Copper Canyon Academy Survivor Survey – N
Date of Submission: 08-15-13
Do you wish to grant further testimony to investigators? – Yes.
Age and year of admittance – 16-17, 2010-2011
How long was your stay at Copper Canyon Academy? – approximately 9 months
How long have you been back home? – A little bit over two years
Did you graduate the program? – No
Before the program did you have a serious drug problem? Please describe severity – No, smoked weed several times, stopped before admittance due to thinking there really was not a point to it
Before the program were you admitted to any other residential treatment, for instance a mental hospital? – SUWS Wilderness camp
Before the program did you have a criminal record or spend time in Juvenile Hall? – no
Where you court ordered, or did your parents choose to send you to the program? – parents chose
Did you consent to treatment at CCA? Did you sign a contract? – No
Was there a medical admissions process? Please describe – Not that I am aware
Were your medical records considered before you were admitted into the program.? – I am assuming but not sure
Were you strip searched? How many times? – No
How much was your tuition? – Definitely not
In your opinion were the teachers, good teachers? Did they have degrees and certifications? – No, only one teacher was really a good teacher in my opinion, everyone else seemed like they just selected a subject at random to teach because they needed a job
Were your tests open book, multiple choice tests? Would you consider them easy to pass? – Yes
How many school credits did you earn in what period of time? – not sure
Did you receive a diploma from CCA? – no
Was a certified medical professional available to students at their request? – No
Were proper check ups, dental cleaning, and medication observation appointments held regularly? – No
If you got sick were you given adequate treatment and rest? – No
Were you ever refused medical care because staff said that you were “faking it”? – If a student asked for medicine, staff made us wait an hour before we could get it just in case the “pain” or “cough” went away in order to keep supplies
Was a medical service offered for drug detox or drug rehabilitation? – no
Was there any kind of “Drug Education” available for students who had used drugs in the past? – Narcotics Anonymous, run by students
What is the name of your case manager/ “Therapist”? Did they have degrees/ licenses? What were their qualifications before taking the job at CCA? – George Davies, yes, and i am not sure, he was quiet about his life
Was group therapy considered to be of a confrontational nature? – Yes
Do you feel you were forced to confess to things you did not do in order to progress in the program? – Yes
Were students encouraged to accept that they were alcoholics or drug addicts? Was this required to advance in the program? – Yes, I had to say that I had a drug and alcohol problem, even though I chose to abstain from marijuana and I don’t even like alcohol.
Were students encouraged to follow a 12 step program in order to earn levels and graduate the program – I am not sure, I refused to attend AA meetings
Were students encouraged to accept a “higher power” contingent to their recovery? – No, we were forced to have spiritual time on sundays however, but a staff named Linda Jo forced us to pray one time
In your opinion, How was the food quality? Was it prepared properly? Were safety and health codes followed in the kitchen? – The food was absolutely horrible, small portions, we would get work hours if we tried to get more food, i was hungry always and when I did eat the food I got terrible stomach aches. Most girls gained a ton of weight due to the unhealthiness of the food despite the lack of quantity
Did you ever go hungry? Were you given proper portions? Was food ever withheld as a punishment? Please describe “Non-Compliant” meals. How many days in a row were you on “Non-Compliant” meals? – I was hungry most of the time. I got work hours for my food quantities until months after requesting to be on double portions I was finally put on it. Still got work hours from one staff, Olya, who would give me work hours because she did not believe that I should be allowed to be on extra portions, despite that my therapist and the “nurse” approved it
Sometimes the salad bar (days old food) would be mandatory and it was repulsive.
Non-compliant meals were punishments, I think they were cold rice or something ridiculous, I never got one.
Did you gain a lot of weight? Were you forced to eat more than you were able to eat? – I gained some weight despite never gaining noticeable weight in my life. and no
Were you ever punished for vomiting? – Never vomited
Please describe the “Work Hour” experience. How did you feel about this? – Work hours were inconsistent, if a staff liked you then the rules didnt apply to you, if a staff did not like you, they could basically give you a work hour for any reason, cursing, laughing, having to be asked a question twice, crocheting at the wrong time, sometimes for having a certain nail color even though last week it was allowed. We would have to clean toilets, sinks, showers, mop floors, sweep, vaccuum, rake leaves, basically cleaning cleaning cleaning in addition to our everyday morning cleanings and major clean on saturdays and sundays.
Were upper levels or any level students asked to babysit the staff’s children, or taken to the staff’s house for any extended period of time? – No
Where you aware of anyone being restrained and/ or isolated from the group? – Yes
What reasons were these people restrained/ isolated/ made to sit in stress positions? (please describe actual events) Where stress positions utilized? Were there more time in isolation given if the student would move, cry or speak? – If someone cut themselves, tried to run away, tried to kill themselves to get out or for their problems, if they hurt someone, if a girl said that she liked another girl, they would be restrained/isolated or put on silence from particular people or everyone.
Please describe “Staff Buddy”, “The Desert Process” and the purpose of the yellow/ orange construction vests.- Staff Buddy is for people who want to harm themselves or others or run away. Construction vests were to signal that no one is allowed to talk to that person and they are not allowed to talk to anyone besides direction from staff.
