Former staffer at Florida School for Boys deposed. Says discipline was "state-approved protocol"
He said they called it Final Disciplinary Action.
The White House Boys, now men in their 50s and 60s finally got a deposition with the man they accused of the intense beating that went on in the building they dubbed
"The White House" on the campus of the Florida Industrial School for Boys in Mariana, Florida.
MARIANNA | They say Troy Tidwell drew blood. They say he dragged the boys to a tiny building on the campus of the Florida School for Boys in Marianna, made them
bite a pillow and hit them so hard with a leather strap that they feel it 50 years later.
They say he enjoyed it.
More than 200 former students of the state-run reform school, now in their 50s, 60s and 70s, accuse Tidwell in a class-action lawsuit of abuse. They tell of picking
underwear from their lacerations and being black and blue from their thighs to their backs. For the first time since the men told their stories publicly in October, Tidwell
was made to face the allegations.
Troy Tidwell admits using leather strap but says no law broken.
EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | ST. PETERSBURG TIMES
TROY TIDWELL the 'One Armed Man' of Marianna leaves after giving a deposition on Thursday. Tidwell is accused by hundreds of men of physically abusing them as
children when they were sentenced to the Florida School for Boys in the 1950s and 60s.
Tidwell was the focus of a St. Petersburg Times report called 'For Their Own Good,' which documented a history of abuse at the school, now known as the Arthur G.
Dozier School for Boys. Since the article was published last month, dozens more men have told similar stories of being abused by Tidwell and other school employees.
..."Bryant Middleton was sitting a few seats from Tidwell during the four hours of testimony. Middleton, sent to the school in 1959 for incorrigibility, said Tidwell wouldn't
look him in the eye.
'He inflicted so much harm on me that it totally changed my life,' Middleton, 64, said after the deposition. 'I was brutally hurt, physically and emotionally. For him to say he
never hurt anybody, well, he hurt me.'
I hate that term Final Disciplinary Action....it has a connotation of another "final solution".
The St Petes Times has an editorial about the state's failed investigation in tomorrow's paper. And yes, it was failed. They opened no graves, they used no ground-
penetrating radar. They simply went by records put together by those who committed the alleged crimes against these boys in state care.
FDLE investigation of Dozier School for Boys fails to find truth
It was a band of former residents from 50 years ago, now calling themselves "The White House Boys," who pressed Crist to act in December. More than 200 former
residents have signed on to sue the state — prompting Thursday's deposition of former houseparent Troy Tidwell. A recent investigation by the St. Petersburg Times
found that individually and collectively, former residents' stories strike similarly horrible and chilling themes of physical abuse and possible death.
Grown men, many of whom have struggled to build a life in the wake of Dozier, told reporters life at the North Florida school could include strap whippings in a low
concrete white building that left blood on the walls, and sexual abuse in an underground "rape room." Their accounts included witnessing boys trapped inside running
clothes dryers, orders to dig child-size graves and friends who disappeared after being hauled off to the "white house."
But FDLE steered clear of much of that emotional testimony — and did not interview one of the key leaders of the White House Boys group. The agency took the most
literal interpretation of Crist's charge to investigate the school's unmarked graves. Using official records and newspaper reports, which the agency conceded were
incomplete and deteriorated, investigators said it appears that 31 people are buried there, all 31 appear accounted for in written records and no deaths appear to be
But the agency didn't exhume any bodies nor utilize ground-penetrating radar to discern if more could be buried there. And while the agency acknowledges the written
records made it impossible to ascertain the location of burial sites, it appears little weight was given to the fact that the official records would have been maintained by
the alleged torturers themselves. The result is a report that reads more like a possible defense argument for the state than an investigation that considered alternative
These over 200 damaged men are still waiting for justice.
They have closed the White House and sealed it.
Here is the plaque that sealed the building.
THE WHITE HOUSE PLAQUE
"In memory of the children who passed these doors, we acknowledge
their tribulations and offer our hope that they have found some
measure of peace.
May this building stand as a reminder of the need to remain vigilant
in protecting our children as we help them to seek a brighter future.
Moreover, we offer the reassurance that we are dedicated to serving
and protecting the youth who enter this campus, and helping them
to transform their lives.”
by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
October 21, 2008
This investigation was defined not by what the investigators did....but what they didn't do.