Episode 97: The Utah Boy’s Ranch

60 comments on “Episode 97: The Utah Boy’s Ranch”

  1. Rich Rasmussen Reply

    I had no idea about this place…appalling. Every now and then the church reaches new levels of corruption and level of distastefulness to me; this morning is one of those times.

  2. Mike Mack Reply

    Tough to listen to something like that, even with my less than stellar feelings towards the Church. I got the impression that perhaps while some of the kids there needed some sort of program to help them, how many were there because their behavior, while normal, just didn’t rise to the expectations of their parents for good wholesome kids.

  3. Hermes Reply

    This is incredibly awful. I had heard rumors about the ranch during my time in Utah, but I did not know how it actually worked. I am really sorry for the kids whose parents could find no better recourse than to send them to prison, especially in cases where the only “problem” was the parents’ inability to stomach something like homosexuality. Thank goodness I was not born into such a family.

  4. Info Reply

    Holy Crap! That’s some crazy stuff. No big surprise that Chris Buttars is involved. What an idiot.

    I think this story deserves more media attention personally. The story would make a great documentary film or I imagine a decent Dateline investigation.

    Thanks to Eric and Kade for sharing.

    I wonder how their relationship are with their parents currently?

  5. Info Reply

    Holy Crap! That’s some crazy stuff. No big surprise that Chris Buttars is involved. What an idiot.

    I think this story deserves more media attention personally. The story would make a great documentary film or I imagine a decent Dateline investigation.

    Thanks to Eric and Kade for sharing.

    I wonder how their relationship are with their parents currently?

  6. Wes Cauthers Reply

    This kind of thing is abuse, plain and simple. The fact that it’s been allowed to continue for this long is appalling but not surprising since it is taking place in Utah, where human rights abuses (fundamentalist polygamy which includes child brides) have been taking place for decades. Another example of the blurred line between church and state in Utah.

    John is right that the tactics used there are right out of North Korea. We may as well be back in the days of Brigham Young who would no doubt have heartily approved of facilities like this. In fact, I believe it is part of that legacy which is clearly still alive and well. If anyone wants a picture of what I’m referring to, just read the Journal Of Discourses or Wife No. 19.

    http://www.journalofdiscourses.org/

    http://www.archive.org/download/wifeno19orstoryo00youn/wifeno19orstoryo00youn.pdf

  7. Whiner Reply

    Great podcast. Shocking. I had no idea this kind of thing went on. One criticism: I really wish there was better sound control on these things. All the background noise is so distracting. Maybe guests should be talked to about what they do during the recordings. It really brings down the quality. 🙁

    • Anonymous Reply

      I noticed that too. I kept thinking the guests seem to be busy doing other things while they’re being interviewed. It almost seemed they (or one of them?) weren’t really focused or even that interested in the interview. I wondered if they knew how many people would be listening and how important it is for them to be alert, focused, and not distracted by other things going on in the room or surfing or what ever at the same time.

      Still, it was a very interesting, enlightening podcast. I never had heard about that place and I wonder how such a place can even be legal. I guess it is if the parents sign waivers. Some adults simply shouldn’t be allowed to have children.

      • Kade Reply

        I truly apologize about that.. After listening to the podcast twice today, I agree. We were absolutely not prepared(it was my first podcast and we did it from my house while my wife tended our child, cleaned the house and our dogs were bouncing around consistently) and somehow the “A” game got left at the neighbors house.

        There were so many things we wanted to touch on, but not only were not in a great environment for great conversation, but I got disconnected midway and it seems this portion was edited out. Possibly if enough people show interest Eric and I can get back in the ring and really discuss our experience.

  8. Julia Winston Reply

    Attending the annual Scarecrow Festival was a tradition for my family…up until I learned about the Mormon Gulag website.

    I have no doubt that most employees/missionaries involved with the Westridge Academy believe they are performing a service from the heart (I have spoken with a few personally). However, through Eric’s and Kade’s bravery and candor we can consider an alternative view and better evaluate the institution. If only the world were a better place, the people behind the institution would use your feedback to create a healthier, more equitable environment for the children sent there, rather than “shoot the messengers” by threatening lawsuits. Shame on them!

