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I spent 10 months in Diamond Ranch Academy – Ask Me Anything

I spent 10 months in an abusive residential treatment center for teens – AMA Quotes: [–]pixel8 Hi, I started /r/troubledteens to save kids...

I spent 10 months in an abusive residential treatment center for teens – AMA

Quotes:

[–]pixel8

Hi, I started /r/troubledteens to save kids from abuse at ‘troubled teen’ facilities. Diamond Ranch Academy hasmany allegations of child abuse, a kid even died there. One witness said they punished him for using too many paper towels to clean his own vomit the night he died (it was on a radio show, I can provide a link for anyone who wants to hear it).

Last night a 15 year old boy was referred to Diamond Ranch on Lifetime’s Teen Trouble. This same TV show has referred 4 other teens to programs with serious allegations of abuse. We have some media interest on this, would you be interested in talking to the press about your experience? It can be anonymously.

I’m in touch with a parent who’s child was recently at Diamond Ranch. S/he reported that the students are not allowed anything fun, like laughing, singing and normal kid stuff; they are hardly ever allowed outside. S/he said they are turning them into breathing robots with no sense of worth, no self-esteem building; staff baits them to fight, gets in their faces; the kids are miserable and frequently try to run away. S/he said they set the kids up for failure so they can keep them longer and make more money.

My condolences for any time you had to spend there. You didn’t deserve it, no kid deserves that. Thank you for bravely speaking out and being the voice that the kids locked in there today don’t have.

[–]sxechainsaw[S]

Jim, the kid who died, was in my dorm for the last 4 months I was there and I knew him well. He was one of the happiest kids I’d ever seen and was extremly nice. He did have some anxiety issues though which led to him being abused when he would have attacks. I wasn’t there when he passed away but it was pretty close to after I left. It’s a very tragic situation.

 

[–]Dalilah23

Why did your parents send you there?[–]sxechainsaw[S]

I was never given a straight answer to this actually. 80% of the kids were there because they got caught smoking pot or something. I hadn’t tried drugs or alcohol until I was 19 so that was irrelevant to me.

I’ve asked my parents a lot and they said it was because “I was heading down a dark road.” because I liked punk rock and skateboarding.

 

[–]ekoe

Can you explain the nature of your treatment there? Were you delivered to DRA by ‘escort’ service (ie.- kidnapping from your home)? Were you strip searched upon arrival? Were you able to call your parents? Did you have access to any outside communication? Did you do ‘homeless’? Can you describe it? Did you work with Robbie and Ricki Dias? Do you know Rob Dias?

[–]sxechainsaw[S]

Can you explain the nature of your treatment there?

Mental/emotional abuse was a daily thing and it mostly consisted of punishing kids for things they didn’t do or threatening the kids with not being able to talk or see their parents. There was a citation system that the staff used to punish the kids on a smaller scale. If a student received too many citations they would have all of their privileges taken away (talking, going to school, etc) and would be demoted. The staff would hand out citations like it was nothing and that fucked with kids A LOT. The physical abuse is another story.

Were you delivered to DRA by ‘escort’ service

Yes I was woken up at about 5am on a Saturday to two large men telling me I have to go. I flew to Las Vegas with them and then drove to Utah. I was given no info on where I was going by my escorts.

Were you strip searched upon arrival?

Yes and very many times after that. Strip searches would happen even for a small suspicion.

Were you able to call your parents?

I could talk to my parents once every two weeks and it was monitored closely so I wouldn’t “manipulate” them into taking me home.

Did you do ‘homeless’? Can you describe it? Did you work with Robbie and Ricki Dias? Do you know Rob Dias?

Woah. You obviously know about this place. Everyone had to complete the homeless phase before being able to go to school and eat regular meals. It took me three weeks to complete it and it was the worst three weeks of my life. I “worked” with Robbie and Ricki extensively and I’ll just say they aren’t good people. I’d love to go on a long winded rant about them and the scum that they are but I’ll save that. I met Rob twice and he was a lot like his sons.

