The term “The White House Boys” was coined in 1997 by Roger Dean Kiser on a former Geocities web site (BHI) Beverly Hills Internet. The term originated from a small white building where boys were beaten at the former Florida Industrial School for Boys at Marianna, Florida. The terms "The American Orphan" and "The Sad Orphan" were also coined at the same time.
The original “White House Boys Organization” was established by Roger Dean Kiser in 1998 and has grown to some 400 members. This organization is no way connected with the so called “Official White House Boys” which consist of some sixteen (16) to thirty (30) members. The "Official White House Boys" came into existence two years after the White House Boys Organization was established. Other than one lie detector test; they have contributed nothing to the investigative process that exposed the horrors which happened at the Dozier school. That organization has tried to take credit for the thousands of hours others worked to expose the Dozier School. The "TIMELINE" laying out how this came to pass is located at
The Rise and Fall of the Official White House Boys Organization
HOLDING THE STATE OF FLORIDA HOSTAGE
Clarifying what actually happened at the Dozier School for Boys at Marianna and the Florida School for Boys at Okeechobee.
The Jerry Cooper Syndrome
THERE IS ALWAYS ONE
This morning I was thinking about a former friend of mine. In spite of certain negative things he did to me, I do not believe that he is a bad person at heart. There are times in our lives when we may find a feeling or some form of knowledge that enriches our personal lives and we decide to share that feeling or knowledge with others. Most people move on taking what you shared with them and they begin to build and enrich their own lives with that information. But there is always one who not only accepts the knowledge that you gave them but in the end they also steal the remaining portion of the feeling that you unselfishly kept for yourself.
I was accused by some of incorporating my personal work and agenda into The White House Boys’ issue for financial gain or recognition which was not the case at all. I incorporated The White House Boys issue into my work as a child advocate which I had been involved with for more than 30 years. This was no different, at least in my mind, than the American Medical Association incorporating the American Cancer Society into their work because they feel, for whatever reason, it is a worthy cause. One must incorporate the new field (which has no way to financially exists) into the existing business so one is able to exists financially and fight for whatever rights need to be had by all. If a Chevrolet dealership put up signs at their dealership to raise money for Alzheimer’s; that does not mean they are trying to push their own Chevrolet car sales agenda. However, someone wanting to make it appear that way in order to push their own agenda is exactly what happened in this case.
Yes, there is another story to be told regarding The White House Boys. Actually, there are many stories and it has nothing to do with the beatings, rapes, molestations or the possible murders of boys from either the Marianna or Okeechobee schools.
Though many terrible things happened at the schools no one stepped forward for more than fifty years to expose the atrocities. For many years I tried to expose these horrors but no one would listen. I had no parents or family and having been raised in a Jacksonville, Florida orphanage I had no idea where to turn or who to tell. Over the years I did contact several Florida governors but what were they going to do? After all it was the state of Florida who was the guilty party. Who in power in Florida is going to spank themselves for their own wrong-doing? And trying to right a wrong thing and doing it the wrong way is not the right way to do things the right way. Right? This is exactly what has happened here.
After fifty years and with only a sixth grade education I sat down and wrote the book “The White House Boys-An American Tragedy.” That is when all hell broke loose in the media. Allegations, television news shows, newspaper articles and lawyers were running everywhere. Finally, a law suit was filed against the state by me and several black men. Had I not come forward no one would have ever known about what happened at the schools. Now that I have stepped forward to tell about many of the lies which some of the men have concocted; the lawyers have kicked me off the law suit and I and my family will receive absolutely nothing should compensation ever be paid by the state. The only ones who will now benefit will be those who lied.
When I wrote my first book it exposed what happened to us kids while living at the Children’s Home Society located in Jacksonville, Florida. The book contains some 60 to 80 stories of the abuses we children suffered at the hands of the matrons, particularly the mean and evil Matron, Mother Mayme Winters.
Most wondered how I/we could have survived such horrible abuses. One of the things I had to get over when people began to read my stories was that it appeared that these abuses happened one after the other over a period of 60 to 90 days. This was not the case at all. One must remember that I was in that hell hole for some 4,110 days. When looking at that time period the abuses do not seem to be as abusive (though still terrible) as it would have these abuses happened over a short period of 60 to 90 days.
This is what has happened with several of the White House Boys who I feel have gone off the deep end with their stories.
If one was to walk into a prison they would see inmates on the yard, in the library, in their cells writing letters, some watching television and many just walking around talking with one another. Everything would seem to be just what one would expect in a prison setting. We have all seen that in many television shows and in documentaries. This does not mean that there are not a few guards who have it in for an inmate (or two) and takes the inmate into the basement or the hole and beats the holly crap of him now and then. These types of things happen in every institution. The same was true at the Marianna reform school.
If one was to have visited the school, on any day everything would appear to be normal and in most cases it was. Boys were in school, working their assigned job or doing whatever they were scheduled to do. One would not see anything out of the ordinary and everything was going on just as it was supposed to be.
In my book “The White House Boys-An American Tragedy” I told the truth just as I remember it. At first every man who came forward agreed with my story. No one felt I had not told the truth and that what I had written was the complete truth. However, as time went by some of the men began to enhance their stories. It is true that many boys were beaten bloody and the abusive beatings handed out at the Infamous White House Torture Chamber were brutal and could in no way be considered just “a spanking.” It is true that boys disappeared and were never heard from again but even that type of thing was rare. No one knew for sure if the boys were transferred, went home or what. Stories were abounding about boys missing and being killed.
However, those stories were spread about the campus by several staff members in order to stop boys who might be considering running away. It is also true that boys were being molested by staff members but again that was also very, very rare. This was no more prevalent than it would be in any other facility, state or private.
As time passed the men’s stories began to enhance even more. Now hundreds of boys were supposedly to be missing and killed by the staff. Now boys were being burnt in the incarcerator, hands and body parts were seen in the hog slop feed and rape and molestations were a common occurrence.
Now, as these frivolous stories came to light one would think (had they visited the school) that they would have seen boys bent over the chow hall tables every day being solemnized by the staff, that bodies were being carried out of the White House every single day and fed to the alligators or buried at the cemetery known as “Boot Hill.” I am very surprised that stories did not come out saying that boys’ bodies were hanging from every tree limb on the campus. Maybe that will come later as the investigation begins to dry up.
When one man would come forward and say he was forced to dig a grave another would come forward several days later and say that he was made to dig three graves. However, when these men were asked to take the authorities to where they had dug the graves nothing was ever found.
One of the men (Bob Baxter-A former marine and former inmate at the school) actually went on television and stated “When the truth is finally known about what happened at the Dozier School at Marianna it will make the Holocaust look trivial.” This is just how far and out of context the entire matter was being taken. The truth no longer seems to matter to anyone.
For several years I tried to get the men back on track but to no avail. When Jerry Cooper appointed himself President of The White House Boys his main concern and purpose became seeing his self on television and having his picture in the newspaper. Eventually, he and his bunch forced me totally out of the organization and took over the White House Boys under a new organization they called “The Official White House Boys Organization.”
I then wrote and published several books titled “When Those in Power Don’t Care” and “Crimes against the State-The Official White House Boys-Holding the State of Florida Hostage.” The purpose of the two books was to try and tell the state, as well as the general public the truth. The brutal beatings were bad (worse than terrible) and I did not feel that the stories needed to be enhanced. Within days of the books being released Jerry Cooper and his bunch had the publisher pull the books by threatening to sue them. Several days later I received a telephone call from one of the attorneys (Greg Hoag) who was representing the White House Boys who advised me that they were going to immediately remove me from the law suit against Florida. I suspect it was because I was exposing the truth and that was affecting the law suit against Florida and the one quarter million dollars the lawyers had invested in the case. Now it appeared to me that the “truth” no longer mattered and it had become strictly about the money.
When a preliminary report was released about the bodies found at the Boot Hill Cemetery at the Dozier School; what was found was exactly what the records said were there in the first place. Now Mr. Cooper seem to panic and in order to stay in charge and continue to stay in the press; he quickly turned his efforts to saying that boys were also killed and buried at the other reform school located in Okeechobee, Florida.
Yes, there were many terrible things that happened at both the Dozier and the Okeechobee school. Hundreds, if not thousands of boys came out of those schools worse than they went in. Most were just wayward boys and not criminals.
When I began to tell my stories in the 1980s; most people seem to judge the boys sent to reform schools the 1950s in the manner as the young boys who were in gangs today and doing terrible things such a car-jacking. This was not the case at all. Most of the boys (not all but most) were sent to the reform schools for smoking cigarettes, skipping school, running away from abusive homes, dancing and even for listening to “That ungodly Rock-N-Roll Music (Judge Marion Gooding-Duval County who ran Elvis Presley out of town).
In the 1950s and early 1960s the South was very strict on religious values and any boy caught dancing or listening to that type of music was considered and up-and-coming criminal and had to be straightened out immediately. From my recollection; the worse crime I remember any boy being sentenced to the school for was “joy-riding.” There were no boys, at least that I knew of or when I was there, who had killed, raped or hurt physically anyone.
As was later learned; many judges were instructed to send as many “wayward boys” as possible to the two reform schools as some 600 boys were need at all times to keep the two facilities and farms up and running. The purpose was to try and make the schools as self-sufficient as possible. Rather than send the boys to the schools for actual crimes they committed against society and for possible rehabilitation (a joke); the main purpose became to make the two units self-sufficient at any and all cost even at the expense of the boys.
In fact, the recidivism rate at the Marianna School during one period was 98%. (98 out of 100 boys were returned to the school or went on to prison.
Once a boy was taken to the White House and given a brutal, bloody beating, his inner anger was enhanced greatly. Having to live in fear every minute of every day and being cursed and degraded became more than most of the boys could handle. Once released from the school most they had no respect for authority, whatsoever. Anyone now in authority strictly became “the enemy.”
Many of these boys went on to become career criminals. Most married three, four or five times, divorced and dropped hundreds of children wherever they could and then they moved on. Many became abusers themselves as most did not know how to love anyone, trust anyone or how to forgive anyone.
Over the past eight years or so there has been much healing. Many of the men now understand why they did what they did and how they acted so negatively toward society. Most were led to believe that they were just bad men and a few were led to believe they had become mean and cruel because they had a mental problem. Most did not even realize that the state of Florida had greatly influenced them as children and that that had a direct influence on how and what they would become once adults.
As Jerry Cooper and his bunch began to try and discredit me for their own personal gain and glory; I chucked most of that action as being the angry teenager still living inside them. They were out to get even with the state of Florida and at any cost. Anyone who got in their way was also going down.
Over the next year I was asked to step down from many organizations with which I was associated. On the internet, the inflammatory comments made about me by Mr. Cooper and his newly formed group made it impossible for these groups to have me aboard, even though they knew the statements were not true. In time my books sales totally dried up and I had no way of supporting myself and my family. I soon learned that supposedly some mature adults cannot overcome their past abuses and that they will even destroy their peers in the process just to get the justice they feel they are entitled too; even if they feel lying are the only processes in which to achieve and accomplish their goals.
It appears to me that brutal treatment brought forward in the original allegations were sufficient to obtain an apology and possibly compensation from the state of Florida; even though many of their rules regarding corporal punish may have been publically acceptable during that era. It is not so much an apology and compensation for the actual brutal abuses that occurred at that time but the consequences of those actions which ruined the lives of many of these men after they became adults. Not only were the lives of these men changed and severely damaged but also severely damaged were the lives of their wives, children and in many cases the lives of their grandchildren.
I feel, if and when an apology is given it should be directed to all the men who were abused. However, if and when compensation is paid I personally feel that anyone who lied should be exempt from receiving any form of compensation.
When I first began work on exposing the atrocities that occurred at the former Florida Industrial School for boys at Marianna some twenty-eight (28) years ago I did not realize that hundreds of men would come forward who also attended that facility. I knew there were many but I thought many had died of natural causes or been killed during the Vietnam war as many went into military service after coming out of the Florida reform school. Of the some three to four hundred that did come forward; I was surprised that ten (10) or fifteen (15) of them would look at this as strictly an opportunity (or a possibility) to scam the state of Florida out of millions of dollars.
There is very little doubt that many boys were brutally beaten, some molested and some even raped by the school staff. Of course, those molestation and rape cases were rare and occurred no more often than they would at any other institution. Then there were the cases of boys being beaten to death at the infamous White House Torture Chamber or killed by the staff and dumped into the North Florida woods for the alligators to eat. Many say that is strictly folklore but parts are actually true.
I find it strange that not one of the men mentioned in this book ever came forward for more than fifty years to report the terrible abuses which today they feel were so horrible and unjust to them when they were children.
Maybe most of the truth lies hidden under what can only be labeled as a large pile of “BULL SHIT.” Yes, the beatings given to many young boys at the White House Building were very brutal, in many cases bloody and certainly horrendous and much uncalled for considering how minor the boys’ infractions.
Who is guilty and who is actually innocent?
When I wrote the book “The White House Boys-An American Tragedy” it was to tell my story. It was also to somewhat tell the stories of just a few other boys who were also sent to the Florida School for Boys at Marianna. Those other boys were from the Children’s Home Society orphanage located in Jacksonville, Florida where I lived most of my childhood. The rules there were very strict and harsh. Eat, school, work and go to bed was the daily routine. There was very little time for play or any form of personal enjoyment. If one disobeyed the rules off to the reform school they went. You did not have to rob, kill, rape, steal or hurt anyone. All you had to do was not abide by their rules and for any violation whatsoever; off you went to the “big prison for kids.”
So, my story was to tell the abuses that we few children suffered at the hands of the state when not having actually done anything wrong, except break the orphanage rules; rules such as climbing up in the trees and not having asked permission to get a drink of water or to go to the bathroom.
Personally, there are a large number of the men who came forward to tell of their stories of abuse who actually needed to be sent to the reform school. They were hell raisers in their communities who stole and hurt others on a daily basis. Many were bullies when they were juveniles just as they remain to be bullies today as grown adults.
The difficult part for the state is to determine which young boys should be given some form of consideration or compensation for actually having suffered abuses by the state when such actions were not really unnecessary considering the non-offences committed by the child who had been sent off to the school by various juvenile judges.
Believe me; most of the boys sent to the Marianna school needed a severe adjustment as they were not little angles who were being taken advantage of by society.
Of course there are those who came from abusive homes who went out into the streets in order to survive and those circumstances caused them to do whatever it was which caused them to be sent to the school. Those boys also certainly need some consideration.
The following story is the tale that started the investigation into the terrible abuses that occurred at the Marianna and Okeechobee Reform Schools in Florida.
"THE HORRORS OF THE WHITE HOUSE"
I was about twelve or thirteen years old, when the Duval County Juvenile Court sentenced me to the Florida School for Boys at Marianna for running away from the Children's Home Society Orphanage in Jacksonville, Florida. Early one morning Doctor Robert Loyal Currie called me to the head office. He told me that I would soon visit the ‘White House,’ which was a torture room for boys who broke one of their many rules or tried to escape. I was sent to the school for trying to escape from the Children's Home Society orphanage in Jacksonville. I had been incarcerated there for 10 years for the ‘crime’ of having no parents to care for me.
When I heard that they were taking me to this ‘White House,’ an extreme fear came over me. I almost passed out and was trembling so badly that my legs collapsed under me. I fell to the floor and lay there. The men told me to "get my sorry butt up" and sit down on the hard, wooden bench outside the office. I waited there for the two men who would take me to the ‘White House.’ I knew their routine well, as I had heard about it from many other boys who were taken there. Other than the time I learned that I had cancer and would die within six months, I have never known more fear than when I was told I was going to be taken to this place.
