This is a  staff list for Sorenson's Ranch School in Koosharem, UT

(we are working to acquire the complete records for ALL years)

 

We advise current and/or former staff to report any abuses you may have witnessed while working at Sorenson's Ranch School.  For information on your rights and how to take action, visit www.heal-online.org/blowthewhistle.htm.  If you were fired or forced to resign because you opposed any illegal and/or unethical practices at Sorenson's Ranch School, you have the right to take action. 

 

If you were harmed (family or survivor) by Sorenson's Ranch School, please contact info@heal-online.org if you remember the long-term employees and from which years.  This will help!   Also, if you recognize any of these staff as having worked at another program, please send in any information about their past or present employment at other facilities and/or cults.

 

Please don’t place your loved one in Sorenson's Ranch School and rescue them if they are there now.

 

Name

Unit/Position

Additional Information
Shane Sorenson Owner/Director  
Jill Sorenson Facilities Admin. (Shane's wife, originally from Idaho.)
Layne Bagley Admissions Director Here is an e-mail exchange between Bagley & HEAL (at the time, HEAL believed Layne was female, Layne is male):
From: HEAL [mailto:heal@heal-online.org]
Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 6:17 PM
To: Layne Bagley
Subject: RE: Sorensons Ranch

 
Dear Ms. Bagley:
 
Shaun was working for you following his incarceration and conviction, not prior to his conviction.  We've never claimed that he worked for you before or at the time of his arrest.  This is something in your own mind.  And, according to the Dept. of Licensing and Reta D. Oram, you had your license suspended in 2001 specifically for having hired Shaun Sorenson to work at your facility as a plumber/janitor since Utah state law disallows any facility that serves youth and/or children to employ ex-convicts.  Our site states that you won the appeal and that Shaun no longer works for you.  
 
Unfortunately, we have to revisit all of our records regarding Sorenson which will take some time to verify the allegations of sexual misconduct.  So, until we locate the article which states these facts, we have edited the posting regarding Sorenson as needed.  When we are able to quote date, time, newspaper, and author of the story, we will edit the critique to include all information relevant to your program.  I know what I read and will diligently work to expose any and all misconduct at your facility and any facility that defrauds parents and abuses children.  
 
The National Institute of Health, Dr. Margaret Singer, and thousands of mental health professionals, attorneys, and survivors of abuse at facilities such as yours are working around the clock to insure the safety of children in this country and around the world.  It's unfortunate that due to lack of oversight your facility and others like it are allowed to operate without proper inspections or any insurance of child safety.     
 
We usually offer programs an opportunity to be removed from our list.  But, since we have reports of abuse at your facility from parents and survivors and since you've had problems with suspensions at your facility, we are not in a position at this time to do this.  Your use of escorts and sensory deprivation to change behavior is enough for us to show that you torture children through terror and POW-style behavior modification/mind control.  You use the same methods that the High Security Units in prisons use and Amnesty International as well as the UN Treaty on Human Rights define the methods you use as torture. 
 
Again, godspeed to HR 1738 and the Parental Consent Act!
 
Sincerely,
 
Angela S.
HEAL Coordinator
-----Original Message-----
From: Layne Bagley [mailto:layneb@sorensonsranch.com]
Sent: Monday, October 31, 2005 7:01 AM
To: heal@heal-online.org
Subject: Re: Sorensons Ranch

 
I repeat, get your facts straight. Shaun was not accused of anything to do with sex nor was he working for Sorensons at the time he got the drug charges but this sex thing only exist's in your mind there is no such thing the only acusations made is from you. Next we never had our license pulled you are a poor historian and tend to want to make up your own facts that is what is scary.
 
