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Paris Hilton calls for closure of Utah youth treatment center, starts petition following abuse allegations

Posted at 6:48 PM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-01 20:48:53-04

UTAH CO., Utah — Celebrity Paris Hilton is calling for the closure of a Utah school for ‘troubled teens,’ following allegations of abuse made by the socialite in her new documentary.

“Still to this day I have nightmares about what happened there,” said 19-year-old, Utah resident Kylee Havey. “I am terrified… that somehow, someway [I] could end up back in there.”

For Kylee Havey, memories of abuse are still fresh.

“Honestly, we’re terrified to talk about the story of what happened there,” Havey continued. “[Students] were put into solitary confinement, they were denied their needs, they weren’t properly taken care of.”

At the age of 16, Havey was placed in the care of Provo Canyon Schools, an intensive psychiatric residential treatment center for ‘troubled’ teens.

Havey attended the facility for 5-months in 2017. Despite its name, Havey said she never considered herself a ‘student.’

“I’d call it a low-level juvenile prison, is what I would call it,” she said.

But now, she does consider herself a ‘survivor’ and one of the thousands of advocates of Breaking Code Silence -- a movement, dedicated to raising awareness of the problems in the Troubled Teen Industry.

The movement has been years in the making, but only recently garnered a large amount of support after Paris Hilton spoke out against the same Utah-based facility, where she spent time in the late 90s.

The star first divulged her experience at the facility and claims of abuse, in her new documentary “This is Paris.”

“I still have nightmares about it,” Hilton said in a trailer for the documentary. “The only thing that saved my sanity was thinking about who I wanted to become when I got out of there.”

In a new advocacy video, the star pledged to ‘advocate for all of the survivors and to put all of [her] effort into reforming the industry.’

Hilton is also heading a petition calling for the closure of Provo Canyon School, she says in part, “help me prevent future generations of survivors by signing this important petition. This will be the first step we’re taking towards positive social change.”

“This petition is just the beginning, I am so proud to be Breaking Code Silence, we believe that shutting down Provo Canyon School will be the domino effect we need to affect real change,” Hilton continued. “We need your help, please stand with all of us survivors and let’s shut Provo down.”

Provo Canyon Schools did not respond to FOX13’s immediate request for comment regarding the petition. Still, the organization has not turned a blind eye to the new publicity.

On its website, PCS states it is aware of the new documentary. However, could not comment on the situation given a change in ownership since Hilton’s time at the facility in the late 90s.

PCS has operated in the Beehive State since the 1970s under various owners and is currently owned by Universal Health Services.

“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, emotion, behavioral and psychiatric needs,” the website reads.

If you ask Kylee, it’s a moot point.

“It sickens me,” Havey said. “Even under new ownership, I was there in 2017 and the care that we received was absolutely horrific.”

PCS also provided a general statement, which was drafted prior to the creation of the petition and the calls for closure.

The statement reads in part,

We do not condone or promote any form of abuse. Any and all alleged/suspected abuse is reported immediately to our state regulatory authorities, law enforcement and Child Protective Services, as required. We are committed to providing high-quality care to youth with special, and often complex, emotional, behavioral and psychiatric needs.

We are concerned that the current media coverage may increase the stigma around seeking help for behavioral health concerns. This would be a disservice if it leads people away from seeking necessary care and increases the stigma around mental health that providers, organizations, advocates and members of the public have worked so hard – and made much progress over the years – to break.

Havey said she has been able to turn her life around because of PCS.

“It scared me so bad, that I didn’t want to go back,” Havey explained. “I continued with therapy and I continued my medication and worked through my problems in a health way, so I can continue a good life.”

Havey hopes PCS will be shut down, and hopes the petition will lead to reform within the Troubled Teen Industry.

“I feel like it’s finally time that we’re all able to get our voices out there and break the silence and talk about what really happens behind the walls of these facilities,” Havey said.

At last report, the petition had nearly 50-thousand signatures. It can be found here.