Paris Hilton has come out with new details about the sexual assaults she says she endured as a youth while enrolled in what’s known as the “troubled teen industry.”
Hilton alleges that during her time at Utah’s Provo Canyon School, which refers to itself as an “intensive, psychiatric youth residential treatment center,” male staff—not doctors—woke her up in the middle of the night and led her to a private room, where they forced her to submit to “cervical exams.”
“Sleep-deprived & heavily medicated, I didn’t understand what was happening,” Hilton tweeted. “I was forced to lie on a padded table, spread my legs & submit to cervical exams. I cried while they held me down & said, ‘No!’”
The staff then told her to “shut up” and “be quiet,” she said, adding that she was assaulted this way multiple times.
“I don’t know what they were doing, but it was definitely not a doctor and it was really scary,” Hilton told the Times. “Now looking back as an adult, that was definitely sexual abuse.”
Hilton said she’d blocked out the memories, but they’ve come back now.
It’s not the first time Hilton has spoken out about her time in the troubled teen industry. In fact, she’s spent the last few years advocating for an overhaul of the policies that make the industry possible.
The troubled teen industry, which receives billions of dollars in public funding every year, is made up of treatment centers, boarding schools, wilderness programs, boot camps, and religious institutions that claim to rehabilitate youth with mental health struggles and behavioral issues. The billion-dollar industry continues to operate despite being marred with abuse allegations, including reports of abuse, and conversion therapy. Experts often compare the institutions to prisons and point out the industry’s frequent use of strict and outdated strategies for dealing with kids.
California Rep. Adam Schiff previously estimated that between 2000 and 2015, more than 80 children died in troubled teen facilities, due to causes like strangulation, starvation, and suicide, VICE News reported.
Hilton was sent to Provo Canyon by her parents in the 1990s.
“My parents were promised that tough love would fix me and that sending me across the country was the only way,” Hilton told reporters last year when she visited the U.S. Capitol to support legislation targeting the industry.
“I was strangled, slapped across the face, watched in the shower by male staff, called vulgar names, forced to take medication without a diagnosis, not given a proper education, thrown into solitary confinement in a room covered in scratch marks and smeared in blood, and so much more.”
Universal Health Services, which owns Provo Canyon, didn’t respond to a VICE News request for comment by the time of publication, but a spokesperson told the Times it can’t comment on individual cases, citing privacy laws. The organization denied several allegations, including use of solitary confinement or medication when doling out discipline, and maintained that corrective action is taken when staff act inappropriately, including via job termination.
Today, Hilton refers to herself and others who’ve gone through similar experiences as “survivors.”
“I was violated & I am crying as I type this because no one, especially a child, should be sexually abused,” Hilton said. “My childhood was stolen from me & it kills me this is still happening to other innocent children.”
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