Paris Hilton has spent nearly three years publicly speaking about the abuse she says she endured in the 1990s while at Provo Canyon School, a teen treatment facility in Utah.
The celebrity first spoke out in a documentary film in 2020 — and she has since pushed for reform to oversight of teen treatment programs in Utah and other states.
In her new memoir, “Paris,” Hilton wrote extensively about her time in wilderness programs and teen treatment centers — including at Provo Canyon School — and how the alleged abuse affected her into adulthood. The book was released Tuesday.
Universal Health Services, which owns Provo Canyon School, repeatedly has declined to comment on what Hilton said happened to her, saying it did not own the facility during the time she said she was abused. But people who were residents at Provo Canyon School in recent years have made similar accusations.
These are the key moments that Hilton describes from the time she spent in Utah as a teenager.
Hilton said being sent to “Provo” was considered a threat while she was in teen treatment programs in other states.
Provo Canyon School was not the first teen treatment program Hilton was sent away to in the mid-1990s. Her parents first sent her to CEDU, a now-defunct program in California. After she ran away from that program, she wrote, she was sent to a wilderness program in Montana called Ascent.
But Hilton ran from that program, too. She recalled in her memoir arriving at Provo Canyon School in 1997 and being forced to submit to a pelvic exam before being handed a pair of faded sweats labeled with the number “127.” Hilton said staff referred her by this number instead of her name throughout her 11-month stay.
Hilton describes being shut inside a seclusion room while at Provo Canyon School.
Hilton wrote that she was sent to a seclusion room during her time in Utah, which the facility called an observation room, after questioning the medication she was being forced to take and why the pills were prescribed to her.
She was forced to take off her clothes and sit inside a hexagon-shaped cinder block room, Hilton wrote. As hours passed, she said, she daydreamed of the life she would have when she turned 18 and could leave the Utah treatment center.
“My life after Provo would be everything,” she wrote. “Instead of numbered sweats, I’d curate a designer wardrobe and never wear the same outfit twice. Instead of bloodshot eyes and a bruised face, I’d have lush fake lashes, a seamless spray tan, and a touch of glitter on my cheekbones. Instead of shame, I would wrap myself in audacity, and I would make so much money and be so successful, no one could ever have control over me again.”
While at Provo Canyon School, Hilton said she endured late-night gynecological exams for no clear medical reason.
“They called it a ‘medical exam,’” Hilton wrote. “And because I wasn’t ready to call it ‘digital rape,’ I called it a medical exam, too.”
Hilton first publicly alleged that she had been sexually assaulted at Provo Canyon School under the guise of gynecological exams last May, during a push to bring federal oversight and regulation to “troubled-teen” programs.
In her book, Hilton recalled being haunted by memories of being taken to an infirmary several times in the middle of the night for a vaginal exam that had no clear medical purpose.
“The staff at Provo had their favorites,” she wrote. “Always pretty girls. But I don’t think it was about being pretty. I think these were weak people in the outside world, men and women who got off on the power they had over us.”
If the girls resisted the examination, Hilton said, they were threatened with the injection of a sedative. These injections were used with such regularity during that time that residents and staff nicknamed it “booty juice,” she said.
“There was always a tray with syringes,” Hilton remembers of the infirmary where she was examined.
After she left Utah, Hilton said her parents kept secret where she had been for nearly two years.
Hilton stayed at Provo Canyon School until she turned 18. But she wrote that those closest to her — including her own siblings — were not told the truth about where she had been from summer 1997 to January 1999.
“The whole thing was an ugly little secret shared by Mom, Dad, and me,” she wrote. “We didn’t discuss it. It was like the previous seventeen months didn’t happen.”
Hilton said her mother told acquaintances that she had gone to school in London during that time.
As an adult, Hilton googled “Provo Canyon School” and said she was surprised to learn it was still open.
Hilton said she looked up Provo Canyon School online when she was an adult, not realizing it was still operating. She wanted to share what had happened to her, she wrote, but was worried it could tarnish her reputation or growing businesses.
By 2013, Hilton was focused on her DJ career and creating music — but she wrote that she thought back to her time in Utah often.
“I couldn’t shake the thought of the children being held at Provo Canyon School, but I felt exactly the way the school had trained me to feel: powerless,” she wrote. “I wanted to help, but I didn’t know who to go to. Anything I did meant risking my carefully constructed narrative. It meant potentially hurting or embarrassing my family.”
Hilton did eventually speak out in her 2020 documentary, “This is Paris.” She described being abused at Provo Canyon School, and has since advocated for the facility’s closure. Provo Canyon School remains in operation.
The celebrity has returned to Utah twice for advocacy work — once in 2020 to hold a rally outside Provo Canyon School, and again the following year to testify before a state Senate committee urging members to pass regulatory reform of Utah’s booming troubled-teen industry.
That new law went into effect in 2021. It puts limits on use of restraints, drugs and isolation rooms in youth treatment programs. It also requires facilities to document any instance in which staffers use physical restraints and seclusion, and it mandated that they submit reports to state licensors. It also increased the required number of inspections that state regulators must conduct.