Layne Bagley
Sorensons Ranch School
----- Original Message -----
From: HEAL
Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2005 6:51 PM
Subject: RE: Sorensons Ranch

 
Dear Layne,
 
I have the news article in my records that states that Shaun was accused of sexual misconduct with a minor.  If those charges were dropped or reduced to just a drug offense it does not change the facts of the accusation or his questionable nature and he should not have been allowed access to minors directly or indirectly.  In addition, if he is no longer working there that's great.  But, why was he ever allowed to work there after sexual misconduct?  Some of the kids you "treat" are likely sexual abuse victims.  Why would you allow someone even accused of sexual misconduct to have any employment at your facility?  The fact that you use hired kidnappers (escorts) to transport children to your program when multiple states have outlawed this practice as being horribly traumatizing and in violation of Federal Law highlights how very removed from ethical responsibility your program is.  We will post that Shaun is a former employee, per your request.  And, we will rephrase the statements about sexual misconduct to include the words "accused of" and include that the charges were plead down to or reduced to drug offense only.
 
You can manipulate parents and sell your program with the best salesmanship in the world.  The National Institute of Health has found that residential treatment and wilderness programs are harmful to children and their families.  It is very difficult to get action out of the Utah government when it comes to revoking licenses of facilities such as yours.  The fact that they did, suggests that there is something so obviously wrong going on at your facility that they were unable to avoid taking that action.  To allow Provo Canyon School and WWASPS to retain their business and operations licenses even after the lawsuits and repeated reports of abuse and to pull yours suggests much indeed.  Usually, Utah won't pull a license unless there is a proven wrongful death or severe sexual misconduct .  They ignore all claims of physical and psychological torture.  So, did your program kill someone or was there a rape?  I guess you won't admit to either as your are the one uttering half-truths and lies.  When HR 1738 passes and regulations are put in place you will change or you will no longer exist as an institution.  Godspeed to that day.
 
 
Sincerely,
 
Angela S.
HEAL Coordinator
-----Original Message-----
From: Layne Bagley [mailto:layneb@sorensonsranch.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2005 8:23 AM
To: heal@heal-online.org
Subject: Sorensons Ranch

 
I appreciate what you try to do for others in allowing a sort of checks and balance and a way for consumers to find the good and bad about companies. However I do feel that you should have some obligation to make sure that the info posted on your site is true otherwise what is the value? On your website it states that the son of our owner works here and is a sexual predator. He had a drug charge many years ago not sexual charges there is a huge difference and if people cant change then I don't know why there would be a need for schools like us. This gentleman does not work for us any more and even when he did he just did maintenance and did not work with the students. Like I said before would it have mattered if he did? I would very much appreciate it if you took the false information about us off of your site. The other comment about us is understandably from a disgruntled parent and is full of half truths and lies.
 
Sincerely,
 
Layne Balgey
Sorensons Ranch School

 

 

 

