Abuse complaints pour in after Netflix series on Academy at Ivy Ridge

OSWEGATCHIE, N.Y. (WWTI) — Brainwashing, abuse and silencing.

These were all claims in the new Netflix limited series “The Program: Cons, Cults and Kidnapping.” The documentary series details conditions at the former Academy at Ivy Ridge, a boarding school in Oswegatchie, New York.

It was marketed as a school that helped troubled teens. However, according to the series director and former Ivy Ridge student Katherine Kubler, students were victims of sexual, physical and psychological abuse.

Kubler attended the school from March 2004 to June 2005. She explained in the series that Ivy Ridge was marketed as an intensive boarding school.

She explained that she was transported to the school in Northern New York in the middle of the day by handcuffs. Once there, Kubler said that students were cut off from the outside world.

In “The Program,” Kubler and her peers recount a “no camera” room, where staff allegedly “manhandled” students who “misbehaved.” The series claimed that this is where a lot of abuse took place.

The series has taken Northern New York by storm. Similar abuse reports have piled up at the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office.

“We have received reports of physical abuse as well as sexual abuse from numerous individuals,” St. Lawrence County District Attorney Gary Pasqua said during a press conference, six days after the series dropped. “Not only in St Lawrence County, New York State, but certainly at least in the case of my office across, the country.”

In conjunction with the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office and New York State Police, the District Attorney’s Office officially launched an investigation into the Academy on March 11, 2024.

Pasqua claimed that until the documentary, the only records of violence at AIR were during a riot in 2005. This riot was also detailed in “The Program.”

“There were no allegations of this kind of abuse, physical or sexual, that were raised by individuals that were interviewed at that time,” Pasqua said. “Whether or not they were raised at any other time, that is part of our investigation.”

Ivy Ridge shut its doors in 2009 after being fined by the New York State Attorney General’s Office for issuing fake diplomas.

Pasqua said that a statute of limitations could interfere with some reports because alleged abuse occurred decades ago. However, he encouraged all victims to come forward.

“Please reach out to us if you believe you were the victim of abuse,” he said. “We are here to help you if we can. We do take this seriously. We are not going to turn a blind eye to it. And if we can help you, we will.”

A criminal investigation is now underway at the former Academy at Ivy Ridge property. The community is asked to remain off the property while law enforcement proceed with the investigation.

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