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Amended civil suit alleges abuse, cover-up at former boys ranch

By Pat Reavy | Posted - Oct 26th, 2013 @ 12:17pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The owners of a Utah residential center for troubled teens should never have hired the man convicted of sexually abusing multiple boys at the center, according to prosecutors.

And even after they hired him, there were multiple warnings that went ignored by supervisors that could have prevented further abuse, prosecutors allege.

Last week, attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the federal civil suit against the Silverado Academy filed a third amended complaint in the drawn-out case. If a judge accepts the updated complaint, at least three primary members of the company and two supervisors from the former Silverado Academy will be added as defendants in the suit.

In June 2011, Eric Allen Glosson was charged in Garfield County's 6th District Court with eight counts of forcible sexual abuse and one count of custodial sexual relations with a youth receiving state services, both second-degree felonies; and dealing in materials harmful to a minor, a third-degree felony. He eventually pleaded guilty in both federal and state court and is currently serving a minimum of 15 years in federal prison for manufacturing child porn.

Once Glosson has completed his federal sentence, he will begin serving time in state prison. He was convicted of two counts of forcible sodomy, both first-degree felonies, and sentenced to five years to life in prison.

Glosson was a counselor at Silverado, a 200-acre ranch in Panguitch. He was convicted of molesting boys who were between 14 and 18 years old.

Not long after Glosson was arrested for his criminal case, the law firm Dewsnup, King and Olsen filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of three of the teens. But according to prosecutors in their third amended complaint, "on approximately 50 occasions, Glosson sexually abused no less than nine minors at Silverado," molesting them in places such as "Silverado's classroom, Glosson's living quarters, the students' living quarters, Silverado's vehicles and many other places."

Some of the abuse was videotaped, prosecutors say. Some of the boys were abused for 90 minutes at a time, according to court documents. Glosson tried to keep his victims quiet by intimidation, force and bribery, court documents state.

In their new amended complaint, prosecutors allege Glosson should never have been at Silverado in the first place, and primary members Tim Bridgewater, Kreg Gilman and Bob Crist, as well as supervisors Josh Kellum and Colin Adamson, should have done more to prevent the abuse after Glosson was hired.

Bridgewater, a former candidate for U.S. senate, was a co-founder of the academy.

The defendants failed to contact Glosson's former employer, another residential care facility for troubled teens, before he was hired, according to the complaint. If they had, they would have learned Glosson was fired after two minors there made sexual abuse allegations, court documents state.

In January 2010, Glosson was fired from Silverado for being inappropriate with the teenagers. But a year later, he was rehired by Silverado, which was a violation, court documents allege.

In March 2011, prosecutors say a background check from the Utah Department of Human Services was completed and that the state "denied Glosson's background screening application and instructed Silverado that Glosson was 'not permitted to have direct access to children or vulnerable adults,'" according to the complaint.

Glosson was allowed, however, to continue working at Silverado.

Between March and May 2011, it was Glosson who contacted police because a former academy student in Arizona was threatening on Facebook to expose him, according to prosecutors.

But even after police were contacted, "many of the incidents of sexual assault that Glosson committed against the minor plaintiffs were committed after law enforcement officials visited Silverado to investigate Glosson's complaint," according to court records.

In June 2011, several students wrote a letter to Kellum telling him of the abuse, according to prosecutors. Kellum gave that letter to Adamson, but law enforcement was never contacted, according to court documents, and the letter was "lost."

After the letter, two more boys were abused, according to prosecutors.

On June 18, 2011, Glosson abused one of the plaintiffs, court documents state. The boy told the academy supervisors, who this time called police and Glosson was arrested the next day, according to court documents.

By August 2011, the Silverado Academy had shut its doors for good. Prosecutors allege when the company quickly shut down, it also destroyed emails and other computer data.

"Plaintiffs are informed and believe and therefore allege that Silverado Academy … purposely deleted computer files, including but not limited to emails, used forensic software to 'wipe' portions of its computer server, and physically dismantled the server in an attempt to conceal, delete and destroy evidence of knowledge of Glosson's actions and Silverado's actions/inactions," according to court documents.

The judge is expected to announce whether he will accept the amended complaint in the coming weeks.

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