When Donna Davis strolled through the secluded campus of Oak Creek Ranch School near Sedona, her heart was finally at rest. That March day in 1989, she thought she'd found a boarding school where her fifteen-year-old daughter Erin could escape all the temptations of the big-city high school she was attending in Denver. "We were starting to have a few problems with Erin, nothing major, but we could see it coming," says Donna Davis, explaining why she and her husband William paid Oak Creek Ranch School $3,000 so that their daughter could finish out the last two months of the school year there.

But Erin's problems got devilishly worse in Arizona.
The Davis family alleges in a federal lawsuit that Erin was exposed to "the practice of Satanism by students at the school" and to "students with substantial drug problems and rampant drug activity and substance abuse."

The Davises also claim that the school made a number of "misrepresentations"--like telling Donna Davis that the 100 or so students "had no more than normal adolescent problems."

That didn't square with the Davises' view of the school. They say Erin came home with vivid descriptions of how she and her friends dabbled with the devil.

Donna Davis tells New Times: "They would experiment with Satanism by drawing a pentagram in the dirt, and put a rat or a frog or something like that in the middle of it, and douse it with lighter fluid and set it on fire."

Erin and her friends also became addicted to Ritalin, a prescription "speed" drug they stole from the school infirmary, says Donna Davis.

The Davises are claiming that the school was negligent and are asking for an unspecified amount of damages. A trial is scheduled for April in U.S. District Court in Denver.

The distressed mother says Erin is okay now, but had to undergo substantial counseling when she got home. She says she tried to tell school director David Wick about Satanism and drugs on campus, but Wick refused to talk to her. Instead, she says, he referred her to his lawyer.

In court papers, the school denies it was negligent and also denies the Davises' claims that Satanism and drug use occurred at the school.

Wick refused comment last week. However, he told New Times last summer that kids at the school don't practice Satanism, although a few of them occasionally "talk about it." Wick says the school specializes in helping "underachieving" students.

Oak Creek Ranch School isn't the only place in the red rocks where teenagers are talking about Satanism. Earlier this month, Sedona police issued an arrest warrant for Benjamin and Sarah Porterfield, two Sedona residents accused of drawing blood from local teenagers for $10 a vial. The Porterfields, who are still on the lam, are wanted on suspicion of child abuse and illegal practice of medicine.

When the cops searched a house rented by the Porterfields, they found satanic paraphernalia and a book on satanic rituals. No one knows yet whether the teenagers' blood was used for satanic ceremonies.

Sedona Police Chief Bob Irish denies that Sedona is becoming a hangout for satanic cults, although he says he has heard several rumors about satanic rituals being performed "out in the desert somewhere."

Irish says his department has never been able to substantiate any of the rumors.--

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Terry Greene