Montana Public Radio

Lincoln County Won't Charge Youth Home Over Abuse Allegations

Mar 23, 2021

The Lincoln County Attorney has declined to press criminal charges against an alternative youth home state health officials say physically, verbally and psychologically abused children.

The Montana Division of Criminal Investigation investigated Ranch for Kids after state health officials removed 27 children from its facility near Eureka in 2019. State health officials say they substantiated several allegations of physical, verbal and psychological abuse.

The state handed off its finding to Lincoln County Attorney Marcia Boris' office on Dec. 10. Boris says the decision not to press felony charges came earlier this month after consulting with a state investigator.

"We kind of went through the report together. Both of us determined that we didn’t have sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any felony offenses occurred."

Boris says the state’s criminal investigation may have provided enough evidence to press misdemeanor charges, but the one-year statute of limitations passed before she received the state’s findings.

MTPR reached out to Ranch for Kids owner Bill Sutley for comment, but did not receive a response by deadline. Sutley in the past has denied many of the allegations made by state health officials.