Brightway Adolescent Hospital (1993-1998) St. George, UT

History and Background Information

Brightway Adolescent Hospital was a WWASP behavior-modification facility that was founded in 1993 by Ken Kay. It was opened as a short-term placement and processing center for teens bound for other WWASP programs. It was located at 115 W 1470 S, St. George, UT 84770, which was later became the location of Eagle Ranch Academy, another alleged WWASP facility. It was operated by the Utah Alcoholism Foundation.

Allegedly, the facility marketed itself to parents as an “independent evaluation center.” However, an investgation found that every single student was recommended to a program after their stay, and every program that they recommended was a WWASP facility.

The facility’s main purpose was actually as a detox for incoming students, as well as to begin to introduce them to WWASP rules and level sytems. The facility also aimed to begin to break the children down, making the job of integrating and breaking down new students easier at the programs they were sent to after.

Brightway was closed in March, 1998 after the case of 16-year-old David Van Blarigan who was sent to Brightway and then to Tranquility Bay drew scrutiny from state regulators.

Brightway Adolescent Hospital was featured in the 2005 film Self Medicated.

Founders and Notable Staff

Ken Kay was the founder and director of Brightway. He also worked as the president of WWASP.

Jay Kay was the son of Ken Kay. He worked as a security guard at Brightway. He later worked as the Director of Tranquility Bay.

Delbert T. Goates was the Chief of Psychiatry at Brightway. He also worked in the same position at the confirmedly abusive Rivendell Psychiatric Hospital. He died on April 19, 2000 in Blackburn, England. His cause of death was a massive brain hemorrhage caused by a fall he experienced while serving an LDS mission with his wife, Julie Anderson Goates. Goates’ obituary.

Program Structure

Students were often heavily medicated at Brightway.

The rules included not being allowed to look out windows, receiving permission to cross through any doorway, not crossing one’s legs or feet, and not speaking without permission.

Children were often punished at Brightway, and these punishments included solitary confinement, violent restraint, and verbal abuse.

Abuse and Closure

In late 1997, 16-year-old David Van Blarigan was taken from his bed in Oakland, CA in the middle of the night and driven over 700 miles to Brightway Adolescent Hospital. He was then sent to Tranquility Bay in Jamaica, another WWASP facility. Blarigan’s case caught national attention after Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Robert Hutchins took David’s parents to court to argue that they had partcipiated in the kidnapping of their son. This was also around the time when Tranquility Bay began to be examined more closely after countless allegations of abuse, so Hutchins aimed to have Blarigan brought back to Oakland on these claims.

In March of 1998, Brightway Adolescent Hospital permanently closed following numerous complaints by state regulators over how it treated troubled teenagers, who were later shipped long-term WWASP programs.

Survivor/Parent Testimonials

1/16/2012 (SURVIVOR) “In early 1995, I was 16 years old and had just been discharged from a private psychiatric hospital in Pontiac, Michigan. While in the hospital I was treated for depression and an eating disorder. I lived with my Mom, who was divorced from my Dad. My Mom was increasingly worried about my emotional health and decided she wanted me to spend what she told me would be “just a few weeks” at Cross Creek Manor. I flew to St. George, Utah voluntarily under the assumption that I would be there for no longer than 6 weeks, because that’s what my Mom had promised. Imagine how scared and upset I was to land at the tiny airport in St. George late at night to find no one there to meet me. My Mom had said I would be met by some people who would take me to Brightway Adolescent Hospital. I called my Mom from a pay phone and told her that there was no one at the airport to meet me. This should have been the first of many red flags for her. She called Brightway and about an hour later a nurse showed up in a van, accompanied by a big male technician. When I arrived at Brightway, I was shocked by the rigid, controlling, cruel atmosphere. There were about 17 other kids there, boys and girls, from all areas of the country. We were not allowed to talk to each other and if we did, we were punished by having to write an “essay” explaining why it was wrong to break the rules. I thought this was a little excessive, given the fact that teenagers are social and like to make friends. I also thoght it was excessive that we could not even enter a room without first asking a staff member, “May I cross?” Every tiny thing we did wrong, from having a wrinkle in our bedsheets to spending thirty seconds too long in the shower, was punishable by having to write an essay. I was kind of confused as to why my Mom would choose to put me in this type of environment when I was dealing with depression and bulimia. I had never been involved with gangs, had trouble with the law, or been sexually promiscuous as had many of the other kids. Every single staff member at Brightway at that time, with the exception of 3 or 4 nurses and one psychologist, was male. The male staff were rude, cruel, and manipulated their power over us. On many, many occasions I watched staff members yell, shout, and generally berate the kids who were entrusted to their care. Once I watched four big males “take down” a skinny 15-year old boy because the boy turned his back to them while they were berating him. There was a seclusion room with a bed that had two belts across it. One belt went across the chest area and one went across the legs when a child was said to be “out of control”. I am a nurse today and this form of restraint is illegal in my state, as is locking a patient in a seclusion room, even if the patient is “out of control”. The technicians at Brightway would regularly threaten us with the seclusion room.” – Elisabeth Stubblefield

Related Media

WWASp Survivors – Brightway Adolescent Hospital

Utah Adolescent Hospital Shut/Case of troubled Oakland youth triggered scrutiny (03/19/1998, SF Gate)

Too-Tough Love? (03/22/1999, Forbes)

1000 Places You Don’t Want to be as a Teenager – Brightway Adolescent Hospital

Is This A Camp Or Jail? (06/24/2001, TIME)

Midwest founder helped create troubled-teens industry (4/16/2016, Des Moines Register)

Alameda County Seeks Return of Teen Sent to Rehab Camp (1/8/1998, SF Gate)