Spokane family files lawsuit, claims Montana program abused troubled youth

Spokane family files lawsuit, claims Montana program abused troubled youth
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MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A civil lawsuit against a Montana program for troubled youth says participants were exploited for labor, abused and neglected before the state removed 27 children from its facility.

The Missoulian reports that the family of a Spokane, Washington boy and program participant claims the minor was also subjected to extended periods of social isolation and exploited for labor at the Ranch for Kids owner’s personal homes.

Additionally, the family claims their son was subjected to an unhealthy diet, and experience both mental and physical abuse.

Officials say the family filed the lawsuit against ranch owner Bill Sutley, his brother Daniel Sutley and mother Joyce Sterkel.

According to the lawsuit, the family believes the actions by the Sutleys and Sterkel caused their son physical and mental suffering, therapeutic and academic setbacks, as well as an enhanced need for future therapeutic care.

Officials say the state Department of Public Health and Human Services removed the children July 23.

Owner Bill Sutley denied the allegations dating back 10 years and requested a hearing contesting the license suspension.

Sutley could not immediately be reached for comment.