Utah Teen Treatment Center Sued for Sexual Abuse

Teen treatment centers have been in the news recently due to Paris Hilton coming to Utah to speak to the legislature in support of SB127. According to Deseret News, Hannah Archuleta of Colorado is suing Escalante teen treatment center Turn-About Ranch for injuries experienced from multiple sexual assaults she endured.  The lawsuit, filed in 6th District Court in Garfield County, alleges the facility negligenty hired and supervised Archuleta’s alleged assaulter and she is additionally bringing claims of assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress against the Turn-About Ranch.

Hannah Archuleta is suing Utah’s Turn-About Ranch after she says she was punished for reporting assaults by an employee there when she was 17. Attorney Gloria Allred said Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, that Archuleta was told to smile for the picture because it would be sent to her parents and “she was told that she needed to look happy in the photo.” Gloria Allred

Archuleta, who is just 21, was a resident of the facility when her parents left her there in 2019 for “education” and therapy. The facility was recommended to the family by Dr. Phil, a TV doctor of sorts. Her admission to the facility came amid her mother being terminally ill with cancer and she reports first being groped by an employee in the kitchen when she was there only a week and a half. Being scared, she didn’t report the incident to anyone.

After being victimized again by the same employee, however, she told three other staff members who encouraged her to write her story down and provide it to management. When she did, however, the facility took no meaningful action against the alleged perpetrator and never notified the police. The employee was allowed to remain at his post and had access to other female residents, one of whom he is alleged to also have assaulted.

Following her complaints, Archuleta feels the facility began retaliating against her by having her sleep on a wooden plank without a pillow, verbally abuse her, threatening her with violence and requiring her to work outside in subfreezing weather. Additionally, she alleged that she was denied access to the bathroom and forced to pick up horse manure, walk laps in a horse corral for hours. Archuleta finally wrote home to her father to let him know what was happening.

After the father became aware of conditions at the facility, he arranged for her to be released in December of 2019. The police were also advised of the situation, but there has been no meaningful response to date. Archuleta is advocating for the passage of SB127, which would require greater oversight on facilities such as the one in this story, including the requirement that these treatment centers submit monthly reports to the Utah Dept. of Licensing.

Legally speaking, those that have been sexual assaulted at teen treatment facilities may have a claim for sexual abuse against the perpetrator, as well as claims against the facility for negligent hiring, supervision and retention of predatory staff persons. If you have been injured or sexually assaulted at a treatment facility for teens, give us a call to discuss your case. All consults are free and if there is no recovery, there is no fee.

Ron Kramer is a lawyer committed to helping those that have been sexually abused at facilities and those who have been victimized by the facility after they reported the sexual abuse. He can be reached at ron@ronkramerlaw.com.