Sunday, February 8, 2009

"White House Boys" Sue State Over Abuse State Home

Posted By: Jackelyn Barnard 2/6/2009 First Coast

BRUNSWICK, GA -- Roger Kiser remembers it like it was yesterday. "Unless you were there. Unless you saw how out of control it was, nothing mattered, life didn't matter."

Kiser was at the Florida Reform School for Boys, now known as the Arthur Dozier School, back in the late 1950s.

He says at the school, there was a place called the "White House" where he was taken numerous times for beatings. "They beat you until you were bloody," says Kiser.

According to a class action lawsuit filed against the state, a number of others who went to the school have the same memories.

Court records detail how during the beatings, employees placed, "...monetary bets (on who) could draw blood from the boys first."

One boy remembers, "After the blood curdling screams of a boy stopped, one of the state employees was heard to state, 'I think he is dead.'"

"I have heard...out of 86 men I've talked to, I'd say there are 30 who did not see boys return after their beating," says Kiser.

More than 30 graves have been found near the school's property. The state is now investigating who is buried there.

According to the lawsuit, the victims have an idea who beat and sexually abused them. Two former employees are named in the lawsuit. They are Troy Tidwell and Robert Curry.

"Troy Tidwell is a gentleman who has one arm," says Kiser, who notes Tidwell was one of the worst beaters. "Robert Curry was the psychologist. He was one that was molesting a lot of the boys," says Kiser.

Kiser also notes they know who the other abusers are but most have passed away.

Tidwell's phone is no longer in service. His attorney was not available for comment. Kiser says his attorneys are still trying to find Curry.

According to the lawsuit, after beatings boys were, "Placed in a 'hole' which was an approximately eight by eight foot cell with no lights or windows." It also goes on to say, "Boys would spend as many as 30 days (there to) cover up the severe nature of the beatings."

"I never went there. I do know boys were beaten so badly their visitation rights were suspended until they could somewhat heal up," says Kiser.

The lawsuit alleges the abuse happened between the 1940s and 1960s.

Kiser has written a book about his experience. He believes there could be hundreds of men out there who were abused at the school over the years. Right now, he says more than 120 men have come forward.

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