Sunrise RTC (2000-present) Hurricane, UT

Residential Treatment Center

History and Background Information

Sunrise RTC (also called Sunrise Academy) is an Embark Behavioral Health/InnerChange behavior-modification program. The program originally opened in 2000 as “Sunrise Girl’s Home”. It is marketed as a Residential Treatment Center for teenaged girls between the ages of 13 and 17. Sunrise claims to treat girls with a history of the following: trauma, chemical dependency, mental illness, depression, anxiety and, or low self-esteem. Sunrise has a maximum enrollment of 76 girls and the average length of stay is reported to be between 10 and 12 months. Sunrise RTC has been a NATSAP member since 2006.

The program operates in two campuses. The first campus, known as the Hurricane Campus, is located at 65 North 1150 West, Hurricane, UT 84737. The other campus, known as the Fields Campus or the Washington Campus, is located at 3611 S Camino Real, Washington, UT 84780.

On June 30, 2006, Sunrise RTC was purchased by the holding company of New Haven RTC, Solacium. At this time, Sunrise RTC was marketed as a less-expensive option for parents who could not afford New Haven. According to a 2006 press release regarding this acquisition, “Sunrise will differentiate itself from New Haven in the following four ways: 1) it will have a strong community service oriented program; 2) it will not treat students and families with deeply-ingrained personality issues; 3) it will have lower staff-to-student ratios and higher therapist caseloads; and 4) it will utilize the splendor of the southern Utah national parks in its program activities.” Sunrise RTC is still the sister program to New Haven RTC, which is now also owned by the same company, Embark Behavioral Health/InnerChange.

It is reported that Sunrise is closely affiliated with a wilderness program called WinGate Wilderness in Kanab, UT. Survivors have reported that many teenagers are funneled to Sunrise from WinGate, and also from Sunrise to WinGate as punishment. Sunrise also operates a transitional program for teenagers and young adults aged 17+ called Sequoia House, which is located on the Washington Fields Campus.

Founders and Notable Staff

Boyd Hooper is the Founder and also worked as the Admissions Director of Sunrise RTC. 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. He currently works as the Admissions Director of Sundance Canyon Academy.

Brian Pace was the Program Director of Sunrise RTC. He previously worked at the reportedly abusive Red Rock Canyon School.

Bernard (Bernie) Farrow worked as the Clinical Director of Sunrise RTC. He previously worked as a Counselor at the Academy at Cedar Mountain, which was the previous name of Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy. He is also reported to have previously worked at the reportedly abusive Red Rock Canyon School. Bernie Farrow’s credentials have been brought into question in the WWASP vs PURE transcript. It is also reported that Cedar Mountain Academy sued Bernie Farrow for misrepresenting his credentials to the program. The transcript also mentions his dismissal from this program. He later worked as a Therapist at Whitmore Academy in Nephi, Utah. Whitmore Academy’s owner, Cheryl Sudweeks, was put on trial for 7 counts of abuse/hazing against 4 students. His wife, Arlene Farrow, worked as the Admissions Director of the Academy at Cedar Mountain.

Matt Bulkley worked as the Lead Therapist at Sunrise RTC. He previously worked as a Therapist at the confirmedly abusive Redcliff Ascent Wilderness program.

Joel Beckstrand was one of Sunrise’s founding directors and worked as Sunrise’s Education Director. He previously worked at the reportedly abusive Red Rock Canyon School.

Jacson Parker worked as the Education Director and later as the Executive Director of Sunrise RTC.

Dave Prior worked as Sunrise’s Executive Director from 2006 until 2015. He had previously worked as a Therapist at Cedar Ridge Academy from 2000 until 2002. He then went on to work as a Therapist, and later, as the Assistant Clinical Director of New Haven RTC from 2002 until 2006. He now works as the Chief Operations Officer of InnerChange.

Jack Hinman worked as the Clinical Director of Sunrise RTC from 2007 until 2013. He previously worked as a Therapist at the confirmedly abusive Island View RTC from 2005 until 2007. After Sunrise, Hinman went on to work as the Clinical Director of the reportedly abusive Discovery Ranch for Girls, and as the Executive Director of Kolob Canyon RTC and Moonridge Academy.

