Former students of Provo Canyon School in Utah have come forward to confirm Paris Hilton’s abuse allegations, recounting their own experiences of being force-fed, restrained by six staff members at once, and in one case, allegedly being sodomized.
In her new documentary, ‘This is Paris,’ the 39-year-old star opened up about the ‘continuous torture’ she suffered at the boarding school and psychiatric residential treatment center, claiming she was bullied and physically abused during the 11 months she spent there.
Now six other former students — and a former staff member who was so uncomfortable with the school’s methods that he quit — have shared their own experiences, detailing how multiple staff members would ‘tackle’ disobedient students, bully them, and physically abuse them in numerous ways.
Support: Former students of Provo Canyon School in Utah have come forward to confirm Paris Hilton’s abuse allegations
Candid: The 39-year-old opens up about her experiences in her new documentary, This is Paris, which debuts on YouTube today
‘This is Paris’ premieres on YouTube today, but the heiress shared details ahead of its release.
Speaking to People about her time at Provo Canyon School, she said: ‘From the moment I woke up until I went to bed, it was all day screaming in my face, yelling at me, continuous torture.
‘The staff would say terrible things. They were constantly making me feel bad about myself and bully me. I think it was their goal to break us down.
‘And they were physically abusive, hitting and strangling us. They wanted to instill fear in the kids so we’d be too scared to disobey them.’
She said she was subsequently placed in solitary confinement as punishment, and ‘they would use that as punishment, sometimes 20 hours a day.’
Paris explained that at the time, Provo Canyon portrayed itself as ‘a normal boarding school’ — not a psychiatric care center — and that’s why her parents sent her there.
Three of her former classmates from Provo Canyon also appear in the documentary, making similar allegations about the use of restraints and being force-fed medication — and now several more are coming forward to share their own stories.
Abuse: Other former students are recounting their own experiences of being force-fed, restrained by six staff members at once, and in one case, allegedly being sodomized
Horror: One student remembers a classmate being ‘shoved into the ground’ and that ‘staff rubbed her face into the carpet until her entire face was covered in burns’
‘The staff would say terrible things. They were constantly making me feel bad about myself and bully me,’ Paris said. ‘And they were physically abusive, hitting and strangling us’
In one of the most shocking allegations, Lee Goldman, 33, of Toronto, Canada said that a therapist at the school sodomized her during her time there as a way to inject medication against her will. She sued the school for it, but the case was dismissed due to failure to prosecute.
‘I did experience some of the same abuse,’ she told Fox News. ‘I didn’t experience strangling but I did experience manhandling. The school recorded that they had five or six staff members restrain me at once. I’m all of 100 pounds.’
She said another student had their teeth knocked out by staff, while yet another was in a medically-induced coma after being denied medical care.
Another former student said her time there was a ‘living nightmare.’ She recalled an accident that left her with a concussion, and how staff didn’t notify her mother for hours — and when they did, they minimized its seriousness. She said she has since developed a stutter.
Meanwhile, former student Jen Robison, 31, said she remembers a classmate being ‘shoved into the ground’ and that ‘staff rubbed her face into the carpet until her entire face was covered in burns.’
Free at last: Paris left the school in 1999, after she turned 18 (pictured in August, 2000)
Yet another student recalls being force-fed, which led to her gaining 30 pounds. She said Paris was force-fed, too.
Stefanie Tapley, 38, of Texas, specifically recalled Paris being bullied by staff, saying the staff ‘made fun’ of her frequently.
All seven people who spoke to Fox News detailed the ‘Dial 9’ emergency protocol used when students were supposedly self-harming or being harmful to others — and up to six members of staff would respond by ‘tackling’ that student.
One former staff member who was hired at age 23 — and says most of the staff was similarly young and inexperiences — said they ended up quitting two weeks after a particularly upsetting ‘Dial 9’ incident.
‘Staff would tackle kids — I can’t tell you how many times I saw that,’ the former staffer said. ‘One incident involved an African American boy at the school during my time. A staff member woke him up at 3 a.m. because he forgot to take his meds. The kid didn’t like getting woken up in the middle of the night, and the staff ended up calling a ‘Dial 9’ and tackled him.
