Turn-About Ranch (1989-present) Escalante, UT
Residential Treatment Center
History and Background Information
Turn-About Ranch is an Aspen Education Group behavior-modification program founded in 1989. It is marketed as a “high-impact” Residential Treatment program for teenagers aged 13-17. TAR states that it enrolls teenagers with the following diagnoses/behaviors: “Abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual), Adjustment Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Attachment Disorder, Attention/Hyperactivity Disorders, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Eating Disorder, Impulse Control Disorders, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Parent-Child Relational Problem (including adoption), Personality Disorder, Sleep Disorder, Somatoform or Factitious Disorders, Substance Addictions or Related Disorders, Tourette’s and Tic Disorder, Trauma including PTSD, Learning Disabilities, Diabetes, Anger, Low Self-esteem, Poor Academic Performance, Truancy, Adoption Concerns, Authority Problems, Manipulative, Promiscuity, Rebellion, Isolation, Irritability, and Family Problems.” The average length of stay is reported to be around 100 days, but may be much longer if the child is deemed resistant to the program. The tuition for these 100 days is reported to be more than $40,000. Turn-About Ranch has been a NATSAP member since 1999.
The main office of Turn-About Ranch is located at 280 N 300 E, Escalante, UT 84726. However, the program actually takes place at two seperate locations just a short drive up the road from this address. For the first part of the program, the teens are taken to “Roundy Camp”, which is located about a mile from the main campus. The main campus is located on a ranch off of Pine Creek and Posey Lake Road in the small town of Escalante, UT.
Turn-About Ranch was originally marketed as a “Christian” program and included this intent in their old mission statement: “The program mission is to empower our students with traditional Christian values of honesty, openness, respect, teamwork, and accountability in order to instill a positive, responsible, cooperative attitude that will prepare them for successfully living within their family, community, and society.” However, they were advised to change that term in order to avoid to offend detainees with other kind of beliefs. It is reported by survivors that students with other religious beliefs were not tolerated at the program.
Turn-About Ranch is accredited through the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC, but it is important to note that neither the United States Department of Education nor the Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognizes the Northwest Accreditation Commission as an accrediting agency for institutions of higher education. This organization has been known to “accredit” many of the more abusive and least educational troubled teen “schools”, including many WWASP programs.
In 2014, Turn-About Ranch announced that it would no longer be owned by Aspen Education Group but would instead be taken over by employees of the program.
Founders and Notable Staff
Michelle Lindsay is the current Executive Director and Clinical Director of Turn-About Ranch. She began her career in the TTI working as a Therapist at Aspen Achievement Academy, a reportedly abusive Aspen Education Group program, from 2001 until 2003. She then went on to work as the Assistant Clinical Director of SunHawk Academy from 2003 until 2007. She briefly worked as a Transition Coach at Homeward Bound from 2007 until 2010, before joining TAR as the Clinical Director in August of 2010. She was promoted to Executive Director in 2014, and continues to work in that position at the program.
Luke Hatch was the previous Executive Director of Turn-About Ranch. Prior to his promotion, he worked as TAR’s Program Director. He left TAR in 2010 to create his own program, KW Legacy Ranch in Nevada. He continues to work at KW Legacy Ranch as the Co-Founder, Executive Director, and Clinical Director.
Max Stewart worked as the Ranch Director of TAR from 1993 until 2007.
Myron Carter is the current Program Director and President of Turn-About Ranch.
Myron Cottam previuosly worked as the Executive Director of TAR from 2007 until 2010.
Shane Young is the current Admissions Director of Turn-About Ranch.
Like many other behavior-modification programs, Turn-About Ranch uses a level-system consisting of four levels. The levels are:
- Level 1: “Impact” – When on this level, the teens are kept in “Roundy Camp”. This level typically lasts between 3-7 days, but can be much longer if the teenager is deemed resistant. The teens are forced to sit or stand within a stone-circle of about 2×2 meters all day long. Lying down is forbidden. It is defined to be a stressful position, which would be regarded as a war crime if it was done against a POW. However, the detainees do not have the same protection against mistreatment and the facility is under supervision from the Utah State Office of Education. This is supposed to be used a time to “reflect.” When they arrive, they are given a binder in where they are expected to write about their time and development during the stay. The meals consist of: Breakfast (oatmeal, cooked over their personal camp fire in an old coffee can), lunch (“trail mix,” which is shredded coconut, Cheerios, and raisins), and dinner (which can vary from beans & lentils to Ramen noodles, depending on availability and behavior). During the night they sleep on a wooden bed without a mattress or a pillow inside a cabin. (A mattress can be earned during level two). The teens are also not allowed to shower on this level. Teens can be demoted to this level as punishment for rule violations or resisting the program.