Helen B. Johnson worked as the Clinical Director of Sunrise RTC. She currently works at Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy, a CERTS program.

Brad Simpson is the Executive Director of Sunrise RTC. He previously worked for LDS Family Services in St. George, UT. He is reported by survivors to be physically abusive and also to lead the attack therapy groups at Sunrise RTC.

Craig Simpson is the Senior Clinical Director of Sunrise RTC. He previously worked as a Therapist at Primary Children’s Medical Center Residential Treatment Center.

Tracey Gerlach works as the Director of Professional and Business Development at Sunrise RTC. She previously worked as a Field Instructor at SUWS of the Carolinas. She also has worked as the Director of Professional and Business Development at InnerChange.

Sue Barnes is the Director of Family Communication at Sunrise RTC. She has been a long-time employee of InnerChange.

Marcy Clark is the Admissions & Marketing Director of Sunrise RTC. She also works as the Director of Admissions at Vive Family Support Program, another InnerChange program.

Allen Stayner Richards works as a Therapist/Clinical Director at Sunrise RTC. He previously worked at Southwest Behavioral Health Center.

Dr. Cantril Nielsen works as a Psychiatrist at Sunrise RTC. He has also worked as a Psychiatrist at the reportedly abusive Eagle Ranch Academy. He previously worked as an LDS Psychiatrist in the 1980’s and was forced to pay a sizeable wrongful death malpractice settlement in the masturbation-shame suicide of 16-year-old Kip Eliason; “In the 1980s, LDS Psychiatrist Cantril Nielsen found himself caught between his conflicting religious and professional oaths. Nielsen paid a sizable wrongful death malpractice settlement in the masturbation-shame suicide of 16-year-old Kip Eliason. The lawsuit alleged that Nielsen violated professional standards of psychiatric care by prescribing that his patient should follow his Mormon bishop’s advice to abstain from masturbation in order to be “worthy,” rather than basing treatment on empirical medical evidence required by medical ethics. Medical experts in the case verified the empirical evidence that masturbation is not only harmless, but that masturbation abstinence has a documented history of suicidal risk” (source).

Derek Barney works as a Therapist at Sunrise RTC. He previously worked at the abusive Alpine Academy for nearly 8 years.

Kim Seay-Smith works as a Therapist at Sunrise RTC. She began working at Sunrise RTC in 2007, and left in 2015 to work as the Program Director and later the Executive Director of Lava Heights Academy. She returned to Sunrise as a Therapist in March 2020.

Mara Roehl works as a Therapist at Sunrise RTC.

Kirk Simon works as a Psychiatrist at Sunrise RTC. He previously worked at Island View RTC, a confirmedly abusive Aspen Education Group program, as the Medical Director. He also worked as a Psychiatrist at the Aspen Institute For Behavioral Assessment. He currently works as the Psychiatrist at Solstice RTC, which is a Family Help & Wellness program founded by various former Island View staff.

Mollie Mylar previously worked as the Admissions Director of Sunrise RTC. She previously worked in Admissions at The Oakley School, a reportedly abusive Aspen Education Group program. She then went on to work at Second Nature wilderness program before working at Sunrise. She is also reported to have later worked in Admissions at the Willow Creek School. She currently appears to be the Director of Professional Relations at Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers.

Program Structure

Like other behavior-modification programs, Sunrise RTC uses a level system. The names of the levels have changed during the course of Sunrise’s existence, but their various names are given below:

