27 June 2017
Comments: 31

Child Sex Abuse: Florida’s Justice System Has Failed Our Children

Jennifer Seay

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.

To begin with, 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.

In addition, 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:

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

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-We all 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.”

Meanwhile…

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)

4. DCS

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, March 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 to 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.  In fact, she discloses that it started while we lived in Tennessee (where we lived before Florida). My daughter didn’t want to see me get hurt.  In her mind, she thought she was protecting me.

Monday, April 3, 2017

I asked the police why he was let go twice.  He failed the polygraph and they are still going to investigate the case.

I attempted another 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 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? Is there a pelvic exam or fingernail swab done? 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 fingernail swab for him????

Why had no one mentioned a medical exam? 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 with their permission.

  • 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 the justice system needs through forensic evidence collection. This is
  • accomplished by:
  • Obtaining a history of the assault;
  • Documenting the 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 think to ask. She asked “Why it took them so long to get her to the advocacy center? Why she had to tell her story 5 different times? “The Sgt replied, “Most times it takes days to get a child into the advocacy center.” He explained 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. (I had to explain to my 14-year-old daughter some were just screenings and not actual interviews.)

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.” They said they were aware of her stepfather leaving the state.  They would reach out to the Greene County Tennessee Police Department as well as 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. Afterward, my daughter asked for another interview.  She wanted to have plenty of rest, and not 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.

Later that day…

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?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Finally, my husband was notified where he lived in Tennessee. (Even though we requested that to happen 6 days prior).

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.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

13:00-We had another interview at the Advocacy Center. The interview lasted roughly 1.50 hours.

After my daughter’s interview, I asked the advocacy interviewer some questions.  Specifically, as to why she was interviewed so many times.

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.

I 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.

Monday, 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.”

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

I filed for divorce.

Friday, May 5, 2017

I go online and open my own DCS case in the state of Tennessee.

Thursday, 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.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A female DA and State Special Victims Officer at the State Attorney’s Office, interviewed my daughter and I.  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.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

I received everything I was asking for in the divorce petition. My husband was not present at our divorce hearing.

Tuesday, 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:

  1. There was never an admission of guilt by him (meaning he didn’t confess to the allegations)
  2. No one ever actually saw him commit the crime
  3. 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.

Friday, 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).

Conclusion

SERIOUSLY, I AM FLAWED AND OUTRAGED BY FLORIDA’S JUSTICE SYSTEM.  Consequently, by not following procedure, they do not care about our children and condone child sexual abuse. My daughter asks me the question, “Why he isn’t in jail?”  The only answer I have to tell her is, “I don’t know.” It pains me to tell her that. Unfortunately, I didn’t know this was going on.  In other words, 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.


31 responses on “Child Sex Abuse: Florida’s Justice System Has Failed Our Children

  1. Julie says:

    So sorry to read about your daughter. This isn’t uncommon in many States. I have worked in TN & MS with kids sexually abused. You have DA’s that don’t like losing so won’t take a case that might decrease their win percentage. Sad but true. Then you have those that will pursue regardless. Those are rare. Polk really messed that up. Usually they get the kids to the Advocates fast because they are trained to interview. What is more important now is to let your daughter express and go through all the emotions. She has to deal with it now so it doesn’t hurt her down the road. She will even get mad at you. Just let hwr. Her mental health is more important than justice. The two don’t go hand and hand. She might even think it does but at the end of it all, it doesn’t help her mental health.

    • Parent of the Victim says:

      I have in an email from the police here stating that it usually takes days so her getting in 6.30 hours after she disclosed is considered fast! I was denied an advocate and in an email as well told it was my job to be my daughters advocate. I don’t want another child to go through what mine did! I am educated and even work in trauma and I was still denied what I asked tor. Most parents don’t know so what happens to them? Florida does not require Special Victims Unit Detectives or the district attorneys that handle these cases to be trained in sex crimes!

    • Bree says:

      Polk is definitely a county where stats count and No Bills are the norm. It’s disgusting. My rapist walked due to their stat concerns.

  2. Me says:

    Instead of giving him his gun you should have shot him!

  3. Itdoesnt Matter says:

    you need to stop blaming everyone. it’s sad what happened to your daughter but not all crimes get solved and not all criminals get caught. it’s just a reality and a part of life. I am sure the detectives involved did everything they could and they wanted justice for your daughter just as much as you however if there’s not enough probable cause then that’s just the facts you have to deal with. The system is not flawed, it’s just that people have rights, even criminals and while they are free to break all the rules and laws they want, Law enforcement cannot break the rules just to get a conviction, even as badly as they would like to. Cops are people too with children of their own, they certain do not enjoy knowing other children have been injured and decide to laugh as the criminal goes free…..sometimes there’s just not enough evidence and just because a kid says it happened does not give probable cause for an arrest……evidence and/or witnesses. Sex crimes are especially difficult to solve because 72 hours later there is NO evidence to collect…a sex assault kit is not going to be done 72 hours later, it’s pointless and traumatizing

    • Your comment shows how incompetent the Polk Co Sheriff’s Dept is with investigations.