- Level 2: Roundy – This level still takes place at “Roundy Camp”. The teens are allowed to work and are watched around the clock. They have a lot of chores and are able to earn “privileges” like a mattress and better food. They attend “group therapy” where they are forced to discuss their behavior.
- Level 3: The Barn – This level takes place at “the barn.” On this level, the teens can watch selected movies and earn the right to different foods. They are still under supervision, but not as strictly as during the previous levels. They are given a horse they should care for but they will also work with other kinds of animals. They are forced to attend mandatory services at the Baptist church in Escalante regardless of their personal beliefs. The detainees will also receive a visit from their parents during this level at a secret pre-set date, where they will be confronted with the reason that their parents sent them to Turn-About Ranch.
- Level 4: The Barn, Solo – During level four, the detained youth they will continue to work with their new induced self-image until the point where the therapist decides that their old image does not exist. Some days or a week before the graduation, the residents complete a “solo” which consists of spending days alone in a remote isolated unheated one-room cabin where they are ordered to finish their binder. The graduation takes place at a secret date, where they will be go to a large stone circle in order to receive a medicine pouch and some words of wisdom. Then they will be welcomed back into their old family.
For additional information, the following is a link to TAR’s archived website (2001) that describes the level system in greater detail.
Additionally, survivors have reported that the educational component at this program is extremely sub-par. Survivors have reported that they are forced to watch Creationism films, and are denied access to non-religious education.
Rules and Punishments
Turn-About Ranch is a very strict program with many rules. Some of these rules include:
- No swearing, foul or abusive language
- No drugs/tobacco use
- No gang-signs or sign language
- Must eat everything you cook
- No complaining about food
- Ask permission before doing anything
- No changing of clothes
- No makeup, hair products, jewelry, money, etc.
- No slouching, laying down, or sleeping during the day
The children are not allowed to communicate with their parents. The staff at the program tell the children that their parents do not want to speak with them.
The “stone circle” is used as punishment for teenagers who refuse to follow the rules. This punishment entails forcing children to remain in a small stone circle, and not allowing them to speak or lie down.
The program also uses a “code of silence” as punishment for teenagers who break rules or refuse to follow the program. This punishment prohibits the teenager from speaking and may be applied for an indefinite period of time.
Abuse/Neglect Allegations and Lawsuits
Many survivors have reported that abuse and neglect have occurred at Turn-About Ranch. The main complaints are of widespread emotional abuse and medical neglect. There are also reports of LGBTQ+ residents being subjected to harrassment and homophobic slurs by staff. Teens also report being deprived of food while at the program, and forced to eat only basic meals consisting of things such as peanut butter sandwiches, ramen noodles, and beans.
Other allegations of abuse and neglect which have been reported by survivors include but are not limited to: deprivation of sleep, deprivation of clean clothing and showers, endless intense physical labor, abuse and neglect of the animals on the ranch, verbal harassment and intentionally embarrassing teens in front of other students, and staff encouraging students to degrade each other during group “therapy” (also known as attack therpay).
In 2012, a mother, Julia Gordon, and her daughter, Elizabeth Verney, who had attended Turn-About Ranch in 2005 sued the program alleging they had subjected her daughter to “torture,” including hours of stress positions, threats to suffocate her, exposure to animal abuse and regular public humiliation. According to the 34-page complaint: “During her stay Elizabeth was subjected to sleep deprivation, denied food, and yet forced to eat and prepare meat, which was abhorrent to her as a vegetarian. The ranch threatened her with restraint and force-feeding with a tube if she did not comply. The ranch forced physical labor and excessive exercise in extreme temperatures. It forced her regularly to put her hands in a sink filled with bleach to wash dishes until they bled, leaving to this day scars on her knuckles.
“Staff’s verbal abuse was unrelenting, humiliating both in private and in group ‘denunciation meetings’ where she was made to list her faults and listen to her peers taking turns denigrating her and her faults, and what they disliked about her, not as therapy but out of relish. Staff regularly threatened Elizabeth with physical violence, including potential suffocation if she tried to run away. They told her daily that she was a bad person, and described her as ‘disgusting, stupid, manipulative, pathetic and bad.’ They screamed at her, punished her for crying and for having panic attacks that caused fearful hyperventilation.”
