Daughter at Provo Canyon School
(Parent wishes to remain anonymous pending lawsuit)
Read about the horrific abuse her daughter suffered at Provo Canyon
Also included below "Parents Please Read This" (click
To prospective families seeking treatment at Provo Canyon School.
Following is an actual letter that was sent to authorities in Utah
regarding the maltreatment of our child at Provo Canyon School. I
also issued a 10-page report of child abuse and endangerment to
Child Protective Services and other agencies since I have a duty to
do so as a registered nurse in California.
Our 17-year old
child was recently a patient at Provo Canyon School in Orem Utah,
and reportedly was abused while in their care. She was diagnosed
with a mental illness, severe depression and post traumatic stress
syndrome. We were referred to this program by psychological
therapists in California because there was not an available program
in our state. Upon admission we were assured that she would be
treated for this illness.
The goals for
treatment included improving self esteem and learning better coping
skills. There was a document that described physical, mechanical and
chemical restraint. We discussed this with the admission
representative, Courtney Hansen. We told him that we would not
consent to any form of restraint. Parental consent for use of
restraints was not given verbally or in writing. Instead of
treatment she experienced extreme punishment. Instead of abiding a
parents written refusal for restraints staff used violent take downs
and hold downs on several occasions. A chemical restraint of an
apparent overdose of Haldol (a powerful psychotropic agent with over
100 serious side effect) was given by force with six people holding
Parents were not
notified of any of this until after she had suffered debilitating
side effects from Haldol. As a result of the violent human take
downs and bodily restraints our child has damage to her spine.
Prior to this she had been a tri-athlete, an excellent long distance
runner and soccer player.
I was recently told
by one of the supervisors of licensing and the Director of Human
Services in Utah, Ken Stettler, that the Utah state and federal
mental health codes do not apply to Provo Canyon School because it
is a "residential facility." Both of these gentlemen indicated that
these facilities need only abide by "core rules." Both gentlemen
provided a web site where these rules can be downloaded. It's hard
to believe that children in residential facilities who are extremely
vulnerable to abuse, since they have little contact with the outside
world, have very few regulations in place to protect them from harm.
After investigating this issue further we discovered that Provo
Canyon School is described as a hospital on the following Internet
- this particular site has a copyright @2001 State of Utah. The
first website is described as a United States hospital data base.
It was also listed
as a private high school on another site. At the Universal Health
Services website found at:
Provo Canyon School is listed as a behavioral health center.
If Provo Canyon
School is indeed a hospital as it is described on an official State
of Utah website then children in that facility should be protected
by the same federal and state mental health laws as other
L.J. in Utah
licensing indicated that Provo Canyon School can call the facility
anything they please. If this is true - should the Utah government's
own website also be able to call Provo Canyon a hospital if it is
not indeed a hospital?
How can a consumer
from California or any other state be expected to know that a
facility like PCS is a residential facility if it is listed as a
hospital on a website with a copyright from the State of Utah? In
fact it is described as a hospital at the Utah.gov website.
It's hard to
believe that authorities in Utah can tell a parent that their child
was not protected under any state or federal mental health
regulation because the facility was a residential program, when
their own government's official website describes that same facility
as a hospital. If Provo Canyon School is not a hospital then the
government of Utah is misinforming the public at large.
When my daughter
and I discussed admission at PCS we both requested that she not be
restrained in any way. This was a condition of admission because she
had recently been traumatized in a violent assault and this had been
suggested by other professionals who indicated that she could suffer
a retraumatization if she was restrained.
As her parent I
wrote that they did not have my consent for restraints on the
document describing chemical and physical restraints. Admissions
staff did not indicated that she could not be admitted without
agreeing to restraints. Apparently they were more interested in the
$10,500 monthly fee our insurance company had just agreed to pay
them for treatment. A copy of this document, indicating that parents
gave "no consent for restraints" was given to the Utah authorities.
Regardless of whether or not patients at Provo Canyon School are
protected under the weaker Utah "core rules" or the more stringent
state and federal patient and mental health rules, Provo Canyon
School must not circumvent parental consent or refusal for
Perhaps they are
allowed to circumvent parental consent under the extremely weak and
rarely enforced Utah "core rules."
When we were
"allowed" to speak to our child the first time, ten days after
admission, she had already been physically and chemically restrained
several times. She had her clothing forcefully stripped from her and
she had been given a dangerous dosage of the drug Haldol by forced
injection. When we learned of this - the medical staff and her
therapist refused to disclose the dosage of Haldol. We later learned
that it was FIVE MILLIGRAMS. The therapeutic first dose is only ONE
When we again told
her therapist and charge nurse that they did not have consent for
restraints and chemical restraints we were threatened with
expulsion. Manipulative tactics were used to keep our daughter in
the "program." The therapist told us we could discharge her against
medical advice but it was his opinion that she would probably commit
suicide if we did so. He literally told us that if we wanted to save
her life we would keep her there. He went on to tell us that they
knew what they were doing and that we must put all of our trust in
this "program." I later found out that this is a common tactic that
they use on parents to keep their child in the program.
