Child Sex Abuse: Florida’s Justice System Has Failed Our Children
Written by Administrator
A Mother’s True Story
The mother of a 15-year old victim speaks out about her feelings regarding the Florida Justice System & their failed attempt to seek justice for her daughter.
This has been a nightmare since the beginning. I know I should have made calls to people and demanded things, but honestly, my brain stopped working and my voice became unheard. I felt like I was outside my own body; things were happening but they were in slow motion and I had no control over anything. An educated person with a college degree, working in healthcare, but yet I feel so stupid. Most of all how does my daughter feel? She has been so strong through all of this. I’ve been helpless in getting justice for her.
Our family moved to Florida a few years ago. I was offered a better job and I was able to provide a better life for my family.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017, the day that changed all our lives forever. So how did this day begin? Just like any other normal day. My kids went to school. My oldest daughter, age 14, decided that this day was the day she had enough. While at school, she confided in a friend that her stepfather has been molesting her (including touching above and below the clothes, and finger penetration.) My husband, the man I married, trusted and my life partner. Who is this man I married? How could I let this happen to my child? My daughter’s friend told the school counselor and she reported it thankfully. My daughter was pulled out of class and asked to go to the guidance counselor’s office.
Timeline of Events:
12:00-In 5th period my daughter was pulled out of class and put in a room with the guidance counselor in the office
12:30-My daughter was told to turn off her cell phone and not to contact me (her mother)
13:00-The police department notified
13:23-A MALE sheriff’s officer came to the school to question her and determines that it is a sexual crime and they need to call the special victims unit and Department of Children Services
15:00-A MALE special victims unit officer arrives and questions her along with DCS social worker
15:30-My son, who attends the same school, was pulled out of class and questioned
1610-I received a call from the school and only stating that “myself or my husband needed to pick up kids.” I asked why and I was told: “DCS and police have both my children in custody.”
16:12-Myself, my husband, and my youngest daughter (who literally just walked in the door from school) got in the car and drove to the school
16:30-All three of us arrive at the school and walk in together. My daughter is literally standing 50 ft away from us and I’ll never forget the look of fear and terror in her face. **They should have never happened to allow him to walk into the school*** Also a protocol error
16:40-I was called into a room and interviewed
17:00-My husband was interviewed and denied everything
17:30- The school officials and officers allowed my husband to leave. He left in my car we drove to the school. Sometime later I found a way home for my children and myself.
17:45-I asked for him to be arrested and the detective replied: “At this time we can not arrest him.”
This same officer made a comment to the Department of Children Services worker that he “Was tired and ready for the weekend because he had not had a day off in like 2 weeks and he already worked his 80 hours plus like 80 hours of overtime.”(this can be verified by the officers time clock sheet.)
AT THE SCHOOL SHE TOLD HER STORY NUMEROUS TIMES & told it to 5 Different people.
1. Guidance Counselor
2. First Police Office (a man)
3. Special Victim Unit Officer (a man)
5. Social Worker
ALSO, I WAS NEVER CONTACTED UNTIL 16:30, hours later and after my daughter spoke to 5 different people.
17:50-My daughter was taken to the local advocacy center 30 mins away
18:20-She arrived at the Children’s Advocacy Center
19:30-She left the Children’s Advocacy Center
20:00-When I arrived home, the DCS worker informed me she needed to go inside my home to make sure my husband was not inside and the kids were not in any danger. While in the car the DCS worker told me my daughter basically didn’t want to talk at the advocacy center and started to shrug her shoulders and nod her head a lot of the time.
21:00-I called a friend to bring me, my children, because I am already at home and mentally drained.
At this point, I still don’t have any idea of what kind of allegations were made and how bad it was and my daughter is tired and just wants to go to sleep. Yet, there is no text or call from my husband. (strange)
I found out my husband goes to a local shopping center and sleeps in the car.
Friday 3-31-2017, I wake up and go to work and my kids go to school.
