The state of Hawaii's legal action to shut down a controversial wilderness therapy program for troubled teenagers is a matter for the state courts, not for the federal court, U.S. District Judge Alan Kay ruled here Monday.
Kay dismissed a complaint brought by Challenger V and its founder, Steve Cartisano, who sought to have the federal court set aside a state judge's order for the program to cease operations in Hawaii.The order by Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra last week was used by authorities last week to raid a Challenger V camp in a remote valley on the island of Molokai and evacuate nine participants, aged 12 to 20.
Hawaii officials acted against the program after receiving information that a similar program, Challenger II, was shut down last fall by Utah officials.
In seeking the Ibarra's order to stop the program, the state attorney general's office charged that Challenger V violates five state laws, several involving the welfare of children.
Cartisano faces charges in Utah of negligent homicide in the June 27 death of Challenger student Kristen Chase, 16, who died of heat stroke while on a desert hike, and nine other counts of child abuse.
Cartisano did not appear in court Monday.
Deputy Attorney General Steve Michaels, representing the state, said the state is doing the right thing because it involves the welfare of children.