Paris Hilton is calling for the shut down of a Provo, Utah, school with a petition and media campaign.
Hilton told People magazine that she was abused at Provo Canyon School when she stayed there as a teenager. The boarding school was meant to help troubled teens but Hilton said she faced abuse daily. She said in her YouTube documentary "This Is Paris" that she suffered institutional abuse there as a teen. She has started a Change.org petition to have the school closed.
The school describes itself as a compassionate behavioral health center. It's website says:
"Provo Canyon School is recognized by multiple federal and state organizations as an intensive, psychiatric youth residential treatment center in Utah because of the depth of our professional clinical staff, medical staff and our focus on evidence-based, clinical “best practices”. "
In her petition Hilton said the school "has a horrific legacy of abuse and mistreatment toward the youth they claim to be supporting. It’s time to shut the school down to ensure the safety of the children at this school now and prevent future generations of survivors."
The school responded to the original report from People with a statement:
Originally opened in 1971, Provo Canyon School was sold by its previous ownership in August 2000. We therefore cannot comment on the operations or patient experience prior to this time.
The school also posted a note on its website ProvoCanyon.com: "We are aware of a new documentary referencing Provo Canyon School (PCS). Please note that PCS was sold by its previous ownership in August 2000. We therefore cannot comment on the operations or patient experience prior to that time. We are committed to providing high-quality care to youth with special, and often complex, emotional, behavioral and psychiatric needs."
The story from the magazine can be found at people.com.
Hilton responded to the school's website message:
"Provo Canyon School has faced persistent allegations of abuse and mistreatment since its founding. It is time we demand accountability. Provo along with the countless other facilities aren’t going to be able to get away with this anymore. And if the entire industry doesn’t entirely restructure to provide their youth with safety and true support, Provo will just be the first domino to fall."
A press release from Hilton says schools like this are a systematic issue in the U.S. She says while at the school her abuse "includes but is not limited to a forceful escort in the middle of the night to the facility, solitary confinement, mandatory prescribed medication, and verbal abuse led to a lifetime of nightmares, PTSD, trust issues and more."
She said the issue of abusive schools is personal to her but is much bigger than her experience.
KUTV sought further comment from Provo Canyon School.