After a wait of about 30 minutes, these two men came to get me. They grabbed me by my arms and lifted me off the bench. There were several other boys in the office with me, so I had to try to act as though I was not scared, but they knew. The two men walked with me across the grass circle that divided the offices from the ‘White House.’ We stopped at another office and a man, Troy Tidwell took the place of one of the men holding me. We continued walking toward the mess hall. As we rounded the building, I could see it right in front of me: ‘THE WHITE HOUSE.’
My mind was just going crazy with fear. My thoughts seemed to be swimming in a circle, like a cat that had been thrown into a cold river. I was so scared, I could not think straight. Words were coming from my mouth before my mind could think of what it was I was attempting to say. I was trying to decide if I should run and hide or maybe kill myself. Anything was better than what was going to happen in there.
When we reached the door, one of the men took out his keys and stuck one into the lock. I looked back over my shoulder and I saw about 50 boys. They stared in silence. As the door opened, an ungodly odor filled my nose and I could hardly breathe. I remember trying to step through the doorway, but the odor was so overwhelming that I fell in the short hallway inside. One of the men grabbed me by the back of the shirt collar and jerked it up around my neck, choking me. One of the buttons fell off my shirt and hit the floor, rolling very slowly around the corner. Almost everything was happening in slow motion. My whole body was just numb and it was very difficult for me to breathe. I tried to pull the shirt down from around my neck, but the man jerked it once again and hit me on the top of the head with his knuckles. I hit the floor again and bloodied my nose from the impact. At that point, I was not walking at all; my legs would not work.
The two men picked me up and carried me into a small room, which had nothing in it except a bunk bed and a pillow. They put me down on the floor and ordered me to lie on the bed facing the wall. Crying, I pulled myself up onto the edge of the bed and wiped the blood from my nose onto my shirtsleeve. When I looked up at the men's faces, they were plain, cold and hard. They had no expression whatsoever. I did what they told me to do. One of them said to move my hands to the top of the bunk bed and grab the bar at the headboard. I did so as quickly as I could. Not one sound could be heard. I felt one of the men reach under the pillow and slowly pull something out. I turned over quickly and looked at the one who was standing near me. He had a large leather strap in his hand.
"Turn your God damn head back toward the wall!" he yelled.
I knew what was going to happen and it was going to be very bad. I had been told what to expect by some of the boys, who were taken to the ‘White House.’ I never heard from some of them again.
I also heard that this giant strap was made of two pieces of leather, with a piece of sheet metal sewn in between the halves. Again, everything was dead silent. I remember tightening my buttocks as much as I could. Then I waited and waited, and waited. I remember someone taking a breath, then a footstep. I turned over very quickly and looked toward the man with the leather strap. There was an ungodly look on his face and I knew he was going to beat me to death. I will never forget that look for as long as I live.
I tried to jump off the bed, but I was knocked backward when the leather strap hit me on the side of the face. I jumped to the end of the bunk and began trying to climb up the cement wall but there was nowhere to climb. Mr. Hatton kept beating me with the leather strap about the chest, back and legs. The men grabbed me, pulled me down and held me to the floor. I was yelling to God to save me, begging for someone, anyone, to help. There was blood all over everything. It was everywhere.
"Please forgive me! Please forgive me," I repeated at the top of my voice. "Please forgive me! Dear God, please help me!"
But it didn't do any good; God didn’t hear me that day. Maybe He was smart enough not ever to enter the White House, even to save a child.
After about five minutes of begging, pleading and crying, they told me to get back on the bed and grab the top rail again. They warned that if I tried to get off the bed, the whole thing would repeat from the beginning. I slowly pulled myself up off the floor and got back onto the bed. Again, I grabbed the rail and waited; everything became quiet, except for the two men breathing really hard. Once again, I tightened up my buttocks and waited.
Then all of a sudden, it happened. I thought my head would explode. The thing came down on me over and over. I screamed and kicked and yelled as much as I could, but it did no good. He just kept beating me over and over. However, I never let go of that bed rail. Then there was nothing. The next thing I remember, I was walking into Doctor Currie's Office and the secretary asked me who I was. I was so bloodied that she could not recognize me. Minutes later, still in a stupor, I was taken to Mr. Hatton's office. I was sitting on a wooden bench in the one-armed man's office. I remember wiping the slobber and blood from my mouth. My body felt like it was on fire. I stood and found that I hardly could.
God, God, God, it hurt badly. I will never forget that until the day I die.
One of the men in the office yelled at me to sit down. I told him that I had to go to the bathroom really bad. He pointed at a doorway and said that it was the bathroom; he told me to "make it quick."
"I'm gonna tell somebody about what you people are doing around here when I get out of here one day," I mumbled.
"Talk like that around here will have you wake up dead tomorrow morning, sonny boy," said the man, as he squinted his eyes and pointed his finger at me.
I slowly walked into the bathroom and closed the door. I looked in the mirror. There was dried blood all over my black and blue face, my hair and in my mouth. I took my torn shirt off, which was hanging from the waistband of my pants and then I turned around and looked into the mirror. My back was black and blue, and also bloody. I almost panicked out of my mind when I saw my reflection. I looked like a monster. I started to cry, but I covered my mouth with both hands so no other boys would hear me. I loosened my belt buckle to get my pants down. It was very painful, but the worst was yet to come. Once they were down, I noticed that my legs were all bloody and my skin was black in color.
I stood over the toilet and tried to urinate, but it just would not come out. I decided to take my underwear down and sit on the toilet until I could go, but the underwear would not come off; it was stuck to my rear end and legs. The cotton material had been beaten into the skin of my buttocks and was dried with blood. I pulled my pants back up and washed my face, mainly because I did not want the other boys to see that I had been crying. I was so scared that I could not stop shaking.
Finally, I walked back into the outer office and saw Mr. Sealander, my cottage house parent, standing by the doorway. He took me back to my cottage. He called the office to complain about what happened to me. Then he took me to the hospital where the old nurse, Ms. Womack, and Doctor Wexler sutured up the tears to my buttocks and soaked me in Epsom salts. With tweezers, she pulled the remaining pieces of underwear from my skin. Then she petted that big, ugly cat of hers and sent me away.
Why was this done to me?
I never knew until years later, why I was beaten like that. They did it because I said ‘shit’ when I slipped on the diving board at the pool. I do not even remember saying that kind of word. I never was a boy who cursed.
I will never forget for as long as I will live, that vicious beating done to me without even knowing why. I will never forget the monster that I saw in the mirror that day. I will never forget what adults are capable of doing to a child. I will never forget that the State of Florida was behind what happened to me and to many, many other boys - just for running away from an abusive orphanage.
I do not hold any grudges against those men. If Mr. Hatton had not beaten me, another man would have done the job. Those were the rules. To them, it was a job they were paid to do. However, I have always wondered if R. W. Hatton was ever troubled the least little bit by that beating. I have always wondered if Doctor Currie, the psychologist, got a sexual thrill out of putting a 12 or 13-year-old boy in his place in that manner.
I spoke with Mr. Troy Tidwell on the telephone on February 11, 1999. He is now 72 years old and still lives in Marianna, Florida. I asked him if he could locate Mr. Sealander. He and I joked about the past and had a few laughs together. I'm sure he had no idea who I was. He may not even remember that far back, although I think it is more likely that he does. How could someone not remember beating little boys like that?
I thank you for caring, Mr. Sealander. Wherever you are, I want to thank you for your kindness and understanding. Because of that one kind deed, I have learned to trust, respect and take the word of my fellow man. Thank you for being kind to me and making me feel that I was worth something to someone. I will always remember, respect and love you for that kindness.
I wish to end this story by thanking the individuals, whoever you are who had the heart, compassion and guts to stop these horrible evil deeds committed by the State of Florida. Though there is very little doubt in my mind that such things are still happening even today.
NOTE: I would like to make one addition to the story which I did not add above. I was asked to lie down on the bed, face the wall and bite into the dirty, bloody pillow and I did as instructed. When the first blow was struck, the leather strap hit my buttocks but the end of the strap continued on and hit me in the right side of my waist. It was like I had been hit with a red hot branding iron. The same type I had seen used to brand cattle on Owen Bolton’s Rainbow K Ranch in Silt, Colorado when I was a young boy. When that strap hit me I actually smelled the burning of cattle hide within a second after being hit. All I could think about was that one cow that caught fire and ran off into the brush. Off the bed I jumped screaming at the top of my voice; the entire time thinking my body had caught fire. That is a fear I still live with even to this day.
THE “WHITE HOUSE”
Many years passed before I began to try and reach out to someone in authority regarding the terrible abuses happening at the Marianna school. Being a ward of the court (Orphan) I was under the total control of the Duval County Juvenile Court in Jacksonville, Florida (Judge Marion Gooding) and I lived in total fear that I could be returned to the school at any time. Some sixteen (16) years later I began writing letters to the sitting governors of Florida.
When I wrote the book “The White House Boys-An American Tragedy” in 2009 I told of various stories of which I was witness to as well as my own person bloody beating at the chamber.
When most of the men came forward their stories were similar to mine but as time passed their stories seemed to get greatly enhanced and almost to the point of ridiculous. One example was of Mr. Jerry Cooper who told me of his beating at the first reunion we held here in Brunswick, Georgia. His original story was that he played football for the Yellow Jackets (The school’s football team) and that he had received fifty-seven lashes with the leather and metal strap used to beat the boys. Several months later his story changed and he stated he had received 87 lashes. A year or two later it changed once again to 135 lashes. Well, I am not saying Mr. Cooper is lying but his story sure did change when other men began to tell of the large amount of lashes they too received. It appeared to me that Jerry wanted to be the individual who had to stay at the top of the pile when it came to the amount of lashes received. After all he was the top quarterback for the football team and he wanted everyone to know that. When the amount of lashes he received finally came into question he immediately shelled out some seven hundred dollars ($700.00) to take a lie detector test to prove to everyone that he was not lying. Somehow Mr. Cooper manages to pass the lie detector test and immediately began trying to take over the organization which was slowly forming.
It appeared to me (over the next year or two) that Jerry had always wanted to be someone important but never made that status. As a country singer he never made it past the bar scene and slowly faded into oblivion with a very serious anger problem which caused him much grief as it did to his wife Babbs Cooper. Nevertheless, she hung in there and kept him somewhat on the straight and narrow. He then began some form of a tool company and managed to make enough money to purchase a nice home and a few fillies but he never got over the desire of wanting to be someone important.
Several years ago Jerry Cooper called me and asked my son (Roger Kiser Junior) to build him a web site hoping to restart his country music singing career. He paid Roger Jr. $2,000.00 to build him a web site. Once done, Jerry called me and asked me to back him with his career using the White House Boys Organization as a stepping stone and that he and I could make a fortune off his idea. I refused and that opened the door (the idea was formed) for Jerry Cooper to use the organization for his personal gain.
As the media got involved, the stories of abuse spread like wild-fire. Everyone, me included, was doing almost daily television and radio interviews. Most doing such told their basic story but as time went along even those stories seemed to become enhanced, especially where and when Jerry Cooper was involved. It did not take long for his friends to begin to call him and tell him how proud of him they were for telling his story. But as the friends began to stop telephoning, Jerry began to feel left behind and unimportant once again so his story of abuse began to enhance even more. Now he was taking partial credit for writing (coauthoring) the book and forming the organization which later became known as The White House Boys; an organization which had been formed by Roger Dean Kiser who was later joined by Robert Straley, Dick Colon and Michael O’McCarthy. These men became known as “The Original White House Boys.”
As the stories continued to grow out of portion I thought about contacting Pam Bundi, the Florida Attorney General. One evening I sat down and wrote the following letter:
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Attorney General Pam Bundi
Post Office Box 10069
Tallahassee, Florida 32302
The time has come to tell the truth about the allegations brought forth by the White House Boys. I have to be very careful as over the past four or five years there have been three (3) death threats against me and my family if I ever step forward to expose the truth.
When writing my book “The White House Boys-An American Tragedy” the purpose of the book was to tell my personal story truthfully and as accurately as I remembered it as a child.
After the release of that book many men came forward and began telling true and untrue stories just to get even with the state for punishments administered to them as children by the school staff for infractions (in most cases) they themselves (the boys) most likely deserved.
Several years later four or five men and their wives secretly gathered in a Kissimmee Motel room and decided to take over the White House Boys Organization, originally formed by me, and decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to receive large compensations from the state of Florida if they stuck together by enhancing their own allegations of abuse originally brought forth by Roger Dean Kiser, the original founder of the White House Boys.
When finances began rolling in to their organization monies began to disappear as those funds were being deposited directly into the treasure’s personal account. The Treasurer (Peggy Marx) began handing out hundred dollar bills in gas money to me and several other members who they wanted to keep quiet. I complained and when their organization was confronted about this issue threats of bodily harm were made against me and the gentleman who made the suggestion (Captain, Bryant Middleton) that the monies should be placed into a separate organizational account. Mr. Middleton was almost physically attacked by Frank Marx, husband of the treasurer.
The so called “spankings” at the school were rather harsh but not to the point I would personal consider to be overly brutal on most of the boys. On a scale from one (1) to ten (10), I would surmise the paddling to be about a six (6) or less. The average licks administered by the staff were about ten (10) to fifteen (15) for minor offences and at about to twenty-five (25) to thirty (30) for more serious offences. There were instances where the staff member lost his temper or a boy fought and the licks were increased substantially. However, there was never a case, that I knew of working at the hospital, where any boy ever received more than fifty (50) swats. In those particular cases it was because a boy had physically attacked a staff member or was caught having sex with a staff member’s wife or daughter.
As far as the sexual abuses; I found the sexual abuses by staff members not to be any more prevalent that were such acts at any other youth or prison facilities. In fact, the sexual abuses were more prevalent among the inmates their self rather than with the staff.
I respectfully request that I meet with Governor Scott, the Florida Attorney General, Pam Bundi and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement as soon as possible. I also request that Ben Montgomery of the Tampa Bay Times also be present.
Were the beatings somewhat harsh? Yes they were as these were children. However, if I were to take the same beating today (as an adult) I would walk away very bruised but I would shake it off and go on my way.
It is not the adult men themselves who are after the state for vengeance but the childhood memories of these men who actually want revenge.
Roger Dean Kiser, Sr.
303 Juliette Circle
Brunswick, Georgia 31525
I pondered for days on whether or not to send the letter as there were many boys (now men) who had actually been brutally beaten, molested and/or raped while incarcerated at the Marianna school. Would they have to suffer and receive no compensation just because a few wanted to lie about what truly happened to them? Up to this point I have decided not to send the letter unless things get farther out of hand. I figure extortion is a bit out of hand but at this point there are just too many other innocent men who suffered as children at the hands of these monsters and they should be compensated.
As Mr. Jerry Cooper, Mr. Richard (Dick) Colon and several of the other men began to form together; I found them to be somewhat selfish and to be very inconsiderate individuals. They appeared to turn into the same hard-nosed juvenile delinquents they had been during the 1950s and 1960s. Anyone who did not agree with their anger against Florida would be treated in the same manner as Florida was going to be treated.