The second time we
spoke to our daughter she was being punished with isolation and
seclusion for complaining about her maltreatment at a group therapy
session. This cruel, degrading and inhumane punishment, which would
be considered torture under the UN treaty against torture, degrading
and inhumane treatment, was continued for one week.
She had to sit in a
chair and stare at a white wall for an entire week for about 12
hours a day. She was not allowed to have meals with other students,
or go to any meetings or group therapy sessions. She had to sleep on
an uncomfortable cot in the hall with lights glaring all night long.
As parents we were never notified of this. Instead we were told that
she was going to group therapy, school and church.
Had she been able
to communicate with us regarding her treatment we would have
immediately called the police and asked them to put her into
protective custody until we arrived by air on the next plane to Salt
did not have this opportunity. Instead we were under a false sense
of security that our child would be protected under the laws of the
United States, Utah and the U.S. Constitution.
Please let us know
if Title 42 - chapter 114 sections 10802 and 10801 of the US CODE
apply to children with diagnosed mental illness who are in
residential facilities for treatment. In section 10802 of Title 42 a
facility has a broad definition: " the term facilities may include
by need not be limited to, hospitals, nursing homes, community
facilities for individuals with mental illness, board and care
homes, homeless shelters, and jails and prisons."
Please also let us
know if the following would be considered abuse under the
definitions of sections 10802: It can be found at:
mentally ill child with: isolation and seclusion for minor
infractions like getting out of a chair without permission, human
restraint and take down of a child without written consent of a
parent and for a minor infraction, kicking a child in the morning in
an effort to wake that child, pulling the child's hair while
forcefully removing clothing, stripping a female child naked and
forcing them to stay in a small, cold, concrete room where male
staff members can look at them, punishing a mentally ill child with
complete seclusion and isolation for an entire week because the
child discussed the maltreatment of staff at the facility in a group
therapy session, keeping a child in a cold isolation room for seven
hours until 1 am, depriving a mentally ill child of medical care
when that child complained of vision disturbances and back pain
following the human take downs and chemical restraint. If this is
not abuse for a residential facility, would it be considered abuse at a
authorities were informed: The Utah Attorney General, The Director
of Human Services, The Utah State Licensing Boards and the Orem
Police Department. As required under law I also reported the abuse
of more that ten other children whose abuse was witnessed and
described in detail by our child. We were assured by Ken Stettler,
the Director, that Child Protective Services would be investigating
this. Last week we discovered that the case had not even been opened
by CPS and they had not received the necessary documentation. When
we complained about this to the Director we were sent a sarcastic
and condescending reply by e-mail. He stated, "We take all reports
of abuse seriously (even yours)." Instead of addressing the issue
effectively he ridiculed the letter that was sent.
We are writing this
letter to report the continued dangers that children from the State
of California and other states may endure at "residential
facilities" in the State of Utah. From what we've been told Utah
does not award these children the protection of Utah State Mental
Health Laws. These facilities need only abide by Utah "core rules."
We have also been told that there are about 70 of these problem
youth programs in Utah. We've now learned there are nearly 200.
Apparently the licensing authorities in Utah do not even have an
accurate count of the number of youth residential programs.
Please inform us if
mentally ill children in these programs are protected under any
federal laws. If they are not - then something must be done because
therapists and psychiatrists are currently referring children to
these facilities in record numbers. California is ill-prepared to
meet the demand and many of California's children are being sent to
Utah. Most parents are ill informed about the dangers and
psychological trauma their children may be exposed to in these
programs. Internet websites are deceiving as well as the Utah State
These children have
no voice and little protection under law. They are disenfranchised
and vulnerable because they are not adults. Many of these programs
monitor mail and phone calls home are infrequent and often
monitored. Many parents are manipulated into keeping their children
in the "program" until they run out of money. Please let us know
what can be done or what is currently being done to protect these
children who are at risk of serious abuse, injury, psychological
distress and death. As you are probably aware hundreds of children
have died in youth programs in the last decade.
Now there are about
1000 of these programs and many have no regulations in place to
protect these vulnerable children. Somehow many of these programs,
like Provo Canyon School, have circumvented the Federal laws that
protect the mentally ill, leaving these children exposed to serious
abuse and injury. Many of these programs are in states that benefit
economically and politically (from huge donations by the
administrators of these programs.)
of abuse are often stifled by police and other officials and those
who make the reports are treated with contempt and sarcasm.