‘We all had to go and watch staff pin this kid down, drag him to isolation. The guy who beat him was my boss. This was 100 per cent instigated by staff. A bully picking on a defenseless little kid.’
‘Paris coming out about this could make really large changes in the industry as a whole. She’s a hero,’ said another fellow student
Not taking responsibility: Provo Canyon has not directly addressed the allegations, but says that the facility changed ownership in 2000. Paris left in 1999
They noted that staff were not properly trained for restraining students. Their only instruction was a week of ‘looking at slides,’ with no actual physical training component.
Provo Canyon has not directly addressed the allegations, but says that the facility changed ownership in 2000.
Paris left in 1999, but two of the students who shared their own abuse allegations with Fox News attended after the change in ownership.
A representative told the New York Times that the facility does ‘not condone or promote any form of abuse and that ‘any and all alleged/suspected abuse is reported to our state regulatory authorities, law enforcement and Child Protective Services immediately as required.’
But the former staffer who spoke to Fox News calls this response a ‘cop-out,’ and former students have pointed out that while ownership may have changed, there are still some staff members at the school now who were there before.
‘By her breaking her own silence, she’s giving a stage for all of these people to share their stories of what happened to them,’ said another former student
Paris’ allegations do seem to have opened the floodgates, empowering more of her classmates to share their own stories.
‘Paris coming out about this could make really large changes in the industry as a whole. She’s a hero,’ said Goldman, who made the sodomy allegations. She added there is a whole ‘industry’ to be exposed.
Robison, the former student who saw her classmate’s face rubbed into the carpet, said she was ‘thrilled’ that Paris used the hashtag #BreakingCodeSilence in an Instagram post this month.
Robison is among the leadership of the Breaking Code Silence movement, which encourages survivors to tell their stories about institutional child abuse.
‘By her breaking her own silence, she’s giving a stage for all of these people to share their stories of what happened to them. If this is all that happens, this is a huge thing because these people have been waiting to be heard for decades,’ she said.
Paris only just broke her silence about her abuse to her own parents while she was making the documentary, having kept it a secret for years.
Cruel: Paris said she was subsequently placed in solitary confinement as punishment, and ‘they would use that as punishment, sometimes 20 hours a day’
Hidden: Paris only just broke her silence about her abuse to her own parents while she was making the documentary, having kept it a secret for years (pictured in February 2020)
She told People: ‘I buried my truth for so long. But I’m proud of the strong woman I’ve become. People might assume everything in my life came easy to me, but I want to show the world who I truly am.
‘I didn’t really get to speak to my family, maybe once every two or three months. We were cut off from the outside world. And when I tried to tell them once, I got in so much trouble I was scared to say it again.
‘They would grab the phone or rip up letters I wrote telling me, “No one is going to believe you.” And the staff would tell the parents that the kids were lying. So my parents had no idea what was going on.’
‘They just assumed it was like a normal boarding school because that’s the way that they portray it to parents and people who are putting their children in these places,’ she added to the Times.
She also said that she had avoided therapy since her time there.
‘From being at Provo and those types of schools, just the therapists in there I felt were just not good people. I just have never, ever trusted them,’ she said.
Opening up: With the debut of the documentary today, Paris’ sister Nicky took to Instagram to share a throwback photo from filming an interview for the film
‘I am so incredibly proud of this woman for sharing her story,’ she said
With the debut of the documentary today, Paris’ sister Nicky took to Instagram to share a throwback photo from filming an interview for the film.
‘Last year, here I am sitting in my living room shooting an interview for #ThisIsParis,’ she wrote.
‘As I say in the film, usually I shy away from these types of interviews, but there couldn’t be a film about Paris without the person in the world that knows her best. That would be me.
‘Last month we watched the film for the first time together… we laughed, we cried. It brought up so many memories and emotions.
‘I am so incredibly proud of this woman for sharing her story. She has been judged, ridiculed, bullied… At the end of the day she is resilient, loyal and, most importantly, treats everyone the same.
‘This film took a lot out of her, and this normally guarded sister of mine made herself vulnerable for the sake of her truth,’ she said.