I did put the word out that these con-jobs on the state of Florida had best stop or I was going to ask for a sit-down with Florida Governor, Rick Scott, the Attorney General, Pan Bundi and a new reporter named Ben Montgomery of the Tampa Bay Times. These were they type of public responses I received:
"Oh, hell friends....Another half remembered comment just popped up and now I think Friend Roger said he had called a meeting with Ben Montgomery, and Pam Bondi, and the Governor, for a certain date and he instructed them to meet him in Tallahassee at a certain time, again I think he said March 12 or 13th, but maybe I just dreamed the whole thing? Anyway he was gonna show everybody just who wields the power in this WHBZ topic. The thing is, inquiring minds want to know did Friend Roger have the power to make the meeting a reality? The time has come and passed and was it we or he the biggest fool at last?”
(As Mr. Robins is part of the Jerry Cooper group; his statement “Did Friend Roger have the power to make the meeting a reality?” tells me that he feels that they (The Official White House Boys) now hold the power to decided how things should be done in order to get the state of Florida to pay through the nose.)
“Come on Claude....Roger is a legend....in his own mind!!! LOL”
“Bee Productions have locked in several WHBs on a movie deal that may or may not turn into anything. No money has exchanged hands until the Movie is made, shown in theatres and is profitable. Sound like a 3 card Monte expert has worked some magic. In the meantime they are locked in even if a legitimate company should emerge. Have to wait and see and hope they make some money with it. As for me, I'm betting on the lawyers.”
“Give Roger kudos, he has signed with the BEE peoples. It's hard for me to imagine a reputable movie company hiring a guy as an advisor that the FDLE ignored him because what he say's , writes and remembers are worlds apart. By the time Kiser gets through with those producers the film will look like Star Trek. Don't sound to bright to me, LMAO !!!!!”
“Bee Holder Production is a company that consist of paparazzi. I have said this previously, If would be understandable if they used Roger Kiser as an adviser because they know fiction and sensationalism when they see it. I was told that Kiser wasn't involved in it and wouldn't be. Like I posted the other day we meaning WHBs have our own Forrest Gump in the person of Roger. From his own admission he has signed over movie rights with I believe 3 different companies to date and have a manager in California handling it all.”
“It appears that Kiser has gone off the deep end. Him demanding an appointment with the governor, Pam Bondi , and the others he speaks of is probably his biggest lie yet. If he continues with the bullshit it is destroying all credibility of the WHBs organization. His testimony when he was interviewed by FDLE destroyed his credibility with any one that can read. Truth is what rules and Roger Kiser through years of reading and listening to him and his stories diminish what little truth he tells. His status with the attorneys must really be declining. The Officials with the State of Florida will not meet with him because we are in litigation against the state. He is to eat up with his importance its mind boggling. Like I've said before, if he will just stop his damn lies and come back to earth I will be one of the first in line to donate for a statue of him outside of Pierce hall in Marianna when this thing is over. . He has one of the nicest families and they deserve better than the way he's conducting his self. If you read this Roger and I have no doubt that you will, wake up and go back to the writer you once were and when you write label your books as having some fiction for effect. And please remember your alive, that makes you a victor not a victim you so well put forth.”
Mr. Cooper had now formed his bunch of cohorts and ten (10) or fifteen (15) of them were standing firmly behind him as he had convinced them they he was on the right track and they would get millions of dollars out of the state of Florida as compensation if they continued to back him and his efforts. Immediately, they began to try and discredit me in the public arena.
I was amazed at how they came out of the woodwork like a bunch of bullies ready to attack anyone who disagreed with them and/or their mission; whatever that was going to be.
I responded publically with the following comment:
“There seems to be a few White House Boys who feel it is necessary to imply that I feel that I am better than most folks. I think common sense lets most people know that anyone with only a sixth grade education and has worked mostly minimum wage jobs most of their life certainly cannot consider themselves to better than, more important than or any more special than are their friends, family and/or their acquaintances. Anyone who makes such statements must have a very low opinion of themselves as I have always considered myself to be close to the bottom of the human intelligence scale.
Because of all the lies and negative statements against me I have had to de-friend anyone associated with The White House Boys including those who are my friends. It appears I cannot even make a statement to my own family and/or friends without someone from that bunch making it appear that my comment(s) are somehow associated with a White House Boys’ issue. I guess if I give them enough rope they will hang themselves and they have been doing that process rather well over the last few months.
As these men began coming together some eight years ago, this bunch was suppose to organize together as a brotherhood but instead it has become a bunch of people stabbing each other in the backs and trying to get their fifteen minutes of fame at the cost of anything and everything including their so called brothers.
Many who are religious easily know the difference between right and wrong but even they refuse to stand up against their spouses for fear of reprisal. If things do not change and if this organization does not change its direction there will be terrible legal repercussions against those who continue to lie and deceive the state about what actually happened. It is unnecessary to lie when the truth and facts more than substantiate our claims of abuse.”
Nevertheless the negative comments and rumors about me still continued. Had I had Mr. Cooper and his bunch standing before me with Jesus on my left and God on my right as well as the United States Supreme Court standing behind me and each of them telling Mr. Cooper that what was being stated about me was nothing more than total lies they would have responded: “We don’t care.”
Little did I know that the decision to take over the organization had already been made and was now secretly in the works.
There were several more reunions planned and held by the House Boys over the next few years. I did not get wind of their scheme until I received a telephone call from Jerry Cooper’s wife, Babbs Cooper. She asked me if I was going to attend the reunion in Kissimmee, Florida. I told her I most likely would not attend because I had had several teeth pulled and I was out of my pain pills. She asked me what type of medication I was on and I replied “Tramadol.” (Tramadol is a non-narcotic medication generally given to patients with severe low-back problems). She told me she had stopped taking Tramadol as it was making her somewhat forgetful. I was told that she would bring me her prescription of Tramadol if I would come to the event, so I agreed.
I arrived in Kissimmee, Florida at the motel on Friday evening and found everyone sitting around the pool area. As Babbs was not present I asked what room she was in and proceeded to that room. She gave me a hug greeting and told me she had not located any of her Tramadol tablets as she must have thrown it away when she decided to discontinue its use. Hurting very badly in both my back and mouth, I took my granddaughter, Madison and headed to my own room to lay down for a few hours.
About twenty (20) minutes later there was a knock at my door. I struggled to get up and opened the door. Another White House Boy was there and began to tell me that “The shit is down.” I told him I had no idea what he was talking about. He began to tell me that Jerry Cooper, Dick Colon and several other fellows, along with their wives “were planning to force me out of the organization and take over and do things their way.”
After he left, I managed to get myself together and I walked to the pool area and found no one. When I looked up I saw someone looking at me out of the room to the left of the pool area. I walked to the door and as I was about to knock Army Captain, Bryant Middleton came walking up. He immediately asked me where everyone was and I told him I did not know, as I pointed at the motel room door.
I knocked and the door opened and everyone in the room became quiet and sat with a strange look on their faces. Bryant and I walked in and sat down. We were told that it was a private meeting but that we could stay if we wished. Everyone was drinking wine so Bryant and I sat down and listened. A question came out about the expense account and that the organizational funds were being placed into the treasures person bank account. I smiled as I had already had a run in with the treasurer (Peggy Marx) because she had taken it upon herself to take funds from that account and hand it out to individuals for gas money. I told her there was nothing wrong in dispensing funds if the other members of the board agreed to do allow her to do that. But that was not a decision that was to be made by her alone. Bryant Middleton spoke up and said, “The organizations money should be held in a separate account and not in a member’s personal account.”
Immediately Peggy’s husband (Frank Marx) stood up and with his fists balled up he walked up to Mr. Middleton and said, “Are you accusing my wife of being a thief?”
Bryant responded by saying, “No. That it would be best if the monies was held in an account with the organization’s name on the checks.”
Frank shook his fist and sat back down.
As I sat listening, I knew the majority of the members did not want me or Mr. Middleton in the room. After about thirty minutes I got up and left and went back to my room to get my grand-daughter so she could swim in the pool for an hour or so.
This in addition to receiving millions from the state of Florida as compensation would set them up for life. I knew right then and there what the meeting was actually about and why they did not want me present. After they returned to their rooms I returned to mine and went to bed.
The next morning I got up, bathed, dressed and Madi and I went to eat breakfast. When we returned we attended several hours of meetings and then I had to return to my room as my back was hurting so badly that I could hardly walk. I could tell that something was wrong as no one approached me during the entire meeting. Generally, I asked to speak as I was the founder of the White House Boys’ Organization and the author of the book which first exposed what actually happened at the Marianna facility.
About one in the afternoon there was a knock at my door. The same man walked in and told me that he asked where I was and why I had not spoke at the meeting. He was told that I was in my room drunk and going around asking everyone for drugs. I just shook my head. Then he said; “You are not going to believe this. Dick Colon just slugged a White House Boy right in the face in front of his two young children.”
Immediately, I got up and walked with him to the pool area where I asked where Dick was. They refused to tell me. It took me more than an hour to locate Mr. Colon as they had moved him to another room so the police could not find him. I walked to the front of the motel where the police car was sitting and began talking to the officers. I explained to them what I heard had happened but that I had very little information. They asked me if Mr. Colon as still at the motel and I told them I did not know. It was agreed that they would return the next day at one O’clock in the afternoon and if we were checked out that they would not pursue a police report. After they left I managed to locate Dick in another room. I knocked on his door and was let in. He was alone. I sat down in the chair near the door and asked him what happened. He sat down on the edge of the bed and told me a White House boy had made a comment about the 9-11 attack and when he did, “I got up and slugged him right in the God damn face.”
Dick, President of the White House Boys, got up off the bed and began dancing around the area as if he were a teenager who had just beat the shit out of someone in high school.
In his description of how the incident had occurred he came at me and swung his fist missing my faces within half an inch. I sat there looking at him as if he were having a tantrum or something. I had never seen him act in such a manner. I told him there was a church group of about 100 young children at the pool at that time as well as the man’s two young girls who were in tears when they saw their bloody father. “Tough shit,” was his reply. I got up and left the room.
I realized immediately there was bad blood between these two men and did not know whether this story was true or made up just to get even with Mr. Colon. Personally, my knowing Dick for many years, even with our many disagreements, I doubt this is true.
After returning home I received a telephone call from Dick who was screaming and yelling at me. “What is this shit about you telling everyone I should resign as President of the White House Boys?”
I told him I had no idea what he was talking about that I had not made such a comment to anyone. I did tell him that I had received a call from Sam Moles who thought that Dick should resign. Dick slammed the telephone down and I heard no more from him until I received a letter from his lawyer stating that he was suing me. Several months earlier my computer had crashed and Dick, who supposedly was a very wealthy businessman, had given me an old office computer but now he wanted it back or else he would sue me. Within two weeks I had returned the computer to Mr. Colon. Little did I know that what was actually happening behind closed doors was that they were trying to capture any and all my information, more than twenty years of my investigative work, to use on their own web site which they were planning to construct.
Almost immediately Jerry Cooper was appointed as the new president of the White House Boys. In cases where members of the board were to die or resign new elections were to be held but that did not turn out to be the case at all. Even when new elections were held, those in power counted the votes and told everyone the outcome of the election. Not one member of the original board has ever changed in five years unless it was at their own discretion.
Within weeks stories began that everything I had written was a total lie and that any and all my stories and books were enhanced and mostly fabricated lies. My family and friends on Face book were flooded with tales about what a crook I was and that I was a professional con-artist. The word was out to all their members not to tell me anything about any news media coverage or any meeting between the media and the University of South Florida who was not on the campus site digging up the bodies of many young boys who had died at the school. I was told that part of their plan to oust me was to cut off the sale of my books as that was the only income I had to support my work and continue to investigate the abuses and to hunt down those guilty of those abuses. It did not take long before the book sales dried up almost completely.
As the weeks passed the media totally disregarded me as the founder of the White House Boys Organization. On one radio show Jerry Cooper actually took credit for having coauthored the book The White House Boys and took credit for having actually formed the White House Boys’ Organization.
As I continued to complain about how the Official White House Boys Organization was being operated, many threats against my life and the lives of my family begin to come in. Threats came in from having my “ass beaten” to having my “throat cut and found dead behind some warehouse” as well as my “grandchildren being taken away from me by killing them” if I did not back off and allow them to continue their plan to extort monies from the state of Florida.
Over the next year I did try and rally many of the men to back me in order to try and stop Jerry Cooper and his band of backers but no one wanted to get involved in the in-fighting as they felt such actions made us appear to be seen in a bad light. I agreed with them but told them that if Jerry and his team were allowed to continue that no one would get any form of compensation in the end. Still no one would listen or agree to back me and my efforts. In fact, Mr. Cooper did a very good job of turning many of these same men against me as most of them seem to be more money hungry than logical.
As The Official White House Boys Organization pushed an all out effort to discredit me and my work; I began to put a time-line together with Robert Straley to try and show the men that what Jerry and Colon were saying and doing was incorrect and in some cases might be highly illegal in nature. Still this did very little good to convince the men that we were on the wrong track as I continued to receive e-mails telling me to “remain quiet” and to “shut up.” That all they were interested in was “receiving the damn checks” when all was said and done.
The White House Boys-THE TIMELINE
Dick Colon - Michael O’McCarthy - Roger Dean Kiser - Robert Straley
THE WHITE HOUSE BOYS-WHERE DID WE COME FROM–WHO WE ARE WHERE-THE SUCCESS-WHERE ARE WE GOING?
The White House Torture ChamberThe Beating ChambersThe Closing of the White House Ceremony
These are the faces of the so called “criminals” who were sent to the Florida School for Boys at Marianna for such crimes as running away from abusive homes, skipping school and listening to that “damn ungodly Rock-N-Roll music.
Timeline of Events Concerning the Meeting of the Original “White House Boys" and the political and legal campaign that brought about the official Florida investigation into the state sponsored child abuse that took place at the Florida School for Boys at Mariana, it predecessor, the Florida Industrial School for Boys and at other Florida reformatories throughout the state.
This timeline accurately reflects those events and occasions where there is a public record or shared informational electronic correspondence.
SEPTEMBER 2007 Note: There were four original members that started this investigation, Roger Kiser, Dick Colon, Robert Straley and Michael O’McCarthy. Sadly Michael O'McCarthy passed away on April 3,
In 1972 Roger Dean Kiser had been trying to expose the brutalities going on at the school for almost fifteen years but no one would listen. He contacted Reubin Askew, Governor of Florida in 1975 but got no positive reply from his office. Later in 1999 he contacted Governor Jed Bush and received somewhat of a positive response and somewhat of an apology. But that was the last he heard from the state of Florida.
1989-1990 Many of the stories Roger Kiser had written about his abuse at the Florida School for Boys had been posted on his web site titled “The Sad (American) Orphan” (Yahoo, then called “Geocities”) which had been in existence since 1989-1990.
In late 1999 or early 2000 Roger joined a web site called “Classmates.com.” When filling out the application it asked him to submit his high school’s name. Never having completed high school, he decided to put in “Florida Industrial School for Boys at Marianna where he had attended some high school classes. Several weeks later he received notifications that several other men had also signed up under that same school name. He then began corresponding with several of the men.
Shortly thereafter, Roger began categorizing the stories in various sections on the site and later began building a White House Boys web page which later Roger turned into the White House Boys’ web site he now owns and manages today. This was the first original site pertaining to the FSB abuse.
SEPTEMBER 2007 - Around the end of September 2007, Robert Straley got a call from Monica who had worked for him. They talked that day and somehow the conversation came around to the Martin Anderson boy who had died in a Florida boot camp. Straley had seen a picture of him around age 12 and he was smiling so bright his eyes sparkled. Straley hadn't been able to get his face out of his mind for weeks. He told Monica that he had once been in a place like that where they beat kids with a whip and told her about Marianna. Straley thinks he had only mentioned it to one other person in his entire life.
She was shocked and said he should do something about it, even if it had been fifty years ago.
