Naked Men: The ManKind Project and Michael Scinto

The organization was supposed to make him a better man. Instead, his parents say, it made him a dead one.

Kathy Scinto still cries at the mere mention of her son, apologizing profusely, as though two years later she should be well and done mourning the loss. But these days, for the first time in what feels like a lifetime, she senses a glimmer of hope: the lawsuit.

"I'm so stressed out I feel like I'm having a heart attack getting all this together," she says. "My family really needs a rest, a break, but we can't rest until The ManKind Project is exposed. Michael tried to expose them by going to the police, and it breaks my heart that no one would listen, but I'm so thankful that his words will finally be able to be heard in court because what happened to him can happen to other people."

She says she will not settle the case. But there is a long way to go before any trial.

For one thing, there is the matter of the contract her son signed before attending the retreat. It clearly stipulates that both Scinto and his heirs surrender their right to sue on grounds of wrongful death and strict liability, two of the allegations in the lawsuit, and if a claim is made, it must first go through arbitration as opposed to litigation in civil court.

"They've actually filed in the wrong area," says Young, attorney for The ManKind Project Houston and Sawyer, "so I don't know what's going to happen with the lawsuit. There are some procedural issues the court is going to have to deal with."

The Scintos' lawyer, George Kelley, says this won't be a problem.

"The court requires that both parties go to mediation in every case before trial anyway," he says. "It's just less formal than arbitration, so I'm not worried about it at all."

Of course, as in any lawsuit, the Scintos are suing for money. But Kathy Scinto insists that's not her primary concern.

"I've told my family that if we get any money," she says, "it's Michael's money and we will put it toward something he would have wanted. The main purpose of the lawsuit is to expose MKP. I mean, in this huge city, how many people have heard of them? Not many. And how many people have problems with drugs and alcohol or see a therapist for whatever reason and are vulnerable and may be convinced to go? Too many. It really scares me."

Ralph Scinto thinks less about the next wave of potential recruits. He seems solely fixated on his pain and those who he believes caused it.

"I try not to talk about Michael too much because it hurts too much," he says. "I get flashes of the way we found him in his apartment, sometimes daily. And they will never go away. I don't feel joy or happiness anymore. I just am. But now that we've initiated this lawsuit, they'll have to look me in the eye and defend what they did. They murdered his spirit. It was the worst kind of murder."

chris.vogel@houstonpress.com

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5 comments
t.ariel.terry
t.ariel.terry

There are many other programs like this, including in the realm of evangelical christianity: 

twentyfourseven worldwide

24-7 leadership academy

teen mania honour academy

They fulfill most all the conditions for cult-status, and while they promise to be a launching pad to a great life, there are many silent sufferers(myself included) who spiral off in to greater depression and woundedness...secrecy as to the process, complete misrepresentation, or lack of representation of what is involved in the process, a fanatical devotion to leadership, mind and body control..usage of trauma to invoke change etc...very dangerous so please be warned

Colospgs_xplant
Colospgs_xplant

A shot in the dark here, since this post is older...I, too, am familiar with 24/7 and its many dysfunctions. If you need to speak to someone about it, I can help.

t.ariel.terry
t.ariel.terry

@Colospgs_xplant E-mail is nerds 'five two' @ hotmail.com ....substitute the words for   numbers in there and you have my address. 

Colospgs_xplant
Colospgs_xplant

Ariel, I shot you an email; hope I got the address correct.

 
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