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Abuse Allegations Spur Investigation of Dozier School for Boys

11:29 AM, Mar 12, 2010   |    comments
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MARIANNA, Fla. -- The investigation into the Dozier School for Boys has concluded, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, concluding that there is insufficient evidence to pursue the case criminally.

In December 2008, Gov. Charlie Crist tasked FDLE with investigating the school and the small cemetery on its grounds.
They were asked to look into the location of the graves, identification of those buried on the site and what, if any, crimes committed. Thirty-two unidentified graves were investigated in all.

An investigation was conducted Jan. 29, 2010 to get to the bottom of allegations surrounding criminal abuse of students at the school. Six former staff members and more than 100 former students and their relatives were interviewed regarding beatings, methods of discipline and sexual abuse alleged to have taken place at the school.

A forensic examination was also conducted of the White House building, the location where discipline typically occurred.

FDLE investigated the graves and property, known as Boot Hill Cemetery. Crist also requested that the remains be identified and determine if any crimes were committed, and if so who committed them.

Opening in 1900, the school has been known as the Florida State Reform School (1900-1913), the Florida Industrial School for Boys (1914-1957), the Florida School for Boys (1957-1967), and most recently, the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.

The original "White House Boys" consisted of four men, Roger Kiser, Michael O'McCarthy, Richard Colon and Robert Straley, who attended the school and say they were beaten and tortured. Since their time at the school, they have founded several organizations and two of the men have written books about their experiences at the school.

In a statement on the White House Boys' web site signed by Kiser, "FDLE has taken hours of interviews and taken from those conversations only the portions which benefit their objective; which is to cover-up and/or make it appear to be a minor happening in Florida's histroy. This report is very disappointing in that those who are now investigating these incidents were children themselves during that period."

Prior to the FDLE investigation, a ceremony was held at the school in front of the White House to honor the boys who attended and to officially seal the building. The original White House Boys were present.

As a result of media attention from the ceremony, nearly 100 former students came forward to tell their tales of abuse and torture. The former students told FDLE investigators they were spanked in the White House, and if they moved, other boys were called in to hold them down.

A report from FDLE lists each student's account of what happened while at the school, and who administered these beatings.

First Coast News, tallahassee.com

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