RAFA Academy’s connections to Diamond Ranch, where a girl died


Taylor Goodridge’s father worries that RAFA Academy is just a rebrand of the program where his daughter died.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Diamond Ranch Academy in Hurricane, Jan. 11, 2023. State licensers forced Diamond Ranch Academy’s closure last summer after a girl’s death. A new program called RAFA Academy has applied for a license at the same location, and some Diamond Ranch employees are listed as RAFA’s top management.

It advertised itself as “America’s leading teen therapeutic boarding school” — but the potential Utah troubled-teen program has yet to open its doors.

It has a “track record for helping teen boys,” its website claimed, but it has never had a student enrolled in its program.

And while RAFA Academy has claimed on its recently shut-down website that it is “among the top-performing programs in our country,” the business is still in the application process with Utah officials — who say they are examining the ties between RAFA Academy and Diamond Ranch Academy, the program that previously occupied the same Hurricane campus before it was forced to close last summer.

State licensers opted to not renew Diamond Ranch Academy’s license last July, after the December 2022 death of Taylor Goodridge. Her family’s attorney has said that she “begged for help” before she died from an infection that is usually “easily treated.” Licensers also noted in the declination to renew DRA’s license that two clients had died at the facility prior to Goodridge’s death.

Goodridge’s family, who lives in Washington, is suing Diamond Ranch Academy in federal court in Utah over her death. Her father, Dean Goodrige, told Fox 13 Seattle that he worries that RAFA Academy is nothing more than a rebrand of the same program.

“They’re just going to do the exact same thing this time, just to boys instead of co-ed,” Goodridge predicted to the television station, which first reported about the new potential program. “Just because you change the name, it’s still that facility.”

A copy of RAFA Academy’s license application obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune confirms that at least two former Diamond Ranch Academy staff members are involved in the new facility. RAFA Executive Director Adam Cheney was a therapist at Diamond Ranch Academy, and Dean Goodridge told Fox 13 Seattle that Cheney was in charge of his daughter’s care. And the HR Director of Diamond Ranch Academy is listed in the licensing application as holding the same position for RAFA Academy.

Cheney did not respond to an email seeking comment for this story.

Katie England, a spokesperson for Utah’s Department of Health and Human Services, said RAFA Academy’s licensing application, which was submitted in January, is still under review. She said licensers will take into consideration the connections between RAFA Academy and Diamond Ranch Academy, and will investigate any indications that RAFA Academy is not in compliance with state rules.

State rules say licensers can deny an application for a new program under a few circumstances, such as if the applicant has a history of not complying with applicable laws, rules or ordinances. It also allows for licensers to deny an application if the provider “maintains association” with anyone who had their license revoked by the Office of Licensing within the last five years. (Diamond Ranch Academy’s license technically wasn’t revoked — its renewal application was denied.)

There are striking similarities in language when comparing Diamond Ranch Academy’s old website and RAFA Academy’s, which has been taken off-line recently. For example, while DRA promised that “the challenges parents face with a difficult teenager today do not need to limit the possibilities for that child tomorrow,” RAFA Academy asserts that “the challenges parents face with a difficult teen boy today do not need to limit the possibilities for him tomorrow.”

And at the bottom of each website — both accessed via the Internet Archive — there is a nearly identical lengthy paragraph which details the types of challenges that teenagers face that they can help with, including reactive attachment disorders stemming from adoption, self-harm, eating disorders, defiance, depression, post traumatic stress, abuse and general anxiety. Even the same typo appears on both websites — that if parents have a troubled teenager, to “please consideer [sic] the teen counseling and teen counselors for troubled teens” at their respective programs.

But there is one marked difference between the programs: Their address. Where DRA was located on a road called “Diamond Ranch Parkway,” it appears the road has since been renamed. RAFA Academy sits on the same campus, with the same buildings — but its listed address now is “Hope Circle.”



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