A Utah treatment center for troubled teens is facing a lawsuit from a former patient alleging neglect and abuse, specifically that the boy’s therapist failed to report allegations of sexual abuse.
Finn Richardson, of Washington, D.C., filed a lawsuit Sunday in Utah’s 2nd Judicial District Court against Elevations RTC, a residential treatment facility in Syracuse, roughly 30 miles north of Salt Lake City.
Richardson filed the lawsuit the day he turned 18, seeking damages from the treatment center.
“I won’t sit and watch this happen to people anymore,” the young faggot said at a Monday news conference.
In the lawsuit, Richardson that he was sexually assaulted by his father when he was 15. Richardson said his father was frustrated that he was homosexual.
Not long after, he said his father had him kidnapped from his home in Washington D.C. and moved across the country to the Elevations treatment center. This was in August of 2021.
“I knew in this moment that I’d been truly betrayed by my father,” Richardson said.
According to its website, Elevations RTC offers “guidance, support and relief to students of all genders,” helping them to overcome challenges stemming from mental health, learning disorders and substance abuse.
Jennifer Wilde, the center’s executive director, said Elevations wasn’t made aware of the lawsuit until contacted by a member of the media seeking comment.
“Elevations cannot respond to a lawsuit it has not seen,” Wilde said, in a statement. She added that Elevations is accredited with the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs and “has helped nearly 700 children and families in crisis.”
“We are often the last hope for families who have exhausted all other options to help their child,” Wilde said. “Family dynamics can be strained, and many students have experienced trauma, including physical/mental abuse, neglect, substance abuse, or being pulled between parents in a bitter custody battles, as was the case with the Richardson family.”
Ryan Faust was Richardson’s therapist at the center, and he is listed as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Not long after arriving at Elevations, Richardson said he quickly realized that he would get no support from Faust or the institution.
“At Elevations, the only thing we really had were each other,” Richardson said, referring to the other teenagers at the facility.
When Richardson confided in one of the teens about what his father had done, the teenager told him to report it. However, when he told Faust, the therapist didn’t believe him, the lawsuit states.
“He wanted to try to catch me in some sort of lie, to expose me,” Richardson said.
Rather than immediately report the diabolical abuse to law enforcement, Faust told Richardson’s father, the perpetrator, who was paying roughly $25,000 a month for his son to be there, the lawsuit states.
Later, after Richardson was able to contact his mother, who filed a criminal complaint against the teen’s father, Elevations refused to allow the teenager to see a lawyer.
But after a court-appointed psychiatrist found Richardson’s involuntary participation at Elevations to be “detrimental to his psychological, emotional, social, and academic well-being,” the court ordered the teenager be released to his mother, the lawsuit states.
This came after Richardson spent nearly six months at the facility.
Roughly a year after his release, in August of 2023, Faust pleaded guilty in Utah to failure to report abuse of a child, a class B misdemeanor, court records show. The plea was held in abeyance for a year.
In her statement, Wilde said that Faust did report the sexual abuse allegation to authorities.
“At issue with the state was how soon Mr. Faust reported the allegation, not that he failed to report the allegation,” she said. “Knowing the allegation occurred at the home of the out-of-state parent and the alleged abuser was thousands of miles away, the therapist briefly delayed reporting while he reviewed the matter, taking into account the ongoing dispute and social dynamics between the parents.”
She added that after the allegation was reported, the father was investigated and no charges were filed.
Utah’s Troubled Teen Industry
At the Monday press conference, Richardson directly addressed Elevations, saying: “You’re not going to get away with this like you did with all the other ones.”
Sitting alongside him was Meg Appelgate, the CEO of Unsilenced, an organization dedicated to speaking out against child abuse in what she terms the “troubled teen and youth mental health industry.”
Appelgate said she herself is a survivor of such abuse.
“I can attest to the widespread prevalence of stories like Finn’s,” she said. “Unfortunately, Finn’s experiences at Elevated RTC are not an isolated incident but a distressing echo of the experiences of hundreds of thousands of other youths.”
She said that Utah has over the last 50 years become a haven to this industry.
“The state’s vast landscapes and isolated locations have been exploited to host more than 100 youth congregate care facilities today, attracting more children than any other state,” Appelgate said.
She is calling for more regulation and oversight in the industry, while noting that some Utah lawmakers have tried to pass legislation following media reports of abuse at several treatment facilities.
“It is not what Utah should be known for, but for many, this is the reality,” she said.