10:00-I receive a text from husband about coming home to get clothes and get another car. (still strange)
10:00-My husband goes to the police station for a polygraph test (lie detector test) and he failed the lie detector (showed signs of deception).
11:20-The police interviewed him after the lie detector test. I received the police report which said—he was reminded he was free to go at any time, explained to him how to exit the building and the detective asked questions, to which he responded he tucks all 3 kids into bed and he possibly could have touched her breast over her clothing. He was then reminded he could leave on his own free will. So he tells the police, he has to go to work and leaves… (He does not have to be at work till 15:00).
Saturday, April 1, 2017-I received texts from my brother-in-law to gather my husband’s clothes and gun so he can come get them.
Sunday, April 4, 2017-My brother-n-law drives from Tennessee, to pick his brother up and take him back to Tennessee with him. I advised my brother-n-law there is an active investigation on him.
Sometime in the afternoon, my daughter confides in me everything her step-father had been doing to her. The police would not go into great detail of what the allegations were. She also discloses that it started while we lived in Tennessee (where we lived before Florida). In every word, she told me, the only sentence that stuck out was “She didn’t want me to be hurt.” All this time my daughter thought she was protecting me.
Monday, April 3, 2017-My daughter and I go directly down to the police station to ask why he was let go twice. This is when I learned he failed the polygraph and they are still going to investigate the case.
I tried to do a controlled phone call and he didn’t answer the phone
Tuesday, April 4, 2017- I go to work. While there, the Trauma Medical Director calls me into her office. She has learned of what is going on and wants to help and be supportive. I then proceed to tell her everything. She asked me why he was not arrested, was a pelvic exam done on my daughter, was a fingernail swab done, and a bunch of other questions. ———A pelvic exam/rape kit???? Absolutely, no one mentioned a medical exam. I hadn’t thought to ask because it’s the police and it should be part of the investigation. A finger nail swab for him???? —– Again was not mentioned to do one. Why did the police not follow proper procedure?
Florida’s protocol was updated in 2015:
DUAL PURPOSE OF THE FORENSIC MEDICAL EXAM
The forensic medical exam serves two purposes. The first purpose is to address the medical needs of
individuals disclosing sexual assault. This is accomplished (with their permission) by:
- Evaluating and treating injuries;
- Conducting prompt examinations;
- Providing support, crisis intervention, and advocacy;
- Providing prophylaxis against sexually transmitted infections;
- Assessing female patients for pregnancy risk and discussing treatment options, including
- reproductive health services; and
- Providing follow-up care for medical and emotional needs.
- The other purpose is to address justice system needs through forensic evidence collection. This is
- accomplished by:
- Obtaining a history of the assault;
- Documenting exam findings;
- Properly collecting, handling, and preserving evidence;
- Interpreting and analyzing findings (post exam); and
- Subsequently presenting findings and providing factual and expert opinion related to the exam and
- evidence collection.
Thursday, April 6, 2017-My Medical Director goes to the police station with me to ask questions that I didn’t even think to ask. She asked why it took them so long to get her to the advocacy center? The Sgt replied, “Most times it takes days to get a child into the advocacy center.” She asked why she had to tell her story 5 different times. The Sgt replied that the other times my daughter spoke, were screenings and not interviews. The only interviews that count are the First interview with the special victims’ officer, the Advocacy Center, and the District Attorney interview. (How do you explain to a 14-year-old, that already told her story 5 times in one day, some were just screenings and not actual interviews?) I told the detective what my daughter confided in me. He said, “She didn’t disclose that or she didn’t disclose that at the advocacy center.” (Well of course not, because it took you 6.5 hours to get her there and she told her story 5 times or more to different people.)
While at the police station my Medical Director asked for them to do a pelvic exam and look for scarring or tearing or any trauma to the vaginal area. The Sgt refused and replied, “It would cause her more trauma and also the hospital doesn’t like to do them and give them a lot of pushback when they ask for them to be done.” My Medical Director asked if they were aware her step-father has left the state, where he fled too and he is around children the same age as my daughter? They said they were aware and they would reach out the police in that town and also the Department of Children Services.
