Majestic Ranch Academy (1986-2007) Randolph, UT
Therapeutic Boarding School
History and Background Information
Majestic Ranch Academy was a WWASP behavior-modification program founded in 1986. It was marketed as a therapeutic boarding school for children as young as 7 up to the age of 14. The program originally was for boys only, but in 2001 they began accepting girls. MRA had a maximum enrollment of around 60 children, but due to negative publicity surrounding WWASP, in 2007 their enrollment was only around 32 students. The tuition was reported to be nearly $3,000 per month. The campus was located at 6450 N. Manhead Road, Randolph, UT 84060 on a 2000-acre working ranch.
In 2007, shortly after the 2006 Turley lawsuit against WWASP, Majestic Ranch Academy changed its name to Old West Academy, which is reported to have been the same program in the same location and likely employed the same staff. Old West Academy continued to operate in this location until 2019. The campus is now called Dot Bar Ranch, but it is not a TTI program. Dot Bar Ranch appears to be a rentable vacation spot for families.
Founders and Notable Staff
Dan Peart is Robert B. Lichfield’s brother-in-law and in 1992, he became the Director of Majestic Ranch Academy. In 1996, he helped open Spring Creek Lodge with the Pullan brothers, and served as SCL’s Vice President.
Wayne Winder was employed by Majestic Ranch in 2001 as the Director of the program. In 2002, Wayne was arrested and charged with aggravated sexual abuse, a first-degree felony; child abuse, a second-degree felony; dealing in material harmful to a minor, a third-degree felony; and two counts of child abuse that are class A misdemeanors. This arrest came after reports that Wayne had been sexually abusing children at the facility. However, he was allowed to continue working at Majestic Ranch/Old West Academy as the Personnel Director and Daily Living Coordinator until at least 2012. Although the school claimed Winder was no longer the director of the program following his arrest, it has been widely reported that this was untrue, and he still maintained his role as Director and overseer of the program.
Tammy Johnson was reported to have become the Director of Majestic Ranch Academy in July, 2002. She supposedly took over as Director following Winder’s arrest in June, 2002. However, it has been reported that this was more a publicity move, and that her role within the school was not actually as the director.
Like other WWASP programs, Majestic Ranch Academy used a level system (called “statuses”) based around children earning merits/demerits. The six statuses were as follows:
- Regular: When a child arrived at MRA, they were placed on “Regular” status. Children on this level were allowed to participate in the regular schedule of activities, but they had to be with a staff member at all times.
- Achievement: In order to move up to this level, a child would have to earn 200 points. On this level, children were allowed to purchase snacks from the School store on Fridays and Saturdays during the educational video and also on Sundays.
- Advanced: Once a resident had earned 1000 points, completed Orientation and Discovery seminars, been approved by the staff and the detainee council, and “voted up” by the Advancement Committee (consisting of detainees and staff), they were put on Advanced. Children on Advanced had all of the Achievement status privileges; and they could also attend two “special” on-grounds activities per month. Advanced status children could also start calling home as arranged with their family representative, but only once per month.
- Service: Children could advance to Service status when they have accumulated 2,400 points, successfully completed the Focus seminar, and had been approved by the staff and the detainee council. Service status detainees start over with 0 points and must earn 1600 points or more to move to Honor status. Service status children had all the privileges of lower statuses, plus two additional “Special” on-grounds activities per month. Service status residents were allowed set their own schedule with the exception of wake up, meals, group, three fitness classes, first and last academic periods and shut-down times. Service status residents also had the opportunity (as well as the responsibility) to participate in the Youth Leadership program. These residents were required to function as a staff assistant for three days per week. They were eligible for day visits with their family. They had to always let staff know what they are doing. They were also allowed two phone calls home per week.
- Honor: Once a child had earned 1600 more points, had staffed a minimum of two seminars (one of which must be a Discovery), with commendation, they were placed on Honor. Honor status children also started over with 0 points and must earn 1600 points or more to move to High Honor status. Honor status residents had all the privileges of lower statuses as well as the responsibility of functioning three days per week as a staff assistant. They were allowed two off-grounds activities per month. They were also eligible for overnight visits. They were also allowed three phone calls home per month.