Respectfully Yours, (wishes to remain anonymous pending lawsuit)
To date we have not
received a reply from any government official in Utah or any other
authority. This was sent to over 80 elected and hired officials who
should be concerned about the welfare of the thousands of
disenfranchised and often mentally ill children who are visiting
Utah for treatment.
* * * * * * * * *
Excerpts from Professional Report of
ABUSE, TORTURE Jan 18.2004
AND PROSPECTIVE PARENTS PLEASE READ THIS!!
The actual report is ten pages long - this is a brief summary:
Dear Gentlepersons involved in the welfare and protection of
children in Utah and United States of America:
As a licensed professional, Registered Nurse, under duty of
obligation under the laws of California I am writing this to
document to report suspected and actual child abuse both physical,
emotional, psychological, sexual as well as the suspected and actual
abuse of children in the custody and care of (staff) at Provo Canyon
My daughter described the following abuse of:
1. A. M., age 15, INVESTMENT UNIT - Her nose was broken from being
slammed against the floor prior to a forced injection of the drug
Haldol. She was isolated in the observation unit. This area is 5X5,
concrete walls and floors. Staff make this room cold by turning up
the air conditioner. A.M now walks around like a zombie from being
2. Terra Shaw 16, INVESTMENT UNIT - claimed S was the most abused of
all, forced to remain isolated in the cold obs unit most of the day.
Staff called it her "home."
3. A.S., 15, witness to abuse of others. Also given overdose of
Haldol, excessive time in obs unit.
4. C.D., 17, INVESTMENT UNIT, overdose of Haldol, isolated in obs 10
5. Five Africa American girls (names unknown) treated with similar
harshness and isolation 6. Could hear 12 and 13 year old boys
screaming in pain and terror night and day.
SUMMARY OF ABUSE SUFFERED BY MY CHILD:Assault, battery, hair pulled,
restrained against her will, drugged with an overdose of Haldol
which caused her to black out and wake to blindness, facial
paralysis and pain, drooling and lethargy for three days. Imprisoned
and forced to sit in structure (staring strait ahead) for up to 5
hours. Woke to vaginal bleeding and wet pants on the morning after
Haldol injection. CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATED: Freedom of speech, religion
right to safe and humane treatment, prevented from
writing grievances and punished for suggesting that others write
Punished with isolation for venting about her abuse and mistreatment
in a group therapy session on December 13.
Apparently the detective who investigated this for one week, and the
Utah Valley District Attorney do not believe these acts are abuse.
We were told by cell-phone message on or about January 10, that the
case was going to be closed because the attorneys from the Utah
Valley DA believed that these abuses were not criminal-but
contractual and civil in nature. This only leads one to believe, or
fear, that here are economic and political reasons for this and that
the police cover for this school. We doubt that any of the children
mentioned were privately interviewed. From what we experienced this
school does a very good job of hiding and minimizing abuses. A full
investigation and examination of the children being imprisoned in
Investment Unit and Observation Units must be done to prevent
We hoe as authorities you will do something to determine the extent
of abuse at Provo Canyon School.
PLEASE PROTECT THESE CHILDREN.
Families, patients and the government are paying up to $12,000 per
month for treatment and education at this school. All families must
be notified if abuse is occurring. Reason would dictate that abuse
is also occurring in the boy's facility. To keep children in this
facility parents are routinely warned by therapists that their
children are being manipulative and will say anything to be sent
home. Regardless of the reasons children are at Provo Canyon, no
child should be treated with neglect and abuse. Parents are being
kept in the dark by crafty therapists desiring to keep their
children in these conditions for economic reasons. As parents we
were never informed that harsh behavioral modification techniques
would be used to control and
change our daughter who voluntarily sought treatment. Yet this was
done with impunity.
A list of more than 25 individuals - staff, students and
professionals was given as known and unknown persons who
participated or witnessed abuse at PCS.
FINAL COMMENTS: Our fear is that this State of UTAH, like the Orem
police and District Attorney, will believe the lies and biased
cover-up presented by therapists and directors at PCS. We do not
intend to be sarcastic, but our experience has shown a massive bias
in the community and State toward this and similar youth mental
programs, facilities, wilderness programs and schools. The fact that
the police and the DA closed a child abuse case in one week further
confirms our suspicion. Remember - we are the patient and
the consumer. Our insurance paid $10,500 for out child, the
voluntary patient, to be verbally, psychologically, emotionally,
physically and possibly sexually abused at this mind control cult
school for one month.
Hopefully another child will not loose their life or sanity at this