Narvin Lichfield, owner of the former Dundee Ranch Academy for troubled youth, was found innocent yesterday of all charges of abuse brought against him.
The Costa Rican Prosecutor's Office had accused the U.S. citizen of coercion, holding minors against their will and “crimes of an international character” ( violating a law based on international treaties, in this case, torture) -- a buses allegedly inflicted on the teenage students at Dundee Ranch.
The academy, located outside the Pacific-slope town of Orotina, served as a tough-love behavior modification program for mostly U.S. teens with alleged behavior and legal problems.
After less than an hour of recess, the three judges in the case declared Litchfield innocent of all charges. However, they said they believe the students at Dundee were abused, but the evidence and testimony presented did not prove that Lichfield ordered the abuses.
“We're happy that the law and the system actually worked,” Lichfield told The Tico Times after the trial, adding that he is still “very unhappy that things that have never been proven” were used to determine that abuse occurred at the camp, which he flatly denied.
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