Paris Hilton in Jamaica to support US boys reportedly abused here Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

United States media personality and businesswoman, Paris Hilton, has expressed outrage at the allegations of physical abuse of seven US teenagers who were recently removed from the Atlantis Leadership Academy in St Elizabeth.

Hilton arrived in Jamaica on Wednesday to support the boys as their case was mentioned in the Children’s Court in Santa Cruz, St Elizabeth.

“I hope my presence sends a clear message that allegations of abuse will be met with serious consequences,” declared Hilton at a press conference at Jack Sprat Restaurant in Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth.

The event, hosted through Hilton’s non-profit 11.11 Media Impact, was held following the court hearing the same day.

The media was barred from the court hearing, due to the sensitive nature of the case.

The Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) said the alleged abuse of the boys came to light during an unannounced welfare check on the institution on February 8, which was conducted jointly with representatives from the US Embassy in Kingston.

The agency said it was during its visit to the private facility that signs of abuse and neglect were observed, leading to the immediate removal of eight teens — aged 14 to 18 years — from the facility, reportedly for their safety.

One of the boys – an 18-year-old – has since returned to the US, while the remaining seven are being safeguarded in residential childcare facilities.

Hilton disclosed on Wednesday that she was a survivor of what she described as “the troubled teen industry”.

The hotel heiress said she is dedicated to eliminating child abuse and neglect, adding that she is “horrified” by the allegations of abuse that were reportedly made by the American boys.

“I heard these boys were stripped naked, violently, beaten, whipped and water boarded,” said Hilton.

“This is a human rights and children’s rights issue. The US Government can and should do more to protect kids like these,” she insisted.

Hilton said her visit was “a show of support for the action that has been taken, and for encouraging the US Government, at all levels, to take this issue seriously, and to act with urgency.”

While she waits for the US Government to hopefully take action, Hilton said she anticipates that ‘survivors’ will continue to come forward and “expose those for (supposedly) putting profit” over the well-being of vulnerable youths.

“So, I am grateful to be here in Treasure Beach, Jamaica to advocate for these boys. I am grateful for the local authorities for intervening to (supposedly) save American children,” she stated.

“I hope this is the beginning of a long partnership between Jamaica and the United States that finally leads to the closure of all American-owned youth residential programmes operating on the island,” Hilton indicated.

Further, she said Jamaica is “too beautiful” and “too kind” to host such facilities.

The Atlantis Leadership Academy, which advertises itself as a faith-based school, is said to serve teens struggling with substance abuse, anxiety disorders and deviant behaviour.

US media outlet, NBC, was first to break the story last week of allegations of abuse reportedly meted out to the boys who were residing at the St Elizabeth-based facility.

While the CPFSA had not publicly stated the nature of the reported abuse of the boys, US attorney Michael McFarland, who is representing the family of a 16-year-old boy who was attending the Jamaican-based school, told another US media outlet, NewsNation, that the allegations are that the boys were physically abused.

In a statement last week, CPFSA noted that the case was subsequently referred to the St Elizabeth Police Division’s Criminal Investigations Branch (CIB) for a separate probe to take place.

Atlantis Leadership Academy’s founder, Randall Cook, through his attorney, has denied the allegations of abuse at the facility.