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Out of the view of security cameras, in secluded spaces and even on off-campus trips, some of the men and women tasked with protecting and counseling youths turned Florida’s juvenile lockups and residential centers into a predators’ playground.
Gardner was found guilty of the obscenity charges and placed on three years probation.
A staffer at the Highlands Youth Academy exchanged 52 handwritten letters totaling 92 pages with an 18-year-old detainee in 2015.
And DJJ investigated at least another 142 complaints of improper conduct resulting from a “staff/youth relationship,” substantiating 53.
Such cases mostly involved youth workers crossing professional boundaries — exchanging “love letters,” for instance — but where sexual activity could not be proven. Justice Department study, almost half of the juveniles who reported being sexually victimized by staff in a correctional program said workers wrote them letters or gave them photos.
Riviera Beach police said there was probable cause to charge the counselor with child abuse and lewd or lascivious battery. 31, 2014, prosecutors declined to press charges, saying they could not “prove all legally required elements of the crime.” The counselor was fired. We have prosecuted a number of staff as a result of this behavior. “So many of the kids that come into our system are already victims of sexual abuse and other types of abuse,” Daly added.