To his surprise the next day there was an email link sent from Monica. She had Googled the Florida School for Boys and came up with Roger Kiser's web site that was put up sometime in 2007.
When Straley opened the web site there at the top was a picture of the "White House" punishment room, just as it had been years ago. Roger's description of his beating was detailed below.
Straley emailed Kiser and they talked on the phone for the better part of a week. They decided to make one last stand against this evil, one hundred and eight year old stronghold of hate and misery, even if the men that had done these things to us were long dead. The world, at least, should know what happened there.
OCTOBER 2007 - Through the months of October to March of 2007 the two ex-prisoners spent every night, by phone and on the Internet, searching for evidence, and for every scrap of information they could find to expose this old nightmare. They searched the Florida Archives, the Florida Correctional Archives and law libraries.
MARCH 12-17 – 2008 - Straley & Kiser Googled every newspaper, news source, reporters, anyone that he thought might be interested in the cause. Once he had the contact information he set out to emailing the release to every source. The release went out to a hundred and fifty sources as far north as North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and all of Florida on the 12-17th of March. He included the name of Michael O’McCarthy, the journalist producer who was responsible for the Rosewood campaign that eventually led to the Florida Legislature granting reparations in the form of a Claim Bill. He immediately got the attention of Ms. Charlotte Frieson of the People's Voice Weekly News in Roanoke Alabama who published the article towards the end of March and from four reporters in Florida that were interested in the story.
April 4 – 2008: Straley received a call from Michael O'McCarthy who had several years earlier broken the Rosewood Story. This was a small black town in North Florida that had been burned to the ground by a rampaging mob of white people.
After fifty years this was brought into the public eye and eventually reparations were made to the surviving families. He had asked O’McCarthy, “Can you do for the White House victims what you did for those in Rosewood?
Incredibly, Michael O'McCarthy had been incarcerated in the Florida School for Boys as a youth and had received one of the one hundred lash beatings for running away. Straley knew he had found the needle in the haystack that was needed to break this story. O’McCarthy was stunned when he read the press release and somewhat emotional. Straley asked him if he would do for the victims of the White House what he had done for the victims of Rosewood and he said he would do his best to help us.
April – May, 2008 – After taking on the assignment to help the White House Boys, O’McCarthy started the search for a legal entity by finding an agency in the state that helped kids. He came across the above named website (www.justiceforkids.org) and saw Gus Barreiro’s name and phone number. Not knowing he was with DJJ and thinking that he might be familiar with legal assistance for kids he called him. Barreiro did not identify himself as DJJ in the beginning of the conversation and O’McCarthy began to tell him the story of the horrors of the White House. Barreiro’s response was shock and horror at the information provided.
He familiarized Barreiro with his work on Rosewood and the claims bill. Barreiro was familiar with that case.
O’McCarthy directed him to the new website Straley had helped to create and his piece, Visit to the White House. By the end of the conversation Barreiro promised to do anything and everything he could to help. That would include both acting as liaison with DJJ and using his experience and contacts within the Florida legislature. He also offered to help find the proper attorney to facilitate the case. If O’McCarthy was Straley’s White House Boys’ angel, Gus was his and White House Boys’ next.
As for the legislative claims bill process he asked that they remain patient: they would have to wait until the coming November because the claims bill required the support of a newly elected senator. Barreiro would talk to those legislators whom he knew and would be sympathetic to their cause. In order to protect his anonymity O’McCarthy kept Barreiro’s name to himself.
(As this process would continue throughout the summer O’McCarthy maintained a wall of anonymity between those contacts and the other White House Boys because they, (first Attorney Clay Townsend and Gus Barreiro) insisted upon it, and because he feared that the other White House Boys would slip and make public very private discussions and negotiations. As Straley was on the road and unavailable, most of that time the communications were brief and a matter of trust.
In the interim, Gus would seek ways to help. He suggested Ben Crump, an African American attorney who had handled the infamous Martin Anderson killing at a Department of Juvenile Justice boot camp and got Martin’s family a compensatory $5M benefit.
(Parenthetically, as noted, it was seeing the Internet picture of Martin Anderson that sparked something in Straley’s memory.)
O’McCarthy pursued Crump in April and after considerable tries managed a phone conference with him. He had perused the applicable law and had problems with the issue of statute of limitations; they did not discuss the Claims Bill. It became apparent then the Crump did not have the staff to pursue such a matter.
May 12, 2008 – Crump provided the three White House Boys with a courtesy letter of representation so that they might have legal representation in Florida if it was needed.
May 15 2008 - September 2008 - Straley had to go out on the road. This ended Straley’s active involvement during that summer. During this period Michael O'McCarthy continued his campaign to bring this to national attention and to present a plea to the Governor and the DJJ Staff.
By the time Straley returned five months later, Michael had engaged Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald. It then went to their affiliate CBS4 who did their own very powerful video.
June, 2008 – O’McCarthy left for Costa Rica and upon returning continued contact with Barreiro. By then Barreiro had been promoted to a position overseeing all the residential facilities of DJJ. He went to Dozier where he then informed O’McCarthy that he had been to the WH, and further, that he had found a history of hand written records dating back to the 1920’s.
Previously upon query in seeking a feature print reporter Barreiro referred O’McCarthy to Miller of the Miami Herald who showed early enthusiasm for the story, but there was a professional situation that prevented her from acting on the story immediately. O’McCarthy sought other reporters but couldn’t find one suitable to the task; unlike that which he had found for Rosewood.
June – July 2008 - Upon returning in late June Miller was ready to proceed and an exclusive print collaboration agreement was reached between the White House Boys and Miller. The White House Boys were still without an attorney however, but in that it had taken two years to find the right one for Rosewood, O’McCarthy knew that it would only be a matter of time or exposure. Barreiro and he talked about Miller and he and Miller held a series of conversations which buoyed up her insight into the story.
August, 2008 – the O’McCarthy family made the decision to move to Costa Rica; O’McCarthy did a long print and TV interview with Miller and the video component of the Herald; he arranged for all the other White House Boys to do the same. He stayed in touch with Barreiro and who asked for more time to position himself in order to help us.
September, 2008 – Barreiro put O’McCarthy in touch with a highly respected lobbyist, Keri Rayborn whose firm took on the case. She would venture to Mariana for the forthcoming memorial as a witness.
September – October - 2008 - Barreiro informed O’McCarthy that he was talking with the head staff at DJJ to see if we could find a compromise between ourselves and the agency to “turn a negative into a
Another ex-prisoner of the Florida School for Boys came on board, (name withheld at party’s request.)
At or around the same time a maintenance person came to Barreiro at Dozier and told him that he had orders to “tear down the White House building.” Barreiro said that he then went to DJJ heads and told them that tearing the building down would appear as an admission of guilt and appear as if they were hiding the truth.
DJJ then proposed to Barreiro that the White House Boys could participate in the building’s destruction and upon notification to the other White House Boys, we agreed.
Then DJJ changed their mind and suggested that the building be turned into a “museum-memorial” with the front cell to memorialize the White House Boys and the other “rooms” to honor the good things done at the school.
After consultation with the other White House Boys, O’McCarthy told Barreiro in no uncertain terms that it was an unacceptable concept: that every boy, whether in the kitchen or on a winning football team was under the threat of the White House … that the labor there was essentially child slave labor. Barreiro reiterated the concerns to DJJ and the idea was scrapped.
O’McCarthy told Barreiro what the White House Boys wanted.
A open press conference and memorial; no refutation of any of our allegations, whether about the beatings or the rape room; a forum to tell the press our stories (the original four White House Boys – though we would be joined at the occasion by Bill Haynes,); the right to “tour” the White House with the press; to be led by Straley to the “rape room,” where he was brutalized by Tidwell and a unknown man. Lastly, to be taken to the “unmarked graves.”
October – 2008 – Gus Barreiro called O’McCarthy and told him that the Chief of Staff of DJJ, Bonnie Rogers, and others wanted a conference call so that they could be assured that the event would be carried out responsibly by the White House Boys if they granted their requests.
OCTOBER 19, 2008 October 19, 2008
Breaking News Article: Reform School Alumni Recount severe beatings, molestations and rapes By Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald: Carole Marbin Miller breaks the Florida School for Boys story with a front page, One third of a page column and two full pages in the "A" section of the newspaper. There was also an online report along with her very powerful video. The story was then turned over to her affiliate CBS4 who did live news broadcast using their own video.
O’McCarthy participated in the conference with Barreiro, Bonnie Rogers, the assistant PR person, Samadhi Jones, Christy Dely, another DJJ official. It was clear that Rogers was the lead person. O’McCarthy told them his WH story and reflected the cause of all those beaten and tortured and raped and again pressed our request as noted above. They agreed to all of the above.
Rogers told O’McCarthy that the true reason for changing from the destruction of the WH to the idea of a memorial was because the state feared that other abused residents of state and private facilities would see this as precedent and would want the injurious edifice in their cases destroyed as well. She then made a point of pledging to him that the after a decent interval the White House would be demolished and the deal for the October 21 press conference and memorial was set with one caveat: DJJ pr would set the press conference.
He objected and said that we were happy to cooperate with Frank Pinella (their PR head,) but that the White House Boys would issue a joint press release. She told O’McCarthy to work with Frank. O’McCarthy never heard from Frank until the day of the event.
October 20, 2008 - In checking with Barreiro en route to event from Miami to Dozier he informed O’McCarthy that DJJ had no intention of opening up the event as a full press conference; that they had only sent out an “event notice” later Friday or Saturday; that they wanted to limit it to the “workable” relationship they had established with Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald.
O’McCarthy notified Straley and the two began calling all their press contacts to make sure the conference would receive as much attention as possible; that would be the case with the national and international coverage given by Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press.
October 20, 2008 - The four original White House Boys, Bill Haynes, plus, Barreiro and Rayborn, all met for dinner at the local Mariana Mexican restaurant. Gus Barreiro and O’McCarthy finally met after months of phone communications… there were tears in both of their eyes. They greeted each other as “brothers.” It was the first time Barreiro would meet all four of the founding members of the White House Boys Organizations.
October 21, 2008 – the White House Boys gathered together and were transported out to Dozier. The White House Boys Survivor’s Organization hosted the memorial and press conference: in attendance and participating in the Memorial are, Roger Kiser, Robert Straley, Michael O’McCarthy, Dick Colon and Bill Haynes.
All the White House Boys were more than thankful for his help. Without Gus Barreiro, the campaign would still be in search of a means for redress. Because of Barreiro’s undaunted belief in kids and in truth, (“the truth will always win out,” is his favorite saying,) the victims of the WH believed they would soon have their redress and their redemption. In O’McCarthy’s discussions with Barreiro they had laid out the itinerary:
The White House Boys (the four original and Bill Haynes) would follow an introduction by Barreiro who gave the introduction. (See Brendan Farrington, AP – Carol Marbin Miller, Miami Herald for full transcript of the event,)
The order followed: Kiser, Straley, Colon, Haynes and O’McCarthy. They then took the “tour” of the White House with the press in attendance. (See press links on this website for both print and electronic coverage of these events.) When they exited they went in search of the “rape” room, with Robert and Barreiro in the lead. We went first to the administration building and into a room in the far back of the underground which Robert identified that as the “rape” room. Robert was in a state of shock, non-emotive.
They then caravanned to the “colored boy’s side,” where Barreiro had previously told O’McCarthy the unidentified – but cross marked grave site had been found. After photo ops, they returned to the main premises. Barreiro led the principles to the record room which several of the boy’s records were previously been identified by Carol Marbin Miller (See: 1st Herald story.)
At that juncture the “White House Boys parted company; two of the four White House Boys envisioning a different agenda.)
When negotiations broke down with a prospective attorney (Clay Townsend, who was involved in behalf of Brittany Spears in LA and could never find time enough,) O’McCarthy and Straley of the White House Boys Survivor’s Organization sought another counsel.
December – 2008 - Roger Kiser publishes "The White House Boys-An American Tragedy.”
DECEMBER 2008 Robert Straley & Michael O'McCarthy open their own web site: thewhitehouseboys.com
DECEMBER 2008 Colon and Kiser would act as an organization under the title, thewhitehouseboys.com
Kiser and Colon would be represented by Masterson Law of St. Petersburg, Florida.
December 08, 2008 - In order to further pressure the state to begin to investigate the allegations of the horrific abuse that had taken place in the White House, and to force them to identify the bodies in the unidentified graves, and the allegations of the murder and disposal of a large number of other children, Michael O’McCarthy and Robert Straley of the White House Boys Survivor’s Organization put together a press conference at the Federal Building in Tallahassee. The request was that the Department of Justice and Governor of the State of Florida, Charlie Crist, order the state's Attorney General, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Department of Juvenile Justice to immediately begin an investigation into the cause of death and identities of the remains believed to be covered in 31 unidentified graves found on what the State called the colored boys side, of then the Florida School for Boys at Marianna, now known as the Dozier School for Boys.
Attending were Roger Kiser and Dick Colon, along with Michael O’McCarthy, three of the four founding members of the “White House Boys.” Straley is absent due to illness but was able to do the press release at his home office, notifying by phone and email all of the press in Florida. A former inmate Bryant Middleton was also present.
Brendan Farrington of AP approached O’McCarthy at the conference telling him he was headed to the Governor’s office on an unrelated matter and would provide the governor with information regarding the White House Boys and their press conference. Thus, word of the press conference reached Florida Governor Charlie Crist that morning.
December 09, 2008 – Governor Crist called for an immediate investigation into the allegations of the White House Boys Survivor’s Organization by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department Law Enforcement.
December 10, 2008 – Michael O’McCarthy was invited to the Governor’s office to meet with Executive Staff Counsel to the Governor, Rob Wheeler, and Assistant Chief of Staff to the Governor, Lori Rowe, to discuss the White House Boys cooperation with the investigation and to make known their list of grievances.
December 15, 2008 Roger Kiser appears on CBS "The Early Show."
January – 2009 - After discussions with other law firms Straley and O’McCarthy would finally hire the firm of DeLeon and Chavez in Miami.
June --- August 2009 – Robert Straley and Michael O’McCarthy, and the other “White House Boys” who have retained Chavez-DeLeon enter into an agreement to join the Masterson law suit and the Masterson Claims Bill.
August 2009 --- Masterson law joins with Florida State Senator Arthenia L. Joyner (Democrat,) and a Claims Bill on behalf of all the White House Boy’s is filed with the Florida State Senate.
September 2009 --- the Florida legislature sets the Claims Bill into abeyance per an administrative rule.
Written & Researched by: Roger Kiser-Michael O'McCarthy-Robert Straley
There are many issues which are slowly bringing about the destruction of The White House Boys Organization. I am not so much worried about the destruction of the organization as much as I am about the “Brotherhood” dissolving. The physical, emotional and psychological damaged experienced by the men can only be described as ‘worse than horrible’ and retaining some form of a brotherhood is essential for a proper healing process to be obtained.
Was the destruction of the White House Boys Organization caused because of the manner in which I chose to fight this battle? Was I too hateful, coarse or cruel to those in powerful positions; the only individuals that hold the power to right this terrible wrong? If so, how did I get this far and why did I succeed after working for some sixteen years to bring this issue to light. For years no one would listen or believe that such an atrocity could possibly happen to so many young boys, especially if such a crime was perpetrated by Florida state officials.