“They forced her to maintain stress positions for many hours at time during the first few days at the ranch, not allowing her to rest her body against any structures, to stretch or to lie down, putting great pressure on her back, neck and joints, all of which was extremely painful. They forced her to sleep on a wooden slab without a pillow or mattress even though she already suffered from ongoing back pain from an injury that her parents had told the ranch about.” She was often not allowed to wash for days at a time or change her dirty clothes. They forced her to sleep in clothes that had animal feces on them. “Bullying and abuse between those in the program was not only overlooked but actively encouraged. When Elizabeth informed staff about a 13-year-old boy’s being bullied by older teens in his dorm room, a staff member said the boy deserved it and joined the ringleaders in taunting and humiliating her all the more, and then excluded the boy from group activities.”
Verney says she was also forced to attend church, “although she and her family are not Christian and found some of the teachings against her beliefs.” The complaint continues: “In some ways the most harmful experience was the emotional abuse inflicted by her appointed ‘therapist’ of uncertain credentials, who criticized her, led a denunciation meeting against her, told her that she was a bad person and was ‘pretending’ rather than suffering from true anxiety or depression, thereby refusing to treat, validate, or even acknowledge the deterioration of her mental health at the Ranch. Notwithstanding being cast as a counselor and liaison between Elizabeth and her parents, she lied to Elizabeth’s family about Elizabeth’s welfare and physical and mental health, and lied about her parents’ communications to the Ranch about Elizabeth; and facilitated, enhanced, and concealed Elizabeth’s abuse so as to dissuade her family from making serious inquiry about Elizabeth’s welfare and, in order to extort further funding, claimed that Elizabeth needed to remain at the Ranch.
“Elizabeth saw that animals at the camp were seriously abused and neglected. She was told of animal torture witnessed by other teens, such as the burning of a live rat on a camp fire (apparently the creature was repeatedly tossed into the fire by a member of staff until it died). One staff member showed Elizabeth a knife he used to castrate farm animals without anesthetic, describing the animals’ screams, as he knew that she was an animal lover. Dogs were left for days without water in extreme. The Ranch intercepted, read, and confiscated Elizabeth’s mail. Staff made her write false and glowing letters. Staff censored and manipulated all communication with her family. They lied to her about communications between the Ranch and her parents and vice versa. Staff told her that her parents were colluding with the Ranch to ‘punish’ her because she was a bad person, that they did not really love her, were angry with her, and were not sure whether they were ever going to come and get her.
“On one occasion Elizabeth had written to her parents telling them about an incident of mistreatment, the mention of which the Ranch always emphatically prohibited, and that she wanted to come home. The Ranch never sent the letter. Max, one of the Ranch directors, told Elizabeth that her parents had received the letter and not only did they think Elizabeth deserved the abuse but had called the Ranch saying that she had been ‘telling tales’ and should be punished for doing so. Her parents were told at this time that Elizabeth was so happy at the Ranch that she wanted to stay even longer in the program and they were encouraged to fund the extension of her time there.”
“Elizabeth had self-harmed in the past and was told by staff it was manipulative and immoral and her therapist made her apologize publicly for it. Elizabeth was very shy and embarrassed about having self-harmed and found it publically portrayed as a gross sin rather than a recognized control mechanism. She was punished for crying, usually by being made to walk in circles or sit on a rock outside alone for hours at a time. Even if she cried silently or tried to conceal it by covering her face and then apologizing, she was laughed at, screamed at, and punished for being ‘manipulative’ or ‘weak.’ By the time she left, she had come to believe that the things she had been told about her and that she negatively experienced at the Ranch, were the real reality, a sort of semi-Stockholm Syndrome. Until the moment they boarded the plane to the UK, Elizabeth thought that as a result of any mishap, mistake, or blunder she had made, she would be kidnapped and taken back to the Ranch.”
Verney’s mother says she “only became aware that something was seriously wrong when she and her husband traveled to Utah to visit Elizabeth, half way in to her 80-day initial stay at the ranch. They were shocked to find her terrified, subdued, and very disturbing in her behavior. Her hands were raw and continuously bleeding, she had lost weight and looked exhausted.” Gordon says she and her husband “had asked to speak to Elizabeth many times, but were told by staff and the psychiatrist at the ranch that it would distress her and disturb her excellent progress of gaining self-esteem, and that she may, given her joyous progress, wish to stay even longer after completing the program.” She adds: “No explanation was adequate to justify subjecting a vulnerable, frightened 15-year-old girl to the systematic breaking of her spirit and mental health unless she were in the hands of sadists and psychopaths, which she was.”