  • Level 0 – “Cave Phase”/Safety: This level is used as punishment. This phase is when a student does not want to work the program and is “against everything and everyone that is trying to help her. Insubordination, harmful actions, denial, justification, minimization, projection of blame are some of the thinking errors that are going on while on this phase or level.” No privileges are available on this level. Bedtime is 9:00 pm.
  • Level 1 – “Lunar Phase”/Discovery: When a resident arrives at Sunrise, they are placed on Level 1. It may take a month or two for a student to progress to Level 2. This level allows “basic” privileges. Bedtime is at 9:30 pm.
  • Level 2 – “Quest Phase”/Belonging: Here the student has earned more privileges such as, additional make up and jewelry, opportunities for an off campus activities, the honor of caring for an animal (pet therapy), and/or having pictures and limited decorations in her room. 10:00 pm bedtime.
  • Level 3 – “Sunset Phase”/Integrity: Students have “earned the right” for a family visit, off-campus opportunities, additional privileges, and a 10:30 pm bedtime.
  • Level 4 – “Sunrise Phase”/Indepence: They have “earned the trust of the community and staff” and will have more opportunities to demonstrate their desire to return home and be successful. Bedtime is 11:00 pm.
  • Level 5 – Generosity: This level was added later, after the level-system changed.

More information on Sunrise RTC’s original level system can be view on their archived website.

It is reported that during the first 21 days, there is no direct communication between the child and their parents, unless the call is done in relation with a “family therapy session” where the communication by nature is monitored. After the initial period, one phone call per week is allowed. However, these calls are also closely monitored by staff, which creates an environment where it is impossible for teenagers to report abuse. Other features of Sunrise RTC’s program have been detailed by a survivor on Reddit. They are as follows:

  • The girls do all of the cleaning. Twice a day. (toilets, dishes, vacuuming, sweeping, watering plants, showers, etc.) If they refuse to clean, they get dropped a level.
  • Phone calls are monitored. Most girls don’t know this, and neither do the parents.
  • One phone call a week to parents only. They can take away all forms of communication if they wish.
  • They let girls handle bleach and clean a library unattended with it on Safety. When they complain that it wasn’t a good idea to expose bleach to potentially suicidal girls, they are threatened to be put on suicide watch.
  • Residents have been told by Staff that Sunrise “isn’t a school, it’s a business”, when girls asked why we’re not being taken care of well enough/why they’re so revolved around money.
  • “When my house “needed an intervention” (we didn’t, it was random), we were forced to sit in our rooms for several ours without sleeping, making a single sound, or communicating of any sort. This happened twice. Girls got dropped levels afterwords.”
  • There was a cockroach manifestation that wasn’t taken care of. In order to actually house so many girls, half of the girls had rooms in the basement.
  • Yes, they DO restrain girls and use tranquilizers.
  • Therapists have been known to break patient confidentiality. According to this survivor, one therapist “broke [confidentiality] with me and with another girl whose (amazing) parents sued. She was fired after I left.”

Abuse Allegations and Deaths

Many survivors of Sunrise RTC have reported that they experiences and witness abuse and neglect while at this program. Allegations of abuse and neglect at Sunrise RTC which that have been reported by survivors include rampant phsyical abuse, excessive and violent restraints, multiple sexual abuse cases (that were reportedly swept under the rug and blamed on the child victim), ostracization and humiliation techniques, so-called “struggle sessions”, solitary confinement, attack and aversion therapy, forced manual labor, homophobia, racism, transphobia, victim-blaming in child sexual assault victims, and underqualified staff.

According to the Human Rights organization HEAL, Sunrise RTC is suspected of being an abusive program. As per HEAL’s definition of a “Suspect” program, “if a program is categorized as “Suspect” it means it meets one or more criteria (i.e. sister program of confirmedly abusive facility, shares staff with an abusive facility, or one or more complaints regarding the facility are on file with HEAL and/or proper regulatory and enforcement agencies, etc).”

On October 17, 2010, two vehicles from Sunrise were carrying students and staff members en route from Hurricane, UT to Moab for a Sunday outing. On the way, one of the vehicles, a suburban driven by a Sunrise staff member, was involved in a single vehicle accident. Just before the accident occurred, the passengers of the Suburban were trying to get the attention of passengers in the other vehicle as they passed it on a curve, UHP said. It is reported that the vehicle veered off Interstate 70 near Sevier, Utah, and rolled over. An image of the damage sustained by the vehicle shows the severity of this crash. Additional images show the skidmarks on the road and the scene of the crash. Note: these images may be disturbing to some audiences; viewer discretion is strongly advised.