 

[–]ekoe

Did the staff eat in front of you? What was your food like? Were you restrained? Tackled? Did you do yardwork/labor? Did you participate in ‘equine therapy’? What was that like? Was the horse healthy in your opinion?
Were you ever concerned about the level of nuclear contamination of the St. George area, having been placed there beyond your control? In your time there, did you overhear any mention of the names Osmond, Melaleuca or Vandersloot?

[–]sxechainsaw[S]

Did the staff eat in front of you?

Yes and when you’re eating burnt rice and lentils every day watching some grown ass man eating corn dogs in front of you is pretty bad.

Were you restrained? Tackled?

Yes on multiple occasions. Mostly because the staff thought I was doing something wrong. I was usually just minding my own business.

Did you do yardwork/labor?

Yes. In the homeless phase we did a lot of labor every day. In the later phases we were still made to do labor but it was a little less intensive.

Did you participate in ‘equine therapy’? What was that like? Was the horse healthy in your opinion?

Equine therapy was introduced after I left but I was apart of the animal care crew there. I know of a goat that died due to being over fed and I believe a couple pigs were lost due to starvation.

Were you ever concerned about the level of nuclear contamination of the St. George area, having been placed there beyond your control?

I had no idea of the nuclear contamination so I wasn’t concerned.

In your time there, did you overhear any mention of the names Osmond, Melaleuca or Vandersloot?

Vandersloot sounds somewhat familiar but I don’t remember the others.

 

[–]pixel8

Please describe the homeless phase for people who have no idea what that means.

So, Rob Sr. isn’t involved very much with the day-to-day activities? Do his sons, Robbie and Ricki, run the show?

[–]sxechainsaw[S]

Please describe the homeless phase for people who have no idea what that means.

Homeless is the first phase a student is thrown into right after they get out of intake. You spend 90% of your day outside doing manual labor, physical training, and assigned tasks. You could not talk to ANYONE without permission or you would be punished heavily. The PT was horrible for kids that weren’t physically active before coming to the ranch. It was twice a day and lasted about a hour.

The manual labor was extensive also. In my time in homeless we replaced rail road ties, dug various holes for new parking lots, and lifted heavy rocks to be drug across campus for various uses.

Breakfast was tasteless, sugarless oats and lunch/dinner was burnt rice with lentils. Every single day no matter what. There’s a lot of other shitty parts of homeless but those are the basics.

So, Rob Sr. isn’t involved very much with the day-to-day activities? In the ten months I was there I saw him twice so no

Do his sons, Robbie and Ricki, run the show? For the most part. When I left Ricki was the head of the boys campus. Which was pretty bad. He’s not a good guy. Robbie’s title was something like “athletic director” and he basically stuck with the sports. Which was good because I disliked Robbie more than Ricki.

[–]pixel8

From their website:

All aspects of our program are integrated and designed to be therapeutic in purpose.

I see nothing therapeutic about the homeless phase; quite the contrary.

[–]sxechainsaw[S]

Exactly. Abuse is not therapy by any means.

 

[–]samferrara

I spent 11 months at DRA in 2003. Before Facebook, I had a MySpace group that became so active Rob Dias called and threatened me with his “team of lawyers whose job it is to hurt people.”

When I was there there were 100 or so people. Has the number gone up?

[–]sxechainsaw[S]

As far as students? I think when I left there was 150-200 students on the boys campus. Don’t really know the total number though.

 

[–]lemoche

how severe was the damage done to you? how long took it for you to recover or are you still recovering? are there any longterm issues that are not likely to go away?

[–]sxechainsaw[S]

My personal damage was mostly mental and emotional. I’ve had a lot of PTSD type symptoms over the last couple of years and a lot of my friends that were there with me have similar issues. I’ve had dreams about being sent back to there ever since I left and they are all as horrible as the last.