A judge dismissed the case on the grounds that the family had waited too long to file the complaint, as it had been 7 years since she was there at that point.
In the Media
In 1994, three teenaged boys escaped from Turnabout Ranch by beating two staff members, Paula Pedersen and Kevin Patterson, and fleeing the facility in Pedersen’s vehicle, believing they may have killed her. Pederson said she fell to the floor and pretended to be dead. Patterson got under a table to prevent further beatings. He said that he, too, thought his co-worker had been killed. The boys, ages 14, 15 and 17, pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated assault and theft in 6th District Court. In return, prosecutors dropped charges of attempted criminal homicide and aggravated robbery.
In 2006, Season 2 of Brat Camp, a British reality TV show which followed “troubled” teens through their time at different (primarly Aspen Education Group) “treatment” programs. Turn-About Ranch was also used as punishment for a teen in Season 3 of the show when the teen punched a staff member at Aspen Achievement Academy. The alleged “violent” teen was transferred to the Ranch where she broke down in only four weeks and returned to England as a shadow of her former self. It has been reported by survivors, however, that due to the presence of cameras and the knowledge that they will be on Television, the staff at the ranch were much less harsh on the teens during this show.
On November 1, 2006 a campaign was launched by the relatives and friends of Chandra Robb, who was taken to the facility by a Teen escort company ordered by her mother. The girl was released shortly before Christmas 2006. Blog post about the ‘Free Chandra’ Campaign
In 2009, a girl was sent to the ranch after appearing on an episode of Dr. Phil.
In 2010, two sisters were also sent to the ranch by Dr. Phil after appearing on an episode.
Danielle Bregoli (also known as her stage-name “Bhad Bhabie”) was sent to Turn-About Ranch at age 13 after appearing on an episode of Dr. Phil in the September 2016. It is reported that she stayed at the program until the winter of that year.
On December 6th 2016, a 17-year-old boy from Arizona, Clay Brewer, who had been at Turn-About Ranch for less than a week killed a staff member, James “Jimmy” Woolsey, 61, during an attempted escape. Brewer woke up in his cabin with another resident and stepped outside to start their chores. In the area known as “the circle,” the teens built a fire and prepared breakfast. An hour later, at 7:30 a.m. Woolsey stopped to check on them. It was then that Brewer pulled out a hidden weapon. He hit Woolsey on the back of the head. When the 61-year-old man fell to the ground, Brewer reportedly hit him again and again. When the other teens alerted another staffer, Alicia Keller, Brewer reportedly attacked her as well. She sustained injuries to the head but ultimately survived. Brewer then stole Keller’s car and attempted to flee the facility. Woolsey was transported to a local hospital, where he died from blunt force trauma to the head. Brewer was arrested and taken to a juvenile detention facility. Brewer had reportedly been sent to the program because of drug abuse. It was reported that he was forced to detox from these drugs while sitting in the stone circle for nearly a week before the attack. Prosecutors filed eight charges against his that include aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder, reckless endangerment, and robbery. He was charged as an adult under Utah laws where serious cases bypass juvenile court. He was sentenced to a minimum of five years in prison.
In February of 2021, Danielle Bregoli (aka Bhad Bhabie) posted a video to instagram in which her friend and fellow survivor of TAR, Hannah, discusses several instances in which she was sexually abused by a male staff member. Bhad Bhabie has also spoken out against the program on an Instagram livestream, saying in part that she was forced to pick up horse poop, to continually walk around an arena as punishment, was prohibited from showering or changing her clothes for weeks at a time, developed infections and atheletes foot as a result of this and was denied medical attention, was malnourished, and was denied any contact with her mother for weeks.
In response to Danielle’s videos, another survivor posted a longer video detailing her experience at TAR in more detail.
In March of 2021, Daneille Bregoli released a longer video to her YouTube channel in which she discusses her experience at Turn-About Ranch. Among the allegations in her video are reports that her friend was sexually assaulted and punished when she reported the assault to staff members, reports that she and other teens were denied beds, food, and warmth, use of sleep deprivation, forced manual labor, and overuse of cruel punishments. She also states that she will be giving Dr. Phil until April 5th to issue an apology to her and everybody else he has sent to TAR or any other program, or else, she says, “I’m going to handle things my way.”