There were five Sunrise students in the suburban along with the staff member. One of the students, 17-year-old Natasha Newman from London, England, was killed instantly. Another student, 17-year-old Gracie James from Arlington, Massachussets, was ejected from the passenger seat. She sustained major injuries and was transported to the hospital where she remained in a coma on life support for several days, before eventually passing away on October 20th. A third student sustained a compound fracture, and the Sunrise staff driver and two additional students sustained minor injuries.

According to one survivor‘s account of the experience, the staff driving the vehicle was not at fault for the girls deaths; “During my stay, on October 17, 2010, a car accident killed a dear friend and fellow patient, Natasha Newman. Gracie James, another student, was ejected from the passenger seat and as a result, slipped into a coma and was taken off of life support a few days after. There were a few other girls in the car, and a staff member was driving. I wasn’t there as I was with Yellow house and this was during a Blue House trip, but at least 10 other students watched this suburban swerve and roll. I know that many articles blame the staff driver, but I would like to kindly say that the writers of these articles don’t have all of the information. The staff driver did her best to avoid a collision and unfortunately, suburbans are top-heavy. She was probably the best person to have been driving at that time, because she really did her best and saved three passenger girls.”

Survivor/Parent Testimonials

12/31/2020: (SURVIVOR) Link to Ella’s Survivor Testimony

July 2020: (SURVIVOR) “I went here years ago. Now an adult, one whom works in treatment I can truly say I do not recommend this treatment center. There were some good parts, I will not deny that. A majority of my experience was unfortunately very negative. I did not see a lot of encouragement from a 12 step modality for those whom needed it. The clinical team caused more trauma than fixing in regards to my treatment. As for the schooling portion, I definitely did not obtain a proper education during my course of treatment and unfortunately fell further back in school. As an adult that works in treatmemt, I understand and see both sides from a patient and staff perspective but there is no excuse for unethical treatment of your patients. Especially children. I can go on to give several examples of unethical behaviors, but this is to share an honest review of a company and my experience with that. I hope everyone seeking help finds the proper care they need.” – Morgan (Google Reviews)

February 2020: (SURVIVOR) “I spent several months at sunrise in 2010. The accident was a tragedy that was no ones fault. However looking back, it is a reflection of how horribly the facility is run and operates. That was one of the most traumatizing times of my life that I think about often. I came out of treatment worse than I went in. Most of the staff were wonderful, caring people but the majority of the therapists were not helpful at all. Over 10 years later the wound that sunrise left is still festering.” – Addie (Google Reviews)

2019: (SURVIVOR) “The “lite” version of an internment camp, for discarded girls like me. Without using their language, here are some behavioral modification techniques this “treatment center“ employs:

  • multiple sexual abuse cases that were swept under the rug (I remember you Trent) and blamed on the child victim
  • killed two teenage girls in a car crash circa 2011, 2012ish due to negligence
  • ostracization and humiliation techniques
  • struggle sessions
  • solitary confinement
  • attack and aversion therapy
  • forced manual labor
  • homophobia
  • racism
  • transphobia
  • victim blaming in child sexual assault victims
  • underqualified staff
  • not properly accredited

If you care about your children, do your research before you hand their care over to strangers. There are a lot of alternatives to places like this. Underregulated RTCs in Utah get worse than Sunrise too. A couple of memories that stand out to me from this glossy, lockdown, private prison:

  • being denied human contact and medical care for becoming sick when I was put on medication for sleep (ostensibly) that lowered my blood pressure (I have hypotension)
  • a therapy group in which a group of girls aged 12-15 who were CSA victims being told “well ladies, sometimes, these boys just can’t control themselves, see you just need to learn to cover up your shoulders!” as a reason for why they had been abused.
  • scrubbing fecal matter and menstrual blood off of bathroom walls, messages written by other desperate girls in solitary confinement or on “Therapeutic Probation“ and ostracization technique in which girls were forced observe activities, but not participate, while being completely ignored, as if they didn’t exist. This sometimes happened for weeks at a time. They were not allowed to speak, breathe, or exist
  • being told “this is a business” when I asked why conditions weren’t better considering the program’s cost” – DiscardedGirl (Google Reviews)

