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Paris Hilton lends star power to Utah bill aimed at curbing abuse in teen treatment centers

Feb 8, 2021, 3:40 PM | Updated: 5:50 pm
Paris Hilton residential treatment centers...
Paris Hilton speaks before leading a protest Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, in Provo, Utah. Hilton was in Utah to lead a protest outside a boarding school where she alleges she was abused physically and mentally by staff when she was a teenager. Hilton, now 39, went public with the allegations in a new documentary and wants a school that she says left her with nightmares and insomnia for years to be shut down. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY — Media personality Paris Hilton met with Utah lawmakers Monday to talk about her time in a Utah residential treatment facility and advocate for change.

In a video she posted to Twitter, she previewed her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The bill Hilton is supporting is being sponsored by Sen. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork. It would add more government oversight to the nearly 100 youth residential treatment centers throughout the state.

Paris Hilton tackles residential treatment programs

Hilton previous traveled to Utah in October to protest outside the residential treatment facility in Provo where she said she suffered abuse. 

Monday, she detailed some of her experience in the hearing on Utah’s Capitol Hill. 

“For the past 20 years, I’ve had a recurring nightmare where I am kidnapped in the middle of the night by two escorts, strip-searched and locked in a facility,” Hilton said. “I wish I could tell you this haunting nightmare was just a dream, but unfortunately it is not.”

“I don’t know if my nightmares will ever go away, but I do know that there are hundreds of thousands of kids going through this, and maybe if I stop their nightmares it will help me stop mine,” Hilton continued.

Bill offers protection for youth

McKell’s bill states that youth treatment centers “may not use a cruel, severe, unusual, or unnecessary practice on a child, including: a strip search; a body cavity search; inducing pain to obtain compliance; hyperextending joints; peer restraints; discipline or punishment that is intended to frighten or humiliate.”

Under the legislation, treatments centers would also need to provide policies for suicide prevention. 

“I want to be clear about why we are here,” McKell said. “We are here to look at our laws and address concerns. We need to provide appropriate safeguards to protect our children.”

During the lengthy committee hearing, Senator Derek Kitchen actually apologized directly to Hilton after she testified about her abuse.

“This has been a problem obviously in the state of Utah for a long, long time.” He said.

“Frankly, we failed to protect you and I’m sorry about that.” 

Other lawmakers questioned whether the bill goes far enough in protecting Utah’s teens.

McKell’s bill received a favorable recommendation in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Monday, making it likely to head to the Senate floor next. 

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Paris Hilton lends star power to Utah bill aimed at curbing abuse in teen treatment centers