with on a day-to-day basis. Then you realize the academics was a bit of a joke as well. I took German and our teacher had zero control which was embarrassing to see. He just looked like a broken man and I think he left after that year. There were definitely some good teachers, but like a lot of places you are what you make of yourselves and I don't think the tuition was worth it in terms of the quality of teaching MMA offered at the time. Hopefully that, and a many other things, have changed at MMA now.
Anyway, I've been just blurting out the first things that have been coming to my mind since I found this article. In the end, I'm happy that I left MMA after my freshman year and went on to have a happy, productive teenage life in another city. From my experience, I have to say that the article is pretty accurate at its depiction of MMA and the possible reasons to the run up to the "throat" incident. Not sure who was at fault, but I can say that there were many students who traumatized/victimized other students to the point of entertaining terrible actions like this. I don't think I'll ever think back too fondly of my time at MMA, nor will I have any reason or desire to venture to Harlingen, Texas again. I just hope the kids who were traumatized during their time at MMA, overcome the experience and go on to fine happiness in their lives. For the current students who attend MMA, I hope that its a totally different atmosphere that helps the students in every way, emotionally and academically, to achieve their goals.
I went to Lyman Ward Military Academy as a kid, in the late 80's. This place is filled with child abuse probably worse than MMA. Google it to find out more about this. It kinda reminds me of the movie "a few good men." In this movie, abuse and murder is happening to Marines on the orders of the commander, yet the lower levels are committing the crimes, and being punished for them to protect the higher-ups, and avoid violating their unwriten code of conduct. Thats just how brainwashed these people are. And like MMA, Lyman Ward had many powerful people on their board, including former Alabama Governor George Wallace, whose famous slogan during the 1960's was "segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever! I don't know what they are trying to accomplish with these programs, but I can tell you it isn't good for these kids. They will be left emotionally scared from this. One of their values that they claim to teach to kids is "accountability and responsibility." I believe that this is a value that they need to be held to themselves, by being held accountable for what is happening at these schools!.
@mma alum Indeed. Cortez was a thug. I was just down the hall the night of the throat slashing and I can say that I had Boze as a roommate several times during my 5 years at MMA and the guy was crazy. Cortez was arrogant and went out of his way to make people not like him and beat lesser kids down. I can't say that I condone what happened to him but it doesn't shock me nearly as much as it should have.
@Jdb95i and Charlie Co. Plt. Sgt...
I too attended MMA during those same years. I was in Delta Co. Under MSGT. Garza and hazing was everywhere. The craziest part was that everything was always handled in house, unless you got busted on liberty. I was hazed as a plebe when I first arrived and was constantly PT'd by upperclassmen for their amusement. One night a cadet in the next room decided it would be funny to rub his genitals in my face while I slept. Mistakes that he immediately regretted when I awoke and stabbed him in the face cutting his mouth open from left cheek to mouth. He went to the hospital and I lost off base privileges for 2 weeks. But "Boys will be boys" SMH bullsh!t. This school was like a pen for the phony tough and wannabe brave. I went here for three years. After a while you become a monster yourself. I’m ashamed to admit that I myself have brutally assaulted weaker cadets. In one case I was sprayed with mace by a cadet I was assaulting in his room, in which I beat him harder for retaliating. My reward/punishment was to fight in SMOKERS, and amateur boxing match in which I dominated my weight class. This school made me tough that’s for damn sure. I can recall cadets sleeping on fire watch and upper classmen beating the dog sh!t out of em. Rodney king style and seen more than a fair share hit the infirmary. I have not seen or read a story yet that is untrue about this school. I was a certified psychopath when I left this school. My senior year I went back to San Antonio where I attended Judson High School, Joined the USAF in which I served proudly as SF Security Force and served my country in Afghanistan, I have obtained a degree at Xavier University - School of Business Administration and then University of Houston BSME, Engineering.
I credit my friends and the support of my family for breaking the psycological rollercoaster this school put me through. had I had stayed my senior year, I would undoubtedly may have been lost in the system, or maybe the murderer of someone whos reading my statement now. I sincerly pray that this place has changed since the 90's.
