POLITICS & ELECTIONS

Paris Hilton On Hand As Gov. Signs Bill Regulating Youth Facilities

Apr 6, 2021, 3:29 PM | Updated: Jul 12, 2023, 12:02 am

Paris Hilton attends the ceremonial signing of SB127. (Utah Senate)...

Paris Hilton attends the ceremonial signing of SB127. (Utah Senate)

(Utah Senate)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill that increases transparency and proposes to end abusive practices in Utah’s congregate care programs. Socialite and reality TV star Paris Hilton advocated for the bill and was on hand to see it become law. 

Hilton returned to Salt Lake City for the signing Tuesday afternoon. She joined the bill’s sponsor Sen. Mike McKell (R-Spanish Fork), Gov. Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson at the Utah State Capitol.

“I am grateful for Senator McKell and Representative Brammer, who endlessly fought for youth in this state, and for the entire Legislature, who made S.B. 127 a reality,” said Hilton.

SB127 proposed that youth treatment centers “may not use a cruel, severe, unusual, or unnecessary practice on a child, including: a strip search; a body cavity search; inducing pain to obtain compliance; hyperextending joints; peer restraints; discipline or punishment that is intended to frighten or humiliate.”

It also required the treatment centers to maintain suicide prevention policies.

“It’s been over 15 years since we have had the opportunity to reform standards of these facilities,” said Gov. Cox. “I am so thankful that, in the Utah way, we brought people together to work on this significant issue.”

“I am ecstatic that S.B. 127 passed. As a state, we will take the necessary steps to increase transparency and prevent further mistreatment. Utah can and must lead the way to reform and end abusive practices,” said McKell.

Hilton testified in the state Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee in early February, where she spoke about the mental and physical abuse she said she suffered at Provo Canyon School at age 17.

“For the past 20 years, I’ve had a recurring nightmare where I am kidnapped in the middle of the night by two escorts, strip-searched and locked in a facility,” Hilton said. “I wish I could tell you this haunting nightmare was just a dream, but unfortunately it is not.”

For the 11 months Hilton attended the Utah boarding school, she said staff members would beat her, force her to take unknown pills, watch her shower and send her to solitary confinement without clothes as punishment.

Other women have come forward, alleging they were abused at the school.

“I want to thank Paris Hilton for her courage,” said Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson. “It’s easy to do things the way we have always done them, it takes courage to ask questions and bring problems to light. Paris used her difficulties to make life better for other people and children.”

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Paris Hilton On Hand As Gov. Signs Bill Regulating Youth Facilities