  9. Spencer Reply

    They don’t seem like 26-27 year old men…they seem like they are stuck at 16. I don’t know anything about The Westridge Academy but to compare it to a “gulag” is laughable! This sounds like Boy Scout camp…it’s obvious these two boys have never really had to sacrifice in their lives. The most tragic part of their interview is in realizing how inadequate and sad their lives have turned out-and I really question if the “Boys Ranch” had anything to do with that.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Holy shiz Spencer, you are a total asshole. But I think it’s cool that you can voice your opinion here. It’s great to have some dissenting views. Makes the discussion more interesting. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

    • Spencer Reply

      this is hysterical…I had wrestling practices in high school more grueling than this lololol…are these kids serious???? HYSTERICAL

      • Jay Bryner Reply

        Spencer, I doubt it. You could have walked out of your wrestling practice if you wanted to. You could finish wrestling practice and wear the AC/DC shirt, or the Polo shirt if you wanted to. You could go out to McDonalds on the way in to school. You could call your parents in the middle of the day if you wanted to. If your wrestling coach slapped you around, there would be other grownups who would censure your wrestling coach. You didn’t have to do pointless work. You get the idea

        • Rich Rasmussen Reply

          I’m not asking “are you being serious?” I am asking “are you seriously saying that you have graduated high-school?” You seem to have a very narrow view…but who knows…

    • Julia Winston Reply

      You admit you know nothing about Westridge Academy. Perhaps you should study up and develop coherent, rational arguments rather than spew ad hominem attacks.

    • Kade Reply

      Wow Spencer. Wow. Not only am I 27, happily married with a child of my own, great job and a mortgage, but I honestly resent your inability to be objective.

      I know a whole lot about both “boy scouts” and West Ridge Academy, as I was involved with both. To compare a lockdown facility to boy scout camp is not just laughable, but possibly the best comedy routine I’ve heard in years! Then to come through with the comparison to wrestling? There is really nothing even to say to this as any logical human would be capable of distinguishing the difference between the two.

      Now I also agree it is great to have an open discussion about anything and great to have a place to talk, regardless of your stance.. But to admit you know nothing of something and promptly proceed, in the same paragraph, to tell every literate person your feelings and thoughts on exactly that which you know nothing about.

    • Jay Bryner Reply

      Spencer, when I first started listening to this podcast I was skeptical about calling a place like this ‘mormon gulag’. A few years back I read ‘Gulag Archipelago’ by Solzhenitsyn and it was one of the most horrifying books I had ever read. But after a few minutes of listening to this podcast I could see the parallels Eric and Kade were getting at.

      After cruising the mormon gulag website I kind of feel like it has too much of a tone of retribution. I can understand why you guys might feel that way. To take that place down, and put it out of business you simply have to turn off the spigot of parents with mildly troubled kids. If they aren’t paying tuition that eliminates like 80% of the utah boys ranch market. For the remaining ‘seriously troubled’ set of kids, you just need to persuade the customers that their approach is ineffective. Again, to restate. Persuade the parents of the ‘slightly troubled’ that their kid will be put in with the ‘seriously troubled’. Then persuade the parents of the seriously troubled that the boys ranch is completely ineffective at solving the problems of their kids. Boom. You win.

      I would be very curious however to hear if there are kids out there who had a positive experience at the boys ranch.

  10. Jay Bryner Reply

    My family lived out in Utah from when was age 6 to around age 15. During that time my parents had a significant amount of trouble with my three adopted siblings. I remember my parents talking about sending my older brother to this place several times. They ultimately decided against it for reasons unknown to me.

    I worked for a year at one of those wilderness camps down in Arizona for troubled teenagers – Anasazi Foundation. The differences between how Anasazi operates, and how Utah Boys Ranch operate (as portrayed in this podcast) really surprise me. What surprises me is that anyone could think the strongarm tactics would work. Also I’m surprised that anyone would think its a good idea to take a 15 year old kid, and put him in a place like that for for three years. How is that going to help anything.

    One question I had for Eric, and Kade while I was listening. What did you guys do? I was curious about what your backstory was. Eric, I think mentioned that his Mom got remarried to a very strict guy, and his new step-dad put him in there as some sort of pre-mission preparation or something.

    I’d be interested in some anecdotes. I’ll be interested to read Eric’s book. But I’d be curious to hear stories like this:

    “When I was 15 some friends at school and I smoked marijuana. We did it several times before I got busted by my Mom. My parents were worried about me so they sent me to Utah Boys Ranch where I stayed for 5 months. During this time I suffered ______, and _____. Most of the other kids there were pretty normal, but there were some other kids who would ____. I’ve been out of the Utah Boy’s Ranch for 4 years, and it helped me the following ways _____, but I wish I hadn’t had to experience ______. I don’t think anybody should have to go through what I had to go through if they get caught smoking marijuana when they’re 15 years old.

    When I worked at Anasazi, it was never communicated to me what the individual problems were that brought the kids to the program. I’d classify the experience as a very positive one for me, and pretty much all of the kids who were out there with us. It was like the best campout ever. I never saw anyone get restrained, or even in a physical tussle of any kind. Hearing about some of the tactics used to ‘reform’ kids at the Utah Boy’s Ranch made me wonder how anyone could think that stuff would work? People have to decide what kind fo people they’re going to be.

