The teens at the Oaks Juvenile Residential Facility were “chilling” in their rooms on the morning of of April 3, 2011, and so the two staff members on duty thought it wasn’t necessary to do their jobs.
A video showed they sat in the day room and talked, chatted on their cellphones and rolled their chairs just far enough to peek down the hallway. They falsified facility records to hide the fact that they were failing to perform mandatory 10-minute checks, an inspector general administrative review said.
While they dodged their duties, a 14-year-old was raped by his roommates.
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One 15-year-old youth was charged by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office with sexual battery and two others were charged with being “principals” to a sexual assault. An investigation by the Department of Juvenile Justice quoted the victim as saying that one of the teens held him down while the other two used a toothbrush to assault him.
The victim told investigators that one boy acted as “the lookout to see if anyone was coming.” No one was.
One of the workers later told investigators “he was not saying the 10-minute checks weren’t required; they just thought the checks were not as critical” since the teens were “not sleeping,” a DJJ report said.
Both staffers were fired, and DJJ froze admissions to the program until it could fully implement a corrective action plan. The program has since closed.
This narrative is part of Tales from the Front, a collection of short stories about Florida's juvenile justice system. The Miami Herald investigated the state's youth corrections system following the 2015 beating death of a Miami-Dade detainee. Read the full "Fight Club" investigative series here.