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Troubled youth ranch's owner breaks silence after Amber Alert

Updated: 10/21/2013 10:10 AM | Created: 10/21/2013 8:19 AM
By: Elizabeth Reed, KOB.com

The man New Mexico state police named as a person of interest in the Amber Alert for nine missing boys from a troubled youth ranch finally told his side of the story.

Scott Chandler, owner of Tierra Blanca Ranch, gave an exclusive interview to NBC's TODAY show on Monday morning.

With his wife by his side, Chandler told TODAY's Matt Lauer that he wasn't running from police the day authorities showed up at the ranch with a warrant.

"They were at a prescheduled camp trip," he said. "By the state's own designation of us back in 2006, we were designated as a wilderness program. Typically, wilderness programs do a lot of time out in the woods. They'd been out since the Monday before."

When Lauer questioned Chandler about the abuse allegations he and his ranch are facing, including the use of shackles and beatings, Chandler admitted he did use restraints.

Continuing Coverage: Youth Ranch Investigation

"When we go into a detention center to pick up a child that has been court ordered before a judge or something to have him placed in our program, yes, we might have to put him in restraints," he said. "And it's typical of the type of level of kids, but it's not, that is not the… people are making that what we are. That is actually very minimal of what we do."

Lauer asked if parents knew and understood that restraints were part of the program.

"Well if your child is possibly incarcerated already, typically, and they sign agreements. They know. We have CYFD signed agreements knowing that we do such things," Chandler said.

The interview ended reflecting on Tierra Blanca Ranch's success rate. Lauer said TODAY interviewed six men who went through the program and all said Tierra Blanca Ranch was what they needed to get their lives on track. Chandler told Lauer his staff cared about the kids and talked about the scholastic achievements of many of the boys at the ranch.

"Right now, we're moving forward. We're still carrying on with the 18 year olds who are there voluntarily--doing school, doing work as we do it," Chandler said when asked if he was reevaluating how the ranch will operate in the future. "You know, we're looking at other options and we're staying positive and we're carrying forward."

The full interview can be viewed on www.today.com.

Scott Chandler gave the TODAY show an exclusive interview about abuse allegations against his ranch.
Photo: TODAY

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