- High Honor: 1600 points and have staffed a minimum of three seminars (one of which must be an Orientation) with a commendation. They were able to apply for Parent/Child III when they have accumulated 1200 points, but are not eligible to attend the Parent/Child III Workshop until they have received 400 points for a total of 1600 points. These residents had all the privileges of lower statuses as well as the responsibility of functioning three days a week as a staff assistant. They also had two additional off-grounds activities each month, and were eligible for home visits. They also were allowed four phone calls home per month.
Like other WWASP programs, Majestic Ranch Academy required children to participate in a series of “seminars” (see LGAT). Some of these seminars’ names included:
Rules & Consequences
If a student broke a rule, they received a demerit. Demerits would cost a child a certain number of points or, if severe enough, levels. The demerits also had levels. They were categorized as:
- Category 1: these demerits would cost a resident 5 points. They could be given for things such as bad posture, being even one second late to line up, or anything the staff or other residents felt was unsatisfactory.
- Category 2: these demerits would cost a resident 25 points. They could be given for things such as leaving their water bottle somewhere, talking to someone without permission, not following directions precisely, or even just making a noise without permission.
- Category 3: these demerits would cost a resident 50 points. They could be given for things such as sharing/borrowing items, having a negative attitude, or any blatant rule violation.
- Category 4: these demerits would cost a resident 2 of their levels and all of their points. This could be given for something as small as glancing out the window.
- Category 5: these demerits would cause a resident to lose all of their levels and all of their points, in effect starting the program over. This could be given for things like self-harm/self-infliction, or use drugs or alcohol. However, even minor things like popping pimples or throwing up from overeating were considered “self-infliction” and could result in a Category 5 demerit.
In addition to demerits, there were also consequences. Some examples of consequences commonly given to the residents were:
- Probation: When a was on Advanced to High Honor status, the staff, with the approval of the Director, may place the detainee on probation in situations where the staff feels that the detainee is not making an honest effort to maintain the standards expected for his or her particular status. Probation serves notice to the detainees that they are slipping in their progress or need to make some changes. The detainee may even lose some or all of his/her privileges until he/she was taken off probation. At this point, the staff and Director approve the detainee for reinstatement.
- Loss of Status: When children received a loss of status, they reverted to the prior status with the minimum amount of merits for it. For example, if detainees on Honor status lose two statuses, they would revert to Advanced status with 1,000 merits, which is the minimum amount of merits for Advanced status. The lowest the detainee may be moved to is Regular status with zero merits. For example, if a detainee is on Achievement status and loses 3 statuses, the detainee would move back to Regular status with zero points.
- Study hall: It means studying six, two-hour sessions of study hall with a ten-to-fifteen-minute break within every two-hour session.
- Study Hall Removal: Being placed in a an intervention office until the child willing to participate appropriately in the study hall process
- Academic Deficiency: The works of the student were reviewed by Teachers in account to the amount and quality of work of students’ work on a daily basis. If they determine that a student has not completed a satisfactory amount of academic work that day, the teacher gives a warning “Pink Slip.” If the detainee receives two Pink Slips in one week, the detainee receives a Category 3 – “Academic Deficiency.”
- Banishment to harsher treatment: If the student broke certain rules they could either be expelled or transferred to facilities like Tranquility Bay or Spring Creek Lodge Academy.
Abuse and Closure
Majestic Ranch Academy is widely recognized as an abusive program. It is reported that a staff member was even fired after apparently reporting child abuse at the school to police. Students at the school had limited contact with their parents and the outside world, and all telephone calls were monitored by staff, so it was very difficult for them to report any abuse. There was also very little regulatory oversight of the school, and staff apparently received only minimal training to prepare them to handle children with behavioral problems. In addition, manby survivors report rampant molestation and other forms of sexual abuse by staff towards residents.
