Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced a settlement agreement with Obsidian Services, Inc. of Bend. The company, which does business in Oregon as Obsidian Trails, operates a wilderness program for teenagers. The Assurance of Voluntary Compliance was filed in the Linn County Circuit Court and requires the program and its owner, Gregory Bodenhamer of Bend, to adhere to rigorous safety standards and to immediately meet new state guidelines for the operation of outdoor youth programs.
The agreement, which admits no violation of law, settles a complaint filed by the Department of Justice on February 1, 2002 that alleged numerous violations of the state's Unlawful Trade Practices Act and civil racketeering laws. The charges included a misrepresentation by the defendants of their safety procedures, the criminal mistreatment of youth in the program's care and creating a substantial risk of serious physical injury to the youth in its care, as well as other allegations of misconduct.
"Protecting the safety of the children in the Obsidian Trails Program is our most important objective." Myers said. "This settlement holds the defendants accountable for each and every teenager in their care."
The agreement allows the students to continue in the program but requires the company to have a registered nurse (RN) or emergency medical technician (EMT) trained in wilderness rescue techniques visit all sites no less than twice a week to evaluate the health and safety of the participants. Additionally, a licensed RN must be on call at all times and every site at which the program operates must have an emergency response vehicle available should the need arise.
Obsidian Trails must establish a protocol for providing immediate treatment to participants who state they have a serious medical condition or exhibit the symptoms of such a condition.
The defendants also must comply with state administrative rules governing the operation of an outdoor youth program, even though the regulations will not go into effect until March. Based on a law passed by the 2001 Legislature, as of March 1, 2002, the Department of Human Services will be responsible for licensing all Oregon outdoor youth programs. Obsidian Trails will only be allowed to continue operations after March 1 if it is granted a license under this new law.
Additionally, the agreement provides the state with broad oversight capability, including review of advertising materials and review of new safety protocols and access to all Obsidian Trails operation sites.
The agreement also requires Obsidian Services, Inc. to pay $5,000 to the Oregon Department of Justice Consumer Protection and Education Fund.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristen Grainger or Kevin Neely, (503) 378-6002