Sundance Canyon Academy (2006-present) Herriman/Draper, UT
History and Background Information
Sundance Canyon Academy is a behavior-modification program that opened in 2006. It is marketed as a Residential Treatment Center for teenage boys (13-17) who primarily struggle with substance abuse/addictions and other co-occurring emotional/behavioral disorders such as depression, anxiety, executive functioning, family discord, social skills, low self-esteem, and academic or developmental difficulties. The program has a maximum enrollment of 16 boys, and the average length of stay is reported to be between 6 and 9 months. The program’s cost of tuition is presently unknown.
Sundance Canyon Academy is located at 6948 Dusty Rose Cir, Herriman, UT 84096. The campus is situated about 30 miles South of Salt Lake City in a suburban area. The boys stay in rooms of between 2 and 4 residents each, depending on the enrollment of the program at the time. The program also operates another campus called Sundance Canyon East which is located at 11457 S 700 W, Draper, UT 84020. This campus also houses 16 boys.
Founders and Notable Staff
Simon Timms is one of the Founders and the current Executive Director/Clinical Director/President of Sundance Canyon Academy. His prior employment is not listed on his LinkedIn profile, but he reportedly has over 20 years consulting and operations for behavioral health programs and schools as well as experience as a wilderness and outdoor Education Director. According to a 1999 article, Timms previously worked as the Wilderness Director of the reportedly abusive Aspen Youth Alternatives, a program owned by the notorious Aspen Education Group.
Boyd Hooper is one of the Founders and the current Intervention Specialist of Sundance Canyon Academy. He also previously worked as Sundance Canyon’s Admissions Director. Prior to this, he was the original founder of the reportedly abusive Sunrise RTC in Hurricane, UT. He was also involved in recruiting families to send their children to Focal Point Academy, and was named as a defendent in a lawsuit brought forth against Focal Point by the family of a former resident.
Nate Stoddard is one of the Founders and the Vice President of Business Development at Sundance Canyon Academy. He has worked as the program in this role since 2011. Prior to this, he worked in numerous roles at Prosper Marketplace, a peer-to-peer lending company, from 2004 until 2011.
Gerald Hooper is one of the Founders of Sundance Canyon Academy. It is unknown whether or not he still is employed by the program. His prior/current employment is unknown.
Bruce Roden works as the Program Director of Sundance Canyon Academy. He has worked at the program since 2013. Prior to this, he worked as a Print Consultant at Liberty Press LLC.
Reynie Sandoval appears to have worked as the Clinical Director and a Therapist at Sundance Canyon Academy. It is unknown whether he is still employed by SCA. He previously worked in various adult outpatient programs, as well as an adolescent/adult rehab program called The Gathering Place, according to one 2004 article. He began working at Sundance Canyon in 2006.
Julia M. Ortiz works as a Youth Specialist/Coach at Sundance Canyon Academy. According to her LinkedIn profile, she began her career as a Mental Health Specialist at the confirmedly abusive Copper Hills Youth Center from 2018 until 2020. She then worked as a Youth Mentor at the confirmedly abusive West Ridge Academy from February through November of 2020, when she began working at Sundance Canyon.
Darin Hansen works as a Therapist at Sundance Canyon Academy. His prior employment is presently unknown, as it is not listed on his LinkedIn profile.
It has been reported that in order to be hired by Sundance Canyon, the staff do not need any specific degree or training beyond CPR certification and a food handlers permit, which the staff are to obtain upon hire and do not need to have one to be considered.
Like other behavior modification programs, Sundance Canyon Academy uses a level system consisting of 6 levels. For students to progress through the program, they need to meet expectations set within the program as well as meet expectations they have set with their therapists/parents. This means the requirements of each level are not necessarily the same for each teen. The levels are reported to be:
The program reports that during the first two weeks of a teen’s stay at SCA, they are not permitted to speak with their parents except during a weekly family therapy call with their therapist. After this, they are allowed one phone-call per week, which is closely monitored by staff.
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Many survivors have reported that Sundance Canyon Academy is an abusive program. Allegations of abuse and neglect that have been reported by survivors include maintaining a prison-like environment, overmedication, deceptive/fraudulent marketing practices, physical abuse, racism, inadequate education, and psychological abuse. Many survivors report that they developed PTSD as a result of their time at Sundance Canyon Academy.
March 2021: (SURVIVOR) “Can’t believe this place is still open. I attended this school when I was a teen, they had me so zonked out of my mind on 4-6 different medications it took me 3 solid days of sleep to detox. I still deal with the trauma of the other boys and the treatment I received while I was basically imprisoned there to this day. And I don’t want to hear you say you didn’t have a patient by the name of Reaves because I was there in person.” – Matthew (Google Reveiws)
2020: (PARENT) “This facility and the the owners completely lied to our family about my sons care. They monitored his phone calls, letters to me and he couldn’t explain to me the complete mistreatment of the residents and threats they hold over TEENAGERS. Ruined my relationship and trust with my son. please consider another facility.” – Jen (Google Reviews)
2020: (UNCLE) “This program misrepresented itself to my sister and I when we took a tour before deciding to send my nephew here. They lied about many things and we have found that the facility is not at all how they portray themselves. Upon coming home he told us of how the staff would go as far as to making fun of the kids but would never be held accountable. I wish we would have known before enrolling him because the owners still refuse to take any responsibility for the mistreatment of my nephew because they are only interested in protecting themselves as a business.” – Paul (Google Reviews)
4/8/2019: (SURVIVOR) Link to ‘Falling apart 10 years later. Does anybody know what this is like?’
2019: (BROTHER) “My little brother was sent there. DO NOT SEND YOUR KID THERE! He is still tramatized from the time he spent there. One of their staff members broke his wrist and he had a bone almost sticking out of his skin. They took him to a family pediatrician before taking him to a hospital. They constantly lied in order to deflect liability elsewhere. He is now doing great with no thanks to the tens of thousands of dollars my father spent on his care.” – Niko (Google Reviews)
2016: (UNCLEAR) “The school appears to be just for money, not real change. Most of the boys are addicts and leave as addicts. If you don’t continue to pay through the nose for poor follow up care, they won’t transfer the grades from a substandard school they provide, nor give you the time of day without being nasty. A real shame for the young men and their families.” – Laura (Google Reviews)
Sundance Canyon Academy Website Homepage
Sundance Canyon Academy DHS Records
Reddit thread regarding the facility (5/9/2021)