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"Governor Crist, Take Down This Plaque!!"

It would appear that Governor Crist decided the claims of the four former Dozier residents who have decided to attempt to make millions by entering a claim of abuse against Dozier officials after over fifty years of silence are true and justified. He seems to have made that decision without the benefit of a trial, presentation of evidence and arguments, and without the necessity of a decision by a jury.

His decision to construct and erect a plaque on the campus of Dozier which was done in memory of "all of those children who were ABUSED here", constitutes a unilateral admission of guilt from the head of our state, and certainly encouraged the four alleged victims to proceed with their suit. This action by the Governor was premature, unjustified, inappropriate, and undoubtedly politically motivated. It has engendered outrage from numerous state employees who worked professionally for many, many years at the Dozier facility.

Our liberal herd of politicians who currently dominate Washington recently ruled that "water-boarding" of terrorists who are caught attempting to destroy our nation and kill us and our families constitutes "torture and abuse". Instead they want to send them to a plush federal penitentiary where they can spend their sentences on chaise lounges around a pool wearing sun glasses.

Well, now it appears our illustrious Governor has similarly decided the then common and legal practice of "butt-boarding" in the venue of the 1950’s was also a form of "torture and abuse", and those poor victims who endured such treatment deserve millions of our tax dollars in appeasement. What is most ridiculous about this form of political logic is the hypocrisy of it all. It should be remembered that during this era the State was sending cruel, physically mature, budding criminals to Dozier, and at the same time was sending little, innocent nine and ten year olds to the same facility to be housed and mixed with the almost hardened criminal group. Many of these youngest residents had committed no crimes, and were in reality orphans with no other place to go. In truth, these poor children were the real victims of the State, and if anyone deserves reparations, it is them.

With this State engineered mix of the cruel, vicious and dangerous young adult thugs mixed with the innocent and defenseless very young boys, they created an underground social structure on the campus based on bullying, fear, and intimidation ruled by the dominant, older residents. The potential for violence in this dominant group is well represented by several documented incidents which occurred.

Among these incidents were the cruel, inhuman beatings of the Jackson family in Marianna at the hands of three escaped Dozier residents who were trying to steal their car. Also Jackson County Deputy Bevis was shot and killed with his own weapon by one of Dozier’s finest. On another occasion, one or more Dozier bullies beat another resident to death and left his body in a drain culvert. And what was probably the last whipping ever given at Dozier was administered by Superintendent Lenox Williams after he saw the horrible results of disfigurement from a beating given to one boy who was attacked while asleep by three bullies. Lenox took the three guilty bullies to the now infamous "white house" and punished them.

From these examples we can see that Bullying was a continuing administrative problem on the campus, which was compounded by the unfortunate, ill-advised mix of residents. In general, those who were "butt-boarded" were the worse of the lot. They were the cruel, dominant older bullies who were abusing the younger, helpless residents.

When they were caught in these acts of cruelty, the administrators punished them in order to institute discipline and control….and most importantly to protect those innocent young boys. If these four former residents from the 1950’s received harsh punishment from the administration, it was most probably because of cruel, bullying acts they themselves had perpetuated against the younger boys. The former residents who Governor Crist is about to reward with state reparations were probably among the cruelest, most abusive, and most guilty of the resident population of their era. That is the unfortunate hypocrisy of the entire affair. We urge Governor Crist to remove the undeserved plaque which he has placed on the Dozier campus in his "rush to judgment". If he will at least take this action until the courts have evaluated and decided on this matter…he will be "Getting It Right".

"I’ll Sue You, You Sue Me, What a Wonderful World It Will Be…."