In June 2002, the Director of the program, Wayne Winder, was arrested after police interviewed 41 children at the ranch, aged 10-14, many of whom reported they had witnessed or experienced physical and sexual abuse by Winder, including him showing the children pornographic images. Winder was charged with aggravated sexual abuse, a first-degree felony; child abuse, a second-degree felony; dealing in material harmful to a minor, a third-degree felony; and two counts of child abuse that are class A misdemeanors. His bail was set at $30,000, which he paid and was released.
In March of 2003, Winder entered a plea in abeyance to the single felony count, aggravated sexual abuse, after the alleged victim recanted her story. The please allowed the charges against Winder to be dropped as long as he stayed out of trouble for the next nine months. In the meantime, Winder returned to work at the MRA. Although the school claimed Winder was no longer the director of the program, it has been widely reported that he still acted as such.
In 2007, Majestic Ranch Academy changed its name to Old West Academy. Old West Academy continued to operate in MRA’s location using the same program and staff until its closure in 2019.
5/13/2019: (SURVIVOR) “So me and two other kids. I know one kids name was Travis for sure. We ran after I’d been there for a month. I remember Martin the cook setting me and other boys up for fights. Well us three decide to run away one night. We had the only good staff I can remember that I can remember on some nights in the dorm furthest from the front entrance or med station but closes to the kitchen n classrromn in that far back corner. I can’t remember his name for my life but I wish I didn’t so I can thank home so much. Very hippified brother that deffinitley broke the mold and looked like Les claypool from Primus a bit. ,His wife, even visited with him a few times, Well we got desperate from ADAPT and hunger and one night they out me in adapt and two other boys who comforted me cause I was crying from tooth infection pain. We broke into the storage room on each other shoulderss via the gym and doors on the upper wall. We ran away. Made it pretty far but came back because a random blizzard cawme though. We hid in the supply she’d behind a bunch of chairs but they found us that night due to fogged windows. The one dude beat the shit out of us on the spot while Martin kept us in a basement area under the main office and beat me with news paper for three days until taking me to the airport to go home. The really beat the hell out of Travis.” – Michael (WWASP Survivors)
6/9/2018: (SURVIVOR) “I went there. I think it was from like September ’02 to March ’03. The day I got there, some kid ran away. They found him, shipped him off to Spring Creek Lodge. I remember Jamie Posten. I remember a few of the other kids. I remember the 3 boys caught doing homosexual things Rxxx xxxx, Qxxx xxxx, and Rxxx. I remember the twins, Kyle and Kurt Harris. I remember David Squelch, Santiago “Coffee” Brown, my friends Bill Carpenter and Eric Hellwig, Brian Brunson, Matt Beacham, David Shamrock, Blake Harris, Devin Nunes, Chris Wilson, Ash Eggers, Jeff Callahn, Jared… I had some pics from that place. One that Tex took of me, Chris and Ash playing kickball on the baseball diamond. One of me with Matt by the Pearts house around a firepit. A few of me doing manual labor for whem they were putting the sod in by the big steel building. Heck, I even helped work in there too. A few of me and Bill at Bear Lake. I used to be called “Ostrich”. The kids said I Iooked like one when I ran? ???? Its just unreal how I still remember so much. The sheep trail, climibing up Red Mountain, swimming in the resevoir. Anyway, that place was a joke. I think I was the reason they created ADAPT. All because I REFUSED to wear the black jeans when it was hot out. I never liked the heat, and black pants were miserable. They kept giving me Cat 2’s for not following directions and wearing my pants ???? I never did their stupid essays, I chose to work it off instead. Who remembers having to carry a log with us every where we went? How about running laps in the morning? Joke was on them, I loved running.” – Andrij (WWASP Survivors)