2019: (SURVIVOR) “Positively not a good place to be when you’re dealing with your own problems, weather it be medical or mental. Without a doubt I left with way more trauma and issues than I came with. I was there for thirteen months and nearly a level 5. I was on the path to graduation and due to some financial problems with my parents I was not able to stay to graduate my program. The program, while it has a good idea, the execution of said idea is awful. The laws in utah are vague and protect very little of the rights every human should have. I was telling the staff there for months, three months exactly, that I needed to be in an inpatient hospital. With my own concerns ignored I was kept isolated in my room for those three months with no contact with peers or my family. The isolation in and of itself is enough to drive most anyone to insanity and it nearly did to me. I hadn’t self harmed for nearly 3 months before my admit to sunrise and it lead me to that. I was then transported to a hospital six or so hours away from the campus and brought back a week later. I came back strictly because my parents told me I would go to wilderness (an outdoors/camping based 3 month intensive therapy camp). I came back determined to go home, I couldn’t be there for much longer at all. I had to hide so ,much, fake so many ‘vulnerable’ moments and share so much and elaborate into things that believe it or not had not too much behind it. One of the programs many unethical punishments would have to be Reflection. When you are in trouble (to put it simply) you are placed on reflection where you may not talk for 12 hours unless for an EXTREMELY basic need. If I needed support or someone to process with, I was not allowed to process any of those emotions. At that point with being silenced and not allowed to get support, I would get in trouble again and have my twelve hours completely started over. Those twelve hours also do not continue when you sleep. Sunrise also has the full ability to put a resident into a hold, a restraint. I was put in restraints for decent reasons for the most part, but there were students while I was there who would be placed into a hold and dragged up stairs for not moving from the couch. I had bruises and a popped blood vessel after one of the holds, and reported symptoms of a concussion. None of those concerns were met with the appropriate medical care. I was placed on two medications while I was there that seriously interacted with each other. They were zyprexa and seroquel, I began passing out and feeling weak to the point I could not move. I did not get a single dentist appointment in the year I was there, and neither did I get a standard checkup. In my opinion, the (barely) medical staff are completely incompetent.The therapists overly push the residents, past the point of breaking. If I could only explain my experience fully, people could understand so much more. Sadly, and experience like the one I lived at sunrise is one you have to go through to understand, and it’s something I hope not many people are forced to understand.” – Giovanna (Google Reviews)

2019: (SURVIVOR) “i am not going to deny the fact that sunrise helped some things but the way i was treated was nothing close to okay. if your child is straight and identifies as cis-gender she might have a wonderful experience and really gain skills and insight. but if they are gay or transgender please save them the trauma and emotional pain. i was told for my whole stay that i thought i was transgender because of my trauma. that is not true. today i am 3 years out as trans and i am not confused, but what sunrise left me with was shame and guilt for being who i am. the therapists did not help me accept myself they wanted me to change the parts of me that were most genuine, like my identity. i faked the rest of my treatment because i couldn’t really be myself and how was i supposed to work through my problems if i couldn’t. please keep in mind that to succeed you need a safe place to be vulnerable and sunrise is not it. they did not let me go by my preferred name and pronouns, because my parents and i wouldn’t talk about my identity, which was because they were not supportive. they still aren’t. but the feeling of not being able to heal as who i am was extremely damaging. it hurt me and i am still struggling with it today.” –Ryde (Google Reviews)