Four former residents from Dozier School for Boys have filed law suits against several state agencies and one local resident for alleged abuse they endured while interned at the reform school in the 1950’s. Why have they waited approximately sixty years to come forward? The disproportionate number of lawyers as a percentage of the population in the U.S. and their need for funds for survival has turned our social structure into a litigation minded, suit seeking, greedy society. In this vein, every public official, every administrator of a public agency, every school board and school administrator, every doctor and every hospital administration, every company, and every citizen, and unfortunately, every politician is constantly walking on their tiptoes in constant fear of making a decision or doing something which will result in court action. We live in a "I’ll sue you if I can" society.

Herds of lawyers lurk in dark paneled offices in every city, patiently waiting for an opportunity to engage in a "class action suit" that will yield them millions of dollars in fees. When our sixteen year old son was unfortunately killed in an automobile accident several years ago, we received several letters written on fancy embossed letterhead from large law firms letting us know they were "there for us" if we had any cause to sue someone because of the accident. It made me sick and very angry at the same time, in the midst of our horrible grief.

Sly, greedy, unethical people and organizations have learned how to use this fear of litigation as a weapon to blackmail our politicians into paying the supposed victims millions of dollars of our tax monies as settlements for claims….in order to avoid the bother and negative publicity of a lawsuit. This practice is expensive, encourages future actions from other greedy people, and carries with it an implication of acceptance of guilt…regardless whether or not any real guilt is present.

I feel this exploitation and misuse of the right to sue may well be the case in the claims which four former Dozier School for Boys residents recently filed abuse claims for incidents which took place sixty years ago, against several state agencies and one local resident. I find it unfortunate that Governor Crist has already reacted to these claims by having a plaque placed at the infamous "Little White House" on the Dozier campus, where corporal punishment was administered during those years when it was a legal and effective manner of punishing those who deserved punishment. The inscription on this marker reads "In recognition of the ABUSE many suffered here". This statement implies guilt when there has been no trial, no conviction, and no proof of any ABUSE ever occurring. This action by the Governor did nothing but encourage the former residents to continue with their court action.

From this I am assuming that every whipping I ever received was a form of abuse….and I can thus proceed with legal action against anyone who ever gave me a whipping. I am in the process of locating a sufficiently hungry, greedy, unethical, qualified lawyer who will represent me in these matters. Together we stand to make millions!

First there was Mrs. McGuary, my fifth grade teacher. She gave me and about eight other unfortunate fifth graders a vicious, cruel beating with a big leather belt for running down a back stairway which we all knew was closed and not to be used as stated in posted signs and in school rules. I think I got five hard, bone crushing lashes that I remember to this day. She severely embittered my attitude and left emotional scars I have struggled with for all of my life. I feel I should be able to sue her estate for several million. I may have to find the other seven boys that were involved to really make the case sound good. I hope they will come forward.

Then there was my old football coach and eighth grade teacher, "Bull" Dawson. While he was out of the room one day a wild eraser fight broke out. One of the teacher’s pets, Betty Robertson took names of all who engaged in this duel, and when "Bull" returned to his classroom she gave him the list and told him of the fight. As a result, we were all given three licks from a special paddle he had for such an event. These three licks still ring in my ears. The sting of having my coach hit me was as bad as the physical pain. I think this whipping kept me from making all "A’s" that six weeks, and perhaps kept me from going to Harvard. I feel the lack of development that stemmed from this attack and abuse by this teacher should enable me and my hungry lawyer to sue his estate for another seven or eight million.

Then there was Tom Brantley. Tom was our principal in high school. He was notorious among the student body for abusing poor, young boys in his office as he doled out corporal punishment for relatively innocent deeds. He had a special wooden paddle which was riddled with holes to reduce wind resistance and increase impact speed during his terrible rampages of retribution. There was the time when Billy Terrell came to school after a summer in California (1957) with an Elvis Presley hair cut, complete with DA in back and a hook in front. Several of the girls in our class thought it looked cute, so we had to do something about it immediately. We told him to cut his hair (of course all of us had neat, well groomed flat tops) or he would suffer. He refused to do as we asked, so one day Bobby Rudd brought a pair of sheep shears to school and as soon as the bell rang at the end of the day, the entire football team scooped Terrell up and carried him to the dressing room under the gym. We did the shearing job…for months I proudly carried the loosened "hook" in a text book as a place marker.

