I know Tia Foster personally, I witnessed her bruising and the scabs on her face and body from restraint. She attended October 1998 to 2000. This is her story.
I was 14 when I arrived at Cross Creek Manor in LaVerkin, Utah. It is a very dark period in my life that I have tried to forget but I need to remember it now to warn parents not to send their children there. I am 28 years old now, work full time, and run my own animal rescue. It took me years to heal from my experience and I wouldn’t want any child to endure what I did.
At 14, I was rebelling against my parents and my school. Nothing hardcore, just going through what many teens do. I smoked pot occasionally and argued with teachers. Looking back on this, I think that I would have naturally outgrown this phase of my life. I arrived there not knowing what kind of a place it was. I was told it was going to be a nice boarding school and I was only going to be there for a few months. It turned out I was there for almost 2 years.
The moment I arrived, the staff members took everything from me and gave me a uniform to wear. I was to only talk to the staff and one girl who they called “my hope buddy.” Thus began the process of indoctrination and brainwashing. That night I was told I had ten minutes to shower and dress. The showers were freezing cold. I was not allowed to wear shoes and my parents hadn’t sent slippers for me to wear so I could only wear my socks. The next day my socks were sopping wet from being outside in the fenced in area we were allowed to walk in circles in for exercise each day. I caught a bad cold but was denied any medical treatment.
The first group meeting, the director of the program Ron Garret confronted me. He asked me why I was there and I said, “because I smoked some weed and talked back to my parents.” He swore at me and called me a whore and got into my face and screamed insults at me. From day one, I refused to allow him to get to me and was always disgusted by how him and the other staff members used fear and insults and threats to control the girls. This lead to abuse and mind games. I was thrown into the “iso room” for months at a time. The iso room was freezing cold with nothing in it. A flourascent light would be kept on all day and two staff members would be seated in the door way watching me but I was not allowed to talk to them. This sensory deprivation was real torture. Imagine not making contact with another human for months on end, having nothing to read or be entertained by, no warmth or comfort. Just a cold, bare room.
I was also drugged heavily in an attempt to get me to comply. When I refused these powerful drugs, I would be tackled by staff and have my nose pinched so that I couldn’t breath. When my mouth would open, they would force the pills and water in. I had permanent damage to my kidneys from these medications as well as other health problems. Risperdol was the worst of these drugs as well as Geodon which is usually prescibed to schizophrenics which I was not.
In those months, I struggled to keep my sanity. I would try to imagine happy things and keep hope alive. It wasn’t easy. Some of the staff were sadists and would enjoy take down sessions. Take downs are supposed to be a way to restrain out of control patients in hospitals. Take downs at Cross Creek were rarely ever to restrain anyone out of control but rather as a way to inflict pain and show dominance whenever we didn’t comply. At this time, I was only being fed the bare minimum to keep me alive. I weighed about 85 lbs and had no strength left in me.
Ron Garrett wanted me to write a letter to my parents telling them that I was fine and that everything was ok. I refused. He told a staff member named Dennis who must have weighed 250 lbs to hold me down until I agreed to write the letter. Dennis slammed my head into the carpet of the iso room which was very rough carpeting. He layed on top of me and I couldn’t breath. He bent me arm back in a way that hurt so badly I couldn’t stand it. I was terrified I would die. Just when I thought I would he would let me up to take a breath and then go back to laying on me. This went on for hours. It was truly torture. Afterwards my arm was so injured I could not use it properly for over a month. I had horrible carpet burn on my face and my body was covered in giant bruises. The entire time I was in iso I had to endure humiliation. The staff watched me shower and go to the bathroom. Ron Garrett would constantly come in and threaten me and taunt me. He said he would send me to the program in Jamaica where the big black guards would “have a lot of fun playing with a skinny white girl.”
Amazingly, throughout this whole time, I refused to brainwashed and give in to them. I beg you to not send your child there. This place can only bring heartache and pain.