Elk Mountain Academy Owner Speaks Out
School's Therapist Charged With Sexual Abuse

By R.J. Cohn
Bonner News
June 1, 2007

A therapist working at Elk Mountain Academy for seven months was arrested May 30 by the Bonner County Sheriff's Office and charged with two counts of sexual battery of a minor.

Louis W. Ladenburger was also charged with a third count of sexual battery of another minor. Both are students at the Clark Fork therapeutic high school for at-risk teenage boys.

Landenberg remains Bonner County Jail on $100,000 bail.

Carl Olding, founder and director of the academy that began in 1994, said he received a call from a parent at 6 a.m. on May 5 claiming their son had been inappropriately touched by Ladenburger.

"My wife notified Child Protective Services at their 24-hour hotline while I was in route to Sandpoint, where I met with the parents and their son in their hotel room two hours later," he said.

After he arrived, Olding interviewed the student with his parents present.

"My sense was the student was telling me the truth," he said. "He told me he thought the therapist would tell me the truth. I then interviewed Mr. Ladenburger, who admitted the entire story that the student shared was in fact true."

Olding said he then stepped outside and called the sheriff's office around 9:30 a.m., made the report and offered to testify that Ladenburger had admitted the alleged crime. Olding's wife also reported the incident to the Department of Health and Welfare at approximately 11 a.m.

Ladenburger, 70, earned his doctorate degree in divinity from the University of California at Berkeley. He had passed the state-mandated fingerprint and background check as a condition of his employment at Elk Mountain Academy. Ladenburger is also a licensed marriage and family therapist and a licensed chemical dependency therapist.

"I have known his son and his grandchildren for years," said Olding.

After Olding told Ladenburger he was fired, he informed him that he had called the police, CPS and the Department of Health and Welfare.

"I told him on May 5 he could not return to campus for any reason," said Olding. "I told him I would clean out his office and return all his personal property to his son."

Olding also said that Ladenburg signed a statement agreeing not to have contact with any current or former students. Detective Tony Riffel later contacted him and took his statement at the school campus.

"From May 21 to May 25, Detective Riffel was on campus interviewing students," Olding said. "Most agreed to speak with him. I spoke to the detective on May 30, and he asked to return to the campus to let the students know that the results of the investigation had led to an arrest."


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