I tend to think, but I might be wrong, that there were a few individuals who may have (unknowingly) let their egos get in the way of what was right for the organization, me included. There were also a few who took it upon themselves to make financial decisions which were not theirs to make. There were some who never spoke up and rode the fence when their voices were needed. That in itself allowed those in charge, or thought they were in charge, to continue to make the same mistakes over and over and over. Then there were the personality conflicts and when those occurred, no one seems to care how much damage was being caused as long as they got their way. Fake e-mails came from many directions and cursing, name calling and constant accusations of theft, stealing, lying and cheating became the game of the day. There were constant threats against me to expose something about me that was so horrible that I would never be able to show my face in public ever again. After returning home I was advised that I would have know about the fight (at the pool) had I not been in my motel room drunk as a skunk and high on drugs; which I supposedly secured from ten or fifteen men attending the reunion. Considering I had not had a drink in more than twenty years; I just laughed the comment off as well as the comment regarding the allegations of drug use. I then received an e-mail from one of the members of the board telling me to jam the two awards up my ass that I had been given at the third reunion. There had to be much more to this than Roger Dean Kiser having made numerous negative comments about politicians.
Almost instantly, everyone began to scramble to muster as much support as they could from the more than five hundred members. As the dust began to settle, there were five or six who became very upset that a major majority of the men did not agree with them; so they continued to throw unsupported accusations around for weeks. The fight became so child-like that statements began to arise such as “Our people are better looking than your people.” Within weeks, the original purpose for forming the organization has been totally forgotten.
For weeks I continued to work to do what I could to hunt down the perpetrators of these horrible crimes, but my heart was no longer in the fight. It was now nothing more than a job I was performing because of the sad looks of disappointment I had seen in the abused men’s eyes during the three White House Boys’ reunions.
A story began to circulate that Elizabeth Doyle, while heading the Red Cross (a non-profit organization), she was drawing a salary of $200,000.00 a year. It was then that several of the White House Boys’ wives decided to try and file for non-profit status. I am not saying this was the only reason the non-profit status was finally applied for, but I found it strange that this was done shortly after this statement began circulating throughout the White House Boys’ Organization. The treasurer of The Official White House Boys’ Organization began talking about sending Christmas gifts, birthday cards, as well as letters of support to the boys and girls now incarcerated at youth facilities throughout Florida. She was advised that this had already been tried by Roger Kiser and it was rejected by state authorities. Nevertheless, two of the wives on the board were determined to file for non-profit status no matter what it took to do so. Their reasoning? Your guess is as good as mine.
Things were getting out of hand and the struggle for power and money became more than I could handle. I made the decision to continue on with my work, just has I had for the past sixteen years. I decided to take back control of the White House Boys web site and get back to work trying to hunt down those responsible for our past abuses.
Unable to afford to add to the already seventeen thousand dollar credit card debt I had accumulated working on the White House Boys’ issue; I asked the men if they would help support my work with a small donation once in a while. More than 60 men signed up to support me and about fifteen or so began sending in donations. Rather than continue to fight, I decided to stop making any and all comments and concentrate on getting some important investigative work done. Once again, the fires of hatred began to flame up and accusations of financial abuse began to flourish. Several days later I received a registered letter from Dick Colon’s attorney threatening to sue me if I did not return the eight year old computer he had given me. Having seen the new web site they (the board) were creating; I knew instantly that it was not the computer they were after but the information on the hard-drive. It contained hundreds, if not thousands of files, stories, pictures, news stories and hundreds of news videos that I had accumulated over the years. There was no way I was going to allow them to have that information. Much of it was other abused men, women and children’s private/personal information which had been given to me in strict confidence. What bothered me the most was that if I lost the computer it would shut down my entire operation and I would have to close the web site and stop my investigative work. Of course, this would hurt the White House Boys (men) worse than it would have hurt me but that did not seem to matter to those attacking me. My wife had been chewing my ass out for weeks to get out of the organization as well as drop my name from the law suit. At one point my wife packed her bags and left saying that she would not return home until I had left the organization and stopped all work on behalf of the White House Boys. After she had been gone for four days; I telephoned and told her that I would agree to slowly back out but that it would take a few weeks, maybe even a month or two. She agreed and returned the following day.
A few of the men, realizing what was happening, banded together and it was agreed that I would order a new computer and that they would help make the payments. A new computer was ordered and has now been delivered. Dick Colon’s computer is now sitting in my small home office waiting to be picked by his attorney. This one selfish act on the part of Dick Colon has caused more friction and discontentment in the organization that has any other single act or statement made by any member. The new TOWHBO will probably disagree with that statement as Roger Dean Kiser is and will forever remain the main culprit of all the problems.
The board said that the following incident (act) was the final straw and they, for the sake of the organization, had to break away from Roger Dean Kiser as well as separate themselves from the White House Boys’ web site:
Several citizens from the Marianna, Florida area, along with Sid Riley, were trying to convince the local citizens that The White House Boys were trying to disgrace their town because of the abuses had occurred at the Florida industrial School for Boys fifty years ago. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice placed a plaque on the front of the White House building in October of 2008 somewhat apologizing for the hideous crimes that had been perpetrated there. A black Senator told several complaining Marianna citizens that he would see what could be done about having the plaque removed. Many of the White House Boys (men) were very upset about the senator’s comment. In fact, three men called me and stated that if that plaque was removed before the investigation into the beatings had been completed that there would be hell to pay. One man implied should that happen that Sid Riley and the Senator would “simply disappear from the face of the earth.”
I sent a comment (e-mail) to the Senator’s office and I told him that I felt he was pandering to his constituency and I wanted to know why he would even think about requesting that the plaque be removed before the investigation ordered by Governor Charlie Crist had been completed. I also chose to put that information on the web site as I felt this was an important issue showing how those in power were treating and viewing our issue. Within hours I was accused of threatening the life of a state Senator. I called the senator’s office and talked with a member of his staff. I was told that they did not look at my comment as a threat but more as a warning that the plaque discussion was a very delicate issue in the eyes of many White House Boys and that it needed to be handled accordingly. Nevertheless, for weeks, several members of the board continued to hound me over that statement. What the senator had to say and/or his opinion meant absolutely nothing.
Shortly before the third reunion I received a telephone call from Dick Colon telling me that someone stated that they had given me two hundred dollars and that I had stuck it in my pocket. I became very upset and disputed the accusation. Dick then asked me if I would appear before the board and tell my side of the story. I agreed to meet with them at the reunion even though I and was very upset about the accusation. About a week before the reunion I received another telephone call from Dick. This time he told me that a new charge was circulating accusing me of having pocketed some three hundred and fifty dollars. I became infuriated and hung up the phone. I told my wife that I had had enough and that I was out of the organization as well as the law suit. The next day the money we had saved to attend the reunion was used to purchase two new cell phones. Several days later Dick called again and asked if Judy and I were going to attend the reunion. I told him “NO!” I told him that someone accusing me of stealing was the final straw for me. His reply was as follows: “God damn it Roger. Can’t you take a fucking joke? God damn it. It was a God damn joke. Jesus fucking Christ, you are such a God damn pussy sometimes.”
I told him I did not consider that type of charge to be a joke and I hung up the phone.
The next day he calls and asked me to reconsider coming to the reunion. I advised him that Judy and I had spent the reunion money on new cell phones and that we could not afford to go. He told me he would send me several hundred dollars if I would consider attending. Finally, against my better judgment, I agreed and he mailed the check. My wife was very upset but agreed to come with me if I promised that we/I would never attend another reunion and to that I agreed. What is the truth of it all?
There is no way to know the truth. Each man has his own truth. That determination is made strictly by the way the abuse affected each boy/man personally. Some of the beatings were brutal and some were not. To a child who had never been beaten before, even a light beating with a leather strap might be looked upon (by him) as being very brutal. As a young boy taken to the White House; I considered my punishment to be brutal, but as a man looking back on the incident I suppose I might consider it as only being a bit harsh.
Not only was I dealing with the strapping but also seeing all the blood covering my hands, face, neck and upper body. It was one of the most frightful things I had ever seen as a child. I thought I was going to die from loss of blood. Was the beating really not as bad as I remember? Was the real fright only because of what I saw in the mirror that day? Am I trying to get even with the state of Florida more so because of the mental, psychological and emotional damage inflicted upon me by the employees of FSB? Are the severity of my story and the severity of the stories of the other men only a manner and means by which to express the invisible fear and degradation I/we felt by expressing those feelings in the form of a physically severe beating?
No matter what the reason; the fact still remains that when a child’s skin is turned as black as a lump of coal (after receiving a beating) that is still uncalled for and very unnecessary.
One female board member sent me and other members a mass e-mail about Obama and it stated something to this effect, “Don’t worry about Obama becoming President. Whoever heard of a black man keeping a job for four years?”
Immediately, I wrote and asked that they not to send out those types of comments. We were in the process of building a brotherhood of all the men (black and white) who had been beaten at the White House. This to me was very demeaning and if I were a black man I would have taken that as a very degrading and a very shameful comment. I began to realize that building a brotherhood built upon a terrible, horrible experience we had once shared as brothers, again both black and white, was not going to override the prejudices of the past. Thankfully, it was only two or three and not the majority of the 521 men.
How much am I responsible for the collapse of the organization?
I’m not really sure. I always tried to be somewhat careful with respect to the comments I made on the web site, especially when dealing with those in power. There were times when I made certain comments and I was asked to remove them under the direction of our attorneys. They were always removed (upon their request) but I have to admit I was not a happy camper when asked to do so. My comments, such as the one directed at the Senator, asking that the plaque be removed from the White House was a correct statement and I stand by that statement even today.
There were times when I lost my temper or had my feelings hurt and I made comments that should not have been made in a public forum. I chose to use that forum because I felt certain individuals in the organization were using the attorneys against me in order to force their points of view and silence my comments and opinions. That was their way of saying whatever they wished about me in public while at the same time controlling my comments about them. I looked at this as someone who allows their dog to use the bathroom on my lawn and when I yell the entire neighborhood gets upset because of my loud screams every morning. In my eyes they should be complaining at the fellow who was allowing his animal to destroy my grass. That to me is the person causing the problem, not me.
I didn’t just (right out of the blue) turn into a person who could not go along with the program. I mean, sixteen years of hard work got my foot wedged into the door and finally I got The White House Boys into the media spotlight. Then all of a sudden, in the eyes of a few, I became wrong in almost every aspect of everything I did or said. How could that be? From the very beginning I realized one thing; that being, one cannot win a fight with a rattlesnake by fighting it with a feather. I was accusing the state of Florida of beating, raping and possibly killing many boys during the 1950s and 1960s. Now the Governor of Florida orders the Florida fox that guarded the hen house during those years, blood all over its mouth and paws, to investigate to see of the accusations against it could possibly be true. Well, I wonder how that investigation is going to turn out.
A year later the main abuser, an eighty-four year old man named Troy Tidwell, has yet to be interviewed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. If I complain to the governor, I get my ass chewed out by several members of the board. If I complain that FDLE is not doing their job and they are hoping the man will simply drop dead; I get my ass chewed out. I mean, how crooked and one-sided do investigations have to become before someone steps up to the plate and begins to complain? Maybe it’s just me but I don’t think allowing Charlie Manson to investigate the LaBianca killings in California would have been a very good idea. I guess Governor Charlie Crist would disagree with me, but Hell is on me had I made such an ungentlemanly statement on the web site.
No matter how this case turns out; I will be blamed for its failure. Should it turn out to be an advantage for the men I still will not get any credit for that success as there are those who will forever say that the case was won because they muzzled that “Loose Cannon” named Roger Dean Kiser. ‘He is the fellow that almost ruined everything for everyone.’
But, what they will not have realized is that I don’t give a rat’s ass. I was out to accomplish one thing and one thing only.
“I'm gonna tell somebody about this here when I get out of here one day," were the words I mumbled that day after getting the most severe beating of my life.
My soul purpose was to one day return, expose and embarrass the hell out of the men and the state of Florida who brutally abused me. That I did, and I did it well.
Was it all worth it and what will happen now?
Today (June 14, 2013) there is a meeting of the press and many powerful organizations will attend that meeting, held at 1:00 p.m. at the University of South Florida in Tampa. DNA samples will be taken from family members and excavations of the more than 100 graves will be exhumed and shortly thereafter the cause of death of these boys, who were buried in the North Florida woods, as if they were nothing more than trash, will be determined. I am sure, when all is said and done, that there will be hell to pay, though most of the killers are now deceased.
Tampa, Florida -- Sen. Bill Nelson's office announced Thursday a team of university researchers will try to match DNA samples taken from the living relatives of boys buried long ago on the grounds of a now-shuttered reform school in the Florida Panhandle.
It's an important next step in solving the mysteries behind dozens of unmarked graves found at the site, says Sen. Nelson.
Forensic experts from the University of South Florida will begin collecting the DNA samples Friday from several relatives they have identified through historical records or who have come forward during the school's ongoing investigation into some 50 unmarked graves researchers discovered at the now-defunct Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.
Over the years, the reform school has been the subject of several major investigations stemming from allegations of abuse. Florida officials closed the school in 2011 following a state police probe into the latest such allegations that found no evidence of any crimes.
But that probe was called into question late last year when a USF forensic team began examining the site and found more unmarked graves than police had said were there.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) came to the school's aid after a Polk County man asked the lawmaker's office for help last year in locating his uncle's remains known to be buried in an unmarked cemetery on the grounds of the reform school.
Since then, Nelson has written the governor urging him to the back the school's work. And he is pushing the school's application for a Department of Justice grant he helped identify that would cover the costs associated with forensic research involving the use of DNA to identify missing or dead persons. Up to $3 million will be awarded to select applicants.
Last month, a Jackson County circuit court judge rejected a request by state Attorney General, Pam Bondi to grant a local medical examiner permission to exhume the bodies buried on school grounds.
In his order, the judge wrote that either the local medical examiner or the state's chief archaeologist could initiate exhumation without court permission. USF is now seeking permission from the state's chief archaeologist.
On Friday, the USF forensic team, which is led by Dr. Erin Kimmerle, will be joined by Nelson, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, two members of the Florida Legislature and representatives from the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Kimmerle also will provide an update on the status of the school's investigation.
"The only way to give the families of these boys closure is for researchers to be able to carry on," Nelson said today. "That includes matching DNA that will be collected by the sheriff's office tomorrow."
USF Associate Professor Will Hold Media Availability Friday Regarding Dozier School
University of South Florida associate professor Erin Kimmerle will be holding media availability regarding her research and the possible exhumations at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys at 1 p.m. on Friday in the Galleria at the USF Research Park on the Tampa campus.
DNA samples will be taken from surviving family members at this media availability. The Hillsborough County sheriff’s office will assist with taking DNA samples, which will be used to create a DNA database to assist in identifying remains at the Dozier School.
Federal, state and local government officials will also be present at the event, as well as agencies and associations with interest in research at the Dozier School.
A judge recently rejected Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's request to exhume bodies from the "Boot Hill Cemetery" and surrounding areas at the school. It is believed there may be several unmarked graves and boys unaccounted for at the site. USF researchers have requested a permit from the state archaeologist to exhume the bodies. A state permit would be sufficient for the researchers to exhume the remains from the site.
In addition to these known graves, researchers believe there as many as 50 more unmarked graves at the now defunct Dozier School for Boys.
Citing a lack of evidence, a local judge has already said no to exhume the bodies.
So researchers turned to the state. A decision is due by Friday. Civil rights activists believe the state is dragging its feet.
"What is the hold up. What is the stall? Why can't we go in and go ahead and help identify these bodies," said Dale Landry.
Digging up the bodies under an archeological permit has rubbed people in this small community the wrong way.
"They're buried. Leave the dead alone," said James Smith.
