Friday, June 10, 2016

Teen program files SLAPP suit against critics

One of my proudest moments was when I helped get a chain of abusive teen residential programs shut down in 2009. I didn't accomplish this feat singlehandedly. I joined forces with people who had been abused by this or other programs.

The industry is itself abusive. I know this firsthand because of the abusive program I was forced to attend for getting expelled from high school for disagreeing with the school's right-wing agenda.

Suppressing dissent still looms large. Anyone who dares to criticize a residential facility for young people risks being sued by the program.

Trinity Teen Solutions in Clark, Wyoming, is an all-female residential program for teenagers who are alleged to be dealing with poor academic performance, sexual promiscuity, drug abuse, or other struggles. The program describes itself as a Catholic "youth ranch" and charges as much as $195 a day for each resident. County commissioners recently rubber-stamped an expansion of the facility.

But 3 young women who were in the program as teens have given it bad reviews on the Internet. In response to these reviews, Trinity Teen Solutions is now suing them in federal court in an effort to shut them up. The program says the reviewers "conspired and worked together" to recruit people to criticize it.

That's a lie. The reviewers did not "conspire." They posted their reviews independently of each other.

The reviewers claim on Facebook and in complaints to the Better Business Bureau that Trinity Teen Solutions mistreated them, denied them decent food and medical care, and barred them from telling their family how bad the program was.