Parents: If you send your child to this school please listen to your child if they are complaining of being sexually or physically asaulted. I was embarrassed to tell my parents. Question them vigurously. If I have reached even one person, then I know I have helped. God Bless
@Charlie Co. Plt. Sgt.,
Times changed in the mid 90s. The school built new facilities left and right. So the school needed to increase enrollment to pay for those improvements. Accordingly, they let in a bunch of delinquents. MMA in the mid to late 90s was a very dark place.
From what I understand, that is not so much an issue these days.
When I was at MMA in the early 90s, it wasn't that bad. Most of the hazing was getting yelled at or doing PT until you dropped. That does not hurt you. There was some kids who got beat on. But that will happen when you have 300+ kids and not a lot of adult supervision.
There were some great people there. Maclaughlin, Gunny Ski, Coach Morton, etc. I still think about those men.
I just ran into this article of "journalism". I attended MMA in 1985 and 1986. I was involved in all the summer camp programs during those years as a troop handler and even took trips with select cadets to Washington, D.C. and Annapolis (to visit the Naval Academy). I was in Charlie Company and can honestly say that those years were absolutely great experiences that I would not trade for anything. The only reason I did not graduate from MMA in 1987 was because my family could not afford the significant amount of tuition. Was there hazing during such time...yes, absolutely, if you think that PT (physical training until you collapse is hazing). But in my view, it was character building. It quickly taught you to put your nose to the grindstone and excel. The cadets that invariably were targetted for additional physical training were invariably malcontents who refused to play by the rules. In all my time there, I never saw any drugs at all. It was physicial exercise and nothing more. No physical or sexual abuse. Ever. I remember my time at MMA fondly and with a tinge of great regret. Regret because I was financially unable to spend my senior year there. Thanks to MMA, I was instilled with discipline and a sense of honor that I think about and try to live up to this day. To those who criticize the concept of cadets leading other cadets, that is exactly what causes cadet leaders to mature. The responsibility is great, but so is the opportunity. Charlie Co. was color company during my time there and the sense of pride was special
To this day, I still think of Charlie Company's DI, Master Sgt. Maclaughlin; the Commandant, Col. Tom Parsons and others who were at MMA during the mid- to late -1980s and I can only wish them the very best. For those of you who think I am some sort of psycho, quite the contrary. I have never been in any legal trouble, I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin Business School with honors in 1993 and the University of Texas Law School in 1996.
i attended mma from 1988 to 1992 and either you are blind, ignorant, in denial or all the above. i had the misfortune to graduate from that hellhole and whenever i tell someone that they ask if i was a bad kid to have been sent there.
PARENTS: IF YOUR MMA CHILD COMPLAINS OF ABUSE PLEASE LISTEN TO THEM AND GET THEM OUT OF THERE AND DEMAND YOUR TUITION BACK !!!
I find it amazing that everyone complians, I attended MMA from 87 to 90 and if I went through and made other go trouhg is now hazing, well then that is how the system workrs, and will always work, but if a bunch of guys decide to seek legal advice may years later and claim hazing, go ahead, just remember that if you do so, you better not get caught doing something wrong, cause that day you will know what it is like to be pointed out. I work hard every day to make sure my son can attend MMA when he is old enough, Semper Fi and Delta Rules Valdez MMA Class of '90
m.m.a. was the worst place i have ever been! i was hazed on a daily basis. then when i said something about it i got kicked out for smoking pot (tuition was somewhere around 13,000 for the year, with no refund)and it wasnt just the unsupervised kids but the adults that were supposed to be in charge of us. fuck mma! when my little brother went two years later he got kicked out when mentioned i went there and the abuse i went thru (once again no refund)i went in 1994-95 i was in charlie co. if anyone who was there with me knows where to find bill given please find me on facebook nick sales (selekta termite)
Yeah...I was actually in Boze's company (Bravo) while at MMA and was his squad leader for a while.I went to MMA as a 4.0 student whose parents had bought into the marketing ploys and who believed the staff when they said I was lying about the conditions.MMA was UNDOUBTEDLY Lord of the Flies in the early 90's. Can't say what it's like now...hell, I can't even get in-touch with people I went to school with there - I think most of them are still relatively traumatized from the experience.That said, I think it made a lot of pussyboys man-up and probably helped most people more than it hurt them in the long run.It's unfortunate how much people hate this school...as, in retrospect, there were some pretty sweet dudes I went to school with who I wouldn't mind finding again - but the facebook site only has 120 fans. Pathetic.Anyway, if anyone reads this by accident and knows where to find Ryan Murphy or Brian Mason - tell them that their old roommate is looking for them and can be found on facebook under his name living in Vail, Co.Would also love to know about Tommiyama, Jansky, Ransom and the Carson boys.As for that kid Boze...swear to God I never would have seen that coming - he was quiet and weird. Loved the clarinet. Anyone remember S.Height though? That's who I thought would snap and kill someone...
