Family Alleges Bestiality at Alternative School

      PHOENIX (CN) - A boy was sexually assaulted repeatedly at a residential treatment program for troubled teens, until his attacker was found committing bestiality with a horse, the teen and his parents claim in court.
     The boy "was brutally and repeatedly sexually assaulted while at Discovery Ranch" in Mapleton, Utah, the family says in their Feb. 9 lawsuit in Maricopa County Court.
     Yet the parents say that before they enrolled him in the alternative education program, "Discovery Ranch expressly promised to provide adequate supervision and care to ensure (his) safety."
     In January 2104, the boy was placed in a dorm at Discovery Ranch with three other boys, one who began grooming him and another resident for "sexual victimization" until he was "violently sodomized," the family says in the lawsuit.
     The attacker "used threats of violence, coercion, guilt, and the merit system of Discovery Ranch to manipulate (the boy) to avoid reporting increasingly deviant sexual behaviors, including discussions about sex, pornography, masturbation, and sexual violence," the complaint states.
     "Discovery Ranch's merit system also prevented (him) from reporting the assaults because he believed that his inferior status and past interactions with Discovery Ranch staff and administrators would result in him being punished if he attempted to disclose the assaults," according to the complaint.
     The family claims the sexual assaults "went undiscovered and unchecked throughout the months of January and February and were only revealed when he [the assailant] was transferred from Discovery Ranch after being discovered engaging in bestiality with a horse."
     The family says that Discovery Ranch failed to adequately investigate the assailant "for psychosexually deviant and violent tendencies before admitting him to Discovery Ranch and placing him in the dorm."
     Defendants include Discovery Ranch, Discovery Ranch Holdings, Educational Options Associates and its director, who allegedly recommended Discovery Ranch to the family, and the alleged assailant and his parents.
     The family seeks medical expenses and punitive damages for willful and wanton negligence, breach of contract, assault and battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
     They are represented by Gregg Woodnick.