Photo Credit: The Establishment
The state of California is trying to shut down a River View Christian Academy because they reportedly punish kids who say they are gay or bisexual. Also this Christian boarding school, the subject of a BuzzFeed News investigation, is accused of withholding medical care from students and restricting their communication with parents.
Court documents reveal the California Department of Social Services received several complaints over the past decade about River View, but it wasn’t until after a BuzzFeed News article in September 2018 that the state got enough information to take action. According to nearly two dozen women who attended and worked at River View expressed their concerns with BuzzFeed News. They said the staff restricted students’ communication with parents, took kids off of antidepressants cold turkey, prohibited girls from speaking for days or weeks at a time, failed to report allegations of abuse, and disciplined students for attempting to kill themselves.
Officials with the Social Services Department started interviewing former River View students after the story was published, and called the school posing as a parent interested in enrolling their child at the facility to get more information. The state got a warrant to raid River View in January and sent a team of 16 California Highway Patrol officers with two K-9 units and 17 social workers to the campus. According to state records obtained by BuzzFeed News, the department had evidence that River View staff members stored handguns and AR-15–style rifles on campus.
River View staffers refused to speak with investigators during the raid on the orders of the founder and owner, Phil Ludwig.
The BuzzFeed News also reports that while River View maintains it is a Christian boarding school, the paperwork that parents must sign — which is now part of the court record — stipulates that it is a program for “at-risk youth and [River View’s] first priority is dealing with core issues of oppositional behavior.” Whether or not students graduate out of River View’s program is based on behaviors, not academics.
The students from River View claimed they couldn’t call 911 if they had to report an emergency or abuse, were forced to stand outside at night in the cold for a half hour if they misbehaved and had their shoes confiscated. Also, when they were physically sick staff members gave them essential oils or “home remedies” instead of traditional medical care.
The staff of this institution obviously abused kids for 25 years under the guise of being a religious institution and it certainly should be shut down immediately.