Phyllis Bagley Intake Coordinator  
David Neslen Therapist Graduate of BYU.  Neslen has worked at other unnamed residential programs since 2002.
Joy Morris Therapist Morris has worked at Sorenson's since 2003.
Jody Brand Group Facilitator Graduate of the fraudulent University of Phoenix programs.  This "degree" is what qualifies Jody to do her job?!
Sisi Taufatofua Group Facilitator Sisi has worked for Sorenson’s Ranch on and off for nearly 18 years.
Ron Cazier Principal  
Steve Church Principal Steve’s father, George Church, was one of three original founders of the SUWS adolescent wilderness program.  SUWS is owned by Aspen Education Group and is associated with the abusive methods of the now closed CEDU programs.   Church no longer appears to work for this program.
Ross Franks Registrar  
Ole Lindgren Horse Program  
Steve and Signe Nielsen Teacher Steve Nielsen has been at Sorenson's Ranch since 1994.  Signe is Steve's wife.  They reportedly had students living with them at their home at times.
Sam Lindgren Teacher  
Daryl Essey Teacher Essey has been with Sorenson's since 2005.  Essey no longer appears to work for this program.
James V. Bagley Teacher Bagley has been with Sorenson's since 1989.
Ben Gasser Teacher Gasser has been with Sorenson's since 2003.  Gasser no longer appears to work for this program.
Bradley Shaw Teacher Shaw has been with Sorenson's since 2005.
Tina Somers Teacher Somers has been with Sorenson's since 2003.
Rhonda Robinson Teacher Rhonda has been teaching Family and Consumer Science at Sorenson’s Ranch School for 15 years.(2009)
Anne Converse Torgerson Teacher  
Octavia Horton Supervisor  
Jeff Hatch Medical Supervisor Jeff is the school nurse and has been in our employ for over 25 years.
Ryan Norman Staff (former?) Reported by survivor of Sorenson's by phone on September 15th, 2010.  Norman no longer appears to work for this program.
Clay Bagley Staff Reported by survivor of Sorenson's by phone on September 15th, 2010.  Clay no longer appears to work for this program.
Norm & Etta Hart Staff Norm and Etta are married.
Mindy Talbot Billing  
Wendi Sorenson Staff  
Survivor and Family Reports Link: www.heal-online.org/sorensen.htm
Sorenson's Ranch School uses the same Positive Control Systems' methods as Eagle Ranch Academy and WWASPS.
HEAL is in the process of reviewing the enrollment materials for Sorenson's Ranch School.
Survivor Statement: Anonymous [verified] (1996-1997)
Ex-instructor at Utah ranch for troubled teens pleads ‘no contest’ to charges of sex with minor By Liesl Nielsen, KSL.com  |  Posted Aug 2nd, 2017 @ 9:07pm 17   KOOSHAREM, Sevier County — A former instructor at a Utah ranch for troubled teens plead “no contest” to multiple counts of molestation at a court in California, according to the Visalia Times-Delta. Utah resident Wendi Sorenson, 37, was charged with multiple counts of having sex with a minor in December 2015. She recently plead “no contest” to at least three counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a person under 18, four counts of oral copulation of a person under 16, contact with a minor for sexual offense, meeting with a minor for lewd purposes and arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes. Prosecutors believe the abuse began in June 2015 while Sorenson was an instructor at High Top Boys Ranch in Koosharem. The ranch for troubled youth was owned and operated by Sorenson and her husband, the Visalia Times reported. The school has since closed. Sorenson’s husband reported the abuse to child protective services when he noticed Sorenson was “very close” to one of the boys at the school, the Visalia Times reported. The teenager was then removed from the school and went back to California. A week before Thanksgiving 2015, Sorenson flew from Utah to California. Authorities in Utah alerted police in California and warned them that Sorenson had left the state, likely to visit the same boy. When detectives contacted the boy, he told police that he and Sorenson had sex at two hotels in California for several days, the Visalia Times reported. Authorities also uncovered more than 12,000 sexually explicit text messages between Sorenson and the boy. The messages also placed Sorenson at the hotels. After Sorenson plead no contest, the judge allowed her to return to Utah while she waits to be sentenced. The maximum sentence Sorenson may serve in prison is 13 years and eight months, according to the Visalia Times. Sorenson will be sentenced Sept. 7 and will likely be placed into custody at that time, according to the Visalia Times.   Source: https://www.ksl.com/?sid=45266815&nid=148
One Parent’s Story By Anonymous (for more info, e-mail: info@heal-online.org)   My son attended Sorenson's Ranch last year. I was led to believe that if misbehavior occurred, students would be sent to the time out room (which was staffed by a therapist). In my mind, kids would receive counseling and reflect on their negative behavior and set goals for improvements. This did not occur. I was also told that the longest a kid would have to stay in the room would be three days. I was very much misled about the actual specifics of this beh. mod/therapy and found it to be extremely punitive.   After I pulled my son out of there, I found out much more about this so called therapeutic timeout. According to my son, he and others were forced to sit at the edge of a bed in an orange jumpsuit for several days (depending upon the offenses). Students could NOT EVEN lay on the bed and stare at the ceiling or even read a self help book or the bible during the day. They had to sit at the edge of the bed and stare at the blank wall for one, two, three, or several days at a time. (there was some type of wall dividers between the students).  They used to hope that one of the staff members would come in at shift change because that one individual let them lay down on the bed during the day.    My son was kept in this situation for ten days straight (only being allowed to get up to go to the bathroom, go get meds, or lay down during the night. Although students were supposed to get one hour of exercise a day (taken on a hike), this did not regularly occur.   After ten days of staring at the wall in an orange jumpsuit, he still had to pay for his misbehavior, returning to the lowest point level. At the lowest point levels, students don't even attend school but do several hours of manual labor instead (cleaning the barn, picking up trash, etc.). Just think---all of this supposedly wonderful therapy for approx $4,000 or more a month!   Except for a few kind staff members (especially one nice night staff member who prayed with my crying son and other sad youth), I have nothing good to say about this facility. It was very punitive and led by the disciplinarian rather than the therapists. My son also said that there was an underground drug market (students on higher levels supposedly smuggled in cigarettes or other drugs for others--something that likely occurs in many facilities).   Consequently, I would never ever recommend this facility to others!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