When asked why he said and if he wanted to know how they died or what was there, Smith answered "Why? They died. How can I tell now? Got a hole in a head or something?"
The surrounding area was a haven for the Ku Klux Klan In its heyday. The NAACP believes researchers may find the bodies of lynching victims dumped at a cooperative Dozier.
"There is a history back in that time about men that were outspoken in the black community. They disappeared. There are some people over in that area they don't know whatever happened to them," said Landry.
There are fears the property will be sold soon, ending state control, before any bodies can be unearthed.
Sealed bids have been received to sell this property, but a court injunction is prohibiting the department from opening them but that injunction expires on July first.
A single security guard keeps watch over Dozier's dead and the ghosts of the past that many believe are better left unearthed.
The state has three choices: It can grant the permit to exhume the bodies, it can deny it or it can ask for more information.
Another Former Dozier School Inmate Swears He's Seen Hidden 'White Cemetery'
Yet another former inmate of the infamous Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys has come forward to tell Sunshine State News that he, too, witnessed the existence of an additional cemetery on the campus grounds, back when he attended the school in 1969.
“The Boss said, 'See that place on the right where the trees are gone? That’s where some of you boys are buried!'” Paul Thrower, 58, of Norman Park, Ga., recalls in a December 2012 letter to Jerry Cooper, president of The White House Boys, an advocacy group made up of former victims of the now-closed state reform school. “I asked 'How long ago?' [and] he replied, 'I really don’t know, it was before I went to work here.'”
SSN caught up with Thrower, who confirmed the letter's contents.
“You could tell there was something there; it was overgrown with grass and weeds but it had definitely been cleared out several years before” he says of the area shown him by his supervisor. “He told us, 'Don't tell on me now, because you could get me in a lot of trouble, but that's a cemetery.'"
Thrower pinpointed to SSN, on an aerial map, the exact same location previously disclosed by Charles and George Fudge, two brothers who were at the Marianna campus nearly 10 years before Thrower served his six-month term (for skipping school): in a forest situated between Pierce Hall and the northernmost of a series of “cottages” (as the dormitories were called).
Thrower insists he's never met or communicated with the Fudge brothers. He is the fourth person this week to share with SSN his eyewitness testimony of the existence of a cemetery on the “white side” of Dozier, the area of the campus reserved for white inmates when the school was segregated, from 1901 to the abolition of segregation in 1968.
According to the state's official story, Dozier only ever had one cemetery, named “Boot Hill” and located in what used to be the African-American section of the Marianna campus. Supposedly, and contrary to prevailing practice at the time elsewhere in America – and especially in the South – the school complex did not have separate cemeteries for blacks and whites. All children who died in the state's custody, whatever their race, were buried on Boot Hill, enjoying in the grave the racial ecumenism they were denied while they were alive.
Thrower, who was 14 years old when he was sent to the controversial “reform school” for truancy, corroborated many of the horror stories related by other inmates who have testified (to the state and to the media) about their victimization at the hands of supervisors.
“I myself was never abused, because I minded my Ps and Qs,” Thrower initially tells SSN. “But I knew many others who were.”
He tells of children he knew who were flogged mercilessly, or kept in solitary confinement at Pierce Hall for months at a time, even though these practices were supposed to have ceased by the time he arrived on campus. He also tells of one “cottage father” (as dorm supervisors were called) who would enter Thrower's cottage at night, set up a small desk at the bathroom entrance, and insist on watching the boys expose their nudity while they used the toilet.
“It's very hard for me to talk about this,” Thrower says, his voice choking up. “It's left me very, very bitter. For years no one would believe me; they'd tell me I was making it up.”
He says he hopes Attorney General Pam Bondi and the University of Florida researchers led by archaeologist Erin Kimmerle pay heed to his testimony, and that of others, and dig up the one or more cemeteries now hidden on the “white side” of the Dozier campus.
“I think there were more than two cemeteries, myself. People would disappear and that was awful strange,” he recounts. “It could have very well been me in one of those [grave] spots, and I don't think it’s right. It's cold-hearted as hell.”
"I am hoping to find enough remains to identify him and get him back and put him with Mother," Varnadoe said.
Using ground-penetrating radar, University of South Florida researchers have identified 50 possible graves at the school and have applied to the state archaeologist for a permit to conduct exhumations.
Ovell Smith Krell, 84, a former female police officer from Lakeland, also hopes to recover a brother. George Owen Smith died in Marianna in 1941.
"It's been 70-something years. Of course, I'm hoping for closure for myself," said Krell, who joined Varnadoe at USF's Tampa campus Friday to give a DNA sample.
A member of a third family, Robert Stephens — named after the uncle who school officials said was killed by another boy in 1937 — also was swabbed Friday.
His goal, said Stephens, a welder who lives in Tampa, is "to find the truth."
Among those bearing witness to their hopes were U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, state Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, and state Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, all of whom are helping push USF's research. McKeel, head of the House Appropriations' Committee and Stargel are behind the $190,000 in state funding that will enable USF assistant professor of anthropology Erin Kimmerle and her team to continue their work at Dozier. Nelson is supporting Kimmerle in an effort to get money from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The DNA samples, collected by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, will be sent to the University of North Texas for processing and then entered into the database of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
Friday, Kimmerle spoke of USF's research as an important step in the process "to provide a small measure of justice" for the dead boys and their families.
The graves Kimmerle and her team have located are in an area referred to as Boot Hill, on what was the designated black side of the campus during segregation. The researchers are trying to locate another cemetery where white juveniles were buried.
The state-run school was closed in 2011, after more than a century and a history of brutal beatings, sexual abuse and neglect.
Priscilla Stephens Kruize, the niece of Robert Stephens, who was 15 when he was killed, learned about him only three weeks ago. USF had contacted her brother-in-law, civil rights lawyer John Due.
"We can't forget and try to whitewash what happened in Jackson County in the 1930s," said Due, 78.
Krell said the reform school explained the death of her brother by saying he had run away and that his body was discovered under a house in Marianna. He was 14.
Her family never believed the story, Krell said.
Varnadoe said his family also didn't believe the school's version of what happened to his brother Thomas.
"We got a letter in the mail that he had died and been buried. He was 13. It was devastating to all of us," he said.
His nephew, Glen Varnadoe, a retired chief executive officer for a chemical company, was among the family members at the USF event. It was Glen's father, Hubert, who was sent to Marianna with Thomas in 1934. Nelson praised the Lakeland resident for being a catalyst for the USF research. Glen Varnadoe filed an injunction to stop the sale of the closed Dozier school so his uncle's grave could be found, sent letters to politicians and provided funding for USF's research.
"My uncle was a 13-year-old boy who never got the opportunity to come home to his family," he said.
Thirty-five days after arriving in Marianna, Thomas was dead. "I want to bring him home and bury him next to his mother."
Josephine Varnadoe is buried in the Lake Lindsey Cemetery in Brooksville.
Ovell Smith Krell
TAMPA — Researchers on Friday collected DNA samples from family members of boys who died decades ago at a now-defunct Florida reform school in the hopes it will match the remains found on the property of the now-closed school.
University of South Florida researchers have used historical documents to verify the deaths of two adult staff members and 96 children — ranging in age from 6 to 18 — between 1914 and 1973 at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys. Records indicated that 45 individuals were buried on the 1,400-acre tract from 1914 to 1952, while 31 bodies were sent elsewhere for burial.
USF associate professor Erin Kimmerle said it's unclear whether there are more children buried in unmarked graves on the property. And that's only part of the reason why the researchers are seeking DNA from at least seven family members and asking for state permits to exhume the human remains on the site.
"We're bringing a last measure of human dignity for these boys," said Kimmerle, adding that if there is a DNA match between surviving family members and the remains that it will "fulfill a human right" for the families to bury their loved ones as they wish.
Richard Varnadoe, who is 84, is one such relative. He allowed a Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputy to swab the inside of his cheek for DNA Friday in hopes of solving the mystery of what happened to his older brother, Thomas.
"Hopefully we'll get him back," said Varnadoe, who lives in Salt Springs, Fla.
Thomas Varnadoe went to the school when he was 13 and "he lasted 34 days," said Richard Varnadoe. School officials told the family that Thomas died of pneumonia, but they never believed the story — and never got his body.
"It devastated the whole family," said Varnadoe. "Dad, mother, my sister."
The school was located in Marianna about 60 miles west of Tallahassee and was once the nation's largest reform school, with 698 youths. It closed in 2011.
The school was plagued by scandal soon after it opened in 1900. Three years later, investigators found children "in irons, just as common criminals."
In the 1950s and early 1960s, boys were taken to a small building called The White House, where guards beat them for offenses as insignificant as singing or talking to a black inmate. The boys would be hit dozens of times — if not more — with a wide, three-foot long leather strap that had sheet metal stuffed in the middle.
USF wants to exhume bodies from "Boot Hill Cemetery" and surrounding areas. Researchers say that most of those were buried at the school were black and several were orphans.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said that there have been at least 50 graves discovered and there could be many more in unmarked areas used to bury African-American boys.
"Is there another cemetery?" he said Friday. "And what will it reveal? The families deserve the answers. They deserve to know the truth."
Nelson pointed out that the property is owned by the state and that Florida taxpayers also deserve to know what happened there over the decades.
Discovering exactly what lies beneath the soil at Dozier hasn't been easy for USF officials.
In late May, the university asked state authorities if it could exhume the bodies and investigate the property after a circuit judge rejected a request filed by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
USF, with Bondi's approval, is asking the state's archaeologist to excavate the site and document what is found. They note their research so far has found evidence of "clandestine burials." The Florida Legislature has set aside nearly $200,000 for the project and Nelson said he's trying to secure a Department of Justice grant for the school as well.
On Friday, the Florida Department of State — which controls the state lands — sent Kimmerle and the researchers a two-page letter, asking for detailed information in order to evaluate a pending permit application for the exhumation of the bodies.
The letter, written by Mary Glowacki, the state archaeologist, asked for plans regarding exhumation procedures, autopsies and re-interment, along with maps and analysis of historical records of the school.
Tampa, FL - University of South Florida researchers on Friday did not get the green light to begin exhuming graves at the now closed Dozier School for Boys. Instead, the state asked for more information before it makes a final decision.
Meantime, three families of boys who died at Dozier gave DNA samples that could help identify possible remains at the school.
"After 75 long years, we're finally getting close," said Richard Varnadoe after getting a DNA sample taken from his mouth.
Varnadoe's brother died at Dozier in 1934 at the age of 13. The family is not sure where he is buried, and they suspect abuse played a role in Thomas Varnadoe's death.
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, who participated at a news conference where the DNA samples were taken, said he suspects USF will eventually get a permitto exhume graves at the controversial school.
"You can't do something by not doing anything when you find 50 bodies that were unaccounted for and the state can simply not away from this," Nelson said.
USF researchers released a report last year showing significantly more grave sites and deaths at the Panhandle school than state records show.
TAMPA — Members of families who have relatives buried on the grounds of a former Panhandle reform school provided DNA samples on Friday as researchers from the University of South Florida continue to wait for permission to exhume the bodies.
Appearing Friday at USF, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida legislators, the families and other supporters continued their push for approval of a permit that would allow an investigation to continue at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.
Coincidentally, a letter dated Friday from the state Bureau of Archaeological Research advised USF that the bureau would need more information before considering the permit.
“For years, for decades, for the last century, the image has been that there were wrongs committed in a place that back in the old days was simply known as the Marianna Boys School,” said Nelson, who has been pushing law enforcement officials all the way up to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to take up the Dozier case.
Then-Gov. Charlie Crist ordered an investigation of Dozier in 2009 after former residents of the school, now aging men, circulated stories of severe beatings, abuse and disappearances. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded that there had been no foul play and that 31 graves on the school grounds were legitimate.
A USF investigation led by forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerlee later contradicted that report, concluding that there were at least 50 graves and that a second cemetery likely exists.
“Today we're taking another important step in this long and difficult effort to provide a small measure of justice to the families of the children buried at the Dozier school,” Kimmerlee said.
Since her original investigation, which involved only ground-penetrating radar and soil analysis, Kimmerlee has been navigating a complex process to attempt to do more detailed forensic work.
In May, a judge in Jackson County denied a request for a court order to allow exhumations, kicking the issue to state permitters. The researchers have applied to the Bureau of Archaeological Research and Kimmerlee said a response to Friday's request for additional information will be completed soon.
The Florida Legislature provided $200,000 for additional work at Dozier. State Rep. Seth McKeel, the House Appropriations chair, and state Sen. Kelli Stargel, both Republicans form Lakeland, attended Friday's event.
The Dozier case has taken on political overtones with the Jackson County Commission formally objecting to the investigation and community members leery of what it could unveil.
Kimmerlee alluded to that issue in her remarks Friday, saying her investigation “is not about assigning blame for Dozier. It is not about shaming the community of Marianna, it's not about criminal prosecution or simply reparations for the families.
“This project is about fulfilling a fundamental human right for families, who like all of us, are entitled to bury their relatives in the manner in which they deem proper,” she said.
The school was opened in 1900 and closed in 2011. It was once the nation's largest reform school.
Some of the former attendees have formed the White House Boys, an advocacy group named for a structure on the school grounds they said was used for severe beatings. The men also said there were sudden disappearances of fellow students at the school.
The cumbersome permitting process and a health scare involving one of the family members prompted Friday's DNA testing at the USF press conference.
Joseph Varnadoe, 85, whose brother Thomas died at the school, recently suffered a near-fatal bout of pneumonia and was concerned he might never be able to provide DNA that would help investigators determine his brother's identity.
So the families and researchers decided to create a DNA database and members of three families publicly had their cheeks swabbed to start the project. Staff from the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System and Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office conducted the tests.
More families with relatives buried at Dozier are being sought.
Glen Varnadoe, whose uncle was swabbed for DNA on Friday, said the family wants the body of his other uncle, Thomas, moved from what he called “a horrible place.”
“Do I have questions about how he died? Absolutely,” Glen Varnadoe said. “But how he died is not the issue. It's getting him out of there, bringing him home, and burying him with his mother.”
The Varnadoes are among seven families that have asked for repatriation of buried relatives so far.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Researchers took DNA samples from family members of boys who died decades ago at a now-defunct Florida reform school to try to help solve the mystery of which bodies were buried on the property. During a news conference Friday, University of South Florida associate professor Erin Kimmerle said the DNA samples will eventually be compared to remains found at the boys school. It is unclear when the comparisons will be made. Researchers have yet to exhume any bodies buried on the property. The school, formally known as the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, closed in 2011. It was located in Marianna about 60 miles west of Tallahassee and was once the nation's largest reform school, with 698 youths. Also Friday, officials from the Florida Department of State sent USF researchers a letter asking for additional information in order to evaluate a pending permit application for the exhumation.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson threatened Wednesday to summon federal investigators to find out who is buried at an old reform school and why state officials have delayed identifying at least 50 bodies found in unmarked graves there.
Nelson, a Democrat who started his third six-year term in January, said Wednesday that he would ask the US Department of Justice to investigate if state officials are unable or unwilling to do the work.
The issue was brought to light over the course of a two-year investigation by researchers at the University of South Florida in Tampa, according to the Reuters international news service.
Relatives of students who died at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla., came forward during the USF research and also are demanding a probe that includes exhumation of the remains.
Hundreds of former students who survived also have come forward with tales of beatings and sexual abuse at the hands of school administrators.
But many Florida Panhandle residents living near the site of the former school have objected to the scrutiny and the prospect of perhaps years of questions and allegations.
