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More than 1,200 sexual assault survivors helped since 2023.
More than 1,200 sexual assault survivors helped since 2023.

Abuse Allegations at Wingate Wilderness

WinGate Wilderness Therapy in Utah closed in 2023 amid mounting abuse allegations from survivors. While it is no longer in business, program participants who suffered emotional, physical, or sexual abuse may still be able to pursue justice and compensation for their damages. Helping Survivors can connect you with resources and an experienced attorney to help you understand your rights and options to pursue justice.

Survivor Advocate

Key Takeaways

  • WinGate Wilderness Therapy closed in 2023 after several abuse allegations came to light.
  • Abuse allegations at WinGate Wilderness include failing to report sexual abuse accusations promptly, failure to provide adequate water, ignoring symptoms of trauma, and verbal abuse by staff.
  • Helping Survivors can provide victims and survivors of abuse at WinGate Wilderness Therapy with resources to understand their rights and the legal options available to them.

WinGate Wilderness Therapy was one of many programs that promised to help troubled teens through outdoor and other therapies. But as with other wilderness programs, WinGate has been the subject of several abuse complaints.

People who experienced abuse at WinGate Wilderness have rights and options when it comes to seeking justice and compensation. Helping Survivors connects victims with experienced attorneys who understand wilderness abuse cases and can advise on how to move forward.

Overview of WinGate Wilderness Therapy

WinGate Wilderness was an outdoor therapy program in Utah. It was a for-profit company among many that became part of the troubled teen industry. These programs promised to use outdoor and other therapies to help children with behavioral, mental health, or substance abuse issues.

WinGate Wilderness closed in 2023, with its owners citing the changing regulatory environment around Utah wilderness programs. Family Help & Wellness, the company that owned WinGate, continues to operate 15 other programs nationwide.

There have been several allegations of abuse levied against WinGate Wilderness Therapy, resulting in at least two lawsuits. The facility has closed, but survivors of abuse at WinGate Wilderness can still seek support and legal advice to address their trauma.

Last Date Modified
June 9, 2024

Allegations of Abuse at WinGate

Residents of WinGate Wilderness and other troubled teen industry programs often turn to social media to publicize their abuse allegations. Several online communities specified to wilderness camp residents contain allegations of sexual abuse and other physical and emotional trauma at WinGate, including the following:

If you have experienced abuse or neglect at WinGate Wildnerness or in another program, you are not alone. It can be difficult to talk about your experiences, but seeking support can help you heal.

WinGate Wilderness Lawsuits

There are two known lawsuits against WinGate Wilderness, one citing negligence resulting in injuries and one for negligence in providing proper medical care:

  • March 14, 2019: The United States District Court for the District of Utah dismissed a resident’s claim in Scott v. WinGate Wilderness Therapy LLC due to procedural issues. The plaintiff sought damages related to staff negligence that led to his injuries on a hike. The court ruled the hike was part of therapy and that the Utah Health Care Malpractice Act applied. Unfortunately, the plaintiff did not meet the pre-litigation requirements of the Act or file a claim within its two-year statute of limitations.
  • September 6, 2022: The parents of a minor camper sued WinGate Wilderness for medical negligence related to not monitoring their son’s medications. They also allege that the program allowed their son to become severely dehydrated. They assert that when staff eventually took him for emergency care, doctors diagnosed him with lithium toxicity, acute renal failure, dehydration fever, systemic inflammatory response syndrome, and other conditions. As of May 2024, the outcome of the case is unknown.

Did You Experience Abuse at WinGate Wilderness?

If you are a survivor of abuse at WinGate Wilderness, you can file a civil lawsuit to collect damages. Your compensation may include medical bills, lost educational or work opportunities, pain and suffering, and emotional trauma. You must partner with an attorney quickly so they can file your case on time and build a strong compensation claim.

Not all cases of abuse at WinGate Wilderness fall under the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims. Some fall under the statute of limitations for other personal injury claims in Utah, which is four years. Utah has no statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse claims against perpetrators. Survivors have four years to file a claim against a non-perpetrator. They have 35 years from their 18th birthday to file if the abuse happened before July 1, 2016.

The statute of limitations for sexual abuse varies by state, and there are sometimes complex rules within states. It is best to consult with an attorney to determine if you can file a claim for sexual or other abuse.

Report to Law Enforcement

Survivors of WinGate Wilderness abuse may be reluctant to report their cases to law enforcement. However, doing so does have some advantages. It can result in a prosecutor pressing charges against those responsible for the abuse. When a victim reports abuse to the police, they will investigate and provide the results to a prosecutor. The prosecutor will then determine whether to press criminal charges.

Survivors have little control over the criminal legal process. They generally have little influence over whether charges are filed or the perpetrator is offered a plea deal. However, reporting abuse to law enforcement can be critical when bringing a civil lawsuit. A police report starts a paper trail for your case. It may trigger an investigation that unearths vital evidence. A resulting criminal case can produce more evidence, and a conviction bolsters your civil claim for damages.

Holding perpetrators and those who fail to protect children responsible for their actions isn’t easy, but speaking up tells other victims of abuse they aren’t alone. One police report can trigger an outcry from others who have experienced similar abuse. If you haven’t filed a police report, speak to an attorney first so they can help and support you through the process.

File a Lawsuit Against WinGate Wilderness

It is essential to consult with an experienced attorney before filing a lawsuit against WinGate Wilderness. Cases involving emotional, physical, or sexual abuse can come down to your attorney’s ability to tell your story. A skilled attorney can help you with the following:

  • Initial support and discussion of legal options: A compassionate and experienced attorney will listen to your claim and advise whether you have a claim and how to proceed. They can also help you find medical and other resources, such as local and national support groups that helped previous clients.
  • Investigating and gathering evidence: Filing a case against WinGate Wilderness may be tricky as it is no longer in operation. However, its parent company is, but they are not likely to hand over the documentation you need, such as incident reports, without a fight. Your attorney can also interview witnesses, such as other people and staff who were in the program at the time of your abuse.
  • Notifying other parties and initiating negotiations: It is critical to notify other parties and file your initial claim on time. A skilled attorney knows which statute of limitations applies to your case and how to file it under the Utah Health Care Malpractice Act when applicable. They have experience negotiating with defendants and their insurance companies and how to fight claims that your case isn’t worthy of damages.
  • Litigating your case: After filing your claim and engaging in evidence discovery with the other party, your attorney can begin negotiating a settlement. There is no guarantee that the other side will agree to a fair settlement, so your lawyer may take your case to court. They will keep your information strictly confidential, protect your rights at every stage of the process, and protect your identity except when demanded by the court.

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