Oxbow Academy (2006-present) Mt Pleasant, UT

Residential Treatment Center/Therapeutic Boarding School

History and Background Information

Oxbow Academy is an Ascent Company behavior-modification program founded in 2006. It is marketed as a Residential Treatment Center/Therapeutic Boarding School for teenage boys between the ages of 12 and 18 with “sexual behavior problems” (SBP). The program states that “SBP may present as excessive use of pornography, inappropriate touching, or other compulsive sexual behaviors.” In addition to sexual issues, Oxbow Academy states that many of its residents also struggle with issues such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, adoption issues, social incompetence, self-injurious behavior and other psychological issues. The average length of stay is reported to be between 11 and 14 months, and the program has a maximum enrollment of 54 between its two campuses. The program accepts males only, as assigned at birth. Oxbow Academy’s tuition is reported to be roughly $9,000 per month.

The program operates two campuses, called the East Campus and the West Campus. The East Campus is located at 11479 East 15900 North, Mt Pleasant, UT 84647, and is for students with developmental delays or disorders in addition to sexual issues, including: Autism spectrum characteristics (ASD), Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), and Non-verbal Learning Disorder (NLD). The West Campus is located at 95 North W Main St, Mt Pleasant, UT 84647, and houses ‘neurotypical’ students.

Oxbow Academy has been a NATSAP member since 2007. It is “accredited” by the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC), however, it is important to note that neither the United States Department of Education nor the Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognizes NWAC as an accrediting agency for institutions of higher education. NWAC is an organization that has “accredited” many notoriously abusive behavior-modification programs, including many WWASP programs.

Oxbow Academy is also part of the Ascent Company, and is a “sister program to various other Ascent institutions such as Discovery Academy, Discovery Ranch and the Redcliff Ascent wilderness program. Oxbow Academy was reportedly founded based around the same program model as DA, DR, and RA.

Founders and Notable Staff

  1. Eugene Thorne was reportedly one of the Owners of Oxbow Academy. He previously worked as the co-owner of Provo Canyon School, a confirmedly abusive behavior-modification program which is also where many of the founders and staff members of WWASP began their careers, until 1986. He is reported to have practiced the controversial Aversion Therapy during his time at BYU in the 1970’s. He passed away unexpectedly on December 19, 2018, at the age of 84. Link to his obituary.

Shawn Brooks was the first Executive Director of Oxbow Academy. He has worked for the Ascent Company since 1996. He is also affiliated with Pine Creek Ranch, which was a state funded program also operated by the Ascent Company for “sexually aggressive” teen boys.

Stephen Schultz worked as the Executive Director of Oxbow Academy.

Heather Green was the first Clinical Director of Oxbow Academy. She left Oxbow Academy in late 2009 to “pursue a career opportunity outside of the adolescent therapy industry in another state.”

Sandi Nunley was the first Residential Director of Oxbow Academy. She also worked at Mount Pleasant Academy, a Sequel Youth & Family Network program which was closed in 2019. On her Facebook profile, she lists her past employment as “none of your business.”

Lane Cannon worked as a Therapist at Oxbow Academy. He passed away on February 20th 2010.

Bill Pollock worked as the Residential/Program Director of Oxbow Academy. He then went on to work as the Program Director at Pine Ridge Behavioral Health. He now works as a PE teacher as a non-TTI school.

Erin Nester (also known as Erin Smith) worked as an Admissions Director of Oxbow Academy from 2008 until 2013. She previously worked as a staff member at Pine Creek Ranch from 2007 until 2008, which was a state funded program also operated by the Ascent Company for “sexually aggressive” teen boys. She then went on to work as the Associate Director of Admissions at Wasatch Academy, a non-TTI school.

Program Structure

The boys wake up at 6 am and take showers and have breakfast. It is reported that the boys at Oxbow Academy spend the majority of their days in various therapy groups. They then attend their academic classes from 3 pm until 9 pm. The residents are given access to computers, but the internet is limited to just online encyclopedia pages. In order to progress through the program, the boys are frequently subjected to lie detector tests to ensure they are being truthful. However, it’s important to note that according to the American Psychological Association, “most psychologists agree that there is little evidence that polygraph tests can accurately detect lies.”

Very little additional information is known about the program at Oxbow Academy. If you attended Oxbow Academy and would like to contribute information to help complete this page, please contact u/shroomskillet.

Abuse Allegations

In 2019, an employee at Oxbow Academy East, Tuakimoana Leota, 20, was charged with child abuse after authorities say he allowed teens to choke each other as part of a game. Leota was charged Tuesday with two counts of third-degree felony child abuse. Prosecutors allege that Leota had been working at Oxbow Academy East, and had looked on as several residents choked each other to the point of unconsciousness Friday as part of a game called “Cloud 9” or the “choking game.”

Survivor/Parent Testimonials

No survivor testimonies have yet to be found for Oxbow Academy.

If you attended Oxbow Academy and would like to contribute information to help complete this page, please contact info@breakingcodesilence.org

Related Media

Oxbow Academy Website Homepage

HEAL Program Information – Oxbow Academy

Secret Prisons for Teens – Oxbow Academy

Inside the ‘Porn School’: Desert boot camp helps teens beat addiction to online filth with chores, horse riding and lie detectors (Daily Mail, 6/16/2012)

Lie detector tests, a ban on phones and hours of therapy… Inside the boot camp that treats boys as young as 13 addicted to online porn (Mirror, 6/17/2012)

Employee at Oxbow Academy East charged for allowing boys to play ‘choking game’ (The Salt Lake Tribune, 11/26/2019)