Utah Department of Human Services
Office of Licensing
Agent: Kelly Anderson,
I am writing you today as a representative of the former clients of Diamond Ranch Academy currently located in Hurricane, Utah. As you may know, DRA has recently built a new campus and as of November 15, 2012 received licensing through your department as a “Residential Treatment” center. License Number: 20134 and 20018
In light of this, We, the survivors of Diamond Ranch Academy have a few questions for you:
What investigations have you and your department done into the operations of this facility and the “treatment” they offer their clients?
Are you aware that former clients of DRA have reported that they/ their children were systematically abused in DRA?
Are you aware that DRA advertises itself to be a “safe, normal high school… without the stigma of a troubled teen program”? However this couldn’t be further from the truth. DRA is very much a troubled teen program and there is nothing normal about the experience a teen faces at DRA. Be aware that a professional marketing team creates most of the marketing for DRA and that much if not all of it could be considered false advertising.
Are you aware that the “therapy” provided by DRA is NOT a clinically approved treatment, but an experimental therapy called “behavior modification” based on the principals of Aversion Therapy, or in more simple terms, corporal punishment?
“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” – DRA Survivor
Are you aware that children, even teens well past the age of consent are involuntarily committed to the program without due process, the recommendation of a physician or any evidence of wrong doing besides the intention of the parent to place them in this institution?
Are you aware that parents are required by contract to relinquish 51% of their parental rights to DRA in order to admit their child into the program? The DRA Contract also indicates that with these rights they may make any medical decisions for the child and that they may without warning transport the child anywhere, including across state lines. They also indicate that they may send the child to another program, equivalent to a wilderness program that might be more harsh and intentioned to break the child into compliance with the DRA program.
Are you aware that all forms of communication, (phone calls, mail, email) are intercepted, read, edited and monitored at all times?
Are you aware that students are not allowed the right to call 911 if they feel they are being abused? Are you aware that the program staff indicate to the students that they will be punished severely if they mention anything negative about the program to their parents?
Are you aware that parents are encouraged not to believe their children’s complaints about the school, insisting that all students are liars and “manipulators” and that they will say anything to escape the program?
Are you aware that students are not allowed to speak to each other or even to staff without permission? Do you know that in several stages of the program students are not permitted to speak at all unless asking to use the restroom? Are you aware these stages may last for weeks, months and even years?
Are you aware that so often are students pleas for permission to go to the bathroom ignored that many students have urinated or otherwise soiled themselves?
Are you aware that their treatment includes a harsh set of rules and punishments for violation of said rules that often lead to physical restraint?
Are you aware of the stipulations of the DRA contract which provide staff the right to “discipline” the students as they please and take no legal responsibility if the student is injured or succumbed to death?
Are you aware the staff members, including owners/ directors Ricky and Robbie Dias have been reported to be very liberal with their administration of “restraint” which includes tackling a child to the ground, applying undue pressure on spine and neck and performing limb contortion and pressure points until child “stopped screaming”.
Are you aware that the use of this “face down” restraint is most often unnecessary, unreasonable and neither used for the safety of the child nor used in a safe or humane way, nor does this action require a physician’s order or supervision, as is the clinical policy for health and safety.
Are you aware that hundreds of kids have died from the very same “face down” restraints in other facilities?
Please review the laws that Prohibit the use of Corporal Punishment, unreasonable and unnecessary restraint or force in education or otherwise treatment:
Please also review the Government Accountability Office’s review of Restraints and seclusions and their potential for trauma, injury and death.
Are you aware that upon admission to the program students are placed in a “stage” called Observation and Assessment (previously called “Homeless”) where students required to spend all day outside doing manual labor, strenuous exercise and asinine tasks like “dragging heavy rocks” and digging holes?
Are you aware that the meals provided in this stage consist of nothing but plain oats and “burnt” rice and lentils? Are you aware that this meager meal plan could last anywhere from 3 weeks to several months? Are you aware that this meal plan constitutes starvation?
Are you aware that students are required to push a large cart (like a horse) around a track for hours on end? Are you aware that this is done in harsh weather, without proper attention to protective clothing, or warning signs of dehydration?
Are you aware that DRA’s admission process does not include consultation of a doctor or assessment of the individual’s medical or mental health needs? As well do you know that DRA often accepts children with special needs, mental disorders and medical conditions that their program is not designed to adequately treat?
Are you aware that DRA offers a “one size fits all” program philosophy and that the children who may have disabilities that make “following the program” difficult, are often those who are abused the most? Reports have indicated that is staff members like to make an example out of a few kids in order to intimidate the others to break down and comply with the program.
Are you aware that the staff employed by DRA who are responsible for the children’s daily activities are all unqualified, improperly trained and underpaid? Are you aware that their medical staff is not usually present on campus and that the staff member tasked with administering medication is not a licensed medical professional?
Are you aware that DRA has a policy that instructs staff members to ignore medical requests? This policy infers that all students are “manipulators” and will fake being sick to escape the program.
Are you aware that this policy has been directly responsible for the wrongful death of a 14-year-old student?
Are you aware that strip searches are used often and for little to no reason at all? Considering contraband is nearly impossible to acquire in DRA, this is not used for safety reasons, it is used as punishment and humiliation.
Are you aware that the “schooling” provided consists of an independent study program that is so undemanding that students can pass several years of school in less than 12 months? No labs, lectures, essays are given, the tests are multiple choice and given over and over again until the student passes.
Are you aware that students are refused the right to attend regular school hours and that punishments include taking away the right to study? Are you aware that many students find themselves behind in school after graduating?
Are you aware that upon completing the program, ex-students have reported negative psychological effects, including depression and major symptoms of PTSD?
Are you aware that those ex-students that have come forward to share their experiences in DRA, have been threatened by DRA’s director Rob Dias with a “team of lawyers whose job it is to hurt people.” – DRA Survivor.
Are you aware that owner/ director Rob Dias has been arrested for domestic assault and accused of sexual abuse of a minor female?
Are you aware that there have been incidents of sexual abuse in DRA? From reports, I understand the local police were involved; there should be records at the Hurricane Police Department.
Are you aware that when inspections are done, and students are provided to speak with inspectors, they are told what to say and threatened that if they say anything bad they will be punished/ demoted?
For more information on the realities of the “treatment” at Diamond Ranch Academy please visit our website and read the testimony, survey results and comments of former students. http://drasurvivors.com/
If you are aware of this kind of treatment, and are complacent in this company’s crimes, you should be aware that you could be held legally responsible for entitling this company to commit fraud and malpractice. If you were simply not aware of these facts, I suggest you do a bit more research before you license a program to abuse, mistreat and murder children.
For more information you are welcome to visit our website, where we have collected many ex-student statements and provided ample information for both parents and investigators. If you require assistance in collecting more information, or if you would like to speak personally to the survivors of the abuse at Diamond Ranch Academy, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will assist in any way possible to protect children from child abuse.