The Program: Where is Robert Lichfield now?

  Robert Lichfield: The Program Netflix.
Robert Lichfield: The Program Netflix.

The Program: Cons, Cults and Kidnapping dropped on Netflix this week, and it has audiences gripped. The docuseries explores the 'troubled teen' industry and the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools (WWASP) founder, Robert Lichfield.

WWASP is a company based in Utah, in the US, which set up special schools in the '90s for troubled kids. Ivy Ridge ridge is one such school, and the focus of the Netflix documentary. Parents thought they were helping their teens by sending them away, but the reality was far more sinister.

At the centre of the story is the founder of the WWASP, Robert Lichfield. The docuseries hints that Robert Lichfield has remained pretty much silent in recent years, but that's not stopped viewers from wondering where the disgraced businessman is now.

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What is The Program about?

Directed by former Ivy Ridge student Katherine Kubler, the docuseries explores the trauma the attendees of the New York school faced at the hands of the WWASP. In the Netflix show, documentarian Katherine personally recalls the "pseudopsychological, emotionally abusive, and humiliating" treatment she experienced at Ivy Ridge.

Detailing Katherine's own experience alongside interviews and case studies, the docuseries reveals the harrowing truth behind the processes at Ivy Ridge and similar institutions, as well as the impact the programs had on its attendees.

The Program has been received well so far, with viewers praising its adept 'storytelling' and 'emotional' take on the subject. 'Investigative, emotional and riveting, throughout all three episodes. The storytelling was done very well, and as disturbing as it was, it really shines a light on these toxic and dangerous programs,' wrote one fan on IMBD.

While another commented, 'This documentary was so well done! It was very organised and informative, and it kept me engaged the entire time; I didn't feel like it had unnecessary fluff to make it longer.'

Where is Robert Lichfield now?

Despite being named as the founder of the WWASP, Lichfield has denied his involvement with the abuse at Ivy Ridge and similar schools. In 2013, Lichfield told the New York Times, "I wasn’t there, I didn’t abuse or mistreat students, nor did I encourage or direct someone else to do so, I provided business services that were non-supervision, care, or treatment services to schools that were independently owned and operated."

No official charges or convictions have been filed against Lichfield, despite several previous students from WWASP schools filing lawsuits. Most of these have been settled out of court, but on a few occasions, Lichfield has counter-sued for defamation, according to reporting from The Tab.

Last year, there was a petition to stop plans for a new recreation centre in Utah that would have been called the Robert Lichfield Recreation Center. This shows that despite keeping a low profile, Robert still has a great deal of influence in his home city.

Towards the end of The Program, documentarian Katherine Kubler explains, "Obviously, I’d love to see Robert Lichfield in jail for what he’s done, but I can’t do that. But what I can do is expose the methodology of these places in this documentary so that other parents don’t get manipulated and sucked up into this scheme."

The Program: Cons, Cults and Kidnapping is available on Netflix now