Believe what you'd like, but I was there. The cadet who got sodomized? My best friend. I went to his wedding last year. Crumby's blanket party? I was the Platoon Sergeant that organized it - though I would point out that Cadet S did claim Crumby tried to force him to perform oral sex, and we thought, in the foolish and childish way that MMA taught, that we were protecting S. After all, we were all fairly sure he was more than a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Most famous line of MMA, mumbled by Cadet Z that night upstairs at Fox Company? While shaking Crumby awake, "One, two, three NO TEETH CRUMBY!" in that twisted Russian accent of his. We used padlocks in our socks, not soap. Raping a retard, literally, deserved more than that. I don't doubt MSGT McFarland knew damn well what was going on. Though he sure never seemed to catch on to the bottles of tequila and cartons of cigarettes I kept in the wall behind my locker.
I can't speak to what MMA is today. I hope, greatly, that it is what they told us it was back in the 90s. But I can tell you what it was when I was there - Lord of the Flies, run by Jack. A mob of children ruled by a mob of children, kept in a fenced area. Oh, we were pretty when the parents came down, all "sir" and "ma'am", marching in step, our Blues stiff and starch. Sure, we got to pop off .22s at the Rifle Range, and there were a few truly good staff members (RIP, Gunny Skeet), but MMA in 1993-6 while I was there was a land of torture and hell. Any psychologist in their right mind would've shut the school down. Hell, any cop who'd seen half of what happened would have arrested the entire staff for neglect, a third of the Corps of Cadets for assault and battery, a third for drug smuggling, and put the remaining third into a mental institution to deal with the PTSD.
But we had that badge of silence, a code of honor. We (thought) we were Marines. The few, the proud. The best and the brightest. So we never told. We were children trying to raise children only a year younger than me. Only a fool would do such a thing.
And what fools we were.
PS - I attended St. Mark's School of Texas in eight grade, Mr. Zale. If your son was a C student there, he'd best have a 4.0 with honors at MMA. I know kids who couldn't pass a GED that had 3.0s at MMA. The academics were almost as much of a joke as the "prepatory school" title.
I attended MMA in 1990-91 when I was a freshman in high school. I made good grades. I generally avoided hazing/trouble by keeping my head down and by being lucky. (I guess I was technically hazed by being subjected to marathon PT sessions until the point of virtual collapse -- as was everyone else -- but was never physically abused like many others were).
I can attest that hazing was rampant back then. One night I woke up and my roommate was being beaten by two older cadets with a sock containing a bar of soap -- just like the scene in Full Metal Jacket. There was virtually no adult supervision. We saw our DI about 5 minutes per week. The rest of the time the inmates ran the asylum. It would have been shocking if hazing or physical abuse did not exist when you have teenagers with such absolute power over others.
And then add in the absolute fear of retribution that was certain if the issues were reported.