3/10/2021: (SURVIVOR) “I’m trying to describe all that happened there in as much detail as possible. While I was there, they showed us a VHS tape of some young earth creationism bullshit with some bad faith arguments concerning the dust on the moon, carbon dating and some other stuff and it ended with a seed that buries itself as an example of whatever. This is batshit, I know, but does anybody remember the title? Finding it elsewhere on youtube or whatever would be ideal. There’s not really any need to go hunting for the rest of the sham that was their ‘education’ program. For the rest I can just say they showed us ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ and claimed its historical fact and a warning against godlessness and communism, or go into their book shelf and just describe whats wrong with it because that’s all well known public domain stuff. Having a concrete piece of indoctrination-based horseshit to point to would be nice. Anybody remember?” – u/tarsurvivor63 (Reddit)
2/27/2021: (SURVIVOR) Link to Danielle Bregoli’s Testimony about her time at Turn-About Ranch
5/27/2020: (SURVIVOR) “I went to Turn About Ranch when I was 13 because I was gay. I’m 29 now (and happily married to my beautiful, same-sex partner). I was a fairly good kid, but I think that Turn About Ranch really messed me up and caused trauma that I’m still unpacking. When I first arrived to the camp, they refused to give me my prescribed epilepsy medication for a whole week, claiming it was a part of their “detox” methods for all kids. The first week without my medication I was having a really hard time focusing (ie. having staring seizures) and burned my hand in fire. They refused to get me medical care until it was spotted in a later photo. It was a 3rd degree burn on my hand. I went from around 100+ lbs to 89 lbs in three weeks. Again, they refused medical care until my family saw my state in photos and demanded it. Things got better after I received medical care, but it took so much advocacy from my family. While I was at camp, I was repeatedly insulted and called a “lesbo” by staff, as if it was my name. Other kids at the camp did it to, and the staff encouraged it. As time went on I just learned to be invisible. When my family saw me at the half-way point, they were very afraid because of how silent I was. I wouldn’t make eye contact or even engage in small talk. I just wanted to disappear. At the end of the three months, the camp did not want to release my rights to my family. They said that I “hadn’t changed” and obviously they were right. The only thing that changed was that I went from a girl who had confidence and spirit to one who felt immense fear. The thing I want you to know is that after I left, I never trusted my family again. When I went through something scary, I never opened up to them. When I went through something beautiful and good, I never opened up to them. I went from gay 13 year old to a gay 13 year old with lifelong trauma. There is no physical safety at Turn About Ranch. There is no psychological safety at Turn About Ranch. Don’t send anyone you love there.” – u/honigmoon (Reddit)
March 2020: (PARENT) “I have waited a while to post this review. Our daughter went to TAR in July and was there for a little over 100 days. We ended up here because we were in crisis mode with her and had to make a quick decision. We were not sure what we were getting our selves into. This place requires careful consideration. The 100-day program (all-in) was about $60k. About what it would have cost us for a year at a therapeutic boarding school. Its a huge investment for 100 days. We live on the East Coast so travel there was incredibly hard – its a 5 hour drive traveling south of Salt Lake City or 5 hours north from Las Vegas. The reason for this poor rating was two-fold: 1 – The program was absolutely no help to our daughter – she coasted through and sort of played the game so she could get out by the end of the 100 days. Somehow she kept a calendar under her bed to count the days. Her therapist never picked up on this behavior even though we warned her. 2 – Communication is poor. I called 2 times and send one email during the 100 days and never received a reply from our therapist. You get 1 call per week from a therapist. Ours was 8pm on Friday night which was a tough time but we made it work. However, the therapist would call anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half late. That was hard given that there was no respect for our time and if that was the only conversation that we could have about our daughter – some common courtesy should have been shown. We also communicated some pretty big concerns to the therapist but a lot of them were not addressed. We finally got a hold of the director at the end of the program but that was a little too late in the game. Really the only solid communications or reply’s we got was from Shane (the admissions person). The reason I gave this at least one star is that there were people at the ranch that genuinely cared for our daughter and made some positive impact on her. You don’t get to speak to them but you meet them when you go out to the ranch during mid-term and graduation. Turn-About Ranch offers a 30-day return to the program if your child regresses. But I’m not sure I would go down that road if the 100+ days made no positive change.” – Paul (Google Reviews)