The school was closed in 2011 after a state investigation found no evidence of any crimes, despite widespread rumors.
But those findings are being questioned now that many more gravesites have been found than were mentioned in the investigation, Reuters said.
Relatives of several alleged victims gave DNA samples on Friday to compare with remains.
But that's only if the bodies are eventually exhumed.
State officials have so far refused to proceed and, in fact, were preparing to sell the former school property until blocked by a lawsuit filed by a relative of someone known to have been buried there.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi asked a judge for permission to start exhuming the bodies, but her request was denied on the grounds that only that state archeologist had jurisdiction over remains buried for more than 75 years.
Most of the bodies at the site are believed to have been buried between 1914 and 1952, Reuters said.
USF researchers contacted the state archeologist, Mary Glowacki, and she responded Friday with two pages of questions.
Glowacki did not respond to a request for comment, Reuters said.
Lead USF investigator Erin Kimmerle, a professor of anthropology, told Reuters that her team needed time to answer Glowacki's questions.
Sen. Nelson, who said he became involved after a constituent asked him for help finding a relative believed to have died at the school, appears to be growing impatient, Reuters said.
"If it's an attempt to delay and obfuscate, the people of Florida are not going to stand for it," the senator said.
Well, it has been a long hard battle with many difficult roads to travel for every White House Boy as well as their families. It has taken many, many years to try and push this train to the top of the mountain but it finally arrived and now it is coasting on its own and there is very little anyone can do to stop the truth from being exposed; which should have been the case many, many years ago.
However, this could have been done without all the lies and misrepresentations put for by Mr. Jerry Cooper and his selfish bunch of cohorts. All for the purpose of self interest and self gain which in the end helped no one, not even themselves. In fact, if it did anything it began to discredit whatever truth there was in the beginning.
I tell this story not because I am mad at anyone and at this point in time I have no idea who is or was right or wrong. That is now unimportant. All I know is that it took all of us doing our own thing to make this happen. The battles and personal fights and the divisions were all part of the battle to get us to where we are today.
I do feel there is enough substantial and circumstantial evidence to support the claims of abuse by the men and that lying or exaggerating the truth is not necessary in order to receive justice and/or to be compensated for the abuses suffered by the men.
I suspect no matter what is found in the graves that the state of Florida as well as the residents of Jackson County; Marianna, Florida will always deny the slave labor, rapes, abuses, molestations, the bloody beatings and many murders of many young boys that happened at the former Florida Industrial School for Boys later named The Dozier School for Boys, located in Marianna; “The City of Southern Charm.”
I will end by stating that there was more than enough evidence to prove guilt on part of the state of Florida without some of the men trying to extort monies from the state by fabricating their stories for whatever reason there might have been.
As everything has begun to quiet down and the issue seems to be falling to the wayside; the media has somewhat hung up the issue until Erin Kimmerle’s final report comes out in late September. Mean while, Mr. Cooper who has no management skills and worse than that he has no idea how to keep this in the news or in the spotlight. However, as Mr. Cooper feels that he is the center of the media universe; he continues to get himself noticed on small television media outlets only in his own area; especially since he bought himself a new Harley Motorcycle and wants the world to see him riding on it. It was then he put together a church service where he and his buddies could be seen on television and in the newspaper riding their expensive machines as if they were humble men supporting the dead boys who were buried and now being exhumed at the former Marianna school. Before the ride came down Mr. Jerry Cooper’s bike fell over and crushed his foot. What Mr. Cooper does (or did) not realize is that the rest of us were working on a daily basis to keep the story in the national press headlines as well as on national TELIVISION and not the local press. The local press media has been run into the ground and people were tired of hearing the same old; same old day after day. Mr. Cooper and his bunch were not smart enough to see that or they just did not care as what was most important to them was not the White House Boys’ issue itself but having their friends and neighbors to continue to pat them on the backs thinking they were important and special. Well, doing that got them nowhere.
The “Official White House Boys Organization” was a scam from the very day it was formed. The entire operation was ruled as a dictatorship by both Mr. Dick Colon and Mr. Jerry (the great country singer) Cooper and they knew from the very beginning that it was never going to be operated as a democracy. Anyone who disagreed with their rules and regulations was immediately booted out and not allowed to attend any meetings. More than 90% of the men backed out within several months and would not take part in any of the meetings and did so because of all the infighting between the three groups which had formed. More than 200 men contacted me on the sly over the next year and wanted to back me but would not come forward to because of personal reasons. With no one willing to come forward I backed away from the fight and began working with one other man to investigate the issues along with filtering information to the United States Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Professor, Erin Kimmerle and her team located at the University of South Florida.
What was the second "Opening of the graves ceremony" really all about?
Mr. Jerry Cooper
We had a memorial to the boys buried in the grave yard on the very first day the bodies were going to be exhumed. The service was held in a Marianna church and not one of these fellows wanted to attend. So why did they have another memorial?
Well, Jerry Cooper purchased a new Harley Davidson motorcycle and he and several others got the idea in order to be seen on television and in the newspaper (on their new expensive bikes) was to create a fake memorial in the Tampa Bay area.
Gee, now the truth comes out at what some selfish people will do just to get noticed. The decisions these fellows are making have absolutely nothing to do with helping the White House Boys in their fight for justice.
I do have to admit that I am not sure if he rode his Harley to the service as the damn bike fell over on him and broke his foot several days after he purchased the thing. However, I do know the idea for the service was initiated because of the purchase of the motorcycle and not for the boys actually buried in the grave yard.
Mr. Bob Baxter
The comment made by White House Boy, Bob Baxter on Fox News several days ago was much uncalled for. "When they find out the truth about what happened to us kids at Marianna it will make Auschwitz look like a cake walk." There are no way the abuses we children suffered at the former Marianna and Okeechobee schools, as terrible as they were, could in any way compare to the suffering of the Jewish people suffered in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Such a comment made by one individual is certainly not the opinion of me or any other White House boy that I know of. Most of us are embarrassed that such a comment would be made by anyone, especially an individual who was a former Marine.
There have been times when I used the term concentration camp to describe the fear we boys lived under every minute of every day while incarcerated at the Marianna facility. But for anyone to insinuate that our abuses could compare in any way to those suffered by millions of human beings held in the German concentration camps during the war is absolutely unforgivable, despicable and totally shameful.
Over the past year several men came forward and through back room tactics have taken control of the organization which we first established a few years back. For whatever reason, they have tried to take credit for having exposed the abuses suffered by the many children (now men) who were at the two Florida state schools in the 1950s and 1960s.
Over the past year I have backed away from that group of men as have some 300 other former men; mainly because of the infighting, ill rational statements made by the five or six men and their wives who took over the organization.
At this point all we can do is shake our heads in disgust as even an apology cannot undo the hurt and damaged caused by such a comment.
Roger Dean Kiser, Sr. Author/Child Advocate
Founder Of: The White House Boys
HOW BAD WAS THE FACILITY?
Not much had changed at the school from when these articles below were brought into the public arena in the early 1900s.
WHO IS GUILTY AND WHO IS ACTUALLY INNOCENT?
When I wrote the book “The White House Boys-An American Tragedy” it was to tell my story. It was also to somewhat tell the stories of just a few other boys who were also sent to the Florida School for Boys at Marianna. Those other boys were from the Children’s Home Society orphanage located in Jacksonville, Florida where I lived most of my childhood. The rules there were very strict and harsh. Eat, school, work and go to bed was the daily routine. There was very little time for play or any form of personal enjoyment. If one disobeyed the rules off to the reform school they went. You did not have to rob, kill, rape, steal or hurt anyone. All you had to do was not abide by their rules and for any violation whatsoever; off you went to the “big prison for kids.”
So, my story was to tell the abuses that we few children suffered at the hands of the state when not having actually done anything wrong, except break the orphanage rules; rules such as climbing up in the trees and not having asked permission to get a drink of water or to go to the bathroom.
Personally, there are a large number of the men who came forward to tell of their stories of abuse who actually needed to be sent to the reform school. They were hell raisers in their communities who stole and hurt others on a daily basis. Many were bullies when they were juveniles just as they remain to be bullies today as adults.
The difficult part for the state is to determine which young boys should be considered for actually having suffered abuses by the state when such actions were not really unnecessary considering the non-offences committed by the child who had been sent off to the school by various juvenile judges.
Believe me; most of the boys sent to the Marianna school needed a severe adjustment as they were not little angles who were being taken advantage of by society.
Of course there are those who came from abusive homes who went out into the streets in order to survive and those circumstances caused them to do whatever it was which caused them to be sent to the school. Those boys also certainly need some consideration.
The purpose of Roger Dean Kiser forming “The (Original) White House Boys’ Organization” was to insure that each boy’s (now a grown man) story was as important and as equal as any other individual’s story who had actually suffered abuses at both the Marianna and Okeechobee schools. It is then that several men began to feel that their (so called) story of abuse was more important and more severe than was anyone else’s (no matter what crimes they committed to get sent to the school) and that as long as they themselves told the truth (as they saw it) then no one else’s story really mattered as it lacked sufficient substance.
When their versions came into question they began to personally pay for lie-detector tests to insure that the media would report that they had suffered worse abuses than did the other men so this made their stories more important and now entitled them to speak for the other men.
In order to make sure the media reported their versions, rather than anyone else’s; that is when several men broke away from the original group and began to form what later became The “OFFICIAL” White House Boys Organization. It is not difficult for anyone to see that once an organization is formed and someone comes along and uses the term the “Official” in their name that they are trying to say that they are the ones who are in charge and that’s when they began to take credit for actually forming the original organization. In almost every media interview they indirectly took credit for the years of hard work others had done by not telling who had actually done the work leading the interviewer to draw false conclusions and report false information in their reporting.
When questioned about their incorrect statements their response was always the same; that it was not their fault but the interviewer fault because he or she had misrepresented and misinterpreted what they actually meant.
In one instance one individual tried to take credit for having coauthored the book “The White House Boys-An American Tragedy” which was written by Mr. Roger Dean Kiser long before any of these men even came onto the scene or had been heard of. When faced with this issue they stated they would publish a retraction on their web site but that never occurred. There was a time when I was contacted by Babbs Cooper and asked how we could all come together. I told her I wanted three things. One: A picture of my book was to be placed on the front page of their web site along with the book written by Robert Straley. Second: All three web sites links were to be posted on each of the three web sites so anyone visiting either site would have all information on what was happening within the organization. Thirdly: All the men were to have equal votes on anything the organization wished to do. I was told she would bring that up at the next general meeting.
Almost a year past and I never heard a word about that matter. I had been told by one of their members that they had secretly agreed that my book was never to appear on their web site as it was a direct link in support of who actually exposed this matter and brought it into the public forum. It was very important to them that taking credit for having exposed this tragedy was their free ticket to stay in the media spotlight. I guess having their friends and neighbors constantly pat them on the back for a job well done was more important to them than the issue itself.
The separation of the two or three groups did much harm to the cause as the Kiser group felt investigation of the allegations and hunting down proof of abuse by the staff’s own statements and comments was the most important issue. However, the newly formed “Official White House Boys Organization” led by Dick Colon and Jerry Cooper felt getting their stories in the newspaper and on television was the most important thing. This aspect was very important when the story first broke several years earlier but later it became an issue of certain individuals wanting their faces seen in the newspaper and on television so they could feel important and continue to take credit for having exposed the atrocities which had occurred at the two facilities. That became their main concern and became much more important to them than was the actual story itself.
Were the horrible beatings the boys received at the school brutal and bloody? Yes they were. If anyone beat a child in that manner today they would be imprisoned for years. However, that is the process the state felt was necessary in order to keep total control of the population. The question now is why would some boys be given ten (10) lashes, some thirty (30) lashes and others as many as one hundred and thirty-five (135) lashes?
Common sense tells us these boys who received more than the normal lashes; they were inmates who would not go along with the program and committed some of the worst violations of the rules. I will repeat myself; this does not, in any manner, make the beatings that the state of Florida administered to the boys the right thing to do. It certainly was not. So we can surmise that any boy(s) who received one hundred (100) or more lashes had to be the worst of the worst. So, if we look at all the facts based on some of the stories which came to light we can surmise what the real truth most likely is.
THE JERRY COOPER SYNDROME
Mr. Jerry Cooper
When I wrote the book “The White House Boys-An American Tragedy” I used the word “BOYS” in the title and not the word “BOY.” The purpose for that was to tell not only my story of abuse at the former Florida Industrial School for boys at Marianna (The Dozier School) but the stories of the other boys (now adult men) as well.
As has happened many times in life there are individuals who come along and (for whatever reason) they step in and try and take credit for the hard and sometimes very difficult work others have accomplished. In many cases these types of individuals are nothing more than bullies which may or may not be the case with Mr. Cooper.
Nevertheless, the outcome is generally the same whether the reason is because they are bullies or because of low self-esteem and they desire some form of public recognition. Of course, there is nothing wrong for being patted on the back for a job well done if in fact a pat on the back is deserved. But generally bullies want that recognition whether they deserve and/or have earned it or not.
In the case of Mr. Cooper, he surrounded himself with individuals who also wanted to be glorified but did not have the guts, gumption, fortitude or the intellectual ability to accomplish anything of value so they decided to jump on and ride the Cooper train for as long as it would last.
So what is all this really about? Well, when I exposed the atrocities of bloody beatings, rapes, molestations and possible murders of many young boys some years back; abuses which had occurred at the reform school in the 1950s and 1960s; Mr. Cooper came forward trying to take credit for the twenty years I and several other men had worked so hard to expose. In his mind his personal story became the only one that was important. He personally paid for a lie-detector test to prove to the world that he was not lying about the abuse he had suffered. As the general public began to believe him his story began to change and soon his bloody beating story of some 46 lashes became 87 and then into the hundred and something range. Everyone else’s story of abuse became unimportant and was rarely mentioned by Mr. Cooper. Jerry Cooper’s theory, in order to keep himself in the media, and in the limelight, was to make it clear to everyone that the other men’s stories were no longer important because his story of abuse was much worse and much more violent than were any of the other men’s stories; therefore his having taken a lie-detector test proving that he had been totally truthful (which he had not been) that believing his own personal story made all the other stories told by the men truthful as well. However, his true purpose was to keep everyone else out of the press (out of the limelight) so he could receive all the glory of having exposed the atrocities. Again however, most of the men, as well as the general public knew that Mr. Cooper or any of his cohorts had ever stepped forward for more than fifty years to tell of their abuses at the school. The record clearly showed who did what and when they did it. Letters from former Florida governors substantiated those facts.
Never having accomplished much in his life which would be of some form of value to society he lavished the attention being given to him by the media. Friends and neighbors began to give him the attention he never received while trying to become a country singer in many of the flop-house bars in which he played. But, now he had found a way to achieve the fame he had always wanted and began deriving such from the hard work of others.
However, what he did not realize was that now that he had commandeered the train he did not have the ability, the knowledge or the experience to keep the train moving forward and soon all began to stop. He tried desperately to try and do a few good deeds in order to keep the train moving forward but even those jesters failed as most people began to catch on to his lack of education and management experience. Most was exposed when people began to realize that Mr. Cooper has a severe anger management problem and most of what he was able to accomplish was achieved by trying to bully his ideas and agendas through the gates whether they be considered looked upon as bad, illegal or unethical. That did not seem to make a difference to him. It was his way or the highway and that philosophy became his narrowed view frame of mind even if it meant the train would completely self-destruct when it finally reached the station.