Well, Billy’s mom was less than happy. She stormed to school and demanded action from Tom Brantley. He herded all of us guilty culprits into a van, took us out to the Terrell residence where Billy’s mom lectured us for about thirty minutes (while Billy stood aside, embarrassed and bald). Then Tom Brantley took us to his den of torture, his school office. Out came the dreaded paddle, as one by one we assumed the unfortunate position and had our butts whipped. I am sure that if I look closely enough today I might still see some of the resulting scars from this terrible, terrible example of administrative abuse of a poor innocent student. I am sure the other team members who had to endure this embarrassment and unimaginable pain are similarly scarred. I figure our unscrupulous lawyer should be able to get us at least ten million from the county school system and ole Tom Brantley’s estate.

Then there were the whippings all of the upper classmen in my college fraternity gave me and the other pledges during "Hell Week" prior to initiation. That case should also be worth millions. And our liberal court system has already ruled that children can sue their parents…so I might figure out a way to sue their estates. Heck, I have already inherited that money. Oh My god! That reasoning means my children could sue me!

Telling the "rest of the story

Unfortunately, you can throw mud and dirt further than you can throw clean sand. The same axiom is true for news. When the media chooses to dig out accusations and possible negative events while ignoring hundreds of possible stories about positive influences, good programs, and years of professional work from dedicated personnel, the negative stories will be picked up by national television, and news wire services around the world. The positive, truthful stories will receive little notoriety.

This is the second story of a series of stories in this paper’s effort to tell the full history in "Defense of Dozier", as a rebuttal to the wild claims and exaggerated stories about historical events which might or might not have occurred at our local Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in the 1950’s. These claims have not been proven or substantiated, but much national media attention has been generated which includes very negative publicity for our community.

(This week we have focused on the medical staff and medical treatment at the school).

Truth in Medicine:

If severe physical abuse was occurring at Dozier, the effects of that abuse would quickly come to the attention of the existing medical staff at the school. For vicious beatings to be administered involving hundreds of lashes with giant whips, causing blood to splatter on the walls of the room….medical treatment would have to follow. This means the Doctors and nurses who were on staff would have to help "hide" the fact that the beatings were occurring. Their professional ethics would have to be discarded for the benefit of the school’s administration. Those who knew the medical professionals who were involved will attest to the integrity of these people and their absolute belief that if these injuries had existed they would have immediately taken action to disclose these practices to the public and to the State authorities.

This is one of the strongest points for believing that there is no truthful substance to the questionable claims currently being made by a few previous residents of the school….almost sixty years after the events were to have taken place. Many feel their fabricated and exaggerated claims are driven by hopes of personal gain from the political practices of today which often result in claims against the State being rewarded with huge payments from the public coffers, in order to avoid litigation and negative publicity.

During the 1930’s and into the 1940’s, medical services to the reform school were provided by Dr. Baltzell. This fine physician was recognized throughout the county for his benevolence, professionalism, and ability. To think of him as being complicit in a cover-up for beatings being administered to children at Dozier is unimaginable to those who remember him.

Lenox Williams:

(Excerpt from the interview with Mr. Williams as related to medical treatment.) "The boys always had great medical care. They also received any dental treatments they needed. I can recall a couple of instances where boys had disfigurements from birth and we felt the boy was having emotional problems as a result of these defects. I arranged for them to be sent to specialists who then recommended remedial plastic surgery to correct their problem. This had a dramatic effect on their self esteem and ability to function in their society. Dozier did more for those boys than they could have ever hoped for in their previous home environment." "We always had a great medical staff on campus. I know if there had ever been any type of physical abuse going on they would have noted it and reported it to me immediately."