    • Admin says:

      This comment proves how incompetent your Sheriff’s Dept investigators are.

      • Mother of Victim says:

        Dear It does not matter:

        You work for the sheriff but please look up the laws you are supposed to follow! I asked for a victim advocate was told that was my job as a parent.. Per the law it says I am allowed one!
        Also you can have a medical exam for other reasons besides DNA purposes!
        http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/JFAO-77TKCT/$file/ACSP.pdf

        Also since you clearly work at the sheriff office cause you were dumb and used a polk co sheriff office computer to post you would know this case had adult and children witnesses who collaborate my daughters statements! You would also know that he was caught lying in an interview with a detective in Tennessee! Also Tennessee went through his phones and computers something you all refused to do!

        Also I was told and so were several people who went with to meetings w sheriff officers and lgt and even a call w beverly cone that it is the policy of polk county not to go on the word of a child alone! I was even told that if I lived in Osceola or Orange He would have been arrested at the school!

        So no I will not give up and I will not go away! Look at all the lawsuits polk has whistle blower lawsuits and etc!
        I have found so many other parents in polk co through my blog you all have told the same thing to!
        good luck wonder what my lawyer will have to say about this.

        • Jennifer says:

          I’m going through this same exact thing with my daughter right now. With my step dad. Is there anyway that you could send me an email? Or get ahold of me? I’m very upset but I think that he too is going to get away with doing this to my daughter who is ONLY 5 years old! I’m really upset and I’m sorry this happened. I need someone to talk to and feel like I have nobody.
          My email is jennygin25@gmail.com please PLEASE GET AHOLD OF ME AND THANK YOU!

    • Cookie Groover says:

      Saying the system is not flawed is a joke! And the person who posted this was tracked to the PCSO???? Wow!!! Trust me when I say the system in Polk County is flawed! Our family has experienced it first hand!

    • Me says:

      Spoken like a true sex offender

  4. Deb says:

    What county in Florida did this happen? This is awful and I hope Tennessee throws the book at him. Make all of this public on tv and share your story. Honestly I would be getting an attorney and filing charges against the departments and people. I am sorry for you and your family. I will pray for justice to be served and healing for your family. God bless.

    • Mother of victim says:

      Tennessee substantiated the case. Tennessee is still investigating and going through his electronics. I found out that you can not sue the police if they mess up. Something about being civil servants and they are protected even though laws and my rights were violated. This happened in Polk Co Florida. The police pushed over several charges but you have a lazy prosecutor who wants her cases basically handed to her and does not have to work for a win!

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  6. Danielle Griffin says:

    Wow, it’s so sad to hear how flawed the system is and here I thought it was just our experience. We were told the same thing about “causing my daughter more trauma” when it came to an exam when we reported it and the same about her interviews and I was so annoyed because they had a male question a 4 year old girl. She told me she was scared they’d take her to jail. The time it took and then feeling like our case wasn’t as bad by the detective. It ended up that my stepson confessed and he is now on a probation program for juveniles which is another joke as to the lack of accountability abbr resources. Its so sad how many people have had to go through this. I’m so sorry. Feel free to reach out.

    • author of this blog says:

      Are you in florida as well.. Would love to reach out to you as well! Do you want to leave ur contact information

    • Jennifer says:

      My little girl is 5 and we are going through this very same thing. I believe that the person whom some this to my 5 year okdnis going to get away with it and he also failed a lie Defoe
      Test and bc he still won’t admit his guit. The sheriff department down here fails to stay I co fact and from the beginning I felt like we were the victims. I would
      Love too talk more with you and anyone else who has also experienced this. I left my email above. Jennygin25@gmail.com

  7. cruz says:

