More interviews with Straight clients by the Florida District V task force.
Program dates: 05/13/1977 – October 1977
Exited Program By: Escaping
After Client H ran away from the program he was picked up on a breaking and entering charge and subsequently sent to the Juvenile Detention Home. He was then assigned to the Pinellas Marine Institute. He was residing in the Fararo Group Home at the time of this interview.
Client H told investigators that he was not physically abused, but witnessed the abuse of several others.
Client H told investigators that he was not physically abused, but named several other clients that were. He cited the following incidents:
- (Name redacted) was put into a makeshift straitjacket and was also held while her hair was cut short.
- (Name redacted) was dragged across the floor by a staff member when he refused to run.
- (Name redacted) was reportedly taken into the clinic and beaten by staff and other clients. ______ was also put into solitary when he screamed and kicked trying to get out.
- (Name redacted) was dragged along the floor for refusal to run.
- (Name redacted) was dragged on the ground by staff, and his shirt was torn off.
- (Name redacted) was forced to run until he was completely exhausted, other clients participated by staff watched.
- (Name redacted) was put into a straitjacket and verbally abused.
- (Name redacted) was held down and had soap put into his mouth.
- (Name redacted) had her mouth washed out with soap, and was forced to chain smoke until she became ill as punishment for smoking without permission.
Program Dates: 5/23/1977 – October 1977
Exited program by: Terminated
Client I and Mrs. (Name Redacted), his mother were interviewed at their home. Client I was put into the program on 05-23-1977. He was tricked into entering the program by his mother. He stated that on his intake he had difficulty with staff member, Mike Shanahan, who he claims hit him with his fist and slammed his head against the wall.
Mrs. (Name Redacted) advised she was not aware her son had been struck or handled in this manner, and she indicated that if she had known about this she would have not permitted him to stay in the program.
Client I advised that at no time was he free to leave the program that he, in fact, ran from the program four times and each time up until the last was returned to the program.
Client I’s mother was told by several staff members to never believe anything her son said.
Mrs. (Name Redacted) advised she was told by Mrs. Petermann and various staff members never to believe anything her son said because he would say anything to get out of the program.
Client I states that at his intake they told him to sign some forms and he did but he didn’t know what he signed. He advised that three or four months into the program he signed the Foster Home Agreement and he understood what he was signing at that time. Client I spent three or four nights in the actual Straight building because he was such a runaway risk.
Client advised at one time he was dragged by (Name Redacted), a youth named (Name Redacted), (Name Redacted) and (Name Redacted). Approximately one and a half months prior to being dragged, he had several stitches removed from his head from an accident. The above mentioned people grabbed him by the hair, arms and clothes, then dragged him causing severe soreness to the area that had been stitched.
He advised that at one point in the program during late August he got strep throat and was given no medical attention. It wasn’t until he was placed in the Juvenile Detention Center in October, 1977, that he received any medical attention. At that time he was looked at by Dr. Coffey and Nurse Ferguson on the JDC staff.
Executive staff, Mrs. Petermann, told Clients I’s mother they would rig charges to get Client I court ordered to the program.
Mrs. (Name Redacted) advised that she was told by Mrs. Petermann the program would rig charges with the (Name Redacted) family foster home to get Client I into the program on a court order. He was ultimately charged with Assault, Petit Larceny, and Vandalism and was placed in the program under a court order. Mrs. (Name Redacted) advised that she would swear to this statement.
Client I told the investigator that because he wasn’t working some of the foster homes wouldn’t feed him. Most of the time he was fed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or bologna sandwiches. He and his mother both indicated he lost from fifteen to twenty pounds over a six month period of time in the program. He indicated the food he was served was very bad.
Mrs. (Name Redacted) advised at every open meeting Mrs. Petermann would pass an open jar for contributions for the milk fund.
Client advised he only got milk at the program maybe thirty times within six months. One of Mrs. (Name Redacted)’s concerns was that she had seen the amount of money that had gone into the jar as it was passed through the audience and could not understand why the kids were not fed better and given milk on a regular basis.
Both Client I and his mother saw a girl carried out of an open meeting in a straitjacket.
Both Client and his mother stated they saw a girl, (Name Redacted), carried out of an open meeting in a straitjacket.
He also stated that in October, 1977 he saw (Name Redacted) brought into group with her legs strapped together and her arms strapped together and placed in group in that condition. He also stated he saw (Name Redacted) run until he was red, almost purple in the face from being forced to run.
Mrs. (Name Redacted), indicates that at one point in the program she was told she had to buy new clothes so her son could improve his self-image. Client was told that his mother had lost her job because of him, however, his mother said this was nothing but a lie.
Client had his restroom privileges taken away 10 to 15 times during his time in the program for disobedience.
Client stated that he had his restroom privileges taken away ten to fifteen times during his stay in the program for disobedience. He advised that during his intake he asked five times to go to the bathroom and was refused. His mother was present on one of those occasions and verifies this.
Client advised that he was yelled at and cursed at by different staff. Mrs. (Name Redacted) stated she heard Jim Hartz tell a boy that he was a “piece of shit.”
(Name Redacted) stated that when he was dropped from the program he was sure the Straight staff tried to get him sent to the state training school.
In spite of all of the problems in the program, Mrs. (Name Redacted) felt the program was good but the violence needed to be stopped. She felt the junior staff needed to be better controlled and the program could be improved but she also felt the program was needed in the community.
(Name Redacted)’s feelings were that he was not in favor of the program. He stated that he felt pretty bad about it, however, he did admit that in ways it did help him, but he was glad to be out of it.
Mrs. (Name Redacted) advised that she had been in contact with (Name Redacted)’s mother, (Name Redacted) and she requested that an investigator get in touch with her regarding some information about the program.
Interview was concluded.