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Montana removes 27 children from youth treatment ranch, alleging 'egregious' abuse



Authorities have removed 27 children from a youth treatment facility in northwest Montana, citing "consistent and chronic allegations" of medical neglect and psychological and psychological abuse.

The State Department of Public Health and Human Services said it had been suspended License to the Ranch for Kids in Rexford, Lincoln County, near Kootenai National Forest along the Canadian border.

"The 27 children were removed at a safe location," the Agency said in a statement on Tuesday. The details of their care and condition are confidential.

Sheila Hogan, the department's director, said the agency said it was about to be used in a relationship with parents

The Ranch for Kids

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office allegations of egregious physical and psychological child abuse and neglect. "

The Health Department has said that" both have been rising "in both frequency and severity in recent months,"

  • Children were hit, kicked, body slammed and spit on by staff members.
  • Staff members were inflicted "persistent psychological abuse" on children, including prolonged isolation.
  • Children were forced to go on 1
    5- t o 20-mile of "disciplinary walks" on remote forest service roads in harsh conditions.
  • A nail gun was shot at a child.

The Missoulian newspaper of Missoula quoted the ranch's executive director, Bill Sutley, on Wednesday as denying some of the allegations, including the allegation that a nail gun had been fired at a child.

The other allegations, he was quoted as saying, were blown out of proportion to discredit the facility ,

The Ranch for Kids, a non-profit organization founded in 2004, describes itself as a respite care program for at-risk

"The Ranch for Kids program is based on Christian principles and the United States values ​​of caring, simplicity, consistency, and accountability. "

The state action comes after years of licensing disputes between the state and the ranch, which says it is an adjunct ministry of Epicenter International Missions, and less than a month after a state law has been applied to children's programs under the jurisdiction of the Health Department.

No co ntact information for Epicenter International Missions was listed in publicly available state records. In 2013, during one of the earlier licensing disputes, the state laboratory department told The Associated Press that Epicenter had no building, no congregation and no ordered clergy.


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