Here’s What Survivors of a Troubled Teen Program Say Went On Inside: Uncovering the Truth

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In a shocking revelation, survivors of a troubled teen program known as Cross Creek in Leverkun, Utah, have come forward to share their chilling experiences. These survivors, who endured physical and emotional abuse, isolation, and manipulation, are now bravely speaking out in an effort to shed light on the dark truth behind these for-profit reform schools. This article offers an in-depth look into the testimonies of survivors, exposing the horrifying reality of what really went on inside these facilities.

The Start of a Nightmare

Theo Charles, one of the survivors, tells his story of struggling with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts during his high school years. His parents, desperate to help him, intervened by sending him to Cross Creek. However, what transpired upon his arrival was nothing short of a nightmare.

Describing his arrival at Cross Creek, Theo recounts how he was physically restrained and forced into submission by the staff. Confused and terrified, he woke up the next morning in an unfamiliar place, surrounded by strangers. This was just the beginning of a traumatizing experience that would shape his life for years to come.

The Dark Realities of Cross Creek

Former students of Cross Creek reveal the horrifying treatment they endured during their time at the school. Students were subjected to “full intake cavity searches,” supervised showers that left them feeling violated, and strict rules that instilled fear of punishment for even minor infractions. The staff utilized shame as a manipulative tactic, conducting seminars that were mentally and emotionally grueling. Rape reenactments were performed on female victims of sexual abuse, further perpetuating a culture of abuse and degradation.

Former students also recount the trauma of isolation rooms, where they were held in cement cells for extended periods. They were forbidden from speaking, and any attempts to break the silence resulted in physical restraints. Continuous psychological torment by the staff, including claims that their parents had abandoned them, left students feeling broken and hopeless. Cross Creek was designed to break down individuals and mold them into a version that suited the staff’s needs, eradicating any sense of identity or self-worth.

The Legacy of Abuse

Though Cross Creek closed its doors in 2012, the issue of troubled teen programs persists in Utah and beyond. These for-profit reform schools continue to operate, generating hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Former students and their families have brought forth allegations of abuse against numerous facilities, resulting in lawsuits and investigations. Yet, the lack of regulation and oversight allows these programs to continue operating with impunity.

The Voices of Survivors

Survivors of these troubled teen programs are now united under the banner of Breaking Code Silence, a movement dedicated to shedding light on the abuses endured by individuals in these facilities. The movement gained national attention when Paris Hilton shared her own traumatic experience at a Utah facility.

The survivors’ demand for change has led to some progress, with Utah state senator Mike McKell co-sponsoring legislation aimed at increasing inspections and transparency in these programs. This legislation represents the state’s first attempt at regulating these facilities in 15 years, highlighting the urgent need for reform.

Reflections and Unanswered Questions

Despite the gruesome testimonies and overwhelming evidence of abuse, the troubled teen industry continues to thrive. With hundreds of programs operating in Utah alone, the lack of regulation and oversight is undoubtedly fueled by the industry’s lucrative nature. However, even lawmakers like Senator McKell acknowledge that shutting down the industry entirely may be a valid option.

For survivors and families like Sarah Mary and her son, who naively believed in the program’s ability to help, the scars of these experiences still linger. Faced with manipulation, isolation, and the suppression of their voices, these survivors were left questioning their own reality.


The testimonies of survivors of troubled teen programs, such as Cross Creek, shed light on a deeply disturbing industry that preys on vulnerable individuals and reaps substantial profits from their suffering. These survivors, along with the movement Breaking Code Silence, are at the forefront of the battle for justice and accountability.

As the public becomes more aware of the horrors endured within these for-profit reform schools, the demand for change grows stronger. Legislation aimed at increasing regulations and transparency is a vital step towards protecting future generations from the physical and psychological abuse propagated by these facilities. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that no more lives are destroyed by the very institutions that promised to save them.

Note: All names have been changed to protect the confidentiality and privacy of the individuals featured in this article.

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