2/13/2018: (SURVIVOR) “I was there 91-93 and from reading these some of yal missed out on some horrendous shit. Teacher Bob was a sex offender who molested kids all the time he’d rub his crotch on your shoulder at school. The Pearts had kids from house 3 performing sex acts at their house. When me and Chris refused to slaughter sheep I got stuck in unit 4 for 3 months until I agreed to slaughter animals. And where did some of the kids from house 3 go? One night a kids there next day kids gone never a kid with parents. Seriously what happened to John Mosby?? I escaped from there more than a few times and finally made it out when a house parent quit and fostered me. That’s all beside the fact he used us as guinea pigs for a kickback from a pharmaceutical company and that geezer psychiatrist bastard. When I was there it was only boys and from 7-17 i could tell way way more but ill leave it at that for now. I heard that rapist pedophile Harold Williams ended up working there after being there he tortured the house 3 kids I personally caught him raping Jerimiah on more than one occasion. I beat his perv ass constantly. Well after I got out of unit 4 anyway. Cant believe they ever took girls I feel for you ladies.” – Jay (WWASP Survivors)
9/17/2017: (STAFF) “Hi, I was a staff at MRA around the time Amanda was leaving. Im not sure what the dates were. I was only there for 9 months. I started as a dorm parent and ended up as a family rep. I had suspicions that things were going on behind the scenes. But no one would tell me. I did save all of the incident reports though because i went to find one in the files for a parent call one day and it had been “misplaced”. So I went to check others and they were gone to. So I copied all of the reports that came across my desk. I turned them into the state child protective services. And nothing happened because apparently one of the hiring sheets you sign is a non disclosure so the state couldn’t do anything. To say they are creeps is an unbelievable understatement. You kids had it rough but even some of us staff are scared from the experience. I still get sick to my stomach and want to burst into tears. I remember Gary yelling profanities, sexual, and degrogitory slurs at me while I was walking you guys to and from the dorms. He was so disgusting I literally wanted to bathe in bleach when I got home. Im only sorry that so many of us saw what was going on and were not able to get you guys out. I eventually left when I mentioned to a parent it would be a good idea to move their daughter closer and was threatened to be sued. I was only 20-21 at the time and didn’t want to be set up by the ranch. I talk with one of the other staff from their sometimes and thats why I googled it. I am so sorry for all of you. I can not even believe that they are still open. In my opinion predators belong behind bars not running a “school” for children.” – Anna (WWASP Survivors)
8/24/2016: (STAFF) “I worked at MRA for a year. It was a shitty place, the living conditions were worse than barracks and the “program” always seemed like a load of bullshit. I felt badly for the kids I worked with and I tried to encourage them to do whatever they needed to to get the hell out of there. I had no idea the extent of the abuse that was taking place and am sickened at some of the things I have read, here and elsewhere. There was no health care, Tammy was completely uneducated and incompetent. I dont’ know what certifications were required to teach there, but there was very very little help for this kids. Wayne was, and I’m assuming, still is a complete asshole. Any man, especially one that big, has some serious psych issues; he routinely got a kick out of physically dominating some of the kids, usually the boys if I remember correctly. I have often wondered what happened to the students that I worked with. I was there from 04-05.” – Jessie (WWASP Survivors)
5/11/2015: (SURVIVOR) “I remember everyone. I remember everything. To this very day I still have nightmares where I get dragged off and thrown back into MRA. I wish I didn’t have the photographic memory I’ve been blessed with solely due to what I remember about this living hell on earth. I remember the day I got there, Dec 18, 2003. I remember being in the Longhorns dorm. I remember Shaun Coombs (No, not talking about p diddy) and when he beat that kid Jeremy. I remember seeing brutal fights in the bathrooms. There was the time Anthony Vo beat some kid senseless, blood everywhere, and he didn’t get in trouble because no one liked Alex Tweedy. I was molested multiple times by another student. The sleeping pill I was on would knock me out cold for 9+ hours easily. None of the staff believed me because I was in orange at the time. Well, one did, and I wish I could do more than thank him on this message board. Robert aka Boo told me he would file a police report on my behalf. When the cops showed up I was called into Wayne’s office, where he threatened to royally fuck my life up because “I wanted extra attention.” Kid confessed to doing it, they made us hug it out, and the cops left. My parents were never told of this, and they remedied the situation NOT BY sending him to another dorm, but my placing a fucking nightlight by my bunk bed. This place did some good for me by helping suppress some extreme anger, but let’s be honest. The staff rarely cared about you as a struggling child, the seminars were just a massive brainwashing cryfest, and the amount of abuse I’ve witnessed would fill a trilogy of books. I wonder how most of the people I remember have turned out. I left nearly 10 years ago and more often than usual I’ve caught myself thinking about this place and the people connected to it. My life is good. I’m successful and happy with my current path. Yet no matter how much time seems to pass my emotional scars from MRA won’t go away, and I doubt they ever will.” – Evan (WWASP Survivors)
