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Copper Canyon Academy

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CCA Survivors Speak Out

What kids who went to Copper Canyon Academy had to say about their experience there - r/troubledteens

CCASurvivors.com has made their survey results available to the public. These are the answers to just a few questions, there is much more on the site.

Copper Canyon Academy is owned by Aspen Education Group, which is owned by CRC Health Group, which is owned by Bain Capital. There have been six deaths at Aspen programs, some were because staff thought kids were “faking” illness and did not get them medical treatment in time.

The year the person attended and their length of stay is indicated at the end of each quote.

If you felt you were being abused, was there anyway you could get to a phone and have a private conversation with your parents, child services or an officer of the law?

No. If you told your parents that you were being abused, they had already been informed by the school to expect to hear such things from you and to assume that you were lying, and to report to the school that you were being negative. (2006, 21 months)

No. Definitely not. In fact, girls who did try to e-mail or write their parents about it got in trouble when their parents confronted the school. We weren’t allowed to talk to people outside of the school and let them know that we were being abused. There were no ways to call child protective service at all. (2006, 1 year)

no (2010, 5 months)

No. (2008, 11 months)

No, none whatsoever. Letters were written to CPS but they were never actually sent. (2010, 2 months)

no (2009, 11 months)

If you wanted to leave were you discouraged to tell your parents how you felt? Were you afraid that you would be punished if you were to describe any incidents of abuse to your parents?We were discouraged from telling our parents anything “negative” about the program. So, yes. (2006, 21 months)If we so much as told our parents that we were unhappy there and it was found out, we would be immediately dropped down to level 1 for “manipulation.” (2006, 1 year)

yes (2010, 5 months)

Yes and yes. However on level four I told them I wanted to leave but I never got in trouble but I think that’s because my letter was never read by a staff member because they trusted me. (2008, 11 months)

If you said you wanted to leave, the called it manipulation so you were punished. Everything was monitored so there was no way in telling your parents what was going on without being in trouble (2010, 2 months)

yes (2009, 11 months)

You would be punished if you told your parents you wanted to leave and they found out, you would be dropped for being “manipulative.” (2010, 6 months)

If you got sick were you given adequate treatment and rest?

No. You were only allowed to be treated or to rest if you had vomited (and the vomit was witnessed by a staff member) or if you had a fever. (2006, 21 months)

No. I was sick a few times but I never wanted to go on sick day because they made you sleep in a random bunk bed and didn’t really pay any attention to you. I recall a girl having a very bad migraine on the weekend and staff not allowing her to keep the door shut while she was trying to sleep. It was loud. (2006, 1 year)

Sometimes. Most of the time they told us to drink water (2008, 11 months)

No, they often didnt “believe” you. (2010, 2 months)

no (2009, 11 months)


Were you ever refused medical care because staff said that you were “faking it”?

Yes. (2006, 21 months)

Yes. Often. One staff member, Janet Moore, always told the girls that if they weren’t feeling good, it was obviously because they weren’t drinking enough water. (2006, 1 year)

yes (2010, 5 months)

I wasn’t but someone else was even though she was having seizures (2008, 11 months)

All the time (2010, 2 months)

Yes, there was a girl who got toxic shock syndrome, she almost died because they refused to take her to the hospital for so long, on the grounds that she was “faking it.”

(2010), 6 months)

Were proper check ups, dental cleaning, and medication observation appointments held regularly?

Only if your parents made sure of it. (2006, 21 months)

Not really. We had medication appointments with a psychiatrist regularly. He was weird and didn’t really ask much about how we were feeling. I think he took feedback from staff about how we acted and then medicated us accordingly. (2006, 1 year)

not really (2010, 5 months)

No and you were not allowed off campus on level one (2010, 2 months)

No (2009, 11 months)


What is the name of your case manager/ “Therapist”? Did they have degrees/ licenses? What were their qualifications before taking the job at CCA?

I was shown the CCA job application once, it’s not even two pages! The staff have no experience or degrees within the mental health field. They should not be able to work with children. My ‘therapist’ was non confidential everyone including your teachers knew what you said. It’s completely disgusting. My therapist did not care. I do not know if he had proper licensing. (2010, 6 months)


Please describe the “Work Hour” experience. How did you feel about this?