Survivor Statement #1 By O. M.  (Contact O.M. through HEAL at info@heal-online.org)   Everything in my statement is true.  I give HEAL permission to use my statement.    I WAS FIRST HOSPITALIZED FOR THREE MONTHS WHEN I FIRST ARRIVED AS I DID NOT GET ALONG WITH THE 'GUARDS' SO THEY HAD 12 OF THE LARGER KIDS (I WAS 16 AND SKINNY WHEN I ARRIVED, BUT I REFUSED TO BE TRAMPLED) BEAT ME AT ONE TIME CRACKING MY RIBS AND BRUISING EVERY INCH OF MY BODY. I TRIED TO LET MY FAMILY UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS HAPPENING, BUT THE MAIL OF COURSE WAS CENSORED AND I WAS BEATEN AGAIN BUT MANAGED TO FIGHT BACK AS I HAD NOT LEFT THE WEIGHT ROOM. I KNOW KIDS WERE RAPED, BUT I NEVER HAD THAT PRIVELEDGE, THANK GOD.   I ESCAPED 3 TIMES, BUT WAS CAUGHT TWICE BY THEIR BOUNTY HUNTERS BRIBING FICKLE HALF FRIENDS... AND TURNED MYSELF IN THE THIRD TIME WHEN I REALISED I DID NOT WANT A LIFE ON THE RUN. LUCKILY THEY WANTED NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SPOTLIGHT, AND HAD ME RAPIDLY EVICTED FROM UTAH FOR LIFE - OH DARN.   I WAS ALSO SENT ON THE IDAHO SURVIVAL PROGRAM THAT WENT HAND IN HAND WITH SORENSONS. I ALMOST DIED THERE, BUT TWO GIRLS FROM SEATTLE SAVED ENOUGH FOOD TO SEE ME THROUGH UNTIL THE NEXT WEEKLY FEEDING. I DON’T REMEMBER THEIR NAMES, I HAVE TRIED TO FORGET THIS PERIOD IN MY LIFE, BUT I OWE THEM MY LIFE AS I DO KNOW TWO KIDS WERE ABUSED TO DEATH THE MONTH BEFORE OUR 'EXCURSION'.   THEY INVENTED TORTURES FOR ME ESPECIALLY, INCLUDING TWO WEEKS ON A DIRT MOUND IN MY BOXER SHORTS WITH TWO BOWLS OF RICE DAILY AND NO HUMAN CONTACT, I WAS MADE TO SLEEP IN A CHAIR AT THE END OF A HALLWAY AT NIGHT, THEN BACK TO THE MOUND, WHERE 'FELLOW STUDENTS' WERE ENCOURAGED TO THROW CLODS AND ROCKS AT ME. THEN IN WINTER I WAS MARCHED DAWN TO DUSK BACK AND FORTH IN THE SNOW WHERE I DEVELOPED FROST NIP AND MY RIGHT FOOT IS STILL DEVOID OF FEELING. ONCE AGAIN A BOWL OF RICE FOR BREAKFAST AND ONE FOR DINNER - THEY FINALLY RELENTED WHEN I WAS IN HIGH FEVER AND TALKING TO MYSELF, AS I LATER WAS TOLD.   SOMEBODY SMUGGLED DRUGS IN, AND Again i was TORTURED IN SIMILAR FASHION UNTIL I ADMITTED AFTER 3 WEEKS JUST TO MAKE IT STOP. THE HEAD OF LEGAL AFFAIRS EVEN RISKED HIS JOB TO EXPLAIN 'COERSION' AS HE KNEW I WAS NOT GUILTY BUT A SCAPEGOAT FOR THEIR INABILITY TO FIND THE TRUE CULPRITS. HE WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO EVER ATTEMPTED ANY HELP, BUT I FEEL HE WAS ONLY FEARING THE CONSEQUENCES IF DISCOVERED.   