ALBUQUERQUE (CN) – A residential work ranch for troubled youths in New Mexico abuses, neglects, shackles and “waterlogs” children, denies them food and beats them with weapons, parents of four young people claim in court.
Lead plaintiff Coulton Quevedo sued Tierra Blanca Ranch, its owner Scott Chandler and others on Monday in Santa Fe County Court.
Quevedo, 18, claims the ranch advertises itself as a place where troubled youths and those with learning disabilities can responsibility, self-discipline and self-respect.
But Quevedo says ranch staff handcuffs and shackles children, forces them to work without pay, physically abuses them, keeps them on short food rations as punishment and as a method of control. His mother claims she paid $47,800 for this.
Plaintiff Marc Fleming says he was 16 when he was sent to the ranch in 2010. There, he says, he was strapped to a bench with belts for 30 minutes, while “a wet rag was placed over his nose and mouth and he was ‘waterlogged,’ simulating drowning.”
Plaintiff Cheryl Morgan claims she paid $61,800 for her 15-year-old grandson to attend the Tierra Blanca program, where he was “neglected and abused” and beaten by a staff member with a metal rod called a kubotan. She claims a ranch supervisor “watched and approved” as her grandson was denied adequate food and nutrition.
Plaintiff Jordan Almanza, who says he was 17 when he was sent to the ranch in 2010, claims he was shackled and forced to perform “extreme exercise,” and that Chandler told him that if he left the ranch he would go to jail.
The plaintiffs claim the ranch employs untrained and unlicensed staff whose abuses include:
“beatings resulting in injury, including beatings with weapons;”
“improper and illegal use of physical restraints, such as shackles and handcuffs;”
Forcing children to run “for hours at a time, running up and down slopes, running while carrying truck tires; and running while wearing shackles or handcuffs;”
allowing and requiring children to “discipline” other children;”
“withholding food and reducing food rations as collective punishment;”
and other abuses.
The families seek punitive damages for physical and emotional abuse, fraud and breach of contract.
They are represented by Michael Siever with McGinn Carpenter Montoya & Love.
Here are the defendants: Tierra Blanca Ranch ZX; Tierra Blanca Ranch; JSC Properties LC; Scott & Collette Chandler dba ZX Land and Cattle, Tierra Blanca Ranch High Country Youth Program and Tierra Blanca High Country Outfitters; Clyde Chandler; Colette Chandler; Ida K. Chandler; and James S. Chandler.
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