Work hours consisted of being woken up at 4 or 5 am and also forced to continue them after school depending on how many you had and cleaning or performing strenuous activity that some girls were not physically able to do. This would cause extreme exhaustion making you very vulnerable to their “therapy” aka brainwashing. For instance, I had knee surgery during my stay at Copper Canyon Academy and 3 days after I had my surgery, I was forced to run up a hill to the “upper” buildings and then continue to mop, sweep, and scrub the building. I was forced to run the dirt track everyday. I was forced to scrub the grout between the tile while a staff member would watch and laugh at me while saying condescending things like “you’re here for a reason” or “you deserve this because you did something wrong.” Personally, I received a work hour the second day I was at CCA for taking a square to many of cheese. Work hours would often prevent you from being able to have desert that they give you on Friday nights. Work hours were given like water. If you forgot to raise your hand, spoke out of turn, forgot your chemically filled water bottle (water is not filtered), stepped out of the single file line, forgot to get your tray checked off during meal time (you must eat everything on your plate that you took, mind you that you are on a 3,000 calorie diet in which I gained 25lbs in 2 months) taking 2 spoonfuls of salad dressing (yes a staff member would stand and watch every child to make sure they got 1 spoonful of salad dressing) going into your room without an upper level, coming out of your room in the middle of the night not in uniform or in general walking out of your room even if it were to get a staff member because you were going to be sick etc. you would receive a work hour. Work hours make you feel like you are worthless, scrubbing floors, doing strenuous activity and being talked down to on top of doing just the few parts of a work hour I described is torturous. The work hours are written in a “black book” and you would receive “constructive” feedback after or before you work hour as to why you received one. Constructive feedback entailed being yelled at, getting an explanation on what a bad kid you were, being called stupid, idiotic, pitiful, embarrassing, a disgrace etc. On every level, you could only have a certain amount of work hours to move up to the next, so if you exceeded the amount allowed, you were held on that same level for weeks/months. If you had too many work hours a week, on Friday and Saturday nights you were isolated and put into an empty classroom to study. Many staff members would not even allow you to use the bathroom during your work hours and if it were to be an emergency, you would receive an extra work hour. (2010, 2 months)

Work hours could be given by a staff member or teacher for any student infraction, no matter how minor. I was given a work hour for annoying a staff member by singing during free time outside, with no warning. If you felt like you didn’t deserve a work hour, you could submit a grievance, which involved filming out a form describing how you’d been wrong and putting it in the grievance box. I’m 95% sure the grievance box got opened maybe once every three months.
To work off most work hours- usually if you had more than five, people with less were let off easier- you were woken up at 5 AM by being shaken awake by a staff member. You had to walk across campus with them to either clean classrooms, bathrooms, or pull weeds or shovel rocks. Shoveling rocks basically had no purpose except to punish us with physical labor, and was abusive and pointless.
Some of the more self-serving staff members would allow you to work off a work hour by doing something like throwing a soda can away for them, which happened to me once. I got six work hours taken off by the drama teacher, Adam, for stepping in to play a role in the school play last minute. There was no formula or any written rules regarding work hours. (2006, 21 months)

We had to get up in the morning at 5, even during the winter, and pick weeds, move rocks, clean things, and all sorts of ridiculous things.  Toward the end of my time being there, they started having girls wash the staff’s cars for work hours. (2006, 1 year)

its child labor (2010, 5 months)

Please describe “Staff Buddy” and the purpose of the yellow/ orange construction vests.

Staff buddy… you must be arms length from staff, one pair of clothes, no showering/restroom with door closed. The construction vests are 24 hour silence vests, if you “break silence” you will be put in one, this means making eye contact with someone you are not allowed to talk to, or speaking to them, if you talk to someone or make eye contact with someone in these vests you will then be put in one. That means no talking for 24 hours except to ask to use the restroom. (2010, 6 months)

Was contact with your parents limited? Where your letters (to and from) intercepted? Were your letters opened, read, crossed out or cut?