When people began to catch on to Mr. Cooper’s plan and began to publically complain. It was then that he (Cooper) began to put stories out into the public arena that the people complaining were drug users or that they were total alcoholics. It was not difficult for those in public to see what Mr. Cooper was up to when he began to state on public radio that he had written or at least co-authored the book(s) which first exposed the issues at hand. Even when confronted with those facts that did not seem to faze him in the least. Having surrounded himself with people exactly like him gave him the stamina and the mindset that he was indestructible and untouchable. This is what happens when one individual thinks he stands above others and believes that his story is more important than is everyone else’s. The issue has almost died because the general public soon got tired of hearing the same ole, bad attitude and angry Jerry Cooper story over and over again.
What many do not realize is how this all came about. Basically, it was not the men at all; it was the wives of several of the men who actually caused many of the evil deeds to occur and caused the men to blow their stories of abuse out of proportion. When I first exposed the abuses which had occurred (too many of the men when they were boys) it gave many of the men a reason (an excuse) to give to their wives, their children and other family members for their abusive actions towards them over the years. The wives saw a great and much need change in their mates and in the fathers of their children. To make sure this miraculous chance did not slide back into oblivion they had and to keep this positive attitude alive and moving forward for as long as possible. The wives took charge, though Jerry and his bunch did not realize what was actually happening, and the women took over the web site and began to set up reunions and other functions which made their husbands appear to be “the good guys.” Even their efforts became somewhat difficult when many of their followers (such as Bob Baxter) who began going off the deep end and making comments such as ‘When the truth finally comes out about what the state of Florida did to us as kids it will make the concentration camps of Germany look like a simple cakewalk.’ There was no extreme these fellows would not go to in order to make whatever fictitious points they wanted in order to achieve the goals they had set for themselves; that being to receive (extort in my view) monies from the state of Florida in the form of compensation.
In the end Mr. Cooper and his band of followers will fade into oblivion and what will be left will be the true record. It will be a record giving credit to those who earned and deserve it and not those who chose to lie, cheat and steal their way to whatever success finally comes from this issue. The changes made to the juvenile system which will protect the children institutionalized in the future will have absolutely nothing to do with individuals like Mr. Cooper or others like him. Plagiarism has many forms and as in this case actions and deserved credits were plagiarized by many individuals associated with Jerry Cooper. And his weakness as an individual and his desire for fame and glory allowed that weakness to supersede friendship, family and many of the men who suffered much greater abuses than did Mr. Cooper.
Ending on that note, I suppose Jerry Cooper will never know what the term “shame on you” actually means as his lack of compassion for his fellowman is something missing from his life throughout his entire existence on the face of this earth. The original purpose of The White House Boys being formed became lost somewhere in the darkness when the heart and soul of the cause was replaced by the anger, greed and the excessive need for notoriety by several individuals. They broke away from the main group and banded together to form what later became known as “The Official White House Boys Organization.”
Everything The White House Boys set out to achieve was accomplished when the state of Florida relented and did almost everything that was asked of them. But for a few that was not enough. It was no longer a matter of righting a wrong but more so about the state of Florida being punished by having to pay compensation. But even the act of receiving money was not really the truth about what the true purpose was. It was all about getting monies for the men so even they (the men) would continue to pat Jerry Cooper on his back and look up to him as their savior for having gotten a large number of the men compensation for abuses many of them had never suffered in the first place.
As the issue one day fades into oblivion and the press, the newspapers and the television media faintly remembers what this was really all about; only the accurate record will remain and then and only then will the truth be known about who did what and when they did it. Those who did nothing at all to try and right a wrong but tried to take credit for the hard work of others will no longer be remembered. And if they are remembered at all they will be seen as nothing more than scoundrels and remembered as the unethical individuals they always were their entire lives. That will be their fate and it will be well earned and well deserved.
Anyone familiar with the world of Jerry Cooper soon begins to realize that it’s all for one and one for one.
As of today several bodies have been returned to their families and these forgotten boys have been given a descent burial. I will continue to watch and I will make sure the remaining bodies (if unclaimed) are also given a descent burial and not dumped in the back woods as they were many years ago.
There are some men who certainly deserve to be compensated for the abuses they suffered. However, there are many who did not suffer and abuses, none whatsoever, but are riding the gravy train in hopes of making a windfall based on Mr. Cooper’s statements that if they follow his lead and his personal direction that they will be well compensated. It was that statement that allowed Jerry Cooper to have his followers which caused some of the men to break away from the original group which was formed years previous by me and three other individuals.
There is no way to say how bad Mr. Cooper's beating actually was as his story has changed many times. I was read a report over the telephone that his beating was the result involving a statement made by him (Cooper) that he was going to have sex with a cottage father's wife before he left that school. Whether or not this is true is yet to be substantiated as I have not seen the actual disciplinary report.
Roger Dean Kiser
303 Juliette Circle
Brunswick, GA 31525
email@example.com OR firstname.lastname@example.org
Other White House Boy's Web Sites.
(I have asked the (so called) "Official White House Boys" to add our sites to their site but they refused)
Nate Dowling * Richard Charles Noble * George Edward Driver * Leo Collier * Virgil Whitten * Herbert Baker * Wayne Howard * Johnny Williams * James Schusler * Phillip Favata * Ray Hall * James Mutter * John Brodnax * Roger Bryan * James Young * Jackie Florence * Michael O'McCarthy * Frank Marx * Randall Morgan Steed * Manuel Giddens * Michael Smelly * George Owen Smith * John Bennett * Ellis Adams * John GoForth * Timothy Gabriel * Don Brace * Hollis Sutton * Edgar Elton * James Bundy * Michael Bates * Richard Tabb * Michael Raines * William Michael Squires * Leonard Simmons * Eddie Gillman * Nathaniel Sawyer * Arthur Williams * Schley Hunter * Calvin Williams * Charlie Overstreet * Edward Fonders * George Robinson * Walter Askew * Nollie Davis * Robert Rhoden * Samuel Bethel * Lee Smith * Joe Stephens * Thomas Varnadoe * Richard Nelson * Robert Cato * Grady Huff * James (Joseph) Hammond * Earl Wilson * Billey Jackson * Richard Dees * Edwin Fudge * Larry E. Martin * Virgil "Ike" Dwight Whitten * David (Freddie) Hutchins * Stephen T. Turner * Emmett Gillman * Cecil Andrew Barger * Wayne Howard * George Edward Driver, Jr. * Thomas Edward Howard * John Argersinger * Leo Thomas Scott * Gene Newsome * Russ Haitt * Robert Johnson * Bobby Jackson * Albert Williams * Sylvester Settle * James Griffin * Odis Clemons * Issaic Abrams * Dove Kinder *
The Original White House Boys
Dick Colon-Michael O'McCarthy-Roger Kiser-Robert Straley
"The White House Boys" was formed by Roger Dean Kiser and Robert W. Straley.(picture l-r) Dick Colon, Michael O'McCarthy, Roger Dean Kiser and Robert Straley. Together they exposed to the public the horrors hundreds of boys suffered at the hands of those responsible for their care at several Florida Indistrial Schools.
The "White House" Torture Chamber
In this small white building, where boys were beaten until their underwear or pajamas had to be surgically removed from the buttocks, lives the memories and horrors of the worst child abuse in Florida's history.
"If one of your kids were kept in such circumstances you'd be up there with rifles."
Governor Claude Kirk
Blood still on the walls, ceiling and floors even after fifty years. The terrible screams I heard and the brutal beatings I witnessed as a twelve year old will remain in my memory forever. The beatings I suffered are not my horrors today. My horrors are the beatings of crying boys that I had to witness before my own beatings. The horror of knowing that I was next. For almost thirty minutes, at age sixty-two, I stood alone in the exact room where I was almost beaten to death. With my heart racing and the side of my neck pulsating, I lit a cigarette and I cried without feeling shame.
The thick concrete walls and the loud industrial fan easily muffled the horrible screams of the boys as they were beaten bloody. Some were carried to the hospital in wheelbarrows and some had to have their underwear or pajamas surgically removed from the buttocks.
THE WHITE HOUSE Torture Chamber
“We was a-pissin� in our britches,
'cause we knew that place so well.�
Most people could never imagine the horrific acts that were committed behind the secret doors of this schools ironically beautiful brick buildings and lush lawns. The victims, and they truly were victims, have finally come forward to unearth the deadly deeds that occured there. The men who made it through this school with their lives, and not much else, now call themselves the White House Boys, after the small white building that still sits on those lush lawns, where they were raped and beaten, to the point of nonrecognition, on a regular basis.
These men now need society's support in order to do what they were not able to do as little boys. These men now need our support in order to stand up to their offenders, support to finally receive what they were continually denied, a life.
"They call it "The White House?"
TROY TIDWELL Mr. Troy Tidwell was one of the main beaters at the school. His beatings of boys ran into the thousands. There are many who despise Tidwell for what he did. Personally, I hold the State of Florida responsible. The Governors knew, Senators knew, Congressmen knew as did most judges and local officials; yet they did nothing to stop these atrocities. Tidwell has stated under oath that he was only doing his job and that may very well be true. However, if that is the case then why does he not step forward and tell the truth before meeting his maker one day? Though most will never forgive him; a few of the men he brutally beat might have some form of respect for a man who tried to right a wrong.
Robert Loyal Currie This was a man who was assigned by the State of Florida to help, train and guide children but in the process he destroyed many lives. The amount of young boys he molested will never be known. There were many instances where this man's actions were exposed and he should have been removed from his position, but many in authority chose to look the other way. I, for one will forever be affected by the evil deeds done in this man's office. I shall forever remember the looks on the secretaries� faces as they sat by with looks of pity and said absolutely nothing.
When Nightmares Become Real
The horror of these brutal beatings stayed with these boys for many years. Some had to sleep with a light on at night for years.
"It hurts, it really hurts. Still today, when you think about it, it really hurts."
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Mr. O.J. Keller UPSET BY THE BRUTAL BEATINGS OF THE BOYS :The beatings were brutal and in my opinion they were criminal in nature."
The atrocities author Roger Kiser suffered at the hands of his "caretakers" in this Florida institution will make your toes curl. The depravity of the people running this home for boys will sicken you. The triumph and hope that Mr. Kiser offers as a result of his broken life will make your life's troubles pale to trivialities, and cause you to question what right you've ever had to complain.
As Mr. Kiser continues his work with the state of Florida and even the FBI, in an effort to ensure that heinous crimes like the ones committed upon him and other young boys are a thing of the past, he has put his personal life back together, setting an example for all of mankind that nothing is greater than the human spirit.
Written with the strength of a survivor and the compassion of one who knows severe physical and emotional pain, Mr. Kiser's book is a well-scripted look into a childhood of hell.
While the subject matter is difficult, the book is exceptional. It flows from fact to feeling in an effortless, plain-spoken manner and is interspersed with photos as well. The White House Boys...An American Tragedy is a must-read true story of abuse and hope.
The White House Boys: An American Tragedy Overview
Hidden far from sight, deep in the thick underbrush of the North Florida woods are the ghostly graves of more than thirty unidentified bodies, some of which are thought to be children who were beaten to death at the old Florida Industrial School for Boys at Marianna. It is suspected that many more bodies will be found in the fields and swamplands surrounding the institution. Investigations into the unmarked graves have compelled many grown men to come forward and share their stories of the abuses they endured and the atrocities they witnessed in the 1950s and 1960s at the institution.
The White House Boys: An American Tragedy is the true story of the horrors recalled by Roger Dean Kiser, one of the boys incarcerated at the facility in the late fifties for the crime of being a confused, unwanted, and wayward child. In a style reminiscent of the works of Mark Twain, Kiser recollects the horrifying verbal, sexual, and physical abuse he and other innocent young boys endured at the hands of their "caretakers." Questions remain unanswered and theories abound, but Roger and the other 'White House Boys' are determined to learn the truth and see justice served.
OUR ATTORNEYS The Masterson Group
We (all who were abused) are currently being represented by a team of lawyers in an effort to seek justice because of the acts of violence that were committed. Our attorneys are interested in determining if there are other witnesses to the abuse that we are attempting to expose. If you would be willing to serve as a witness to the acts of violence, please call Thomas Masterson at 1-727-896-3641 He is one of the attorneys in our legal team that is involved in our representation. You must call to join the SB-0046 senate action bill. Holland & Knight-
100 Norlh Tampa Street. Suite 4100 I-
Tampa, FL 33602-
On the top information bar (under "photos") are pictures of the inside of the "White House Torture Chamber." Most of the pictures were taken on October 21st, 2008. Even after fifty years, blood stains still remain on the walls and floors. Some say horrible screams of agony are still heard in the late night hours.
As I entered the White House for the first time in almost fifty years, I will never forget walking behind several female guards now working at the facility. "OH MY GOD! IT'S TRUE," she said, as she covered her mouth with both hands.
I smiled to myself knowing that the truth lives on.
The toilet facilities are just as nice today they were fifty years ago. As I stood looking at this toilet on October 21, 2008; I well remember one boy asking to use the bathroom before his beating and that request was refused. When the beating was complete the boy left the building with feces all over his legs and boots. He never shed a tear but covered his face with both hands from the embarrassment.
The White House videos and photos shown on this site, was a punishment building where boys from 9-16 years old were brutally whipped with a 3-4 inch wide by two and a half foot long leather strap with a sheet metal insert. Thirty to fifty lashes for general infractions, one hundred lashes for running away. There was a facility for black boys across the street. Whatever happened to the white population was nothing compared to what the blacks suffered, up to two hundred lashes, possibly murder.
The Florida State Reform School, currently being called the Authur G. Dozier School for Boys, established by the State of Florida's lawmakers, has been hiding a horrific secret for over half a century.
The school, which was built in 1897, was intended to be a place where adolescent boys, some as young as 8 years old, could be separated from the prison system, and the evils of adult criminals, and could receive the education and mental support they needed as young men. It was established in order to provide young offenders a place where they could grow and learn, and in that way, be reformed enough to be contributing members of society. Instead, it became a "new kind of hell" which destroyed many lives.
Doctor Byrd tesitified before a United States Subcomittee on juvenile delinquency and his testimony (transcript on information bar above) clearly shows that Troy Tidwell lied during his deposition.
Kissimmee, Florida First Reunion
Orlando, Florida Second Reunion
The White House Boys met in Brunswick, Georgia for their first reunion, Kissimmee, Florida for their second reunion, Orlando, Florida for the third reunion and then Tallahassee, Florida. The fifth reunion was held in Kissimmee where many friendships were reformed, pictutres were shared and many tears were shed. Thoughts were revised, many closed hearts were opened and (after fifty years) smiles began to return to many a sad and somewhat hardened faces. As children, these are men who have overcome the most horrible of abuses. They should be very proud to have survived.
What appeared to be nothing more than a beautiful campus to the general public allowed the brutal beatings, molestations, rapes and possible murders of children to continue (behind closed doors) for more than fifty years.
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A NOTE FROM ROGER
Roger Kiser Founder-"THE WHITE HOUSE BOYS"
E-mail Roger Dean Kiser, Sr. email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Information: 303 Juliette Circle Brunswick, Georgia 31525 (912) 617-0328
Roger's film "THE BULLY" * Click Here Directed by Edward Asner (Mary Tyler Moore Show).
continued my efforts to write about the abuses as well as document other men's stories. The abuses include beatings, floggings, rape, molestations and in some cases the murder of many children. Their stories can be read at the "victims stories" link above.
Florida State Archives
The book "THE TRUTH-YOU DECIDE" by Roger Dean Kiser and Andrew Puel has been placed in the Florida Archives and the horrible abuses committed by the State of Florida upon innocent children will be on display for all to see for generations to come.