Dick Hinson:

One leading senior citizen in our area who remembers Dr. Baltzell, Dick Hinson, called to remind us about the serious problems with infection which existed during much of this era. Penicillin had not yet been developed, and many, many small wounds frequently became infected. Hinson relates how Dr. Baltzell used a special black ointment which he spread on the wound and the red streaks of infection which emanated from the spot.

"If these beatings had really occurred as these gentlemen are claiming, there most certainly would have been infections which resulted. Dr. Baltzell and his treatment would have been an absolute necessity. His involvement could not have been avoided…and he would not have allowed any abuse to go unpunished," Hinson related.

"Another dear friend and very, very ethical professional who administered to the boys at Dozier was Dr. Richard Schulz. I can assure you, there was no medical evidence of injuries from any form of mistreatment from the administration while he was in service there". Hinson stated emphatically. "He insisted on nothing but the highest level of moral standards, and it would have been inconceivable for him to not report any abuses to authorities."

Dee Calloway:

Dee Calloway who is a registered nurse, worked as part of the medical services team at Dozier from 1966 thru 1973. She was a medical assistant to Dr. Wexler who was then the campus physician and who also lived on the campus. "He was an excellent physician. He loved the boys and they loved him", she relates.

"After Dr. Wexler retired Dr. Richard Schulz became our doctor. He held a medical clinic each day, seeing those that needed medical care. Both of these doctors had a policy where they could be called at any time, day or night, by the nurse on duty." Calloway continues. “Nutrition was excellent! If a child required a special diet, these foods were ordered and special meals were prepared to accommodate these needs. All meals were well balanced.

During the 1960’s and 1970’s there were several residents who were put on psychotropic drugs by a psychiatrist. Back then we didn’t have specific diagnosis categories of behavior such as ADD, ADHD, etc., it was just ruled as an emotional disorder, nervous system disorder, or retardation. Also, there was a percentage of the population that was gay, and sometimes that entered the medical arena." She continued.

"In 1963-64 there was a "Charlie John’s Commission" who came on campus from Tallahassee to "clean up homosexuality" on campus.

"We all loved those boys. Now some were very mean, and had to be treated with that in mind. We had innocent boys who were only nine or ten years old that desperately needed to be loved and should not have been there. We had others who should have been in prison. For instance we had students Cotton and Morris Brown who killed a Jackson County Deputy, James Bevis with his own gun. Then we had the Indian boy from the Everglades who viciously attacked Mr. and Mrs. Jackson at their home on highway 71 N. Mrs. Jackson later died from injuries resulting from that attack.". "In all of those years I was working as a nurse on the evening shift, there was NEVER a child brought to us for medical treatment who had in any way been abused. Lenox Williams, the Superintendent, would never have allowed abuse of a child.

It was not uncommon for boys who were about to be released to run away from Dozier to prevent being sent back home. I have had them tell me they never had it so good. ‘Good food in my belly, a roof over my head, clothes on my back and good care’. It really angers me to have all of this wonderful work tainted by the greedy, outrageous claims of a few past residents." posted by Times Staff at 10:14 AM on Feb 6, 2009

ADDITIONAL COMMEMTS BY SID RILEY

"Those poor little "White House Boys" have been busy having a video made which shows what a bad community Marianna is, how we ignored the terrible abuses which were occurring at Dozier, and how undeserving they were. This is all a prelude to their attempt to extort millions from our state politicians."

My "In Defense of Dozier" series of stories really upset those guys who are trying to glean a few million dollars in reparations from our easy touch politicians by claiming hideous and heinous treatment by administrators at Dozier fifty years ago. They have been bombarding our web site with blogs calling me a "jackass", and blasting my abilities and reasoning. They become very aggressive when their potential jackpot is threatened. Some of their railing was too vulgar and over the line to allow on the web site.

Sid Riley's phone number is 850-526-1400 if you would to thank him for his wonderful comments.