1/16/2014: (SURVIVOR) “I was here a bit earlier than most of you seem to have been back in 98-99. Back then this was not co-ed, we had a single building . I was the oldest there at the time at 14-15. I also have the record of being the only successful runaway from this hell, making it all the way to cokeville,wyoming where Mike Walk( one of only two decent staff to ever work there the other being John..since none of you mention them I figure they no longer work there). I remember the beatings, That whole hours of sitting in the snow naked started with me and cody. In fact most of what you latter generation survivors went through was first tested on us…and for that fact that My family I am sorry that I couldnt get it shut down before you got there. But if you need to talk I am always available on facebook ( matthew foley) and most days by phone( number is on my account). You can survive this, its not normal and its not easy, its a daily struggle but survival is possible” – Matthew (WWASP Survivors)
4/7/2013: (SURVIVOR) “First of all, the idea that Tammy became director of Majestic Ranch in 2002 is ludicrous. They tell people that because no one wanted anyone to know that Wayne Winder was director, overseer, and I quote ” the only God you’ll EVER know.” He never left, and I didn’t leave until I was pulled in April of 2003, and there was NO intention of Wayne leaving. I got there March 3, 2002, and left April 6, 2003. I don’t know why no one has talked about Majestic Ranch before, but I can guess. We were threatened regularly that “if you ever tell anyone what happens here, we will find you and kill you.” Then they would take us out into the field and show us what would happen. Guns were shot off, grenades were detonated in the field, and they even cut down a giant tree and set the thing on fire to show us that “we would never live to see the world outside this ranch.” We were told we weren’t allowed to pray, and if we prayed it had to be in the name of Wayne. I was beaten, restrained, burned, and bashed in the head because I had been raised a Christian, and refused to pray to anyone but God. Restraint was administered in any circumstance where the staff felt like it. We were thrown on the ground, our legs shoved up to the middle of our shoulder blades then sat on (and okay, Wayne Winder was 6’7″ at LEAST and weighed 350, I was 12, 4’11 and weighed 85. Do the math.), and our arms yanked up backwards to the point that our hands were over our heads. I saw girls as young as 6 (the youngest that had ever been there and was 5 when she showed up) be restrained and some had there arms dislocated and then forcefully relocated. I have never in my life heard screams than that came from that 5 year old girl the day she got there. She was being taught “why she was there.” I endured the same at 12 when I got there, and they didn’t even wait until my parents were off the property before I endured restraint by Wayne. And that’s only the beginning. I was beaten almost every day because I was seen as one of three “NEPs,” Not Earning Points. This meant we were worse off than the rest. We were given ONE peanut butter sandwich a day (dry PB on bread) and a glass of powdered milk, then water if they felt like it (which was pretty much never). I probably had 30 glasses of water the entire year and a month I was there. My thirteenth birthday occurred while I was there, and I have never had a better meal in my LIFE. I ate once that day, and consumed 24 sandwiches and 30 glasses of milk because they told me I could eat whatever I wanted that day. I then threw up everything (what child wouldn’t if they ate that much, I still don’t know how the heck I did it). They made me sit in it and even forced me to eat it because I had “wasted precious food and this food was worth more than my life!” We were on a ranch, so the NEPs had to do work to prove we weren’t evil and hopeless. I still have an immunity to the smell of manure. We were forced to shovel it, eat it, lie in it, dig our own latrines (and threatened with our own graves) in it, I saw at least one girl sexually assaulted in it while screaming for her life. When lambing