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CHALLENGER CREDITORS ADDING TO TROUBLES FACING CARTISANO

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Challenger founder Stephen Cartisano's criminal battles may be over, but his court battles are just beginning.

Soon after Cartisano was acquitted of negligent homicide and child abuse charges last month, former Challenger participants began filing lawsuits against the defunct wilderness therapy program. Now Challenger creditors are going after Cartisano.In 4th District Court, a New Jersey leasing company filed a suit Monday against Cartisano and his wife, saying they defaulted on an equipment lease. Delta Leasing Inc. says Cartisano leased more than 25 office chairs and sofas from the company but failed to make payments and has ignored demands to return the equipment. The company is seeking $24,000, interest and reasonable attorney's fees from Cartisano.

Former challenger participant Jon McMahon of Washington state filed suit against Cartisano last week saying his experience in Challenger left him with "nightmares, hallucinations and post-traumatic stress disorder."

Ronald Chase, the father of the teenage girl who died in the program, Kristen Chase, has also filed a suit against Cartisano.

Challenger's insurance company settled with another student, Stephanie Hook, who said she was dragged through rocks and had her mouth filled with sand when she begged for water.