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Reform school alumni claim abuses

Oct. 19, 2008 at 6:25 PM

MARIANNA , Fla., Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Former students at the Florida State Reform School say their time at the state-run facility was horrific.

About a half-dozen alumni are set to return Tuesday to what is now called the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, The Miami Herald reported Sunday.

The group of alumni, the White House Boys, say inside a dark, cinder-block building at the facility called The White House guards beat them. Some men say they also were sexually abused in a crawl space below the dining hall they call the "rape room."

Robert Straley, 64, of Clearwater, Fla., says in March 1963 he was beaten with a long leather strap.

Troy Tidwell, 84, a retired supervisor at the facility, acknowledges children were disciplined at The White House, but he denied any of them were injured.

Tidwell said, guards spanked the boys with a three-inch-wide, 18-inch-long board but switched to the strap amid fears "the board would injure them."

The state Department of Juvenile Justice has been torn over what to do for the White House boys, the report said.

"Our hearts go out to these men,'' DJJ Secretary Frank Peterman said. "We certainly want them to understand that we want them to be healed.:

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