Kathy Hilton is opening up about how daughter Paris Hilton’s YouTube Originals documentary, This Is Paris, affected her.
During an appearance on SiriusXM’s Andy Cohen Live Wednesday, Kathy, 62, admitted that “it was true” she initially hadn’t seen Paris’ tell-all documentary, which heavily detailed her childhood trauma stemming from her boarding school experience.
However, after a request from her 40-year-old daughter, Kathy said she has since decided to watch the film.
“She said to me, ‘It’s very important to me, Mommy, that you watch this.’ I had the party here for her when it came out. Outside, we did a big screen,” Kathy explained. “It was too much after just watching a lot of the little clips. You know, the promos and trailers.”
“You can imagine me just finding out [about the abuse Paris endured],” she went on. “And I’m not one of those people [who says], ‘Oh, this is about me,’ because it’s not about me, but yet, it really was so devastating the way I was told [about what happened].”
Recalling her experience watching the 2020 film with Paris, Kathy said they “held hands” throughout the viewing. The mom of three also “could see how important” it was for her to watch the documentary upon seeing “how relieved and happy” Paris was.
“But it put me into such a depression,” Kathy then admitted. “I mean, a lot of people understood that we are trying to help our daughter. We were trying to save Paris … We were worried. She was living in New York. She was sneaking out and sometimes didn’t come back home for three days, [she was] not going to school.”
“So we put her in this boarding school, this one, this one,” she continued. “I thought, ‘[I] gotta keep her away from the city and all these predators and people that want her to model.’ She escaped everywhere.”
Unsure of what to do at the time, Kathy and her husband, Rick Hilton, eventually sent Paris to the Provo Canyon School in Utah. The Simple Lifealum accused the school of inflicting physical and emotional abuse upon her and other students.
“We had gone and visited. We had met with school placement people. It was handled extremely professionally,” Kathy explained to Andy Cohen. “In fact, I found out after this [documetary] came out, there’s people that you and I both know that have had these problems or sent their child to the school. And then finally, they talked about it. You feel kind of ashamed.”
When reached by PEOPLE for comment on the allegations at the time, the school responded: “Originally opened in 1971, Provo Canyon School was sold by its previous ownership in August 2000. We therefore cannot comment on the operations or patient experience prior to this time.”
In a second and more lengthy statement issued on Sept. 17, 2020, after the release of the documentary, the school said staff does not use “‘solitary confinement’ as a form of intervention” or prescribe “any drug or medication as a means of discipline.”
“We do not condone or promote any form of abuse,” the statement continued. “Any and all alleged/suspected abuse is reported immediately to our state regulatory authorities, law enforcement and Child Protective Services, as required. We are committed to providing high-quality care to youth with special, and often complex, emotional, behavioral and psychiatric needs.”
In This Is Paris, the reality TV veteran called Provo Canyon School “the worst of the worst.”
“You’re sitting on a chair, staring at the wall all day long, getting yelled at or hit,” she said. “I felt like a lot of the people who worked there got off on torturing children and seeing them naked.”
Paris has since used her voice to speak out against Provo Canyon School. She testified at a Utah court in February, claiming she experienced “continuous torture” as a student.
“The staff would say terrible things. They were constantly making me feel bad about myself and bully me,” she previously said. “I think it was their goal to break us down. And they were physically abusive, hitting and strangling us. They wanted to instill fear in the kids so we’d be too scared to disobey them.”
The following month, Paris celebrated a major milestone with the passing of a bill intended to reform residential care for troubled teens.
“When I was at Provo Canyon School, I dreamed of making a difference,” she wrote on Instagram at the time. “The teenage version of me would be so incredibly proud to know I accomplished my goal of protecting youth who are experiencing abuse in the name of treatment. Survivors, this is a BIG step towards systemic change!”
We’re happy to know Kathy finally understands what her daughter went through. That’s important for their relationship.