  11. Bka325 Reply

    That was really surprising to me. I have heard good things about the ranch. I would like to hear from those, if there are any, who had a positive life changing experience at the boy’s ranch.

    • Bka325 Reply

      What I mean by that is that many people have different experiences. For example, I have a bunch of problems with the church, but sometimes when I hear the horrific stories of people being mistreated in church, I feel bad that it happened, but I have never experienced anything like that. My church experiences have almost always been positive. Do you think that could be similar in the case of the boy’s ranch?

  12. Kia Reply

    I live close to the boys ranch and have attended the scarecrow festivals over the years and have met some of the boys. Other than the abuse I dont see much of an issue with this place. You wont get much sympathy here about having to do work, pulling weeds, doing chores is pretty normal and healthy. Like these guys I bet my kids wish they had a ‘janitor’ do the clean up. These guys were there years ago, id like to know if there has been any changes since. I know a counselor at the ranch and intend to talk with them about whats going on. The abuse allegations are inexcusable and warrant further investigation. I do know if not for the boys ranch some of the more troubled kids there would be in jail if not for this place. As always, Im sure there are two sides to the story. But good interview and if eric and kade’s experiences and website can bring awareness to problems with the ranch, this is good. Places where troubled teens can go to get professional help is a valuable resource for parents and the community.

    • Kade Reply

      The Scarecrow Festival has been completely redone: they no longer charge money to go, it will no longer be done just north South Towne Mall or at Thanksgiving Point but at West Ridge Academy itself, it will not be nearly as big of an event now that we have brought the attention we have to how they operate(or at least at one point). No more unpaid child labor, no more work crew , no more blankets, no more beatings. Now with a little regulation we might be really getting somewhere.

    • Ozpoof Reply

      Moving a pile of rocks for no reason is not normal or healthy. It’s soul destroying drudgery, gives no sense of achievement, and wastes time that could be spent doing something productive.

      Getting bashed is not normal. Wearing a blanket, facing a wall for hours, not receiving schooling, getting religion drilled into your brain all day is not normal. If the Branch Davidians were doing these things you would call them cult tactics.

  13. OuterBrightness Reply

    Great podcast. This is a topic that receives zero attention. I had never heard of Westridge Academy or Utah Boys Ranch before this podcast. Good luck to MormonGulag.com.

  14. Dadsprimalscream Reply

    I’d just like to state for the record that while it is always good to get both sides of a story, if someone were to testify that the techniques described in this podcast actually helped them, it is irrelevant to the actual “rightness” or “justness” of the methods. A victim’s compliance really doesn’t matter

    As an example, most abused spouses think they deserve the treatment that they get or that there’s nothing better out there. Most polygamous wives adamantly defend the practice. Helen Mar Kimball never denounced her underage “marriage” to JS behind Emma’s back. Mary Rollins Lightner bragged that her child was not her legal husband’s but that of JS, her “sealed husband” JS. Does any of that make it right to beat your wife, marry teenage girls or bed other men’s wives?

    If employees of this place do beat children, if they do humiliate them by using the methods described here, if they do break child labor laws then it’s not right no matter how many former “Boy’s Ranch” students say that it was OK.

  15. Pingback: Mormon Expression Podcast: The Utah Boys Ranch « West Ridge Academy Staff Member Registry

  16. Wy Jason Reply

    Geat discussion. I was a mildly troubled kid at 14 (skipping class smoking ciggerettes… long hair all the crazy stuff you would expect from a bishops kid). My stake president suggested this amazing wilderness survival program in Arizona that practiced a philosophy developed at BYU called the Arbinger Seminar. My parents went for it and I ended up in Arizona. For the most part it was a great experience with amazing well meaning but untrained staff. I loved it enough to go back to work for them after my mission. Nineteen years later I realize there were some serious problems with Anasazi. Mostly with the education program they offer.

    I recieved an entire years (my 9th grade year) worth of credits during the 70 days I spent hiking through the canyons and eating ash cakes and bags of gutbomb (you’ll know what it is if you know anyone that has been to Anasazi)

    Most kids stayed for only 6 weeks but I stayed for 10 for no other reason then my parents were willing to continue writing the check. Supposedly you get to go home when your ready but the obvious incentive was to keep you out there as long as mom and dad would fund it.

    Staff had no knowledge or ability to provide the counseling some students with serious emotional problems needed. I know because I had a 14 yr old child with OCD nearly die when he refused to drink any water for 3 days and spent the day hiking up and down the canyon in 100 dgree temperatures so he could pass out and be sent home. I was told to not worry about it he would drink water when he was thirsty. Fortunetealy he was rescued and taken to the hospital before he died. He was sent right back out a couple of days later and spent weeks running away every chance he got. Anasazi finally sent him home.

