Paris Hilton leads protest and calls for closure of Utah school

Paris Hilton has spoken about abuse she suffered at a boarding school in Utah, and on Friday she took her foray almost to the school's doorstep.
Hilton organized a protest in a park near Provo Canyon School, along with hundreds of others who share stories of abuse they say suffered there or at similar schools for problematic youth. She calls for the school to be closed.
Hilton, a celebrity turned reality TV star, and many others wore black t-shirts with red letters on the back that read "Survivor" and "Breaking Code Silence" on the front, a reference to the Hilton's new campaign forces others to shed light on what they believe is a corrupt industry that manipulates parents and traumatizes teenagers. It was the first time Hilton had returned to the area since she was there as a teenager when she said she was verbally, emotionally and physically abused in what she described as "torture".
Image: Paris Hilton (Rick Bowmer / AP)
Since a documentary entitled "This is Paris" was released on YouTube last month, other celebrities have shared their experiences at this school or similar, including Michael Jackson's daughter Paris Jackson and tattoo artist Kat Von D.
"It's something so traumatic that you won't even want to believe it's real," Hilton said in a speech to the crowd. "It's something that I put out of my mind forever."
Related: Jackson shared her story in solidarity with Hilton.
The institution is now under new ownership and the administration has stated that it has no position on anything previously, including Hilton's time there. The school's owners declined to comment on Friday, referring to a statement on the school website that the previous owners sold the school in 2000. The school is designed to help adolescents who experience problems in typical home and school settings, some of which are drug related, addiction or act violent, according to the website.
"We strive to provide high quality care to adolescents with special and often complex emotional, behavioral and psychiatric needs," the statement said.
In the documentary, Hilton says she got into New York nightlife as a teenager and snuck into clubs while her family was staying at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
Image: Paris Hilton (Rick Bowmer / AP)
Her angry parents sent her to various programs to improve. When she was 17, Hilton was finally sent to what she calls "the worst of the worst": Provo Canyon School in Utah.
She stayed in Provo for 11 months and said she was mentally and physically abused while there. She claimed the staff would beat her, force her to take unknown pills, watch her shower, and send her to solitary confinement without clothes as a punishment.
The 39-year-old says the treatment was so "traumatic" that she suffered from nightmares and insomnia for years.
After going home, determined to protect herself, she eventually constructed the person she was when she became famous on the reality show The Simple Life in the early 2000s.
Image: Paris Hilton (Rick Bowmer / AP)
Hilton and others at the protest vowed to move forward until all schools that abuse teenagers are closed. After she and others had spoken in the park, she led the group on a protest walk until they arrived at the school gates, where they stood in front of a school sign with their own placard that read, “Shut down Provo. ”
“There are thousands of these schools everywhere. Provo Canyon is just the first I want to go down, ”said Hilton. "From there it will be a domino effect."

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