Northwest Academy owners arrested, charged with 43 counts of child abuse


Northwest Academy, which is at the center of an abuse investigation, will surrender its license once placement is found for all of the kids currently in attendance, according to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.

There are currently 20 students who must be moved.

This is just the latest development in the trouble-plagued school in Nye County.

Earlier Wednesday, Las Vegas Police confirmed that Northwest Academy owners Marcel Chappuis and Patricia Chappuis were taken into custody without incident at a residence located in the 7600 block of Painted Dunes Drive at approximately 11:53 p.m. on Feb. 12.

LVMPD Lieutenant David Gordon says the suspects had active felony warrant(s) for child neglect/endangerment/abuse. The warrant stemmed from the investigation conducted by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office over allegations of child abuse and neglect at the Northwest Academy located in Amargosa Valley, Nevada.

The suspects were taken into custody without incident and booked into CCDC on 43 counts of child abuse and neglect.

This makes three arrests since the Nye County Sheriff’s Office began investigating the facility last month. A teacher was arrested last month and accused of child abuse and neglect. 

Some former students spoke with 8 News Now Wednesday and say the recent allegations are surprising.

“They like restrained me a couple of times. They didn’t injure me at all or harm me,” said Dylan Howard, a former student from March 2016 to Oct. 2016.

He speaks highly of Northwest Academy. He attended the Nye County boarding school for troubled teens in 2016. He now lives in Arizona and spoke with 8 News Now over the phone Wednesday.

Howard says staff made it a safe environment despite physically restraining him, at times.

“If I was doing bad stuff, I would be held down if I was ever acting up, throwing a fit, I would be held down until I calmed down but they never did anything over the limit of what they were allowed to do,” Howard said. 

Nye County Sheriff’s Office started investigating child abuse and neglect claims after a student accused teacher Caleb Hill of assaulting him on several occasions.

The 29-year-old was arrested after he admitted to “going hands on”  and placing students on the ground because they didn’t respond to verbal commands.

The sheriff’s office also reported the tap water has three times the level of safe arsenic.

The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection has been working with the facility to address the problem.

The sheriff’s office says students were to be provided three bottles of water a day but claim the facility often ran out of drinking water for up to three days.

“Even during the hot summer months, students were required to either drink the tap water or nothing at all. Students were also provided tap water when they took their medications,” said Sgt. Adam Tippetts, Nye County Sheriff’s Office.

Issues with water compliance led to the arrest of the school’s owners last night.

Various state agencies including the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services are looking into the issue.

A 2016 legislative audit of the school reported numerous violations including giving students psychotropic medications without adequate consent from guardians.

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