 

[–]captainenema

What sort of religious conditioning did you receive?

[–]sxechainsaw[S]

You were required to connect with a “higher power”. I was an atheist then as I am now so it really irked me. Also any mention of homosexuality would get you fucked up pretty bad. They REALLY hated homosexuality.

 

[–]matthiam

Hello ,thank you for doing this, and sorry you had to go thru the experience. Did you ever see any state onsite inspections ?

[–]sxechainsaw[S]

Yes I remember them coming once and they randomly selected kids to talk to them. The kids that talked to him though were pretty much told what to say and were monitored heavily.

 

[–]matthiam

Did children ever try to tell the truth to the inspectors? Or was it impossible to have a one on one with an inspector, were children monitored that intently?

[–]samferrara

Any act of defiance is grounds for having extra time added to your “sentence” so it’s rare for kids to take these risks at DRA.

 

[–]Pervertedfucker -2 points  ago

How’s the sexual abuse?

[–]sxechainsaw[S] 7 points  ago

Not sure if this is a serious question but I know that sexual abuse was a real thing on the girls campus. I didn’t see it first hand obviously since we were segregated from the girls but I’ve talked with girls that were there and they can confirm it.

[–]samferrara 2 points  ago

I know at least one kid was sexually assaulted by another student. The police were certainly involved.

  1. Parent 19. Jun, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    I sent my child to Diamond Ranch even after reading this website. I’m sorry but to say that all of these children did nothing to deserve being sent there is simply not true. In life there are consequence for every action. Good and Bad. If you make good choices, you reap the rewards. But if you make poor choices (ie., drugs, not going to school) then you reap the consequences of those actions as well. I’m sorry that you cannot see that. I’m sure you will not like what I am saying here but it’s true. Life does not have to be this hard for you. If you make poor choices as an adult you go tho jail and/or prison (and yes you can go to prison for being a addict). And you wouldn’t have ever gone to DRA if you had followed the rules at home. You have to own that or you will always feel like a victim. DRA is a lot better than prison. Parents send their children to DRA because we will do anything to enure our children succeed. TRUST ME us parents aren’t spending money we don’t have to punish our children we can do that at home for free. People willing enter the military everyday where the discipline level is much more severe that at DRA. Take everything you learned at DRA (good &bad)and use to to grow and mature. Spending your time building and monitoring a website about how bad DRA is not helping you grow. Things happen in life, somethings are positive and some are negative, that’s life. Work through the and negative focus on the positive. Best wishes to you!

    • admin 28. Jun, 2013 at 2:24 am #

      Dear DRAParent,

      I am extremely disappointed to hear that you, after reading our website no less, sent your child to Diamond Ranch Academy. Assuming that our argument is that none of these children did anything wrong shows that you are not really hearing the message we are trying to send… And to be perfectly clear, it is, regardless of the issues of the child, this program will NOT help them. They do not provide real therapy, they do not follow clinical standards, they physically and psychologically abuse children and they scam their parents out of millions of dollars.

      You also assume that I am a Diamond Ranch Academy survivor… I am not. I am a survivor of a different program, but I am an educated adult. I work with a non profit organization that keeps tabs on the Troubled Teen Industry. For over 10 years now, I have been watching as these programs get shut down for abuse then cross state lines and open new programs and re-brand themselves to try to hide from their abusive past. DRA is no exception… Hearing the stories of past students paints the classic picture of a troubled teen program much more invested in stealing your money than caring for your kids. This con has been a successful one for over 20 years, a few tweaks here or there but at their core, these programs are all in business for one reason alone… Making an ungodly amount of money for simply incarcerating your children.

      I hear they have made things look better on the outside… new buildings, sports and photo op activities… But do you really know what your child is going through right now?… Do you even get to speak to your child? Try requesting an unmonitored phone call or visit… You won’t get it. Do you know what the “Observation & Assessment” process is? Are you aware that they push around carts like horses around a track for hours on end? Do you know that even the slightest reaction can get your child pummeled to the floor, held face down with his limbs contorted and sat on until he “stops screaming”… Does this sound like “help” to you?

