In the latest scandal to hit the so-called “residential therapy for teens” industry, a judge in Wyoming has allowed claims of forced labor against a religious facility disguised as a therapy center to proceed. An article by the Courthouse News Service reveals a human trafficking scheme in which parents were tricked into sending their children into forced labor instead of therapy.
The case first began in 2020, when four plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Trinity Teen Solutions, a Wyoming-based company claiming to offer recreational therapies through a Christian faith-based approach. The company had dismissed the claims on the base “the teens had not stated a plausible claim for relief.” However, the teens were forced to write positive testimonials about their experience so that Trinity Teen Solutions could use them as “proof” in the event a teenager attempted to speak out on the abuse they suffered.
“[We] were lashed together or to farm animals, forced to carry around a folding chair 24 hours a day for months and ordered to run up and down a massive hill covered in ragged stones and rattlesnakes.” – Female plaintiffs.
Forced labor practices to break the spirit
The teenagers were subjected to different forms of forced labor, according to the plaintiffs. After being sent to two different facilities, separated by gender, the teenagers were searched thoroughly and forced to agree to harsh treatment and censorship of communication with their parents. They shared details on inhumane sleeping conditions and a lack of provision of clothing, as well as being forced to watch a movie to “break the spirits of the minors before being put to work.”
“[We] were given forced manual labor assignments on the ranch, regularly threatened with sleep and food deprivation and even forced silence for entire weeks at a time.”
Thankfully, these claims have moved to the next steps of litigation. No teenager, adult, or child should ever suffer from forced labor and abuse.