Utah teen treatment center closes after 26 former residents sued, alleging abuse and mistreatment

Former residents of Vista Treatment Centers say they were exposed to harmful group therapy tactics and were put in painful restraints.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Vista Sage located at 3149 E 9800 S in Sandy, March 18, 2022.

A Utah teen treatment center that came under scrutiny after 26 former residents filed a lawsuit in March that alleged staff members mistreated them has closed, state records confirm.

Licensing records show that Vista Dimple Dell Canyon location was closed as of June, and a Human Resources employee confirmed to The Salt Lake Tribune in May that the closure was coming.

That was two months after 26 former residents filed a lawsuit alleging that Vista’s staff engaged in harmful group therapy tactics, shamed young people for expressing their sexuality, put clients in painful physical restraints and gave them unneeded medication.

The complaint also states that the program engaged in a “referral scheme,” where it would pay education consultants to recommend its program to parents with children who were struggling in traditional school settings.

The plaintiffs, who are now adults, were residents at Vista’s facilities between 2003 and 2019.

Vista is one of the more than 100 teen treatment programs in Utah, which cater to parents and out-of-state agencies who care for struggling teenagers. Several programs have been accused of abusive tactics that allegedly left young people traumatized. Some have faced lawsuits, though none in recent history have been accused by dozens of former clients in a single legal action.

Michael Young, an attorney representing the former residents, confirmed Friday that the litigation will move forward even though the program has closed. Attorneys for Vista and its employees who were named as defendants did not respond to a request for comment.

It is not clear whether the civil lawsuit played a factor in Vista closing. The program denied the lawsuit’s allegations in March, describing them as “wholly without merit.”

“We believe our clients have been well-served throughout the years, while also recognizing the complexities of providing mental health treatment,” a statement at the time from Vista’s management read.