2018: (SURVIVOR) “I find it so interesting that everyone who attended this program themselves rated it really low. I was there too about 12 years ago (when I was 13) and I wish that my parents had never taken out loans to send me there. It did not help, my teenage years were rough and I continued to get into trouble until as a senior in high school I got pregnant and decided to change my life for my daughter. I know its hard and stressful being a parent but sending your kid away is not going to magically solve their problems, it just gives you the parent a break from having to deal with it yourself. It’s hard but in order for someone to change even a kid they need to decide they want to themselves. I remember laying in bed watching other girls in my room have sexual interactions and one time when we were upstairs, somehow unsupervised girls were kissing eachother and trying to get the other girls to join in, I’m the only one who did not join because I felt so uncomfortable. Also while I was there one male staff was fired for being too physically aggressive with a girl who tried to AWOl, one was fired for having sexual interactions with a couple of the girls, one of the girls AWOLed and was gone for a month and some of the staff were so mean to certain girls. I remember there was a staff named Lindsey and she was the worst, she eventually disappeared, I’m not sure if she got fired or just quit but she was so mean. I was picked on by some of the staff and some of the girls who would join in to pick on me with the staff They do not let the girls eat as much as they need, I remember always being hungry. Also they lied to my parents when my parents contacted them to inquire information on their program. They said they had animals and used the animals a lot in their therapy. We had equine therapy sometimes but I remember this being cancelled a lot and the animals were not located where the program is. I wish I could get my parents their money back, I really feel bad that they wasted thousands sending me here for it to not even have any effect on my life. They did get new management while I was there, but this program still didn’t do anything to cause me to change my behavior, I had to get to the point where I was ready to do that for myself.” – Amy (Google Reviews)

2017: (SURVIVOR) “I had gone to sunrise and it was awful! The staff force there values onto you, they are very hypocritical and judgmental. when they say that its okay to make mistakes and you make one at this place they will tear you apart until you feel worthless. There is special treatment for certain girls. Some of the staff have done drugs and are currently drugs while working at sunrise, staff say that its disrespectful to have sexual, naked or half naked photos of yourself and should never post them or have them, when some staff have posed for half naked photo have posted them on there accounts, and have even gone as far as to let the photograph post them. Now I don’t care that they do that go ahead what gets me mad is that they are hypocritical about it. They come into work and lie when they also teach you to be truthful. i think that everyone needs to read this part so there are male and female staff. femlae staff are aloud to be alone with the girls however male staff are not so there has to be a female close by when males are working. so there was the one female staff how ever she was not really a female she was a transgender after working there for 8 years she had quit she got arrested for having sex with a minor and is now a sex offender no one new until she/he had gotten arrested. they say that they do background check well they obviously don’t so them good enough. They break you down mentally and emotionally and will put you back together how they want to. The success rate is very low especially long term. One of the reasons why I was sent there was because my dad and I have a awful relationship while I was there it got better but as soon as I got out it got even worse. People might say that I didn’t try but I promise you I tried my hardest however I went back to most of my old ways. With everything that I had gone though getting put in this place with no choice and having everything taken away from me I would do anything I had to do to get out. i left that place with more PTSD then i went there for. The only reason why there are so many great reviews are because it all of the staff and the therapists writing them so of course they are all going to have 5 start reviews if you don’t send you child there how else are they going to make money. some good things came out of this place like the tools I’ve learned. I have become a stronger person from what they put you though. i felt like i needed to write this because I talked to parents and lied saying how amazing this place was because i was scared to say they truth. because a friend I made said ho awful it was and she got her level dropped for being truthful, something they teach you to be. So try and send your daughter some where close to home because in this thine they need there family close and talk to and see them as much as they can because only getting to talk to you’re parent twice a week one for a certain amount of time and the other in therapy isn’t enough!” – Emily (Google Reviews)