1/5/2020: (SURVIVOR) “I was taken from my bed at 3AM on November 27, 2016 by a man and a woman. They told me they were taking me to Utah to get help. I was 16 and a full blown fentanyl addict. Anyone who’s ever done fentanyl knows that you need some kind of medical supervision for withdrawal…however, I was given none. I spent the first two days of withdrawals in the car, on the way to Utah with these two strangers. I was handcuffed and shackled, because I couldn’t sit still. My body was attacking itself from the inside out. I had been kicking and screaming so they shackled me. I got to TAR on November 29. It was snowing out but I was drenched in sweat. I had a UTI from not showering (thanks drugs). They took my shoes and put me in the snow with a small campfire. I wasn’t admitting to these people that I was on heroin/fent because then they would keep me. What I didn’t realize was that my mother had already signed custody of me over to this place and the only way I was leaving was by completing the program, going to jail, or killing myself. Three years later I have been to jail and would spend years in there before I step foot on Turn About Ranch’s land ever again. I was so cold. But so hot. I thought about jumping into the fire. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. We were at a cabin in THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE., but I knew this was some kind of mental facility so I thought they have to have medicine. I told a staff member that I was withdrawaling and I needed medical attention. I was told that most kids who go there are withdrawaling and they end up fine. Three days later, I would learn how far from the truth that was. December 6 I woke up on the wooden board that was my bed. I went through the same heartbreak every morning when I woke up there, but today there was something horrible in the air. Myself, two other girls, and one female staff member were wrapping up breakfast. The two boys were outside in their designated “reflection” areas, and a male staff member was out there with him. We heard what sounded like a yell that stopped abruptly, and the one boy began banging on the door. Alicia reluctantly let him in and he whispered something to her. She walked outside. I was sweeping the floor as she burst through the door and slammed it shut behind her. I didn’t know what had happened yet but she was covered in blood and I could hear Clay banging on the door. I got next to her and helped her hold it shut. There was blood everywhere on her. This was a nightmare happening in real life. The banging stopped and we watched him walk to Jimmy’s car, from the small cabin window. He couldn’t start it so he came back and demanded Alicia hand him her keys. We had to beg her to throw the keys out the door. He kept saying he would kill us all if she didn’t. So she did and he got in the car and disappeared. I peeked out the window and saw Jimmy’s lifeless body in the snow. I still see it vividly. There was no cell service here. The walkie talkies weren’t working when we called for help. We stayed inside that cabin for an hour until the day staff came. Only then was an ambulance called for. We were taken to the main campus and told never to speak of this again. Under the rug it went, and we continued on with farm work as usual. We were controlled by fear for the rest of our time there. Everything they told me to do I did because I was so scared. I stayed for three months after this. If you’re considering sending your child to Turn About Ranch please don’t. There is blood all over their hands. Ever since this happened, staff members have been dying randomly and one even developed a severe mental illness out of nowhere. They had no business taking in addicted kids with no medical structure to properly care for them. I should have been in a rehab and so should Clay. He was not mentally well and they were quite aware of this. Two days prior to the murder he had ingested bleach. No medical attention. I could go on and on about the medical neglect I experienced and witnessed there but I’ll save it for later.” – u/4everscarred2000 (Reddit)
5/23/2018: (SURVIVOR) “There are so many bad things to say about this place . But so many things no one will understand because they will never have to endure this horrible Place . All they teach you is how to run away from your problems . Not take them head on . It’s no better then a child labor camp . They feed you the worst food possible . Your treated like lower class citizens and as though everyone in the world is better then you . The programs instructors are abusive and maniacal . Wayne and Marty are two of the worst ones when I was there . The school programs are a joke you won’t learn anything from it . I could go on forever about how bad this place is but I’ll save my time since enough of it was wasted at this god forsaken place.” – Wyatt (Yelp)
