The claims are heartbreaking. Almost 100 men who spent time in Florida reform schools five decades ago say they were raped and beaten by the employees hired to take care of them. Those men are now suing the state.
The group, “The White House Boys Survivors,” were inmates at the Florida School for Boys in Marianna during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Last October the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice admitted that the abuses took place. In January the group filed their lawsuit.
One of the stories coming out of that lawsuit is of an 11-year-old whose arms and legs were tied to two trees. The child was repeatedly kicked in the groin.
More of the stories are of children being lashed up to 100 times with a leather razor strip. There were times when the boys underwear had to be removed from their bodies with surgical tools.
The Lakeland Ledger reports:
“I’m ashamed of what they did to these people. When I heard these stories it cried out for something to be done,” said Thomas Masterson, a St. Petersburg lawyer who filed the lawsuit in Pinellas County Circuit Court. The lawsuit seeks class-action status.
There are claims of boys being sodomized with a ‘probing rod,’ of employees placing bets on who could draw first blood during beatings and other abuses. At least two of the boys who were abused can not be involved in the lawsuit, they died at the hands of those past employees. One of the dead died after being put in an industrial clothes dryer.
Thomas Masterson, a St. Petersburg lawyer, filed the lawsuit in Pinellas County Circuit Court after interviewing the men. The stories remained the same even though the men lived hundreds of miles apart. Those stories had horrific details that were supported time and again.
“If a reasonable person talks to the people who were there, you cannot help but draw the conclusion that these people are telling the truth,” Masterson said. “I don’t think that you can defend this by saying they’re not telling the truth or it’s an exaggeration.”
the lawsuit names four state departments as defendants, including the Department of Juvenile Justice, as well as former Marianna reform school employees Troy Tidwell and Robert Curry.
Governor Charlie Crist asked in December that the 30 unmarked graves near the Marianna School be investigated.