THE WAY THEY FOUND OUT ABOUT THE DRUGS WAS A BEAUTY IN ITSELF, A BOY WAS SO HIGH HE ADMITTTED HIS 'LOVE' FOR A CERTAIN COUNSELOR, AND WAS BEATEN TO WITHIN AN INCH OF HIS LIFE WHILE THE GUARDS 'DIDNT NOTICE' OF COURSE.  I AM PROUD OF WHO I AM AND EVERY THING THAT MADE ME THIS WAY, EXCEPT THIS PERIOD. I GREW UP IN HAWAII, WAS PRETTY INNOCENT, BUT FOR A GOOD THREE YEARS AFTER I WAS EXPELLED FROM UTAH I WAS INCREASINGLY VIOLENT AND BECAME ADDICTED TO HEROIN, A DRUG I HAD NEVER TRIED BEFORE UTARD.   I WISH I KNEW OF THE FOUR YEAR PERIOD, BUT ITS BEEN ALMOST 18 YEARS NOW. SO I GET TO SUFFER MY MEMORIES WITH NO OUTLET. I OFTEN THOUGHT OF GOING BACK AND FINDING CERTAIN OF THE WORSE BASTARDS, AS I AM SURE THEY ARE SNUG IN THEIR LITTLE VILLIAGE, RELATED TO THE COPS AND JUDGES IN RITCHFIELD AS ALWAYS.   I WAS SO DESPERATE TO ESCAPE THE FIRST TIME I WALKED THE 18-23 MILES TO RITCHFIELD IN A SNOWSTORM WEARING A FLANNEL SHIRT AND CONVERS - AND STOLE A CAR, THE FIRST TIME I BECAME A TRUE CRIMINAL.   THAT NIGHT I WOULD RATHER HAVE DIED IN THE COLD THAN GET CAUGHT, I JUMPED INTO SNOWBANKS WITHOUT A THOUGHT OF THE HORRIBLE COLD EVERY SET OF LIGHTS THAT CAME DOWN THE ROAD SEARCHING FOR ME. I TRIED SUICIDE SIX TIMES, BUT WAS UNSUCCESFUL DUE TO BEING WATCHED AND FORCE FED. I AM A FAMOUS ARTIST NOW WITH NO CRIMINAL RECORD, OUT OF LUCK FOR THE FIRST THREE YEARS OF FREEDOM, AND OUT OF MY NATURE FOR THE NEXT FIFTEEN.   THE HEROIN ADDICTION IS ALSO 13 YEARS PAST, I AM NOT AN ADDICTIVE CHARACTER, I WAS 'SELF MEDICATING' AND TRYING TO FORGET BEING IN THE PIT OF HELL AND THE DEMONS I SAW THERE.   I HEAR STORIES OF PEOPLES SOB TALES, BUT I KNOW 88-89 WAS FAR WORSE THAN ANY TIME SINCE THEN. THAT WAS WHEN THEY WERE 'IMPECCABLE' AND COULD RUN RAMPANT WITH THEIR SICK AND TWISTED CHILD ABUSE AND SEX FANTASIES.  SHORTLY AFTER MY DEPARTURE IS WHEN THE FIRST ACCUSATIONS AND DISMISSALS SURFACED, I HEARD FROM MY FRIEND [removed per individual named's request], WHO WAS SEVERAL YEARS YOUNGER, ALLOWED TO LIVE OF CAMPUS IN A GUARDS HOUSE, AND LATER BECAME A FAMOUS MODEL IF YOU CATCH MY DRIFT.   I HOPE TO GOD WHAT I FEAR HAPPENED TO HER DID NOT, SHE WAS SO SWEET WHEN I MET HER, AND SO JADED WHEN SHE CAME BACK TO THE REAL WORLD.   THERE IS SO SO MUCH MORE, BUT THESE FEW MEMORIES MAKE ME WANT TO SCREAM AT LIFES INJUSTICES, BUT I CAN DO NOTHING BUT HURT MYSELF.  