8/24/2017: (SURVIVOR) “THIS PLACE SHOULD BE ILLEGAL. As a young adult who was sent here as a teenager, I can say with complete certainty: THIS PLACE IS RUN BY SICK, SICK PEOPLE and SHOULD BE INVESTIGATED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT. They literally abuse children if they don’t follow their rules. They make the children work in the fields for no pay. Work is fine and it is good for you, but when the company has a monopoly on local land and we’re pulling down multiple harvests in a single season, eating cheap food and also doing all the maintenance upkeep on the multiple, giant properties this company owns….you put two and two together. These hustlers are like John McCain screwed Ned Flanders, with a bit of Plantation boss worship thrown in to boot. They’re fleecing the parents just rich enough to afford this, but just dumb enough to realize the profit angle which is really going on here. I was taken there by some strange men who abducted me in my home—I awoke at 4 am, handcuffed to some jarhead looking dude, taken me to an airport, and told me I would get hurt if I tried to run away. Thinking back, I notice they took off the handcuffs when I passed through the airport. I.e., what they were doing was illegal. They didn’t want actual law enforcement to see a kid being put on a plane by a civilian in handcuffs. Doesn’t look good, does it? And so on. Religious fundamentalism, yuppie cash, and hick yokels make for quite a sick place. If any parents are considering this, I would hope they consider asking themselves what kind of a parent just gives their child away to people they don’t even know. Chances are, your kid is “out of control” because you have taught them nothing about how to really enjoy life. They’re taking drugs because nothing in their life so far has compared, in terms of feeling that sense of wholeness that comes from being truly happy. You probably don’t even know what happiness is yourself. So it goes. A decade or so later, and the more and more I think about it, the more I think about putting together a class-action lawsuit. I was in no way rehabilitated, and those who sent me here have since never even talked about it to me. It has just been brushed under the rug. So much for genuine concern. And so much for that time and that cash. The older I get, I see this is just a legally-sanctioned way for parents to sell off their responsibilities for a while. Again, This place should be shut down and investigated. And parents need to take a hard look in the mirror about what kind of example they themselves set. The more you pay attention, the more you notice most people think they can just spend their way into Heaven. Well, fuck that. See the legal definitions for child abduction, child abuse, and child labor for what this place has to offer.” – A.M. (Yelp)
12/12/2016: (SURVIVOR) “I was at Turn About Ranch in the late 1990’s and after a 90+ day stay, I feel that my family wasted their money. It was a confusing experience for me, who had chosen to go there, and yet was treated like a liar and criminal. My entire stay there, they accused me of lying about certain things and punished me when I would not agree with them. Very strange sort of “counseling” and “character building”. They let my parents come all the way out there for my “mid-term” visit, and then they once again did the whole “She’s lying” bit and stuck me in a corner in the barn for the rest of the trip. They made my parents think it was necessary. My poor parents were so confused. They thought that they could get some sort of confession out of me by holding my parents over my head. It didn’t work… because I wasn’t lying. My mid term ended, and they punished me for a week and had me sitting out on a fence in the sun, or walking around the field doing laps. I was getting close to my 18th birthday, so eventually, they passed me through the levels of the program and I graduated. Approximately 1 week after I returned home, my parents and I got into a huge fight and I was out on my own. Something that was hard on both myself and my parents. All of that time and money spent, for what? Turn About Ranch never followed up with me or my parents to check in. Once I was gone, I never heard from anyone again. I think that says so much. The positives? I was fed very well (I gained about 20 lbs) and I got to experience a watered down version of ranch life for a few months. The ranch is located in a beautiful part of Utah that I still think about to this day. I thought most of the staff were great, I loved Myron, Joy, Bart, Butch. I feel like they really cared… but all of the counselors, particularly mine (Monica) and the program director (Max) were terrible and really did not help me nor my parents. I never felt bonded to my counselor. She acted like a stuck up valley girl (she was in her mid 20s) and always called me a liar. It was clear she didn’t care about me. Eventually I just decided to stop talking to her altogether. Max ran the group sessions and he would glare at the kids like he could read their minds. Group sessions were like being on trial, where other kids were encouraged to tattle on each other, or Level 4 kids were asked to peer counsel a lower level kid and then they would give the “atta-boys” to the Level 4. There is a lot of hard manual labor that goes into being a student at the ranch… they have you doing everything from gardening to fence work to automotive repair. I actually enjoyed the work aspect, as it kept my mind busy and tired me out… but consider what they are getting – free labor to maintain a ranch while you pay thousands per month for sub standard therapy for your child. Smart business model. I was already graduated from high school when I was at TAR, but the other kids were not, and not one of them had any schoolwork that I saw. All of the kids worked during the day. As an adult, I’ve learned so much about who I am through just the experience of LIFE, and have come to realize that my issues as a teenager stemmed from my life-long battle with anxiety… not that I was a bad kid. If the counselors at Turn About had been worth their salt, they would have figured that out, rather than positioning me as a horrible teenager. These people are dangerous in their inability to diagnose what the real problems are – and yet, families are sending their children there. This is very sad to me.” – L.B.Z. (Yelp)