    I have a 4yr family member who was sexually assaulted the rapist left to Ohio before this child shared what had happened and this 4yr old gave such graphic details that there was no way to doubt what had happened. That person was brought back to FL from Ohio and was facing life for his charges. However the prosecutor ultimately spent over an hour with us saying how they (prosecutor and so called advocate) believed this 4 yr old 100% but could not go through with pressing charges and win due to the age of the child and the childs inability to correlate the amount of time in between incidents of contact with that person. we spent that hour trying to get them to reconsider and press charges even if they didn’t win the case so that the world could know what this person was accused of so that a public record may help avoid another child being hurt. But to no avail! In the end all they care about was not being able to win not standing up and trying to get justice for a innocent 4yr old. I asked them wouldn’t you want to know or have the knowledge available to you if someone who was around your child was arrested and charged with the rape of a 4yrs so you could decided accordingly if that person was around your child? But none of our words or pleas made a difference they just didn’t want to lose the case. But supposedly they believe that this person did violate a 4yr old in the most disgusting was and exposed this child to pornography with his cell phone. we asked if his cell phone was confiscated and looked through for that but that too was not done when asked why not they gave another BS response despite knowing that the child gave specific details about the pornography that pig was showing the child from his cell phone. I am utterly disgusted by the judicial system in Fl. our family is continuing with therapy and pray for a complete emotional, mental and spiritual healing for every member in our family affected by this heinous crime committed against a 4 yr old baby.

    • author of this blog says:

      what county in Florida?
      I was told basically the same thing as well. They didn’t want to take the chance of loosing. I also learned that the DA is allowed to pick and choose what cases they bring foward. The prosecutor I have has been out of college 2 years so she does not want any losses qnd keep her statistics up! Florida never went through his phones or computers but Tennessee where the abuse started is going through them. Tennessee is still investigating 7 months later when florida washed his hands the minute he left! I have fought tooth and nail all the way!

  8. Shawnda says:

    My daughter was brutally attacked in November in Florida. Bay County released the attacker less than 10 hours after he was arrested and released to another state. The entire Florida system is corrupt! Let me know what I can do because I’m not finished with them. Trial is in February.

  9. Barbara J Mattison says:

    I just found out I was sexually abused by witnessing my father sexually abusing my mother. So I understand completely what you are dealing with. I was also physically verbally mentally and emotionally abused by him. He worked for the correctional system in Maryland so I couldn’t really open my mouth till he had died or it would have been worse for my mother me and my siblings. He died one 2004 and I did not remember what he did to me and the others till 2011. I had to get a therapist to help through this he’ll and still help me. I am on permanent disability because of this due to flashbacks and memories.

  10. Sharon S. says:

    Please I would like to know any updates as of recent (11/12/2017). Thank you and God bless you and your children!

    • No legal action has been taken because proper procedure was not followed. However, a press release has been written about this matter & a local news station wants to feature it.

      • Mom says:

        The state of Tennessee still has an open and active investigation.. Tennessee has sent all the computers and electronics to the TBI. The mother and child have been to Tennessee several times to meet with police and District Attorney.

        • Mother of victim says:

          I contacted Darby who would only help me if their was custody issue problems!! I have full custody and no contact in the divorce which he even agreed to. So Darby was no help!

  11. Hi The Stop Abuse Campaign has a Florida chapter on Facebook. We are trying to protect the children who find themselves in this type of situation by getting the Safe Child Act enacted into Law. Maybe we could work together on this issue 58,000 children a year are placed with the abusive parent per year according to the Saunders Study. I hope to hear from you. You can find Darby Munroe on Face book at the Florida Stop Abuse Campaign Action Team.

  12. Alice says:

    I am furious about what happened to you.
    This dawm law in Florida is no good. Keep trying
    Go to the news TV. And newspaper make it public
    and the court system will do someting because they
    Dont want the public to se how messed up is the system

  13. Dawna Tatum says:

    Hi my. name is Dawna Tatum I saw your post looking for help
    I am infuriated about this but not surprised. My first idea is call you Congressman all of the state and Federal then head for the State Attorney General and US Attorney General, skip these idiots go way over their head!!! In the mean time what other media sources have you contacted? Go for the big ones (forget local stuff) I mean Oprah, 20/20, any major news program, The today show…GMA, you get the idea right? I’ll send you a msg on FB so you can msg me back and we can talk more if you like.

  14. Glenda Messick Stilwell says:

    I don’t even know where to begin. I was molested by 2 stepfathers and an uncle from age 5 until I graduated from high school. The first one wasn’t charged because our preacher ( where he was a deacon) talked my mother out of it. YEP the preacher. And I had to continue living with him for 3 more years. Then she remarried and this one had already been charged with statutory rape. But money meant more than I did. Almost everyone in town knew and didn’t try to help me. His uncle was a Sheriff in South FL and knew his actions. I tried to shoot a man that had bad intentions towards my precious daughter and only by the Grace of God the gun jammed. Your precious daughter is so lucky to have you. That you show you care and will protect her is more important to her recovery than you know. Get her more therapy but your love and believing her is so wonderful. If I can help you in any way please don’t hesitate to reach out. The law is a joke!! I often wonder about the people involved in the investigation. I am 73 and it has been a major factor throughout my life. God Bless you and your precious daughter. Don’t stop!!!!!!

  15. Jen, I am so sorry for everything you and your daughter went through! I hope the right people see this and can help you.

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