    There is no real therapy. The philosophy is that the troubled kids will eat a plain diet (not nearly as plain now as it was 19 years ago), hike hard, sleep on the ground, be indoctrinated by well meaning RM’s and come home changed individuals. But there is no counseling addressing the issue of why these kids are using drugs and acting out just faith that the wilderness experience will magically fix them.

    I got home from Anasazi and was the ideal child for at least 6 months and then found the joys of marijuana, alcohol and girls. With a referral from other members of the church I was sent to another member run program in Hawaii called Youth Developmental Enterprises. This program was a complete scam run by a pile of human feces. YDE came highly recomended by church members and the owner said all the right things to my parents. I spent 6 months picking pineapples at 15 years old. We were paid minimum wage and nearly all of our money was spent on boarding. I would pick pineapples for 8 hours and come back to the barracks for another 3 to 4 hours of “service”. Service was usaully landscaping around the compound for anyone who had a bad attitude, talked in an inappropriate way… Schooling consisted of reading a book and writing a book report. Usually I just jotted down a couple paragraphs with out even reading the book since I knew no one would read it anyway. Math credits consisted of taking a basic elementary school level math test. I earned an entire years worth of credits in a month or two with only an hours worth of “class” a night. Thanks to Anasazi and YDE I graduated highschool early with almost no actual education.

    A few of us got a hold of Acid at YDE. Something I had never seen before I was sent to Hawaii. We were caught and locked up in a room for the remainder of our contract. For weeks I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone (parents included) I had to go to work not talk to anyone and come home to be locked up in a storage room that barely had enough room for a mattress. Eventually I ran away with a fellow detainee. We hiked around Maui for a week until we were to hungry to take it anymore. YDE was afraid to tell our parents we were missing and were afraid to report it to the local police for fear of bad press. So they did nothing for the first 5 days we were missing. When we finally called home our parents had just found out we were missing. They were furious that YDE had lied to them about the length of time we had been missing for and we were both flown home.

    The only positive part of my YDE experience was the time I spent running away from the program. Hiding out and thinking that every helicopter (there are a lot of helicopters flying around in Hawaii) we saw was looking for us. We got to watch a bunch of girls skinny dipping in a waterfall. We took pleasure in knowing we were causing the d-bags at YDE a lot of stress.

    I am so glad that Eric and Kade are shedding light on some of these issues so that Mormons won’t be so quick to recomend these silly church member run programs. I could wirte so much more about YDE but since it was shut down just a few months after I left it is pointless. The owners of these programs (Anasazi included) want a paycheck. While helping kids might be a added benefit to them first and foremost they are capitalizing on the mormon troubled youth market.

    Parents need to realize there are worst things that can happen to your kid then them not being worthy to serve a mission when they turn 19.

    • Jay Bryner Reply

      Wy Jason

      I’d be curious to know what your reccomendations would be to parents who have children going through a rebellious stage? Obviously you’re right about the fact that there are worse things than their child not going on a mission.

      But there really are kids out there who are going down a wrong path. And sometimes parents see things spinning out of control. I saw several parents coming through Anasazi, and although they wouldn’t necessarily admit it, I got the feeling that beneath the surfact they were desperate. They had brought these children into the world, and until the kid turns 18 they as parents had some level of liability for this out of control person who was going to do himself/herself a great deal of long term damage by making bad decisions, and also bringing a lot of additional costs on the parents. You’ve got to be pretty desperate to write the size of checks necessary to put your kid in a place like that.

      It seems like your message to parents of these troubled kids is that a lot of these kinds of programs don’t work. Do you have any thoughts as to what does work?

      I know that as a parent — again I have only had experience with Anasazi (the time in my life where I’ve felt the most opressed and controlled was the MTC) — I am more concerned with making my children aware of several good paths available to them, and being there as a resource to help things go right. All of my children are fairly young still, so they haven’t had a chance to get into much trouble.

      I also want to say that I agree completely that parents need to be aware that purveyors of ‘troubled teenager’ programs are always concerned with things like getting new students, and meeting payroll. That’s just how it is. Also, I was not aware that the students at Anasazi received any school credit at all. I feel like it is a great program, but I never really saw any evidence that there should be any school credit. I’d be kind of curious about how that works.

      And to Eric and Kade’s broader point. – If intervention groups are taking responsibility for teenagers, abusive behavior should not be tolerated. Adults need to be held accountable for this kind of thing.

