Thursday, August 23, 2007

August 27, 2007 - TRIAL

Canon City lawsuit brews over school assault probe

July 10, 2007
By Tracy Harmon

CANON CITY - A notice of intent to file a $1 million lawsuit was served by attorneys for Royal Gorge Academy against city and county entities whose employees allegedly slandered the school during an assault investigation involving the former academy co-director.

The intent letter, filed by the law firm of Gradisar Trechter Ripperger Roth & Croshal of Pueblo, was sent to Canon City Police officials, City Manager Steve Rabe and Attorney John D. Havens, as well as Fremont County Attorney Brenda Jackson, County Commissioners Larry Lasha, Ed Norden and Mike Stiehl and Fremont County Department of Human Services Attorney Rocco Meconi and Director Steve Clifton.

The letter alleges that employees of the Canon City Police Department, including Detective Jeff Worley and employees of Fremont County Department of Human Services, including Michelle Harris, interfered with the operation of the business of the academy during the first week of January, "without permission, entered onto the physical premises of the Royal Gorge Academy, and, without probable cause, seized property of the academy including but not limited to computers, computer files and student files.”

In addition, police and human services representatives are alleged to have contacted "most" of the parents of the students at the academy "advising these parents to remove their children from the Royal Gorge Academy. The authorities allegedly libeled and slandered the academy by making untrue statements reporting Royal Gorge Academy was not accredited, saying any diplomas their children received would be valueless and of no more value than a (general education diploma) and that the quality of education was inferior," according to the letter.
"As a result of these statements, numerous parents removed their children from the Royal Gorge Academy, causing financial loss," according to the letter.

The academy is seeking $1 million in damages plus attorney fees and court costs.
"Our policy is not to comment on notices of intent to file suit," said Havens. "We have referred it to our insurance carrier."

Randall Hinton, 32, was arrested by Canon City police in January for investigation of allegations that stemmed from a Dec. 29 incident during which a 17-year-old female student at the campus reported she was forced to lie face down on the floor with her arms at her side and palms facing up for 12 hours.

She also said Hinton twice grabbed her arm and twisted it behind her back injuring her hand and wrist.

The incident was reported to police by an adult employee working at the academy.

Hinton faces trial Aug. 27 on seven third-degree assault charges and two counts of false imprisonment. The alleged victims include the female from the initial report as well as six male students at the school and stem from alleged incidents that caused bodily injury last January as well as throughout last year.

The private, co-ed school caters to 47 troubled youth ages 13 to 17 and is overseen by St. George, Utah, based Octwell LLC. Royal Gorge Academy is housed in the former St. Scholastica Academy, 615 Pike Ave., a 6-acre campus with numerous buildings and dormitory housing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Hinton Requests Move


Hinton requests move

Vic Vela
The Daily Record

The Royal Gorge Academy co-director who faces misdemeanor assault and false imprisonment charges has requested his bond be modified to allow for a move out of state.
Randall Hinton of Cañon City, 32, appeared Friday in Judge Norman Cooling’s Fremont County courtroom, alongside his attorney Michael Gillick. A motion was filed by Gillick to allow for Hinton to relocate to Utah, where he has lived before.

The hearing was continued to allow Deputy District Attorney Thom LeDoux time to consider the defense motion.

“There are seven to eight victims in this case,” he said. “I need a chance to digest this.”

Hinton is facing seven counts of third-degree assault, a Class I misdemeanor, and two counts of false imprisonment, a Class II misdemeanor following in connection with a January Cañon City Police Department investigation into allegations that Hinton was abusive toward students at the private boarding school.

The Academy was opened by Hinton and co-director Brian Lemons in the spring of 2006. The school houses boys and girls, ages 13-17, who have been sent to the school for various issues, including behavioral and academic problems.

A felony false imprisonment count against Hinton was dropped by the District Attorney’s Office in March.

The current misdemeanor charges carry with them potential jail time of two years for third-degree assault and one year for false imprisonment, for each count.

Hinton is scheduled to appear in county court again at 11 a.m. April 30 for the hearing.