I told the of Detective and the Sgt. of people who witnessed his and her strange behavior that collaborated her story. My daughter wanted to be interviewed again. When wanted to be well rested, not afraid, and didn’t wait 6.5 hours in a room. The Sgt replied, “Oh just bring her down to the police department and we will question her.” My Medical Director immediately injected no, that any interviews would be done at the Children’s Advocacy Center.
-I tried another controlled phone call and he didn’t answer
After about an hour and half of ridiculous answers to our questions we left.
Did they follow the order 4.13?
April 4, 2017-In Tennesee, where my husband moved back to, was notified (even though we requested that to happen 6 days prior).
April 13, 2017-13:00 another interview was conducted at the Advocacy Center. The interview lasted roughly 1.50 hours.
After my daughter’s interview, I asked the advocacy interviewer some questions. I learned she was not
Also learned from talking to the Detective that he has not been doing this job long and he actually is going back to patrol because he does not like the hours or the job.
-tried to make another controlled phone call he; didn’t answer.
I was notified that the police are sending the information to the District Attorney and they are going to charge him with sexual battery of a victim 12 years of age or older but younger than 18 years of age and 3 counts of lewd or lascivious molestation.
April 4, 2017- I emailed the detective to find out when the District Attorney will be contacting me and if they had contacted the sheriff’s office and DCS in Tennessee. He replied, “I am going to send the package with the reports, witness statements, and recordings on Monday.” He also replied in the email that he requested that DCS make contact with the DCS worker there and make them aware of the ongoing investigation.
May 1, 2017- I reach out to my DCS worker, here in Florida and asked if she reached out to Tennessee. She said, “No, she was not aware she was supposed to.”
May 5, 2017-I go online and open my own DCS case in the state of Tennessee.
May 2, 2017-I filed for divorce
May 11, 2017-I receive a subpoena from the State Attorney’s Office for my daughter to appear in court on May 13, 2017, at 15:30.
May 31, 2017-We arrive at the State Attorney’s Office, where my daughter is interviewed by a female DA and a Female State Special Victims Officer. I am interviewed as well. During my interview, the Female State Special Victims sitting behind the desk seemed very uninterested in anything I had to say and several times I saw her on her phone reading texts or sending texts on her phone that was laying flat on her desk. Within two weeks she would notify me of the decision of their filing status and if they were going to pursue charges.
June 6, 2017-My divorce is finalized. I received everything I was asking for in the petition. My husband was not present at our divorce hearing.
June 6, 2017-I email the State Attorney’s Office (also only been a state attorney since 5/01/2014) in which she calls me back to inform me that they are unable to file criminal charges. The reasons she gave was their:
- There was never an admission of guilt by him (meaning he didn’t confess to the allegations)
- No one ever actually saw him commit the crime
- There was no DNA or rape kit
They knew all this information before they sent the subpoena out so why would they make my daughter tell her story again just for them to tell me why they weren’t going do anything?
As of now, the State of Tennessee still has an active DCS and police investigation open.
June 23, 2017- I mailed a certified letter (7017 0660 0001 0201 4009) to the District Attorney and it was signed for 6/26/2017. (see a copy of the letter).
SERIOUSLY, I AM FLAWED AND OUTRAGED BY FLORIDA’S JUSTICE SYSTEM. It seems, by not following procedure, they do not care about our children and condone child sexual abuse. My daughter keeps asking me why he didn’t get arrested and put in jail. The only answer I have to tell her is, “I don’t know.” It pains me to tell her that. Prior to anyone’s judgment, I didn’t know this was going on. I can handle the backlash, but my daughter can not.
The only choice I have is to reach out to the media to make my case public. I am asking for help from anyone who can shed light on my story and help find justice for my daughter.