Paris Hilton’s villa is located in a gated community in Beverly Park, one of the most exclusive enclaves of Los Angeles where Adele and Mark Wahlberg also live.
In the driveway are a pink Bentley and a blue Porsche. The grand entrance is flanked by a giant white model giraffe and a neon pink Chanel sign and the hallways are lined with framed prints of the woman herself.
We’re led to an upstairs room with a full-size bar and plush white chairs where even the cushions have Hilton’s face prints.
It’s a home befitting the original “It Girl,” a reality star who once gave up on her kooky persona.
But this is an adult Hilton and we’re here to discuss serious matters, especially the two years she spent in boarding schools for so-called problem teenagers.
“It was like something out of a horror movie,” she says. “It’s like they enjoy abusing children.”
In the early 2000s, Hilton was one of the most photographed women in the world, fronting a party set that included Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian AND Lindsay Lohan.
But behind the stardom, there was a darker reality.
At 16 she was sent to a series of residential facilities for so-called problematic adolescentskids with all kinds of problems, from bad behavior to addiction issues and mental illness.
“I wasn’t a bad girl,” she says.
“I was just a normal 16-year-old girl. My parents were very strict. They didn’t want me to go out and I rebelled and started sneaking out and getting bad grades.
“My parents spoke to a therapist who recommended these schools. I later found out that this therapist and many others get commissions by sending kids to these places.”
Like many children who attend these schools, Hilton’s parents paid for safe transport, in effect a licensed kidnapping, in which strangers take teenagers from their beds in the middle of the night and load them into the backs of waiting vans.
“At 4:30 in the morning, two burly men walked into my room and just shook me off the bed and said, ‘Do you want to go the easy way or the hard way?’
“They were lifting the handcuffs and I had no idea what was going on, I thought I was being kidnapped, I had no idea who these people were.
“It drives me crazy that there are people like this in the world who could treat children like this and get away with it for so long.
“I still have severe nightmares about it.”
To know more:
‘Ripped From Their Beds By Strangers’: Inside The Multi-Billion Dollar Industry Of ‘Troubled Teens’
Hilton ended up at Provo Canyon School in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah.
It’s marketed as a “residential treatment center for young psychiatric intensives,” but she says there was a living hell every day.
In her just-released autobiography, Paris: The Memoir, she claims she was woken up in the middle of the night by male staff – not doctors – and taken to a private room, where they forced her to undergo cervical exams.
“Being treated like a criminal when you’re just a kid,” he says, “and the streak is constantly frisking.”
“As an adult now, I see this as sexual abuse. Male and female staff watching a girl change or undress or shower, it was just dehumanizing on every level.”
She also claims that she was force-fed drugs.
“One time I thought, ‘I don’t want to take them anymore.’ So I just had the pills under my tongue and put them in a Kleenex.
“Later somebody found out and I got in trouble and they sent me to what they call ‘oss’ where you’re just locked up in this tiny little cell with blood stains on the wall.
“They turn the air conditioning on as cold as possible, take all your clothes off and leave you there for hours on end.”
To know more:
Paris Hilton opens up about alleged abuse and trauma from infamous sex tape
In response to the allegations, Provo Canyon’s owners say the school was sold in 2000 and cannot comment on operations or student experience prior to that time. But that they do not condone or promote any form of abuse.
Hilton, now 42 and mother of two-month-old son Phoenix, says her perspective has hardened on the troubled teen industry.
“I’m so in love with my baby,” she says.
“I want to do everything to protect him and I know that by doing this job I will protect future children.
“I just can’t imagine my little boy being around these kinds of people. My heart goes out to all the kids that are locked up in there now.”
He thinks his own parents were victims of deceptive marketing by the troubled teen industry.
Hilton has become a leading figure for a movement campaigning to close schools for troubled teens across America.
He helped introduce new laws in Utah, which now place limits on the use of restraints, drugs and isolation rooms in youth treatment programs. It also requires facilities to document any instances where physical restraints and solitary confinement are used.
But now he wants to make the change nationwide.
“These people need to be held accountable,” she says.
“They need people who are properly licensed, people who have no criminal record. There is so much that needs to be done. For children to have rights, it should be common sense but unfortunately, in some states, it’s not that way.
“I know if we keep fighting this fight, we’re going to be successful and they messed with the wrong girl.”
Listening to her relive the darkest moments of her life and determination to bring those responsible to justice, it’s hard to dispute that they really messed with the wrong girl.