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12 Nov, 2013 20:16

Anonymous launches Twitterstorm to close Utah school over alleged torture of students

Anonymous launches Twitterstorm to close Utah school over alleged torture of students

Hactivist group Anonymous has launched a campaign to shut down a Utah boarding school where it claims students have been beaten, tortured, kept in solitary confinement, and sexually abused.

“The only way to stop these atrocities from hiding in the dark is to shine a massive spotlight on them. Nobody can fight for what they aren't aware of,” Anonymous said in press release

Former students of Logan River Academy recount undergoing cruel treatment which, according to them, was school policy.

The so-called Twitterstorm, accompanied by the hashtag ‘ShutLoganRiver,’ has been active since Monday. Anonymous has urged users to post tweets containing the hashtag “no more than once every five minutes” to raise awareness of “this billion dollar enterprise of cruelty” and its “often fatal abuses.”

The stories of abuse by survivors of the troubled teen industry need to be heard now. http://t.co/gqkxmE8ik6#ShutLoganRiver

— AnonymousUpdates (@UpdatesAnon) November 11, 2013

The collective has also drafted a petition on change.org which already has over 900 signatures. 

There is also a website dedicated to the cause, along with a Facebook page called ‘Shutdown Logan River Academy.’ The group has also put together a four-minute video based on testimonies of former students and their parents.

‘Enterprise of cruelty’

Logan River Academy, which calls itself one of “the premier residential treatment centers” on its website, gained the attention of Anonymous after a number of testimonies appeared online.

Twitterstorm participants shared testimonials, reportedly posted by former students and their family members, which criticize the school.  

Former students of Logan River Academy, a facility for teenagers with behavioral and psychological problems such as autism and anger issues, claim they were submitted to solitary confinement for months as part of what the school calls "devo time" - short for "development time.”

“The system called "Devo" is one in which any student who partakes in infract-able behavior is sent to a small room where he is aggressively ordered to sit up straight without looking or communicating with other students,” one of the testimonies from a sender named Max R reads.

Devo time was allegedly handed out to students for “offences” such as having their feet visible from under a desk or bringing a moist towelette from the dining area to clean glasses.

Help us bring awareness to this industry built on child abuse. #ShutLogalRiver Twitterstorm package: http://t.co/weQXFVBsPp

— AnonymousUpdates (@UpdatesAnon) November 11, 2013

There is reportedly a stricter level of devo time, called “Precaution,” in which students are completely isolated for up to 30 days.

Precaution means that the student’s every move takes place in devo – including sleeping and eating. The student “would literally never leave” other than to walk to the bathroom. But even there, personal hygiene procedures were watched by staff, according to the former students.

“Some students report allegations of being stripped naked for it,” the petition reads, citing student testimonies.

In one of the recent testimonies, a student’s parents write that they pulled their son out of the school “after only 5 months, the last 3 of which were spent primarily in "devo" (solitary).”

Another widely used term, according to students, is “PI,” which stands for “Physical Incident or Physical Intervention.”

It “is an excuse for irritable staff to physically bully students who they don't like,” Max R wrote.

One testimonial given to Anonymous alleged that a member of staff had sexual relations with a student.

Most of the collected experiences echo the testimony of Michael Carter, 28, who spent 13 months at the academy. His 10-minute story on YouTube was one of the first testimonies to surface. 

Logan River Academy denied the allegations, saying the information being shared online is "false, inaccurate and misleading."

"Students are not isolated, secluded, abused or mistreated in any way," the statement issued on Monday said. "To the contrary, students facing an acute and temporary crisis receive increased supervision and support during the crisis to protect them and others and to best provide for their well-being."

Such “increased supervision and support” costs parents between $7,500 and $8,900 per child per month.

“My son died as a result of one of these programs. I would hate to see that happen again,” a testimony from Pamela Spivey from Knoxville, Tennessee reads.

The academy’s co-owner, Jeff Smith, told the Daily Dot that he believes that these allegations have been drummed up by the sibling of a former academy member who was unhappy that his brother was there.

“It’s some people who have an agenda and are trying to damage us,” he said.

Anonymous has asked people to contact the academy and local authorities to “demand investigation into possible abuse” and put pressure on the governor and mayor to force Logan River Academy to stop using "development, precaution, and isolation” techniques.