(Please describe the rules and structure that would pertain to a level 1 student.)
Was contact with your parents limited? Where your letters (to and from) intercepted? Were your letters opened, read, crossed out or cut? – Yes, you could only talk to your parents on the phone either once a week or every two weeks. You could not talk to other level ones. You had to be walked by two level twos or one level three everywhere you go, and you are not allowed to be in a bedroom by yourself. Someone had to stand outside your bathroom door while you used the bathroom.
Emails were read by staff whenever they felt like reading them. They had access to all of them on the computer.
Some of mine did not get sent, I assume because they deemed them “manipulative”
How long before you were able to speak to your parents on the phone? Were your phone calls monitored? – By your therapist
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 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? – Yes, they sent lists of things that actually happen there to your parents ahead of time to say we will “make them up” in order to manipulate our parents. Ironic how everyone just “happens” to think of the same things if it isnt happening…
They would threaten to not let you progress in the program or drop you to a lower level if you told your parents these things.
They absolutely DID NOT allow you to tell your parents you wanted to come home in order to move up.
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? – Yes, escorted everywhere because we werent trusted, stood outside bathrooms and in bedrooms to make sure you dont do whatever it is they dont want you doing, stealing, eating, plotting, whatever
Did you have to raise your hand and wait to ask permission from staff (or upper levels) to speak, stand, eat, go to the bathroom and do other normal activities? – yes, not always raise hand though
How often were you allowed to speak freely? Were you not allowed to speak with others in your group? – Never freely, and you cannot speak to certain people
Did you have to walk in line? How often? Were there consequences if you did not line up properly? – Lines multiple times per day, morning, lunch, dinner, school, anywhere you go in groups we had to line up. If we got out of line even a little bit, Olya would make us start over again all the way back at the house
Would you be given a consequence if you forgot something? (for instance, a pen or a book) – Yes, a work hour
Were your personal items inspected by other students? (upper levels?) without your consent or presence? – not by students
(Please describe the rules and structure that would pertain to an “upper level” student.)
What were the requirements in order to progress in the level system? Was approval from the other upper levels required? – Comply and lie basically.
Voting system through house, upper levels opinions were acknowledged in treatment team to decide if you progress, were not ultimate determinants though
What kind of staff responsibilities were upper levels given? – not sure
Were upper levels required to give out consequences, citations or to hold lower levels accountable for minor rule violations? – No besides telling on them. they did hold people accountable in order to make themselves look good. If you knew someone was talking to someone they shouldnt be, you would be in trouble too if they found out
Were the rules upper levels enforced specific to the rule book or were the definitions of those rules assumed? Could rules easily be made up or “held accountable” under a category that was vague enough to be given out for any number of things? – assumed, and yes yes yes
Were you punished/ held back if you chose not to tattle or pass out citations, and opted to verbally warn students instead? – yes
Did an upper level have to power to influence a child put onto “staff buddy” or into any isolation process? Were upper levels instructed to watch or participate in restraints? – no
Were upper levels required to give visiting parents a glowing testimonial of their experience in the program, or make testimonial videos or letters? Were pre-written scripts required to be read during the filming of promotional videos? – YES!!!!!!!! I was not allowed to do tours because I was blunt and not pretending to be brain-washed. not sure about scripts, but there were guidelines
What would happen if an upper level student mentioned anything bad about the program in front of a parent? Were students afraid of punishment if they told the truth? – I’ve heard they would get dropped a level, I never actually heard of any tour girls saying anything bad though to see if that actually happened. I am sure it did though, cause it could constitute as “negative attitude” or “unwillingness to work her program”.
How easily could an upper level get dropped (start the program over)? What infractions would make an upper level drop and what level did they usually go back to? – To start completely over from the top to level one you’d have to do something pretty bad, like hit someone, or run away.
Please describe your seminar experience. – I attended them, my parents did not. They were unwilling, which I find hilarious. The staff instructed it, not the house staff, but the head therapist Mike Gerr and this one lady named Maureen, married to the other director.
What are your opinions of the owners/ Directors of CCA? – Fake, manipulative, either evil or naive, one of the two.
paul taylor seems naive and in a fantasy land
josh was intimidating and scared everyone
never talked to mike out of workshop, seemed nice
Do you believe that the program acting within the means of “Tough Love” was appropriate treatment for you in your adolescence? – no, I never felt loved or welcomed there
Do you believe that the staff and junior staff usually acted within the US standards for health, safety and well being of the students? – not at all
Considering long term effects, do you think your experience at CCA has an effect on your life today? Positive or negative? – It was good for the experience, I’ve had some pretty fun memories there with the girls despite how horrible it was. Its a tough trial, with mass quantities of unfairness, passionless staff that hate their jobs, horrible food, rules, but any experience can make a person more worldly, and when you are done you laugh about it, although i definitely understand how it could traumatize a person. i have felt traumatized at times, i go in and out. However the corruption of the place was unacceptable and no one should have to go through it when it has the option to not be better and more seemingly legal.