He remains free on a $2,500 bond.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Isabelle Zehnder (CAICA): Randall Hinton of Royal Gorge Academy arrested for child abuse

In January 2007 the Director of Royal Gorge Academy (previously known as Royal Peak Academy), Randall Hinton, was arrested on multiple counts of third-degree assault and for reckless endangerment - a felony. In Colorado, that means he placed another person, in this case (a child), at risk of serious bodily injury.” He will be back in court on March 7, 2007.

Randall Hinton was seen on tape admitting to pepper spraying a teen, Kerry "Layne" Brown, multiple times per day for eight or nine months. Kerry Layne Brown died June 6, 2006. He suffered for years, dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from the months of abuse he endured during his stay at Tranquility Bay in Jamaica. Click here.

Hinton tried to open a facility in Missouri in 2005 but was rejected by the little town of Boonville.

Back in June I wrote an article about Layne that I would like to share:

June 28, 2006
By Isabelle Zehnder

During interviews with Terry Cameron, Layne's mother, I learned Layne was a normal, happy, healthy, active boy, a 4.0 student, and a star athlete. He was devastated when his parents divorced and turned to drugs. Terry was frightened and turned to WWASP for help. Randall Hinton was a neighbor, someone they had known for years. He had taken a position at a new facility for troubled youth, Tranquility Bay in Jamaica. When it was decided Layne would go there, he told Terry he would watch over her son. Instead, in my opinion, he brutalized and tortured her son.

In her declaration, Terry said that Layne was evaluated at the Brightway Adolescent Hospital in Utah where it was recommended he attend Tranquility Bay, a program in Jamaica. The program was new at the time and she was promised her son would receive an education, would be able to recover from a substance abuse problem, and would receive a great deal of loving attention.

She was told the staff at Tranquility Bay were properly trained, educated, and qualified, but later learned this was false. During his enrollment there she was repeatedly told and promised he was safe and to "trust the program." She feels she was deceptively led to believe WWASP had a "high rate of success" with children. She was completely discouraged from talking with her child and was only allowed one very brief conversation with him during the entire nine months he was there, at which time he broke down and sobbed.

She had to argue to get this single conversation with her son, after being told by staff he had been sprayed in the face with pepper spray on one occasion, which was a lie. Upon learning of this supposed single incident, she made immediate arrangements to remove her child. They argued and tried to pressure her into leaving him at Tranquility Bay, but she was persistent and had him home in a few days.

To her horror she later learned her son had been the subject of repeated and daily torture by WWASP employees acting under the direction and control of Jay Kay. Layne was forced into "observation placement" for almost the entire nine months he was at Tranquility Bay.
Randall Hinton admitted on video tape to pepper spraying Layne multiple times a day for months. When asked if he thought it was abusive, he admitted he thought it was. When Layne returned from Tranquility he had a deep scar on his shoulder and a permanent scar on his chin from being dragged on concrete. He had chemical burns all over his body, and one of his teeth was knocked out.

He endured many forms of abuse the entire nine months he was there. Examples of some of the “rule infractions” that resulted in Layne being pepper-sprayed included any movement after he was forced to lie on his stomach for 14 hours a day in isolation and seething subtropical heat, excessive exercising, food deprivation, calorie restriction, being forced to sleep in the halls under bright lights with Randall Hinton as his “keeper,” and other depraved acts by staff who acted under the direction and control of Jay Kay.

Her son's letters to his mom were intercepted and changed by the staff at Tranquility Bay. She was repeatedly assured that her son was "manipulating" her and that she must ignore his statements and pleas for help. Because of this she did not believe her son. WWASP's mantra was "trust the program" and "your child is just manipulating you." After he returned home, she learned he and other children were not allowed to report abuse and neglect to any outside government authorities.

In August 2003 Terry said in her declaration that up to that time, five long years after this cruelty and neglect occurred, she heard her son literally screaming in the middle of the night from nightmares directly relating to the tortures he endured at Tranquility Bay. The individualized, highly progressive education services she was promised never happened. She was deceived and defrauded, and her son was deprived of anything even resembling a meaningful education at Tranquility Bay.

When she tried to obtain records from Brightway Adolescent Hospital and Tranquility Bay, including photos of her son bleeding from abuse, she was repeatedly told there "were no records" or "the records have been destroyed."

