Abuse Charges Leveled
at Pembroke Pines Youth
Company that operates facility
under state contract says those
identified as abusers no longer
have contact with any youth at the
By JANIE CAMPBELL
Updated 2:17 PM EDT, Sat, Oct 9,
Lawyers for a teen-aged boy say he was molested in a laundry room at the state-run Thompson
Academy youth detention program in Pembroke Pines.
Then, after administrators ignored his report of the crime, he was abused again in a dental office.
Broward Juvenile Judge Elijah Williams released the 15-year-old from lockup just hours after the
Southern Poverty Law Center filed a 28-page class-action civil rights lawsuit in federal court in Fort
Lauderdale. He declined to comment on the merits of the lawsuit.
The child, known as "D.B." to protect his identity, had been at Thompson Academy 10 months.
"Even if the child is not an angel, no child should be subjected to abuse at the hands of a state
[agency],'' Broward County's chief assistant public defender Gordon Weeks said Friday.
One of D.B.'s lawyers, David Utter, said D.B. tried to commit suicide three times while at the facility,
events of which his mother says she was never informed.
Nor, she says, was she informed of his allegations of sexual abuse.
"Before my son got into the program he had never tried to hurt himself,'' D.B.'s mother told reporters.
"Although he was supposed to be getting rehabilitation, his life has only gotten worse.'' Though the
Southern Poverty Law Center reported each of the 20 children they interviewed at Thompson Academy
expressed concerns about their treatment at the facility, including charges they were sometimes made to
go hungry, a representative for the private firm that runs the detention center called the claims
"unsubstantiated and unsustained." Jesse Williams, senior vice president of Youth Services International,
told the Miami Herald those identified by D.B. no longer have contact with youth.
"We take every step and measure to make sure the kids are protected," he said.