Survivor Statement #2 By Mike Horgan   Everything in my statement below is true. I give HEAL permission to use my statement.  I was "being reformed" at Sorenson's Ranch School in 88 - 89.  I read this other persons (Alumni) letter and felt obligated to write my fair warnings as well.  I wanted to cry while reading the other alum's words.  The sad thing is the types of things the person described in their report happened allot and to so many kids.  I realized I have repressed a lot of shit inside over the years and have not wanted to think about those big abusive Mormons.  Judgmental, Prejudiced, Cruel, but at the same time they truly believe in their cult and think they are doing the right things to help.  At my low, I also helped steal a car and try and break out, 2 attempts, I also marched through the wilderness program in Idaho with a bunch of fucking heroin addicts from around the country, some big black guy from Compton broke my nose… I had religion stuffed down my throat, forced to do allot of shit...  But what was bad was the night time… we hurt people.. for the first 6 month's I got beat down a bit, I was 14, some kids were 19 even one 20 year old (court ordered).  So with the time you stop getting beat and you start beating others.  Fuck it right, it was sink or swim.  I remember being strip searched, repeatedly, they (Staff) were always looking for contraband.  We did have some good weed on occasion...  They would call it "restraining" us... if you sat quietly and refused to follow an order the staff would slam you on the ground and whoop your ass.... this happened often and I couldn't figure out what good it did.   I am aware of sexual abuse.. there was allot of bad shit going on... but like I said the Mormon Cult truly believes they are saving us poor little bastards.  Too any of my friends who happen to run into this letter, sorry for any bad memories.. I turned out well, hope you made it out ok the same…  And there were definitely some good "counselors",    There were also some devious fuckers… I love my kids way to much to send them to a place like that...   P.S. Learned how to be really fucking sneaky and manipulating…   love you all,   Mike Horgan 1988 - 1989 BayAreaMusicians@yahoo.com www.organiccrackrecords.com  