      I just can’t get it out of my mind though. I think Eric and Kade’s website would be more powerful, and somehow more legitimate if they were more forthcoming with ‘both sides of the story’ so to speak. I once saw a police officer outside my apartment complex throw a man to the ground, handcuff him, and drag him across the ground so that his nipples scraped across the concrete, then throw him into the squad car. Sounds pretty terrible right. But right before that happened the guy pulled a knife on the police officer and slashed it in the officer’s face, and did a little voodoo dance. The man was obvioulsy high on drugs and out of control. On the one hand I wouldn’t like it if a cop handcuffed me and scraped my nipples across the concrete. But on the other hand, if I had just threatened to knife the cop I probably would have kind of deserved it. This story is in my personal library of ‘don’t do drugs’ stories, rather than in my personal library of ‘police brutality’ stories. I think Kade and Eric would have a lot more ‘power of legitimacy’ if they would flesh out their stories with more of the back story of what supposedly provoked the abuse. This kind of more complete story telling would :
      – Frighten parents of ‘not so troubled’ teens away
      – Make claims of abuse feel more ‘legitimate’

      Unfortunately for parents who have teenagers who are making self destructive decisions, this kind of conversation doesn’t give any comfort.

  17. Ozpoof Reply

    People need to serve jail time for this. I hope Mormon gulag serves as a meeting point for those who wish to make the sick people who operate this place pay.

    What happened to love? I really am not surprised by the depths Mormonism sinks in order to control people. If they will electrocute gay men’s genitals, bash kids, extort money from parents who are told their kids are evil, insane, or whatever, I doubt there is much these people won’t do.

    This just serves as more proof the Mormon cult derives zero authority from any deity. Mormonism is a sick cult plain and simple. The fact people are too scared to challenge the abuse that is probably happening right now demonstrates the extent of the mind control.

    • Ozpoof Reply

      What is also worrying is that there was no State auditing of this place, and even if there was it appears the bureaucracy is lousy with Mormons who will let kids suffer rather than risk dragging the name of the church through the mud. Protect the name of the church at all costs, even at the cost of kids.

      Those poor gay kids sent there. Jesus.

  18. Alan Reply

    Just a comment about this facility and others like it. I have some experience working at these types of places (not Westridge itself, but other residential facilities), and even as a TBM I never felt comfortable with them.

    On the one hand, like Eric and Kade mentioned, there are a number of severely disturbed kids who, sad to say, are not safe living out in the community, and for whom a residential placement is really the “least restrictive” one possible for them. The problem comes when you conflate these very real and severe disturbances with typical teen rebellion.

    It becomes much, much worse when Mormon ideals are added to the mix, especially with the type of hyperbole used by church leaders to make their moral points. When you have parents believing that being gay, sexual and drug experimentation, and even refusal to go to church are as serious or more serious than truly delinquent behaviors, then you have the sorts of abuses seen at the Buttars-run Boys Ranch. Parents are taught that their children’s “spiritual well-being” is of tantamount importance, and that any deviations from orthodox Mormon teachings place their children in mortal spiritual danger. Therefore, incarcerating their children seems a small price to pay to save their souls.

    Also, it’s another illustration of the danger of failing to ensure separation of church and state.

    Best of luck to Eric and Kade in your future lives. Hopefully, you can both get past these traumatic experiences.

  19. Pingback: Utah Boys Ranch on Mormon Expression Podcast « Utah Boys Ranch / West Ridge Academy

  20. Scooptaylor Reply

    Unfortunately, these programs to help “troubled” teens are unregulated in the US. When parents are desperate to find help for their kids, there is no clearing house that can give you good information for finding the right place. More tragically, LDS church members want to believe that LDS themed programs or those operated by members of the church are better or safer than others. No doubt that these programs are damaging to the young person’s soul, at best a waste of money. Tragically, parents whose children are having trouble are desperate for help. We need to help people find the resources they need when they are searching for help.

  21. Scooptaylor Reply

    Unfortunately, these programs to help “troubled” teens are unregulated in the US. When parents are desperate to find help for their kids, there is no clearing house that can give you good information for finding the right place. More tragically, LDS church members want to believe that LDS themed programs or those operated by members of the church are better or safer than others. No doubt that these programs are damaging to the young person’s soul, at best a waste of money. Tragically, parents whose children are having trouble are desperate for help. We need to help people find the resources they need when they are searching for help.

  22. Joe Reply

    John:

    This episode epitomizes everything that I dislike about Mormon Expression. This episode was so UNBALANCED in its delivery and content. And the panel was clearly biased (to an extreme)l.

    First, we have no context with which to understand why these boys ended up at the boys ranch… other than their word. Second, you failed to find anyone who had a good experience at the Boys Ranch (surely, there has to be success stories?). And third, you failed to include anyone from the Boys Ranch, itself.

    Every one of us does a great job at glossing over our own personal histories. Hell, you are KILLING the LDS Church for doing this (perhaps fairly so?). But it seems a little hypocritical for you to turn around and then do the EXACT same thing in your podcasts. Could you please demonstrate some objective impartiality? Please.