2017: (SURVIVOR) “If I could give sunrise a negative 10 star review I would. Parents please don’t send your teens here. They try to make you be perfect. When you don’t do something right you get punished for it. You are not allowed to eat when ever you want. If you are hungry and want to have a snack you will get in serious trouble just for taking a snack. If you arnt their perfect mormon child then they force their religious beliefs on you. Some of the staff are great but most of them are awful and don’t know what they are doing. Most staff have favorites. While I was there a staff wasn’t paying any attention to a high run risk and the girl found the oppertunity to run. Also while I was there a staff helped a girl pass her drug test by peeing for her. Also another staff gave a girl her personal medicine (pills) so the girl could get high. Also while I was there witnesses many lesbian sexual interactions which is not allowed and made me other girls uncomfortable. Also while I was there I witnessed many girls try to commit suicide by jumping out of the window or cutting them selves and the staff just put them on safety in my opinion they should have been moved to the mental hospital. The house is discusting with cockroaches and food in the kitchen and bathrooms nasty. Sunrise is for girls who have self harm and depression issues not drug issued. I never got any help wit my drug problems. The first night out I immediately went back to using drugs. When you get out of sunrise and go back home in reality you don’t even know where to start and what to do. After I left that place my social anxiety was worse then before I got there. Because i never really had the chance to interact wit the “real world” parents please don’t spend thousands of dollars on sending your kids to somewhere so far away from home. It may seem like your kid is changing but they most likely wanna get out of there. Spend your money somewhere more close to home where you can actually visit your kid more. That’s my strong opinion of sunrise is it’s a waste of money and time.” – Ekaterina (Google Reviews)

2016: (SURVIVOR) “If I could give this place no stars I would because this place ruined my life.I was a resident of this facility in 2008, I was bullied and physically abused by both staff and other residents who lived here almost on a daily basis.It got to the point where I would be provoked so bad that I felt I had to defend myself physically, which resulted in me getting in trouble and kicked out. Why was I placed here, well my mom passed away in 2005 and I had to go with my biological father who I never knew or saw growing up, he began to sexually abuse me as well as physically and due to those traumatic experiences Child protective services placed me here to get help, but thats the furthest thing I got out of sunrise. I was a foster kid and I think they knew that I didn’t have any parents so they left me in the back burner a lot, they would let other girls make fun of me or belittle me and sometimes the staff would join in on it too, I didn’t have a mommy or daddy to go run to when i was being treated unfairly so they got away with it . Most of the girls here come from a family who has money and they are honestly in my opinion just too spoiled, I came from nothing so it was hard for me to relate to my other peers and their situations, I could never understand why they were so bad. I wound up being isolated from everyone because there was constant confrontation and I was always the one to blame. The staff were not held accountable nor were the other girls. They wound up shipping me off to an even worse RTC where a boy had committed suicide and is now shut down for the abusive therapy methods. This is one of those places, the only thing different is the name. The staff that dealt with us girls were not fit for the job, let alone experienced enough and I would never hire someone who acts like the girls who are put there. I’m turning 20 this month(I was 13 while I was there ) but looking back now I realize that if I never came here my life would have been so much different and better. This place really messed me up, more then I already was.When I arrived at this place I came in with all these disorders and for every disorder I was on a pill for it. They will drug your kid up for a quick fix believe that, I think pills should be a last resort but not this place. They charge way too much for the horrible treatment they give you.It took me 2 years of being on my own to fix the emotional damage this place did to me along with the other facility they sent me to.Never send your kids here, or they might come out worse then when they first went in. Residential treatment isn’t always the best thing for your kid, and being a troubled teen isn’t a diagnoses. Ive been through the ringer and I never used my past as an excuse to make wrong choices and I’m a foster kid. These places are always going to try and make a buck with you, so don’t fall into that trap. I live with my boyfriend in our newly bought house with 3 dogs and 4 cats, I am going to college and I’m getting my license to be a dog trainer soon. I’m doing fine though I still suffer from ptsd, I deal with it without medication because I know my brain isn’t fully developed till 21, also I don’t think it’s the healthiest solution.Please think twice three times again before sending your children there. best of luck!” – Kayla (Google Reviews)

6/22/2012: (SURVIVOR) Link to Survivor Testimony

Related Media

Sunrise RTC Website Homepage

Sunrise Academy RTC Website Homepage (archived, 2004)

HEAL Program Information – Sunrise RTC

Secret Prisons for Teens – Sunrise RTC

SUV carrying troubled youth rolls; 1 killed (KSL, 10/17/2010)

Sunrise Academy Rollover Accident Takes Life of London Teen (Kramer Law Group, 10/19/2020)

British girl who survived swine flu is killed in US car crash (Evening Standard, 10/22/2010)

Highgate family devastated after daughter dies in car crash (Ham&High, 10/29/2010)

Gracie James Obituary