In April 2005, nearly two years later, Terry supplemented her declaration. She said her child was never violent, he never hurt anyone, he never physically threatened anyone, and he was not a fighter. The drugs had taken over his life and she feared he would die. In her desperation she found Tranquility Bay. She said her son did not earn even one school credit during his nine months there.

She went on to say her son suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a direct result of the abuse he suffered at Tranquility Bay. And still, in April 2005, he was having repeated nightmares at least on a weekly basis if not more. The week before she shared all of this with me, she said he had screamed out in his sleep "RANDALL, why are you doing this to me?" She told me that Randall had made recent statements to a Boonville Daily News reporter that she was telephoned by Tranquility Bay employees daily. He said during these daily phone calls her son was the hardest they had ever had to handle, that he was the worse of the worse. Terry said this was a complete lie. Not only did they not call on a daily basis, but they never made those statements to her about her son. Further, reporter John Sullivan of the Tribune reported on the abuse Layne received at Tranquility Bay. A recent news article, Rough Love, talked, too, of the abuses Layne endured while he was there.

Saddest of all was when she told me that neither she nor Layne had been able to heal from the life-long trauma and damages the WWASP organization and its employees have caused their family, and that she would attest to the fact her son was far worse when he returned from the emersion of abuse and neglect at Tranquility Bay than before he entered this so-called children's program. She agreed there was no need to seal her Declaration because she felt it was important for the public to know the truth about the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and those behind it.

Randall Hinton, the man who admitted, on videotape, to abusing Layne for his nine months at Tranquility Bay, is working at a program in Cañon City, Colorado, Royal Peak Academy. Click here for the article Staff Planning for February 17 Opening Day where Randall Hinton states: “We will take one kid to start, then student by student."

It is my hope that parents will read this story and will think long and hard before sending their child to a program away from home. However, I believe it is important to keep things in perspective and to realize there are times children will be sent to programs. Many children, more today than ever, will be court-adjudicated where parents have no choice as to whether their child is sent away or where their child will be sent.

Many have children with mental health issues who need a structured, therapeutic environment. These parents should not fear their child will be harmed or killed - they should not fear their child will be placed in dangerous and deadly restraints or that "aversives" will be used (aversives are negative stimuli to induce behavior changes) such as electrical shocks, water sprays, ammonia inhalants, lemon juice squirts, Tabasco sauce, slaps and pinches, blindfolds, hair pulls, white noise helmets, isolation, withholding food, and rubber-band snaps ( Click here )
I also believe parents should exhaust all other options before considering this drastic step, and if they do choose to send their child away, that they take the time to not only visit the program themselves, but that they be sure they can have complete access to their child. Further, I believe parents should ask themselves if they truly have exhausted all of their options and if what their child is doing is perhaps normal teenage behavior that will be outgrown. In my opinion phone calls should never be restricted between a parent and a child. Letters should not be censored. Parents should not send their children to facilities so far from home they cannot visit frequently. Click here for more warning signs.

The problems of abuse, neglect, and deaths, is wide-spread - spanning from behavior modification programs - boot camps - wilderness programs - therapeutic boarding schools - and mental health facilities. We believe it is crucial that everyone support Congressman George Miller's proposed legislation that would afford children their right to be safe. I know it is not the only answer, but it is a good start. Please visit our legislation page for more details, and please sign our International Petition to End Institutionalized Child Abuse.

To Terry and her family, I believe that "Together, We Can Make a Difference." Let us all work towards a safer tomorrow for our children.

We will all miss you, Layne!

© 2006Permission for this article to be reproduced for educational purposes only


Former Student Alleges Months of Abuse: School Leader Proposes Campus in Boonville (click here)April 15, 2005, by John Sullivan, Tribune Staff

Rough Love: A heart-wrenching article with a chilling ending (click here)
(Not mentioned in the article is Layne Brown was found dead in his bed June 6, 2006, one day before Carter Lynn was found hanging from the rafters of his home. Both boys were featured in the "Rough Love" article written by Joanne Greene) June 22, 2006, by Joanne Greene, Miami New Times

Isabelle Zehnder



Academy director could face additional charges

Academy puts official on leave

PRESS RELEASE: Randall Hinton arrested

Canon City private school director charged; assaulted female student

Canon City private school director arrested

Miami New Times: Rough Love

Suitor loses Kemper bid: Boonville council reject offer