Level ones wore red shirts. They were not allowed to wear any non-uniform clothes except for pajamas, and weren’t allowed to wear sneakers except for at exercise- only flip-flops. During my first winter at CCA, the school nurse felt so bad for level ones walking around in flip-flops during 35 degree weather that she bought us all toe socks for Christmas, using her own paycheck.
We weren’t allowed to use the restroom without an upper level student standing outside the door. We weren’t allowed to walk anywhere alone. We could only talk to our parents for five minutes a week, and that was on the phone with a therapist. Emails were probably intercepted, but letters weren’t. (2006, 21 months)

Level 1: One five-minute phone call with their parents per month (obviously supervised with therapist), not allowed to talk to any other level 1s, not allowed to wear tennis shoes except for exercise.. ONLY flip flops, and not even nice flip flops like Crocs that were comfortable and didn’t fall off my feet.  I wore them and got in trouble.  Not allowed to go to the bathroom on their own or shower, they can’t even go to their bedroom on their own.  They had to be babysat by an upper level or staff at all times, even in school.
Contact with parents: It was very limited.  We could only speak to them during scheduled therapy phone calls that were very short and through snail mail or e-mails.  All of our e-mails were read by curious staff.  There wasn’t a policy in place to read emails, but they did anyways. (2006, 1 year)

yes (2010, 5 months)

Yes. You only talked to your parents with your therapist. Emails were sometimes read and notes were taken on you if there was somethig bad in th letter (2008, 11 months)

contact with parents was limited, no phone access and computer access only when they thought it was appropriate. My emails and letters were opened and by accident, I received the email where my therapist was being CC’ed onto my emails so I found out. (2010, 2 months)

yes (2009, 11 months)

If you are on level one you basically have no rights. No speaking to other people on level one, no going anywhere by yourself-includes bathroom, no make up. They read all of your emails to your parents they called it screening, you also were not allowed to close your letters before sending them because they read them. You were not allowed to say bad things about CCA or they would drop you for manipulating, you could not ask for things in your emails. In fact they send emails to your parents telling them things you might say to leave like theres bugs in the food, there is bugs in the food it happened on two separate occasions when I was there. (2010, 6 months)

How long before you were able to speak to your parents on the phone? Were your phone calls monitored?

I didn’t speak to my parents until my second month at CCA. All phone calls made on campus were monitored throughout the program. (2006, 21 months)

I wasn’t allowed to talk to my parents on the phone for 1 month.  After the first month, I got to talk to my mom for 5 minutes on the phone under the supervision of my therapist. (2006, 1 year)

yes (2010, 5 months)

A month. Five minutes on christmas (2008, 11 months)

I never spoke to my mother on the phone, I was never allowed. Phone calls on all levels were monitored by either a therapist or dorm staff. (2010, 2 months)

yes (2009, 11 months)

Phone calls are always monitored, they are on speaker and your therapists listens to everything you say. If CCA didn’t have things to hide they wouldn’t screen every form of communication. You could call your parents on holidays. (2010, 6 months)


Were there other students (upper levels) assigned to watch over you? What was their role? Did they give you consequences/ “hold you accountable”? Were they instructed to restrain you or monitor the isolation area, bathrooms and showers?

Part of the responsibilities of upper levels was to watch level ones. They had to walk level ones everywhere, including classes and the rest room. If they caught you breaking a rule, they would hold you accountable. They were never instructed to restrain anyone, though I did witness a situation in which a staff member had two level fours go after a runaway student with her. (2006, 21 months)

Yes. Upper levels had to watch level 1s do just about everything. Level 2s could go to the bathroom by themselves, etc. Only level 4s could go to the laundry room alone. Everyone else had to be accompanied by a level 4. During my first week, I was asking an upper level from a different house if there was anything I could do about my roommates being rude to me. They “held me accountable” for “gossip” and I was later given 4 work hours. (2006, 1 year)

yes (2010, 5 months)

Upper levels watched you while you went to your room an had to go to the room with you when you went to the bathroom. We were told to hold people accountable. I know this is bad but the only way to move up was to throw other people under the bus. To point out what others were doing wrong so people could think you were doing good.(2008, 11 months)

Yes, when we got there you had a “big sister” she explained all of the rules to you. They had to hold you accountable for mistakes so they could move up in the program! on level one and two you always needed an upper level to go anywhere, including the bathroom. (2010, 2 months)

yes (2009, 11 months)


Do you believe that the program acting within the means of “Tough Love” was appropriate treatment for you in your adolescence?