My name is Cadet Captain Jeffrey Drake. I have been attending the Marine Military Academy for three years, and am currently “serving” as the Company Commander of Fox Company. Unfortunately the media, being this website and others, claim to have a full grasp on the way things work in the world. People assume that because of a few “bad apples” that military schools, especially MMA, are places where hazing and violent acts are the norm. They are in fact, few and far between. The experiences someone might pull away from a place like this, are completely dependant on the person. Hazing especially, can be prevented with a little bit of what I will refer to as “balls.” Say some older cadet approaches you and physically or sexually abuses you. It is completely within your power to inform a staff member, and the cadet will be dealt with accordingly. You can wake up in the morning and tell yourself that you hate this place and you would love nothing more than to leave, or you can make the best of a wonderful opportunity to rise above the norm and excel in life. The choice is yours. Not a single person on this planet has to be a victim. Everyone has the power to make a choice to act against “oppression” or aggression and change their circumstances. If you are unwilling to act, then whatever happens to you, is your own fault. The fact that the media twist reality and tells the world half truths and puts a “bad spin” on places like MMA, just shows the ignorance of the rest of the world. If you want to truly see the “goings on” here at MMA, then by all means, take a tour of the place. But do not base your “knowledge” on heresy and second hand information. The Marine Military Academy publishes a ‘Right Guide’ every year, which is a handbook on how a cadet should act, that details what certain things are. The section on hazing reads: “Hazing. Hazing is an intentional, knowing, or reckless act, occurring on or off campus, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against a Cadet that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a Cadet for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in an organization/unit whose members are, or include, Cadets at the Marine Military Academy. Hazing is prohibited on and off campus, to include during periods of leave and liberty.” Furthermore, MMA has another section labeled “Physical or Mental Abuse or Harm.” It reads: “Intentional or reckless acts that do cause or reasonably could cause physical or mental harm to any person are prohibited. Actions that threaten or reasonably could cause a person to believe that the offender may cause physical or mental harm are also prohibited. Examples of prohibited behavior include but are not limited to: assault, battery, stalking, telephone harassment, computer harassment, sexual assault, sexual harassment, rape, threats, intimidation, physical abuse, verbal abuse, fighting, and any other conduct that threatens the health or safety of any person. These prohibitions apply both on and off campus, to include during periods of leave or liberty.” The rules and regulations are clearly spelled out for ALL Cadets at MMA. EVERY student is given a ‘Right Guide’ and is expected to follow the rules and guidelines set forth by it. Failure to adhere to the rules, results in punishments ranging from a simple demerit, or expulsion from the Academy. If you would like more FACTUAL information on the Marine Military Academy, simply e-mail myself, or go to www.mma-tx.org.
I went to MMA in the mid 90's. There was very little adult supervison. I witnessed violance on a day to day basis. Most of it went unreported, unless for instance, someones ear was bitten off in a fight. (This happend, and no one was punished) I'd say roughly 50% of all cadets were there only to avoid legal issues. I arrived shortly after "J. Crumby" had his infamous blanket party. He became my roomate shortly after the incident. There were many cadets who were awake as he was beaten, but nobody was disciplined. If a cadet had his weekend pass taken away, he would be locked in the laundry room with other cadets. There was no supervision in the nearly sound proof room. I'd occasionally walk by and catch the end of a brawl. Kids would purposly try to get kicked out, but the staff would do everything in their power to keep them put. One night a fight broke out in the hallway, about a minute later, our 6' 5" DI came down the hallway, grabed both of the kids, dragged them in a room, slammed the door, and all that could be heard was loud banging. The door opened and, with out words, our DI walked straight back to his downstairs appartment, leaving the two fighters lying injured on the floor. MMA was more like prison than a prep school. I wouldnt send my worst enemies children to Marine Military Accadamy.
I attended MMA in the early 90's for two years, I was with Charlie Company. I did witness some of the hazing. that went on. But over all the school was a good school.
This is old, mma has been on a complete turnaround so dont read this and still think its like this. i belive the stories are true, but mma was crap in the 90s. all most all students got to amazing colleges such as yale. and is now considred one of the best by the there accreditation. they lowered admission to 350. and really do only allow the best and the brightest nowadays.
what have the parents done about this sort of problem. it still occurs today and no parent is being told the truth about anything that happens behind the gates once they leave. often fights are broken up quickly due to staff or parents are on campus or nearby. why dont the parents who call themselves loving mothers and fathers do something about this type of repeating occurances. the scholl is going to continue to lie to the general public, but they are hiding something much deeper and darker than they tell the media or the public.
Wrather class of 1985. I was enrolled from 9th-12th. When I was at MMA, we put more students in the service academies than any other high school in the country.... By bullshit. Our "P.G." or post graduate year allowed athletically gifted retards to come down for a 13th grade to raise their S.A.T's ACT's. And to fuck up our athletics. We had to play whoever would play us because we had 20 year olds on the field. I was national PFT MCJROTC champion in1983, earned 16 varsity letters ( I think still a record).. I only graduated as a gunnery sgt. though.I wasn't "breakable".Their motto was "first we break 'em, then we make 'em"... That's why pussies were in control, cadet-wise. Always dangerous giving pre-pubescent males power....The place needs to call me to fix it.214.926.0688
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