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State Revokes License of Troubled Camp

State officials have revoked the license of Camp O’Neal in the Eastern Sierra one year after a tragic Presidents’ Day outing at nearby Convict Lake claimed the lives of three teen-age residents of the camp and four others.

The three teen-agers died when they fell through thin ice on the lake while on a holiday excursion. Two adult staff members from the facility for troubled adolescents and two would-be rescuers drowned trying to save the boys.

State officials subsequently disclosed that the privately run camp had a history of violating state licensing standards, including alleged improper supervision of residents. The facility’s license was suspended last March.

Toxicological tests determined that Randall Porter, 41, one of the camp counselors who had been supervising the youngsters and who died trying to save them, had used marijuana within five hours of his death. Dr. James Harrington White, the consulting psychiatrist to the camp, was sentenced last month to 6 years, 8 months in prison after pleading guilty to sexually molesting an adult male who allegedly was drugged unconscious, molested and videotaped in the psychiatrist’s Corona del Mar home. Orange County prosecutors said White had a history of abusing young men under his control.

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Bobbi Trott and Tim Christiansen, the husband and wife who operated Camp O’Neal, agreed to the permanent revocation of the facility’s license and pledged never to become involved in a similar business. The couple continued to deny state allegations that they had mismanaged the camp.

In the stipulation issued last Friday, the state agreed to stay the revocation order for one year pending sale of the camp. The facility will remain closed during that time unless the camp is sold.


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