Woman sues Utah youth facility amid sex assault allegations

PROVO, Utah (AP) — A woman is suing a Utah youth treatment facility that she said punished her after she accused a male staff member of a sexual assault while she was a minor.

A lawsuit filed by Hannah Archuleta on Wednesday in Utah’s 6th District Court alleged that she was sexually assaulted multiple times in 2019 by a male staff member at Turn-About Ranch, a youth residential treatment center.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault, but Archuleta wanted to share her story publicly, her attorney Gloria Allred said.

The lawsuit said the Turn-About Ranch “took no remedial action after Ms. Archuleta reported the sexual assaults” and “retaliated against Ms. Archuleta by subjecting her to both physical and emotional abuse to silence her.”

Turn-About Ranch describes itself on its website as a “real, working cattle ranch” where students learn leadership and accountability skills.

The lawsuit said Archuleta, then 17, was sent to the ranch immediately after appearing on the television show “Dr. Phil.” She said she was sexually assaulted multiple times in the next two months.

Archuleta said she reported the incident to a coach, therapist and nurse. The staff, the lawsuit alleges, was skeptical and dismissive.

Turn-About Ranch did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday by the Daily Herald.

A “Dr. Phil” spokesperson declined comment about the pending lawsuit to The Associated Press on Thursday.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Archuleta urged parents to avoid sending their children to similar treatment facilities.

“If you or anyone you know has suffered sexual assault or child abuse or retaliation at any of these so-called ‘ranches,’ ‘therapeutic boarding schools’ or ‘wilderness programs,’ please report it,” Archuleta said.

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