    At least that is my perception of what happened here.

    Joe

    • John Larsen Reply

      Hi Joe,

      A couple of things.

      * The interview was about Kade’s and Eric’s experiences. The only way to provide objectivity in that regard would be to have others involved in their experience on the recording. We did not say that no one had positive experiences. In fact, Kade mentioned that many that he knew had gone on to be happy Mormons.

      * I don’t think the reasons for Kade’s or Eric’s incarceration were relevant to their treatment there, since it wasn’t a criminal incarceration and they weren’t charged with anything legally. They specifically stated that this was not a penal institution.

      * Regular Mormons hate talking on the record, or even anything close to it. Getting active Mormons to speak in a semi-official capacity about anything to the press is next to impossible.

      * Having said that, anyone who wants to talk about their positive experience or any representative of the Boy’s Ranch is welcome on Mormon Expression.

      * I have never professed to be balanced, I am not even sure what that means. However, I will allow for all voices to come on. If there are other points of view, they are welcome on the podcast.

      * I’m not sure what you mean by the “glossing over our own personal histories comment. So I don’t understand where you see hypocrisy.

      • guest Reply

        Mr. Larsen
        I am an individual who attended the Utah Boys Ranch a number of years ago, not only that but i personally knew Eric and Kade, I knew Eric better then i knew Kade. Let me start off saying that yes i am Mormon I have served an LDS mission and am an active member. No we are not a cult i have great love and respect for all religions and ways of life and i do not pass judgment on anyone mormon or not. Without going into detail about my identity or why i was at the boys ranch i will say that i deserved to be there. I was there for seven months and i can honestly say that while i did not like being there (who would?) i am a better person for it. I currently am married and am in school as a pre-med student who is planning to specialize in surgery after medical school. I would like to say that not once did i ever hear of or see any sort of abuse. That certainly does not mean it didnt happen i would not be so presumptous as to assume that these allegations are false. All i know is that i did not see it when i was there. Both Eric and Kade had reputations at the boys ranch for being highly manipulative and just trouble makers in general. Also, while i was there i never felt that mormonism was pushed on anyone. i realize that to someone who isnt LDS the experience may have been different and i respect that, but i honestly feel that all religions where respected while I was there. I am by no means saying the boys ranch is perfect but i am very skeptical of these claims of it being a corrupt and evil institution with its only goal being to make money and brain wash kids. To those of you who feel that mormons are a bunch of brain washed cultists i would reply that perhaps there are a few brain washed mormons out there but please do not make the assumption that just because i am LDS i am brain washed, stupid, ignorant, or just dumb in general. I assure you i am not. I have carefully inspected my religion among others and this is what i believe. I make no apology for it. As i said my experience at the boy ranch is one that changed my life and i assure you that i would not be where i am today without it. The boys ranch in many ways saved my life and i am forever grateful to my clinician and other staff who helped me through that difficult time in my life. I have visited the mormon gulag website and i find it to be incredibly biased. As i said i am not calling anyone a liar i am just going off of what i personally experienced and my experiences with Kade and Eric have shown me that they are both highly intelligent yet manipulative individuals. Their motives for campaigning against this so called mormon gulag are unknown to me but from past experience with them i would say that they have yet to deal with a lot of issues that landed them in the boys ranch in the first place. i hope this was enlightening to some.

        • Guest Reply

          You don’t think your religion or the Utah Boys Ranch brainwashes, yet you slander two sincere people you don’t even know with suggestive, non-specific accusations? Seems a little strange to me, Justin.

          • guest

            First who is Justin? Second if what was written was false than isnt it libel not slander? as it was in print. second no accusations were made i was merely sharing my experiences with eric and kade it is very possible that are completely different people now. i was simply telling people my experience and thoughts on them. third, why does the fact that i went to UBR and am LDS have any bearing on my opinions? i was simply expressing myself, is that not the point of this website? mormon “expressions”

          • Guest

            There is no such thing as slander or libel from anonymous hecklers on the Internet. It wasn’t meant to be a legal term, but kudos to you for being so vigilant. You didn’t share any experiences about Kade and Eric, all you did was disparage them with unspecific accusations. That’s much more cowardly than actually discussing why you think Kade and Eric should not be trusted, because you’ve given us nothing to investigate or discuss. You just expect us all to take your word that “both Eric and Kade had reputations at the boys ranch for being highly manipulative and just trouble makers in general.” How do we know this is true? You haven’t given us any example or even told us why you were at the Boys Ranch. Why should we believe you and not them, Jake? Please. Don’t belittle our intelligence with vague accusations and your urges for us not to believe them.