6/10/2016: (SURVIVOR) “It won’t let me put 0 stars or I would. There are really not enough words in the English language to describe the physical and emotional abuse and neglect that takes place at this “treatment center”. I beg of every parent to reconsider their options before sending a child here. Please consider that aspen educational group owns this facility and they are a money greedy company owned and operated by Mormons. Ninety percent of the staff that work at turn about and are in charge of your child’s well being have 0 credentials to be giving your child any kind of therapy or punishment (just as an example, the manager of the “Barn” facility for level 3’s Myron Carter. He is in charge of everything that happens to your child at that stage of the program and is not licensed in any type of way). Please consider that this facility accepts children for “gay conversion therapy” as well as for “ptsd, diabetes and add & adhd”. There is no reason a child should be subject to abuse and neglect due to their attention deficit disorder or diabetes. I would also like to note that turn about ranch has a realistic success rate of maybe 0-1%. If anyone who is reading this would like more detail or info about turn about I would be more than happy to oblige. Thank you.” – Taylor (Yelp)
2016: (PARENT) “There was a movie made about this place starring Channing Tatum, came out 2015. Based on Turn About Ranch. If a parent treated their child how this place does their children would be taken by the state, yet its legal for this place to not provide basic needs; food, cleanliness, showers, & actually physically abusing children. They should not be touching any child in their yet they grab arms, as a way to move the children, this place is basically run by a bunch of X cops who got fired from system for various reasons and this is the only job they could get with that background. No parent wants their child to ‘fake it till they make it’ no problems are solved this way & whatever issues they had when they went in will follow them home plus PTSD from the way they are treated. Your child deserves basic human rights even if they’ve been horrendous, all this place will do is cause more problems & the more money you are willing to give them the longer your child will be recommended to stay. Physical & mental abuse on children is NOT ok, please don’t help this happen by paying them. If your child is in here please remove them Turn about ranch is lying to you about your child they are screaming for you to rescue them & turn about will say you shouldn’t do this, if your child is hurting or in danger it is natural instinct to help them & I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, that is how we’ve survived. They’re going to need a lot of therapy after being in this place. They’re also in several lawsuits which you can find in one quick search. Don’t do it. My daughter was going through some things but nothing compared to when she came out of there. The anxiety, stress, drug issue to deal with what happened to her in there was so much worse than just talking back to me when she first went in. Your child’s relationship with you as a parent will be destroyed forever after this place & the light and fire they had when they went in will disappear” – Leslie (Google Reviews)
2015: (SURVIVOR) “This place puts children into a box and tortures them until they give up. You children will only love you because you are the only one that can get them out of there. If you have to send your children here then you are a failing parents and need professional help yourself. Do not destroy your childs life by making them attend school in a place like this, the education is a joke and not to mention the emphasis behind mormonism. This place violates your childs rights. Your child will sit in the dirt when you get here for the first three days, not be able to change clothing and without a pillow to sleep. Did you know this? You have to work for a pillow while you sleep on a board in a dirty sleeping bag. Anyone who sends their children to this is a horrible person. You cant sing or draw or be creative in any way at this place. What kind of institution does this? People who want to put your children in a box and break them like a wild horse, or better yet a prisoner. Everyone at this place should be arrested.” – Tyler (Google Reviews)
11/9/2010: (SURVIVOR) Link to Survivor Testimony
Turn-About Ranch Website Homepage
HEAL Program Information – Turn-About Ranch
Turn-About Ranch – Marketing Material (archived, 2000)
Torture Alleged at Utah Treatment Center (Courthouse News, 6/27/2012)
3 Teens Sentenced for Beating 2 Counsellors (Deseret News, 8/27/1994)
Tragedy at Turn-About Ranch: A teen came for rehab, then killed a staffer to escape, police say (Washington Post, 12/8/2016)
Teen charged with murder in attack at troubled-youth ranch (Fox News, 12/9/2016)
Arizona teen sentenced for killing southern Utah ranch employee (KUTV, 10/12/2018)
Woman says she was punished at Turn-About Ranch after reporting a sexual assault (Salt Lake Tribune, 2/24/2021)
‘Exposing Dr. Phil’s Connection to the Troubled Teen Industry’ by SLO4N (YouTube, 3/4/2021)