UPDATE: The Salt Lake Tribune is raising money to get inspection reports and sustained complaints for every youth residential treatment center in Utah. Donations are accepted at sltrib.com/ourrecords.
Kat Von D has joined Paris Hilton in her call to shut down a Provo reformatory school.
The tattoo artist who starred on the TLC reality TV show “LA Ink” and has her own vegan makeup line said she also endured emotional and physical abuse at Provo Canyon School. In an Instagram video post, she said she was sent to the facility when she was 15, and spent “the most traumatic six months of my life” there.
Von D, 38, decided to speak out Tuesday after watching Hilton’s documentary “This is Paris” and realizing she had been at the same school. Hilton, 39, who was sent to the facility when she was 17, recounts a slew of abuses in the film. She said she was hit, yelled at and forced into solitary confinement for hours at a time for not taking medication.
Other residents have also made claims of abuse against the school. A Tribune report showed a pattern of controversy and allegations of abuse that stretches from the 1980s to today at Provo Canyon School, one of Utah’s largest youth residential treatment centers.
Hilton started a Change.org petition in late September calling for the school to be shut down. It had gathered close to 124,000 signatures as of Thursday afternoon. Von D’s revelation likely will reenergized the movement. She also called for the school’s closure and her video was reposted by the hotel heiress.
“Like you, I have always felt so ashamed to tell anyone about this,” Hilton posted. “But it’s not us who should be ashamed. We were only children. The people who work at and run these places are the ones who should be ashamed.”
Von D, whose full name is Katherine Von Drachenberg, said that while she was at the school she was told, falsely, by a counselor that she had contracted HIV. She said some residents were forced to sit in a chair and stare at a wall for days. In a comment on the video she said she left the facility “with major PTSD and other traumas due to the unregulated, unethical and abusive protocols of this ‘school.’”
“I realized that was kind of the root to my drinking and later on doing drugs,” Von D said in the video. “I’m sober 13 years now, and I’m so proud of that and so grateful for that, but after watching that documentary, I realized that I still have some stuff to work through.”
Von D said her parents sent her to the facility after they became concerned when she became interested in tattoos and dropped out of high school. She said she does not blame them for sending her to Provo Canyon School and believes they “were wildly misguided and told something like this would be a solution.”
Charter Behavioral Health Systems owned the facility from 1986 to 2000. Provo Canyon School is now owned by Universal Health Services.