Tough love is a nice way of saying it but you must take love out of it. The staff is cruel they treat you like criminals, they believed we were like their enemies. There was a few select staff that were great but they got fired or quit because of how bad this place is. The words they should use is emotionally abusive and traumatic. (2010, 6 months)

No, it completely destroyed all trust and I now have severe attachment disorder. (2004, 3 months)

Not really, no.  Tough love is great.  Cruelty is not. (2006, 12 months)

No, I now suffer from PTSD and anxiety. (2010, 3 months)

Considering long term effects, do you think your experience at CCA has an effect on your life today? Positive or negative?

Yes, it has a negative effect on my life today. I am still fighting my depression which CCA sent me into. I am attending a CSU and doing well in school. But mentally, I am messed up. I cry all the time, it’s very hard for me to control my emotions. I can’t deal with things because of that place. They make you feel lower than low, its to break you. I hate this place and what they do it makes me sick to my stomach. I still have CCA nightmares weekly and its been three years. For the first year I was home I had to wear socks on my hands because I would scratch myself in my sleep. (2010, 6 months)

Negative, I have night terrors (2010, 5 months)

RTT Reports DHS Citations: Copper Canyon Academy







DHS Citations for Copper Canyon Academy, Rimrock AZ

Source: Arizona Department of Health Servicing: http://hsapps.azdhs.gov/ls/sod/SearchGroupHomes.aspx,

…more info about each citation available via a search for Copper Canyon Academy.

Behavioral Health Facilities Report

This report is published by the ADHS Division of Licensing Services.

For assistance, contact BEHAVIORAL HEALTH at Phone (602) 364-2595; Fax (602) 364-4801.


Phone: (928) 567-1322 Fax: (928) 567-1323 Facility ID: BH3790

Licensee: AYS MANAGEMENT License: BH-3790 Provider Type: JUVENILE GROUP HOME

Survey Date – 11/2/2011

Citation 1

Based on review of personnel records and a discussion with staff, eleven of thirty-nine staff members did not have current CPR Certification, and three of thirty-nine staff members did not have current First Aid Certification as required by the agency’s policy.

Findings include:

The Policy entitled, “Staff Qualifications” stated that “All direct service staff will have or shall obtain within ninety days of employment Certified First Aid Training and Certified CPR Training…”

The records for staff members #6, #8, #19, #24, #25, #29, #30, #31, #32, #36, and #38 did not contain current Certification in CPR.

The records for staff members #19, #24, and #30 did not contain current First Aid Certification.

In a discussion, the Executive Director acknowledged the aforementioned staff members CPR and First Aid Certification was not current.

This citation was discussed during the telephonic exit conference on November 2, 2011.

Citation 2

Based on a review of personnel records and a discussion with staff, five of the thirty-nine records did not contain documentation of a physical examination or nursing assessment that indicated the staff member was capable of performing the duties contained in the staff member’s job description.

Findings include:

The records for staff #9, #21, #22, #23, #38 did not contain documentation of a physical examination or nursing assessment.

In a discussion, the Executive Director stated all staff members are required to have a physical examination prior to working.

This citation was discussed during the telephonic exit conference on November 2, 2011.

Citation 3

Based on a review of records and a discussion with staff, three of the thirty-nine personnel records did not contain documentation of a valid fingerprint clearance card.

Findings include:

The records for staff #6, #18, and #26 contained a finger print clearance card number; however, the fingerprint clearance cards were not in the personnel records.

In a discussion, the Executive Director stated all staff members do apply for finger print clearance cards.

This citation was discussed with the telephonic exit conference on November 2, 2011.

Citation 4

Based on a review of personnel records and a discussion with staff, thirty-nine of thirty-nine records did not contain orientation that included the duration of the orientation.

Findings include:

The personnel records for all staff members that were surveyed reveal all personnel records contained documentation to substantiate orientation occurred. However, the duration of the orientation was not documented.