Survivor Statement #3 By Anonymous [Author submitted request for anonymity on May 20th, 2011--You may send messages to the author by referencing "Survivor Statement #3--Sorenson's" and e-mailing info@heal-online.org.  We will forward legitimate messages to the author.]   Everything in my statement is true. I give HEAL permission to use my statement.   I read the testimonials on here, and wanted to respond... I was first sent to SRS in 1990. Things did get better from 1989 to now, but not by much... I remember all too much, things I wish I could forget. There were still so-called counselors with nothing more than a high school diploma and their "SICK AND TWISTED CHILD ABUSE AND SEX FANTASIES," as O.M. put it. I was there, with a short break for about a year, from 1990-1994. I have since found recent survivors and heard that there are still horrible abuse stories coming out of there. As a former resident of the school, I can attest to the horrors endured by many including myself. Those physical restraints they were doing in 1989 and when I was first there, were actually illegal as they didn't have a license to be doing them. They've since obtained one and are still performing them, but then? I watched them kill a teenage boy with one of their "restraints." He was beaten to death by at least 3 overgrown, overweight men. His head was split open, and he never returned from the hospital. Before it was a school for the more privileged of children (monetarily speaking), it was home to kids who were a ward of the state, and often not even the state of Utah. I was under the impression for many years that it had been cleaned up, and was now a good school. How they could have fooled me, after enduring what I did (as I know to be true for recent survivors as well) I'll never know.   If there are any parents out there considering to send your child to Sorenson's Ranch School, PLEASE contact me first. I promise to put you into contact with other survivors, both past and present... This is not a place for a child. If you love your child and are fearful for their safety, this is NOT the answer. My parents sent me away because of a "bad attitude," and when I returned I was much worse. After watching my friends get handcuffed and shackled to the school's fence for hours, even days and weeks (sometimes in nothing more than their underwear and a sleeping bag in the snow for fear they would try to run away), being fed nothing more than rice cooked in chicken broth only ONCE a day, having been tortured by "counselors" while on their camp-outs, raped repeatedly by someone I/we should've been able to trust, I was returned to my parents ready to try everything I had learned while attending SRS. I was quickly sent back as my parents were unequipped to handle what they had paid to create. Don't let this happen to you... You will undoubtedly be racked with the guilt my parents are still unable to face. Don't let this happen to your family. If you think things are bad now, I can guarantee Sorenson's and places like it will only make it worse.   SRS Survivor 1990-1994  

