Netflix docuseries on abuse allegations at New York boarding school prompts fresh investigation
(Credits: Netflix)

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Netflix docuseries on abuse allegations at New York boarding school prompts fresh investigation

After the popularity of the Netflix series The Program: Cons, Cults and Kidnapping, detailing abuse allegations around a boarding school in New York, more complaints have been logged to local prosecutors, prompting a new investigation. 

The three-part docuseries began streaming last month, and proved to be a hit with true crime fans and documentary lovers. The Program was created and directed by Katherine Kubler, who spent 15 months at the boarding house, the Academy at Ivy Ridge. Across the three episodes, former students and those connected to the Academy speak about the horrific abuse which occurred there.

Academy at Ivy Ridge was established as a ‘behaviour modification facility’ in 2001 in Ogdensburg, New York. Although the facility has been closed since 2009, many of the children who were sent there are still scarred by the abuse they experienced at Ivy Ridge. According to the docuseries, students were forbidden from going outside or even smiling, and were routinely sexually and physically abused. 

The impact of the series has been colossal, with many former students opening up about how it legitimised their claims, which have been ignored for years. Steve Caccamo, who was enrolled in the facility at the age of 16, for instance, revealed, “In 20 years, I never spoke. And that documentary gave me a voice.”

After the docuseries began streaming, the local district attorney in St. Lawrence county, Gary Pasqua, shared that his office has received over 50 new complaints about Ivy RIdge. Such was the extent of the complaints that authorities have now launched a fresh investigation into what went on within the facility. 

In addition to the new investigation, New York has provided former students with aid to apply for crime victim compensation. Reportedly, allegations against former staff members at Ivy Ridge has meant that some state-run psychiatric facilities have had to put some staff on leave. 

Local police did investigate Ivy Ridge when it was still operating, after a student riot in 2005 prompted questions about the legitimacy of the academy. At the time, the Attorney General Eliot Spitzer declared that Ivy Ridge had misrepresented its credentials and issued unauthorised high school diplomas, but there didn’t seem to be any investigation into abuse and lack of pastoral care.