Anonymous, a global network of activists and hacktivists, has set its sights on the Logan River Academy, which describes itself on its website as “one of the premier residential treatment centers and therapeutic boarding schools for struggling teens.” Logan River Academy released a statement in response, stating that any rumors of mistreatment or illegal conduct were false.
Anonymous has gained worldwide attention through actions against the Church of Scientology, the Recording Industry Association of America, Motion Picture Association of America, PayPal, credit card companies and other high-profile targets such as the U.S. government.
In an online video, Anonymous alleges various types of abuse by the academy against teens in its care and the use of solitary confinement and isolation as disciplinary tools.
Logan River Academy said in response that “various individuals have posted false, inaccurate and misleading information about the Academy online and on social media. ... Students are not isolated, secluded, abused, or mistreated in any way.”
In a typed press release, Anonymous linked to a petition calling on Logan River Academy to stop using alleged solitary confinement.
The petition states that Logan River Academy’s residential program is not “properly accredited,” though Logan River Academy insists that it “is, and has always been, fully licensed and in strict compliance with all regulatory and accreditation requirements.”
Also according to the petition, “many students in this program spend most of their days sitting straight forward, not allowed to move, look at another student, or make any noise; think detention but much longer and more strict. The program calls it ‘DEVO.’” “DEVO” is short for “development,” according to the petition.
DEVO time is allegedly given out for even minor infractions. In one purported example it says that “one student was punished with a significant amount (hours) of ‘DEVO’ time for returning to his room with a moist towelette from the dining area to clean his glasses, thinking it was permitted. They called it contraband and gave him excessive ‘DEVO’ time.” According to the petition some students have received over 100 consecutive days of DEVO time for even a single infraction.
Beyond DEVO, there is allegedly another form of discipline called “Precaution.” In Precaution, the petition says, some students report being stripped naked — possibly so they can’t strangle themselves with their clothing. The petition suggests “this strategy may also mean they are improperly attempting to care for suicide risks without the proper facilities and personnel.” The students are allegedly also kept completely isolated from others for up to 30 days on end and are forced to sit still and remain quiet.
The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry is also quoted: “The potential psychiatric consequences of prolonged solitary confinement are well recognized and include depression, anxiety and psychosis ... Furthermore, the majority of suicides in juvenile correctional facilities occur when the individual is isolated or in solitary confinement.”
The petition also claims that “they (Logan River Academy) pay many of their staff, who have direct supervision of special needs kids, close to minimum wage.”
As of 4:30 p.m. Monday, the petition had 866 supporters.
According to Logan River Academy, many of the statements appear to have been made by dissatisfied students.
“While the vast majority of students successfully complete the treatment program and return to their families, homes and communities greatly benefitted by their time at Logan River Academy, no program can guarantee success and satisfaction in all cases.”
They go on to reiterate, “Nevertheless, statements alleging illegal, unethical, inappropriate, and unsafe conduct are false.”
Along with the initial press release and video, Anonymous carried out a "Twitterstorm" at 2 p.m. Monday, causing “#ShutLoganRiver” to trend briefly. A Twitterstorm is created when enough Twitter users post about the same thing at once, causing a topic to “trend,” or show up on Twitter's homepage as a popular subject.
Additionally, in Anonymous’ video release, viewers are given Logan River Academy’s phone number and told to contact them directly about the alleged abuse. Viewers are also told to contact Gov. Herbert about stopping Logan River Academy from using the alleged isolation techniques and they provide Logan Mayor Randy Watts’ office number, urging people to demand an investigation into the academy.
Due to the holiday, the governor’s office and mayor’s office were closed. However, The Herald Journal left messages seeking responses to the video and Twitterstorm.
The Logan City Police Department was also contacted by The Herald Journal to find out if any concerns had been brought to them about Logan River Academy, but the public information officer was also unavailable because of the holiday.