Survivor Statement #4 by Lukas Larson     Everything in my statement is true.  I give HEAL permission to use my statement.   My name is Lukas Larson.  I'm 26 now, and 10 years ago I spent 10 months at Sorenson's.  I have never been able to talk about my experiences at this place without breaking into tears, and writing this right now is no exception.  I just got out of a therapy session today where my therapist and I decided to google Sorenson's and found this website.  I'm glad to hear that I am not the only one who is brave enough to speak out about what this place does.   I was a very troubled child.  I came from an abusive family with drug addicted parents.  I had an undiagnosed behavioral disorder that prevented me from doing well in school, and that issue alone led to abusive discipline from my parents.  I was stripped of everything my parents could take from me, and so I finally ran away from home.  I was tracked down by bounty hunters and taken to Sorenson's.  I was into punk rock, and looked the role.  I was stripped of my clothes and was given some clothes that were far too small with shoes that were about 3 sizes too big.  I was not allowed to speak to my parents for 3 weeks after my arrival at which time they informed me that I would be there until I was 18.  At 15 years old this is eternity.  I escaped in the middle of the night shortly following that phone call and spent about 24 hours in sub-freezing weather trying to make it through the mountains.  The attempt was futile as I was tracked down by some of the staff and was introduced to the "behavior modification" practices first hand.  I was strip searched for one of many times while I was there, and forced to wear an orange jumpsuit and sit in isolation for 1 week.  I was in a room and was not allowed to lay down, talk, read, or do anything but stare at the wall.  During this time I was not allowed to bath, and was not fed on the regular routine that the others were kept on.  I was hungry, dirty, very cold, and was planning my suicide at 15 years old.   I got out of isolation, which they DO call isolation in there, but I noticed that they tell parents it is "behavioral modification time out."  It's complete bullshit, and I have yet to tell any professional about this that does not consider it criminal child abuse.  Needless to say I never killed myself, but that was only in fear that I would get caught.  Another kid in there was found after drinking a bottle of toxic surface cleaner, and after was transferred to a even stricter and abusive place where he wouldn't be able to try that again.     This place makes many claims of it's treatment success, but I never saw any of it.  There were a great number of very troubled children, but in this environment, treatment was not the right word.  Children were beaten for just talking back, but it was not called beating.  The called it "restraining," but restraining from what?  These children who presented no threat to themselves or anyone else had their faces forced onto the pavement or dirt and had their arms bent back around until they screamed, begging them to stop.  The used this method to prevent leaving any marks that could be used as proof of their actions.  It didn't always work though.  Many children still ended up with black eyes, and scrapes and bruises with torn muscles and ligament strains, but that didn't matter, because no one was allowed to report to anyone what was happening.  I sent many letters describing what was happening, but only to find out after my release that they were not even sent.  I personally suffered the least of most of these children because I was so weak and scared that I just never opposed anyone in that place.  I was however beaten by several of the other kids there on a regular basis.  The old "kick the dog" expression, where a kid gets beat up by his bigger stronger father and only has the dog to retaliate against.  Well, I was the dog.  I would walk into the my room (which were not much more than slums) and would have a blanket thrown over my head and was beaten by fists, feet, and frequently a broom stick.  They called this a "blanket party," and it was done this way so you couldn't identify any of the attackers.  Despite reporting all of these incidents, no precautions were ever made to protect any of the weaker children.  I believe that they thought this was just extra encouragement for us to behave and get out of there.     During the 10 months I spent about 3 or 4 hours a day, but sometimes 8 or 9 doing hard manual labor.  This included saturdays, and sometimes sunday.  They would send us around to the surrounding farms to haul hay for other people, which they DEFINITELY were paid for.  This is a crime!  There are child labor laws for a reason.  School was optional if we had time, but was certainly not encouraged.  The place is run by fundamentalist Mormons who don't place education as a high priority.  We were run through workouts that would drop most adults before completion.  If we couldn't finish it or refused, then we were put into isolation.  I trained myself outside of the general workout so I could successfully complete it and avoid more isolation.  I made it out with only 2 weeks under my belt, but there was a kid who spent 40 consecutive days in there.     I got out before I was 18 by lying and manipulating everyone around me, but it wasn't easy.  They know when you are placating.  If they even sense that they will enforce discipline for your dishonesty.  I gradually changed the tone of the letters I was sending people, telling them how "good" I was doing.  Once I got out though, the facade came down.  I couldn't hold in all the pain and anger I had for my parents and what they did.  To this day I am still somewhat of an outcast from my family, and I accredit this place with that alienation.  The mindset you enter to manipulate people never goes away.  I still have fear of telling anyone in my life how I feel, or what is going on, fearing that they will find a way to use in against me.  With therapy, I'm learning to let down my guard, but I will always carry the pain inflicted there.   It doesn't surprise me that there are so few people speaking of the abuse that took place, not because they don't consider it abuse, but because they are so afraid.  We were told we were lying the whole time we were in there, and they convinced our parents that this is just part of the process of behavioral modification, and that we are just acting out.  It's been 10 years, and I'm still feeling the pain of abandonment and abuse.  When I went there I had never done drugs, and was proud of it.  When I got out I began a spiral of severe addiction and suicide attempts and destructive behavior that I never would have occurred if it were not from the trauma inflicted upon me by the redneck, bible wielding, child abusers at that place.  I hope that this gets through to at least one person who chooses to find a better solution and spare their child the nightmares and years of therapy.  I have nothing to gain from this, except acceptance that I've done something to help.  I'm not promoting any competing treatment facility.  I'm just telling my story.   In case you all are wondering, I am living a healthy life now.  I'm drug and alcohol free for over 4 years now, and am getting a degree.  None of my current success in life could be attributed to the abuse I suffered, but from loving and trusting people who encouraged my growth and healing.     Anyone who wishes may contact me and I would be happy to talk to them.  This includes other survivors, or parents who are thinking of sending their kids to this place. If you would like to submit your statement about Sorenson's Ranch, contact us for information.

 *(Sorenson's Ranch School, like many other programs in this industry, keeps a "tight lid" on any specific information regarding their staff, qualifications, and practices.  Please contact us with the names of any staff of which you have firsthand knowledge or experience.  Thank you for your help.)

 Last Updated: November 4th, 2018

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