Paris Hilton Discusses Miracle Meadows Case During Recent Speech

Laffey Bucci D’Andrea Reich & Ryan

On April 5, following a court hearing regarding horrific abuse uncovered at Atlantis Leadership Academy (ALA) in Jamaica, Paris Hilton spoke out against the troubled teen industry. Hilton expressed that “there is nowhere on Earth I am unwilling to travel to support and advocate for youth who have experienced institutional child abuse and neglect.” She stated in her comments alongside the linked video that two of the eight boys involved in the case regarding the abuse at ALA are returning to their families.

In her speech, Hilton mentioned the abuse that occurred at Miracle Meadows Boarding School. Our attorney Guy D’Andrea, along with Charleston attorneys Jesse Forbes of Forbes Law Office PLLC and Scott Long of Hendrickson & Long, PLLC, secured a nearly $52 million settlement on behalf of more than two dozen of the WV school’s former students in 2020 in that case. Much like Hilton’s advocacy work, we view our work in securing settlements in cases like these as an example of taking action against institutions that cause serious harm to troubled youth around the world.

What Happened at Miracle Meadows?

Twenty-nine former students of Miracle Meadows were alleged to have suffered mental, sexual, and physical abuse at the hands of the adults who ran the school over the course of several decades. The former students alleged that the abuse they suffered included being chained and shackled to beds, kept in isolation rooms for weeks and months at a time, sexually assaulted, starved, forced to perform manual labor, and routinely beaten.

Although the Miracle Meadows School, located in Salem, West Virginia, was shut down by authorities in 2014, it wasn’t until October 2020 that a settlement was reached. The school was founded in 1987 by Gayle Clark and her husband and was advertised as a Christian boarding school specifically targeting at-risk youth or those with learning disabilities or behavioral disorders.

Authorities and law enforcement made multiple attempts to investigate Miracle Meadows over the years. However, it was difficult to bring the perpetrators to justice as they were often brought to the school on work visas and then returned to their home countries before they could be questioned by authorities. At the time of the school’s closure, Clark was arrested, and the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department uncovered multiple allegations of sexual abuse and physical assault at the school.

Parallels of Abuse and Advocacy

In Paris Hilton’s speech, she highlighted how at least eight of the boys abused in the Jamaican school were American. They were forced to remove their clothing and subjected to beatings and waterboarding, starved, and underwent other types of mistreatments. These mistreatments are very similar to those suffered by the students at Miracle Meadows.

Here at Laffey Bucci D’Andrea Reich & Ryan LLP, we have a long track record of handling cases where teachers and others in the educational sector took advantage of children under their care. We are fierce advocates to those who have suffered abuse and will help however we can in the fight against those who allow similar types of abuse to happen.