Montana ranch for troubled kids closed after allegations of abuse


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REXFORD, Mont. – Workers at a treatment center for troubled kids in Montana are accused of torturing them with beatings and starvation.

State business records say the Ranch for Kids in Rexford, Montana, provide care for adopted kids with fetal alcohol syndrome and other behavioral health issues.

But not anymore.

Earlier this year, authorities got a call about abuse here.

That sparked a multiphase investigation, and former employees, counselors and kids were interviewed.

“There are allegations involving students being physically hit and kicked and spit on by staff,” said Laura Smith of the state Department of Public Health and Human Services. “We also have information of staff inflicting persistent psychological abuse against children at the ranch. We have information involving the staff using excessive discipline, including 15- to 20-mile walks at night on a remote Forest Service road in harsh conditions with improper footwear. We have information, consistent information, that the staff of the ranch would withhold food, and children were placed in prolonged isolation as punishment. We’ve received information that children do not receive medical attention when critically needed, and that medications aren’t properly administered or regulated.”

A court order allowed the agency as well as Child Protective Services to come to the ranch and take both the kids and the business license Tuesday.

Public health officials say those 27 kids are with a trauma counselor. They say the children, ranging in age from about 11 to 17, will be reunited with their families.