Paris Hilton, Congress discuss kids’ congregate care facilities

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Paris Hilton is meeting with members of Congress on Wednesday to discuss creating a bill of rights for children in congregate care facilities, one day after the socialite called on President Biden and Congress to take action against the “troubled teen industry.” 

Wednesday morning, Hilton, 40, will attend a press conference with Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), other institutional abuse survivors, child welfare advocates and several other bicameral Democrats. 

During the conference, the group is expected to speak on establishing a bill of rights for children placed in congregate-care facilities by either their parents or their state’s government. 

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) will also be in attendance. 

Other participants include Aubrey Edwards-Luce from First Focus on Children, Curt Decker with National Disability Rights Network, Think of Us’ Sixto Cancel, Uvea Spezza-Lopin — a 12 year old survivor — and Caroline Cole, the Director of Government Relations with Breaking Code Silence.

The conference comes one day after an op-ed written by Hilton was published by the Washington Post, in which she called on the federal government to take action against a system that she said is still running rampant, recalling her own story. 

“When I was 16 years old, I was awakened one night by two men with handcuffs. They asked if I wanted to go ‘the easy way or the hard way’ before carrying me from my home as I screamed for help,” she wrote. “I had no idea why or where I was being taken against my will. I soon learned I was being sent to hell.”

Hilton revealed she was subjected to a “parent-approved kidnapping” and noted that it is a practice that countless other teens undergo in the United States. 

Paris Hilton speaks at a committee hearing.
Paris Hilton testified about her alleged abuse at age 17 at Provo Canyon School in Utah before a state Senate Committee. 
Rick Bowmer/AP
Paris Hilton wipes her eyes after speaking at a committee hearing.
“I was awakened one night by two men with handcuffs…carrying me from my home as I screamed for help,” Paris Hilton recalled.
Rick Bowmer/AP

The former reality TV-star turned businesswoman explained that parents and the public are unaware of what goes on between staff and youths at these facilities due to them telling parents or guardians not to believe what the children say when they report mistreatment, while telling residents at the same time that no one will believe them — adding that the only solution is to have the “troubled teen industry” analyzed on a federal level. 

“The last time the federal government looked seriously at problems with congregate care was the 2008 Government Accountability Office report ‘Residential Programs: Selected Cases of Death, Abuse, and Deceptive Marketing,’” Hilton said.

“Despite its finding that ‘ineffective management and operating practices, in addition to untrained staff, contributed to the death and abuse of youth,’ there are still no federal reporting requirements governing congregate-care facilities in non-Medicaid-funded psychiatric residential treatment facilities.” 

Hilton spoke out against such facilities earlier this year when she testified about her alleged abuse at age 17 at Provo Canyon School in Utah before a state Senate Committee. 

Paris Hilton, center, leads a protest.
Paris Hilton says he was “stripped of all of my human rights” while at Provo Canyon School.
Rick Bowmer/AP

“I was verbally, mentally, and physically abused on a daily basis,” Hilton said.

“I was cut off from the outside world and stripped of all of my human rights,” she added, accusing the staff of being “evil and sadistic.”

She also previously detailed her experience in a documentary, “This is Paris.”

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