In a discussion, the Executive Director acknowledged the orientation did not include the duration.

This citation was discussed during the telephonic exit conference on November 2, 2011.

Survey Date – 5/17/2012

Citation 1

Based on a review of documentation and a discussion with staff, a fire drill for staff members and clients was not conducted at least once every three months on each shift.

Findings include:

A review of the licensee’s schedule shows three shifts. The fire drill documentation provided at the time of the survey was as follows:

Sycamore House:
01/30/12 at 7:30 PM
05/10/12 at 7:25 PM

Juniper House:
04/15/12 at 0720

Willow House
03/30/12 at 9:05 AM

February 29, 2012 at 1:58 PM

There was no documentation of fire drills being conducted at Cedar House or Apple House.

In a discussion, the Executive Director acknowledged fire drills were not conducted every 3 months on each shift for each building. The Executive Director stated he would begin doing fire drills for the whole campus once every three months on each shift.

This citation was discussed during the exit conference.





If you attended Copper Canyon Academy, you can file a complaint here: https://app.azdhs.gov/ls/online_complaint/BHComplaint.aspx


Read More at Reddit TroubledTeens

CCA Staff Member Randy Young Investigated for sexual relationship with student, Arrested, Charged with Child Porn

Copper Canyon Academy Staff Member Investigated for inappropriate relationship with student 

Randy Young former Special Projects Coordinator at Copper Canyon Academy, located in Rimrock Arizona was asked to resign from Copper Canyon Academy, after he was internally reported and investigated for the sexual abuse of  a 16 year old female student.

Reports determine that Young pursued an ongoing romantic relationship with the victim and that he sexually assaulted the girl while on the CCA campus.

The victim reports that she was satisfied with the way Copper Canyon Academy owner, Paul Taylor, handled the case. A report to the Yavapai County Police was made, however, charges were not pressed and no arrests were made in regards to this investigation.

Soon after, Randy Young went on to acquire a job at American Heritage Academy in Cottonwood, AZ and was found to have had inappropriate sexual relationships with at least 2 other girls at AHA.

Young was eventually arrested when he was found at a “hook up spot” with a 17 year old student in his car, he was arrested for attempting to give the officer false identification. He posted bail and was soon released.

Warrants on his home and school computer uncovered 11 photos that were believed to be a evidence of a sexual relationship with a 15 year old female student of American Heritage Academy. He was arrested on 11 counts of child exploitation. His bail was set to $60,000. It is unknown if Young is still in custody, an inmate database search would suggest that he has been released.

A disturbing comment on this article shows a pattern of grooming for personal relationships and proof that he told his students about his intentions toward pedophilia.

thiis man was trusted by so manny, he could of taken that van of girls and never came back, he wasn’t a molester, murderer or anything like that. He was i’ll, you don’t see it because it’s not like cancer or scarlet fever, its a deep kind of ill that does actually exsist. he tryed to fight it, and couldn’t. the thing is…he didn’t choose to be ill, someone made him be ill….he was very hurt when he was younng. and it infected himm…he put it off and tried to be strong, and ended up like this. soo just because he’s done what he has. ddoesn’t mean you should lose respect or stop loving him if you did, he has the same heart. and he did actually love alot of the basketball girls, some of them he even told to watch out for people like him, because he cared and he knew who he was…and he couldn’t help it.

- anonymous

It is the collective opinion of CCASurvivors that Copper Canyon Academy may have been neglectful in properly pursuing a conviction from this incident and may have made concerted efforts to cover up the scandal. Although it does seem that they followed adequate protocol in calling the police, when the law will not take proper action it is the responsibility of the citizens to put the community on alert about pedophiles and sexual offenders. However responsible they may have been, the unfortunate truth is that inaction in these situations can all too easily lead to the endangerment and sexual abuse of children. Considering how easy it was for Young to skirt his past transgressions, it is imperative that we maintain a high alert on these kinds of reports and all schools do stringent background checks on all of their teachers and staff.


If you would like to make a report about a sexually abusive staff member of Copper Canyon Academy you are encouraged to do so by emailing us at admin@ccasurvivors.com We will process these reports to the proper authorities and make public warnings available for parents.


