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Florida apologizes to victims of abuse at state-run boys school

Published: Apr. 26, 2017 at 8:16 PM EDT
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By: Jake Stofan; Capitol News Service

April 26, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Florida officially apologized today to hundreds of men who were abused at a state-run boys school in the 1950’s and 60’s.

The two dozen survivors stood as their names were called. They came to personally hear the apology, some from as far away as Texas.

For decades, the state turned a blind eye to abuses at Florida’s Dozier School for Boys. At least 500 people say they witnessed the tragedies that happened there. Charles Fudge was one of four brothers sent to the reformatory school.

“It is something you live with every day. You remember your cottage number, your locker number.”

Johnny Lee Gaddie says many more were killed than the 55 bodies that were recovered at the site of the former school.

“They was feeding the boys to the hogs. The hogs will eat anything. And they eat the bone.”

The state’s apology comes too late for those who died. But for survivors, the apology does bring some peace.

But some former students would like to see the state do more.

“If they could just make restitutions to these families that lost their children up there,” says Robert St. Clair.

The apology may not be able to mend the wounds of those that suffered, but the state’s commitment to never allow it to happen again may hopefully prevent future wounds.

Survivor Robert Straley says he sees the State improving on that front already.

“Things where they're taking boys and they're not just sending them on the pipeline to prison like they were. They're keeping them in group homes, they're trying to do something.”

Still uncertain is whether lawmakers will spend one million dollars to build two memorials and rebury the bodies unearthed at the boys school.

A proposed House bill includes the money for the memorials and also the possibility of some restitution for victims. The Senate says it will consider adopting the terms.


By: Associated Press

April 26, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- The Florida Senate is apologizing for decades of abuse at a north Florida reform school.

The Senate unanimously passed a resolution containing the apology as several men who suffered abuse in the 1950s and 1960s watched from the public gallery.

Researchers have determined nearly more than 90 boys died at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna between 1900 and 1973. The school was shut down in 2011.

A group called The White House Boys, named for the small building where guards took them to be beaten, have worked for years to get the state to acknowledge the abuse.

Democratic Sen. Darryl Rouson said more than 500 former students have come forward to document beatings and sexual abuse at the school.


By: Associated Press

April 4, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Several men painfully recalled being beaten and sexually abused at a north Florida reform school as the state begins the steps to formally apologize for the horrors they endured more than 50 years ago.

A Senate bill to recognize the abuse at the now shuttered Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. House Speaker Richard Corcoran later met with men who were abused at the school during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Researchers have determined nearly 100 people died at the school between 1900 and 1973. The school was shut down in 2011.

As well as the apology, lawmakers are proposing memorials to be built in Tallahassee and in Marianna 60 miles (96.56 kilometers) west of the Capitol.