  23. Dan Schriever Reply

    My frustration in listening to this story was that Eric and Kade seemed clueless to the reasons they were there in the first place. Make no mistake. This place is just a taste of what is ahead of kids that behave in ways to get them thrown into such places.

    Yes … they described a very ‘Mormon’ flavor of a juvenile correction ranch. But if it wasn’t this one, it would have been one of many just like it. These guys made bad choices and were f***ing up their lives. What does it hurt to try a desperate measure like this to teach them how to behave in a world that would eat them alive?

    The only statements they made that bothered me about the place was that gay kids are being sent there. This is not the same as auto-theft or other likely activities that get one sent there.

    • Anonymous Reply

      True, but as Eric and Kade states, several of the kids are only there because they are gay or inactive Mormons whose parents hope the ranch will “Cure” them and make them strong believing Mormons again. If that’s all the incentive they need, that is hardly to be considered worthy of “juvenile detention” wouldn’t you agree? No doubt some of the boys there were more dangerous and deserving of incarceration, but I think it’s obvious from the many testimonials at the website that this place is out of control and needs to be shut down or at the least seriously restructured and under new management.

      Just read these two examples:

      I really found the whole thing to be absurd, but the thing that ultimately made me lose all respect for the men happened my 2nd day there. There was a kid who just really seemed to be at the top of the staff’s shit list. They constantly were yelling at him, pushing him around etc. They treated him like dirt…and I think dirt still had it better. There was a swing going out over the river, and we were allowed to play on it. Someone swung out and the stick that was holding the swing up broke. The swing, and the kid went into the water. The poor soul who had been tortured by the staff relentlessly saw his opportunity to find grace, and went into the river, fully clothed after the swing. What he didn’t realize was that there had been a cable stretched across the river as UBR was going to be building a suspension bridge across the river. The kid grabbed the swing and turned downstream, only to get caught by the throat on the cable, with the water forcing him against it. Everyone stood there, staff made no move to save him.
      I took off running and jumped into the water, my wrist in a cast and all, and swam toward him. At the last second I dove underwater, and hooked my cast over the cable. I came up and put both feet against his chest, and forced him upstream so that he could get off the cable. Staff was then at the riverside as the son of a bishop, a church employee, was saving one of their “inmates”. They grabbed him and pulled him from the river, I swam to safety and climbed out.
      The poor kid was then berated up and down for his stupidity, and they stripped him of his clothing, leaving him in just his briefs. They made him sit on a log in the middle of camp for all to see for hours as he sat there shivering from the mountain air and the ice cold water. I was treated as a hero, and he was treated horribly. Constantly being yelled at. If he moved he was screamed at.
      Well into the evening and the dark he was left sitting there, shivering before he was finally given a blanket and told to go get dressed. I was in absolute shock. I did the same thing he did, but the standard was definitely double.

      And this is most disturbing:

      I am a professional, psychologist. I have a daughter that I sent to West Ridge. I did all my home work, went out for a visit, attended one of their parent weekends, called several other professionals including the department of mental health who currently has children at West Ridge, did every thing I could to protect my daughter.

      I am not a Mormon but religion is important to us, my daughter went to private Christian schools K-8th grade, that was one of the things that I liked about West Ridge. They assured me that my daughter was free to practice any religion she choose. Let me clarify, my daughter had/has issues. She was sent there because she wouldn’t go to school and was physically abusive to me, no one else. I felt that if she didn’t get help she would end up in jail. I wanted to get her help before it was to late.

      My daughter arrived at West Ridge on a Friday. I wasn’t able to talk to her for about 2 weeks, when I did talk to her it was monitored. She had quickly progressed from a yellow shirt to a green shirt, she was “working her program”. She sounded sad on the phone, exhausted. My once very talkative hyperactive child turned into a child I didn’t recognize.

      About two weeks into the “program” I received a phone call telling me my daughter and her room mate were caught doing inappropriate things, what ever that meant. I asked all the right questions. I wanted to know if they had reported it to the police, children’s services and licensing. I was told all they were required to do was report it to children’s services, which is incorrect. My daughter 13 and the other girl 17, this is a crime that had to be reported to the police. West Ridge refused. They told me my daughter was as much to blame as the other girl and that she would be placed on “punishment”. I was promised that my daughter would have no contact with with this other girl. Come to find out my daughter was made to sleep in the same room with the perpetrator. According to them under 24 hour supervision. Any one knows you don’t put the victim with the perp.

      I was told what happened was “consensual”. My daughter has never had sexual desires for another female and the law states that since she is under the age of 14 she isn’t able to consent to any thing. I called the West Jorden Police department, they told me this was not uncommon for West Ridge. A detective was assigned to my daughters case. I called West Ridge and demanded to talk to my daughter in private. After many attempts I was allowed to talk to her, she broke down, cried like I never heard her cry. I knew right then and there that she needed to get out of there and fast.