Terminated AHA teacher arrested for child porn

2/20/2012 6:20:00 AM

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter

COTTONWOOD — Yavapai Sheriff’s detectives were contacted by staff at the American Heritage Academy in Cottonwood Wednesday after school officials found a laptop computer with porn that belonged to a recently terminated teacher.

A school staff member discovered pornographic images of children while reviewing the computer’s contents. The terminated teacher, 33-year-old Randy Young, was previously under investigation for an inappropriate relationship with a student and staff believed the computer might have documented that relationship.

Young had been arrested by Cottonwood Police late last month after providing false identity when he was contacted in the company of a juvenile student while off campus. After the arrest, he posted bond and was released. Young’s personal laptop computer had been left in his former classroom, where it was found by another teacher.

The following day, detectives reviewed the computer’s contents and found 11 images depicting children younger than 15 in various sexual situations.

A search warrant was obtained for Young’s Cottonwood home. Young was arrested for 11 counts involving sexual exploitation of a minor and booked at the Camp Verde Detention Center.

He remains in custody on a $60,000 bond. He admitted to knowledge of the images on his computer, but did not believe they portrayed underage children.

Randy Young Arrested for giving False Identity, with minor student in his car

On Friday, Jan. 28, Young had been charged with providing false identification to an officer. At 10 o’clock that night, a Cottonwood officer checked a Suzuki SUV parked at the Rocking Chair Road overlook, where police say it is commonplace for criminal activity to occur.

The passenger showed identification that she was 17 years old and said she was a senior in a Cottonwood school.

Randy Scott initially could not produce a driver’s license but identified himself with a name the officer could not pull up on his computer.

The driver who was jumpy and nervous gave a name and said he was 17 but then claimed he was born in 1991 and was 20 years old.

The officer said that when a computer check returns, “no record found,” he said it usually means the subject is lying.

At that point, Young pulled out his wallet with his identification, showing he was 33.


Quote from former CCA Student:

“Randy was always on my radar as a “sketchy” guy during my time at CCA due to his elaborate stories about his wife, Amy, their adopted teenage daughter, Holly, and Randy’s best friend (name forgotten.) The stories were interesting, sure, but none of the main players ever actually came to campus in real life. Randy had plenty of excuses for this, but I started joking with him that he had just made the people up.

Not long after that fun conversation, he told us that Holly had died the day before from a sudden bout of spinal meningitis. This was tragic and we all cried because we’d heard so much about this girl, and she was our age! 16! Not long after that, Susie, a staff member in Juniper, resigned. We assumed it was because she hadn’t gotten the vacant position as the head of Juniper, though some girls said it was because she refused to accept that CCA wouldn’t try to cure girls of lesbianism, given her Christian beliefs.

Turns out that she had attempted to bring flowers to “Holly”‘s memorial service and found out that Holly did not exist. The church, which Randy claimed to be a youth pastor at, had never heard of Randy. In fact, it turned out that he wasn’t even married. Susie brought this information to Paul’s attention, but Paul decided that it had no impact on Randy’s job at CCA and wouldn’t even discuss Randy’s lies with Randy. Susie resigned in protest.

A few months later, Randy told us that his wife Amy had left him. During this time, he acted much angrier than he had before and was a lot meaner to most girls. Before, he had taken a special interest in most of the prettier and sportier girls in Juniper, and sometimes the other dorms. He would make good friends with them and their parents, and sometimes take the sports teams he coached on long distance and overnight trips. The girls who had gotten pulled or graduated that he had made friends with would send them photos of himself- I once caught him looking at photos on a staff computer of a former student washing cars in her bikini. But he started even being mean with the girls he had specially chosen and befriended. Being even harder on them, in fact. But always apologizing later.”

Welcome to CCA Survivors

This site was created for the alumni of Copper Canyon Academy, and dedicated to the parents of CCA students or any parent looking into “therapeutic” boarding schools for their teens. We are here to represent the unfiltered truth about the kind of “treatment” that CCA offers, and offer information to help parents to make informed decisions about finding help for their teens. Please see Parent Resources page for warnings, research and alternative options.