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TMCNet:  Video shows 15-year-old girl being brutalized in Florida juvenile prison

[December 12, 2012]

Video shows 15-year-old girl being brutalized in Florida juvenile prison

Dec 12, 2012 (The Miami Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- For the third time in recent years, Florida juvenile justice administrators have caught on tape the abuse or neglect of a children in state custody.

On Wednesday, the Department of Juvenile Justice released to The Miami Herald five video segments that show an inmate of a Panhandle youth corrections being brutalized by a guard from a privately run lockup. The guard, 33-year-old Shannon Linn Abbott, was charged last week by the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office with battery causing great bodily harm.


C.J. Drake, a DJJ spokesman in Tallahassee, said Wednesday the Milton Girls' Detention Center remains under investigation in the incident, which occurred on August 9.

"We are deeply concerned that the incident as depicted in the video...contradicts its description to us by officials representing the facility," Drake added. "We are also troubled that the facility did not officially report the incident to DJJ until two days after it occurred, and only when the victim called the DCF Abuse Hotline. This lapse is inexplicable.

"After the incident, we at DJJ determined that our [restraint procudures] -- to protect youth and staff was not being followed. We subsequently initiated a comprehensive retraining of staff at the facility to ensure that PAR was being properly and safely applied and only in situations that warranted it." According to a police report, the detainee, who is not identified, was being escorted by Abbott, who was holding the girl's elbows as they walked. Most of what occurred during the alleged assault was captured by DJJ surveillance cameras, which are installed in most DJJ facilities.

"Both [the] victim and [Abbott] are observed walking in a normal manner with [Abbott's] arm under the victim's arm from behind," the police report says. "The victim is not showing any signs of resisting. The victim is observed not pulling her arms away from the defendant; the victim is not attempting the strike the defendant in any manner and it compliant throughout the entire event." Suddenly, police wrote, Abbott "thrust herself" against the girl, pushing the girl against a concrete wall "in a very forceful manner." Abbott used her body to push the girl "violently into a cement wall." The girl's chest and chin bounced off the wall, police wrote. Abbott then leaned her body against the girl, and held her against the wall for several seconds. After whispering something in the girl's ear, police wrote, Abbott pulled the girl "with great force and violently [threw] her to the floor while retaining the victim's arms behind her back." Abbott then jumped on top of the girl "with her full weight," police wrote.

The girl told police Abbott was angry at her for being "disruptive in the classroom." The girl the Department of Children & Families' abuse hotline the next day, "because she was told by other girls in the facility that it may be worse for her if she called DCF right away," police said.

DCF closed it investigation with a verified finding that Abbott had physically abused the girl.

___ (c)2012 The Miami Herald Visit The Miami Herald at www.miamiherald.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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