      I sent my daughter to get her, they took her to the police station for an interview. We are now heading to trial. I have no real information on the other girl, just a name. I was told by West Ridge that this girl had never done this before. But after reading some of the blogs I now realize this other girl has done this before and will do it again if West Ridge isn’t held accountable.

      The journals you talk about were full of inappropriate things about my daughter. As far as them keeping the other girl away from my daughter, that was a joke. We found letters in my daughters back pack dated the day she left WR. All of this information was left with the detective.

      I have intentionally left out details, if your smart you can fill in the blanks. My daughter is traumatized, she is unable to be alone, I have to sleep with her each night, she is afraid to go down the hall to the bathroom in the dark, she had to finish school at home because she was to scared to be around other people. I am a professional and was fooled by them and their marketing, how many other people are out there that don’t know what to look for and know what questions to ask? I will have to live with this guilt for the rest of my life, for that I am ashamed. My daughter will have to live with this for the rest of her life, she is 13, I can only hope she still has a life.

      For all you parents, trust your gut, listen to what your child is saying, they may not always tell us the truth but if we listen we will hear.

      Read more “testimonials” here: http://westridgeacademytestimonials.wordpress.com/

  24. Anonymous Reply

    John and Zilpha. Thank you for doing Mormon Expression. What a great form for people to discuss Mormon topics. I always learn so much.

  25. Guest Reply

    I’m a bit late to the party, but I just listened to the podcast and wanted to comment. West Ridge Academy actually does have state oversight…they are required to be licensed by the state Department of Human Services and comply with regulations that can be found here: http://www.rules.utah.gov/publicat/code/r501/r501-19.htm
    and here:
    http://www.rules.utah.gov/publicat/code/r501/r501-02.htm
    If they violate these rules they are subject to sanction by the state. I don’t know if you’ll see this, Eric and Kade, but if you know of any *recent* violations they can be reported to the state Office of Licensing at 801-538-4242, and they will be investigated (alot of times there isn’t much that can be done, but they do take violations seriously.)

  26. Guest Reply

    I’m a bit late to the party, but I just listened to the podcast and wanted to comment. West Ridge Academy actually does have state oversight…they are required to be licensed by the state Department of Human Services and comply with regulations that can be found here: http://www.rules.utah.gov/publicat/code/r501/r501-19.htm
    and here:
    http://www.rules.utah.gov/publicat/code/r501/r501-02.htm
    If they violate these rules they are subject to sanction by the state. I don’t know if you’ll see this, Eric and Kade, but if you know of any *recent* violations they can be reported to the state Office of Licensing at 801-538-4242, and they will be investigated (alot of times there isn’t much that can be done, but they do take violations seriously.)

  27. Huck Reply

    An interestind ‘story’.  That’s all it is.  While the two ‘boys’ to sprinkle their lies with bits of truth it does not change the fact that a lot of what they said is untrue.  Eric says in his ‘Trapped in a Mormon Gulag’ ramblings that Buttars threatened him with his influence “He told me who he was – politically”  Truth is, D. Chris Buttars was a ‘no-one’ politacally when Eric was placed at the Boy’s Ranch in Early 2000.  He did not become a senator until 2001.  A little homework on Eric’s part would have done wonders for this lie.   
    Second, he claims in the same story that he met Brent ‘Captian America’ shortlt after he first arrived and was changed into his blanket.  I don’t know if Mr. Norwood ever wore a blanket, but I do know that He arrived at the Boy’s Ranch a good 4-6 months before Capt. America started working there (around July 2000)
    I have a hard time believing anything he says. 

  28. James Boggs Reply

    This is exactly the sort of thing you have to expect from organizations that derive their “moral” authority from a shitty book written by barbarians.

    Any system of ethics which espouses an unchangeable (haha, each prophet is the mouthpiece of God Almighty, yet they frequently contradict each other and change the doctrines) black and white dogmatic approach to behavior will inevitably produce violence and bigotry – its as certain as death and taxes.

  29. Pingback: Utah Boys Ranch on Mormon Expression Podcast | West Ridge Academy / Utah Boys Ranch

  30. Pingback: Mormon Expression » Episode 97: The Utah Boy’s Ranch | American Spring

  31. Jon Reply

    This podcast reminded me of the book *The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Bad*. From what the interviewees said in the podcast it sounded similar to some of the tactics used in the book. Not a good place for someone that needs to find love in the world.

  32. Dr white Reply

    I worked for YDE in 1991 when I was 16 .
    We worked 16 hr days picking pineapple and sometimes with no food.
    Iv got stories that need to be herd .
    Kids have been abused

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