happened, we were forced to eat sheep placenta because “it would make us strong”, and if we didn’t we were beaten till we bled and then restrained in our own/the sheep’s blood. I was beaten many times by Matt, whose last name I still don’t know, Chris, Wayne, Tammy, Tori, Annie, and SO many others. I am still haunted by certain country songs that I won’t listen to because they were sung to us in a massively false effort to calm us. When you’re being beaten and Tim McGraw’s “Don’t Take The Girl” is being sung in a hauntingly lilting voice, you NEVER forget it. I was forced to strip and dance to a few songs just for the staff’s amusement. I spent many hours sitting in my own waste, showers weren’t often allowed and when they were we had three minutes before we were restrained. When one girl tried to escape, we were forced to carry a log, an “approximately 900-pound log,” and we were never allowed to let it go. We were forced to hold it in the house while we took turns showering, if we ever dropped it every one of us were restrained and then forced to pick it up again. We marched with that thing around the field every day for 10 hours while guns were shot off every 30 minutes to threaten us with what would happen if we let go. I saw a doctor once while I was there, ONCE, and yet I was given medication for ADHD, Bipolar, and God knows what else every day. I never knew what they gave me, I was never told, and I was slapped when I asked. I was told every minute of every day that my parents hated me, they didn’t love me, I deserved what I got. During the winter, we had to shovel snow every hour of the day, we were restrained in the ice, in the snow, we got frostbite. I as well as a few others were forced in punishment to run in the snow and ice in our underwear and bare feet all night long for many nights. Some nights it got down to about -10 to -15 and I don’t know how we lived save for the grace of God. I was pulled out on April 6, 2003 at 13 and weighed 85 pounds and stood 5’4″. I haven’t told my story till now because I know that no one would have believed me and by the time they did I thought it didn’t matter. Yesterday marked 10 years since I left, and I now feel a desperate need to reveal what goes on at Majestic Ranch (though I think it’s now Old West Academy?).” – Lauren (WWASP Survivors)
4/6/2013: (SURVIVOR) “I was in majestic ranch in 95 and 96. Dan Peart is a piece of shit. He hires uneducated Staff to watch the children. The dorms then located in Randolph were old low income Apartments. The school was not acredidted. I lost a whole year of schooling there. The principle Hiedi something was a complete troll. Children were mistreated then to. A lady named Diane cook used to handle phone calls. You only got supervised calls to family. Greg godar and Dave something I can’t remember his last name were the therapists. The program was simply a way Dan Peart could make a quick buck. One of my goals in life is to kick that dirtbags ass. Trust me Dan Peart is scum. It doesn’t surprise me that sexual abuse occured here. His staff are incompetent morons. And when I finally got out of majestic ranch that jerk stole my bycycil and fishing pole my grand father gave me. Most Mormons I’ve met are kinda wierd but usually good honest people. Dan and Donna Peart are not good people, do not send your children there.” – William (WWASP Survivors)
1/16/2013: (SURVIVOR) “I went to majestic ranch academy when i was seven years old back in 2004. I am still traumatized by what happened to me there. I still have not told my parents about all of this. When i first went to majestic ranch, a girl got all of my pictures from home and flushed them down the toilet. You may think that this was not bad, but we were only allowed a certain amount of pictures and we coulsnt communicate with our families,and they checked all of our letters so i couldnt ask for more. Then the same girl, whos first name was Leslie, repeatedly sexualy assualted me. A few months later another girl named jessica did the same thing, while a group of other girls watched. I was also molested by the cook, who tool me back in the pantry area and proceeded to finger me. I was only seven years old. Majestic ranch was hell. I am so traumatized by what happened i cant let my boyfriend touch me because all i feel are thw greasy hands of the cook. I wanted to share my story so that others qoulsnt face the same injustice.” – Amanda (WWASP Survivors)
12/4/1995: (SURVIVOR) Link to Survivor Testimony
WWASP Survivors – Majestic Ranch Academy
Majestic Ranch Website Homepage (archived, 2006)
Youth director charged with abuse (Deseret News, 06/15/2002)
Utah boarding school under fire (Deseret News, 03/06/2005)
‘Group seeks probe of school abuse’ (Provo Daily Herald, 3/7/2005)