      Are you aware that a child died in Diamond Ranch Academy? Do you know that they refused him medical care and all he needed was an extra dose of his medication and that family would still have their son?

      Diamond Ranch Academy’s policies are unethical and dangerous… They won’t tell you that in their marketing materials, but the Diaz family are NOT medical/ mental health professionals as they claim to be… Most will describe them as overgrown bullies, unqualified and unfit to be working with children.

      I’m sorry to break it to you, but you are blinded by their savvy marketing. Diamond Ranch Academy is NOT better than prison. In prison you have rights, you have phone calls, you have medical care and you can report sexual/ physical abuse to the authorities. Not to mention that the “therapy” used in DRA, called Aversion Therapy, has been outlawed in most state prisons, because it has been deemed to be “cruel and unusual punishment”. If this “treatment” is unfair to be used against hardened adult criminals, why is it that it’s okay to be used against children with no criminal records who have been involuntarily committed without due process of the law? You really think that’s going to make your relationship with your child better?…

      I don’t care what your child did, whether they used drugs or were defiant in following your rules… I wholeheartedly believe NO CHILD deserves the “treatment” that Diamond Ranch Academy forces upon these kids. I also think their parents don’t deserve to be lied to and sold a bill of goods that is simply impossible for such unqualified people to deliver. I speak to DRA survivors on a daily basis, I follow their lives from the minute they get out of Diamond Ranch Academy to many years after… I can guarantee you that your child will either be no better or worse off after getting out of this school and you will have just wasted your money.

      However, that is your choice to make. We are only here to warn you, if you refuse to see the signs right in front of your face it will only be you and your family who will suffer the same fate as all of these kids who have bravely come forward just to try to save you from it. You are free to spit in the face of those who try to help you, but don’t say nobody warned you.

      • Kevin Vegas 11. Jul, 2013 at 12:27 am #

        i Appreciate This, I Need Help To Advise One Person(Women) To Dont Send Her 15 year old Daughter Who Cutted Her Wrists On a Drepression Caused By A Very Serious Problem Involving Her Dad(dead) Lawsuit Problems And Her Older Brother, But The Thing iS She is Very Sensitive, Normal Good Girl She Dont Deserve To Go to That Hell, She Is Right Now In Recovery Treatment After the Incident, And The Parents(Worried) Want To Send Her To Some Facility To Complete Recover Her Mental State. They Decide To Try With This PLace That is Warned to people in This Page. I Tryed To Warn Her Sending Her This Link(That Is Very Good To Tell That Hidious THings THey DId and Do EveryDay To Those Kids/Adolescents) If You Can Help Me. This Is HEr Twitter @DJRJPDR . PLease Save Her From That Place. PLeasee !! HELP ME WITH THIS.. I Will Pray For Her To Be Saved Someway. #Hope

        THanks !

  2. Nathan Held 04. Jan, 2017 at 9:09 am #

    Just wondering if there are any survivors from my time, early 2000’s, 03-04 maybe, i don’t remember specifics, i can get them from my mom later.
    I went to the actual diamond ranch cattle farm, we were first kept 5 miles behind the farm out in the desert until the whole place burned down.
    I remember Andy, Briar, Alex P. and Alex F. the girl that could bark like a dog (you had to be there) Eric, and even the 2 nice staff (field instructors) that stood up for us because of the abuse and got fired, a guy and his girlfriend i forget there names, he brought a didgeridoo and my first night i was there i stole his sandals so i could escape (they took our shoes at night) I was nicknamed the runner. Short lived of coarse because i got lost and eventually picked up by the cops and returned me to hell. (alot more to that story but maybe another time)…
    Any of you guys still out there?
    Is there a better place for me to be asking this?
    Thanks,
    Nathan.

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