Robert Straley               Roger Kiser

For their own good: a St. Petersburg Times special report on child abuse at the Florida School for Boys
By Ben Montgomery and Waveney Ann Moore, Times Staff Writers

The men gathered at the Florida School for Boys on Oct. 21, 2008. {Read the DJJ's Statement on last page}

The last time they had stepped on this sprawling campus, they were fresh-faced punks with the world before them. 
Now their hair was gray and their faces sagged. Their backs ached from a night in motel beds. They carried pictures 
of children and grandchildren in their wallets.

Dick Colón had flown in from Baltimore, where he owns an electrical contracting company. The 65-year-old was 
tormented by the memory of seeing a boy being stuffed into an industrial dryer. Next to him stood Michael 
O'McCarthy, a writer and political activist from Costa Rica, who was beaten so badly he was treated at the school 
infirmary. To his left was Roger Kiser, a Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor who had driven down from Brunswick, 
Ga., bent on retribution. On the end was a quiet man named Robert Straley, who sells glow lights and carnival 
novelties. He drove up from Clearwater. He had been having recurring nightmares of a man sitting on his bed.

Then there was Willy Haynes. He was 65 and went by Bill now. A tall, broad man, Haynes had worked for 30 years
for the Alabama Department of Corrections. Haynes didn't feel good. There were plenty of places he'd rather be.
But he knew he had to do this.

                                                               The men now called themselves the White House Boys.

In October 21, 2008 the gates of the Dozier School (FSB) were opened so a group of five 
men, now in their sixties, could be taken to a ceremony that the State of Florida and the 
Juvenile Justice Department had sanctioned. The members of the DJJ who approved the 
ceremony were Bonnie Rogers, Samadhi Jones, Christy Dely, and Frank Pinella. There, amid 
roughly 50 spectators, the men were to speak of their experience in front of the "whitehouse" 
punishment room which had been closed for four decades. They could speak of the past, not 
the present, that being the only restriction. The ceremony was hosted by Mary Zahasky and 
Gus Barreiro.


"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.”

The Whitehouse
Officially Sealed
by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
October 21, 2008

Roger Kiser speaks to the crowd at the (Link:)  "Sealing of the WhiteHouse Ceremony" (Carole Marbin Miller, Miami Herald)

Behind him is the "WhiteHouse" building where boys as young as 8-13 were flogged with leather whips. Flogging was abolished 
by Governor Hardee in 1922 as "Too brutal a punishment for even hardened convicts" when (Link):  Martin Tabert, just 22 
years old, was whipped to death in the Putman Lumber Camp.
 Flogging went on for the boys of the school for the 
next 45 years after the ban.

Robert Straley:  There were about eight of us that traveled in the back of a locked truck to arrive at The Florida 
School For Boys. When I first saw the FSB grounds I was surprised at how beautiful it looked. There were two story 
brick cottages surrounded by foliage and oak trees. I thought it was a beautiful place but before the night was over I 
would realize I had just walked into a beautiful Hell.    

Bill "Willy Haynes: I can remember on a few occasions boys would go to the White House and never return to their 
cottage. We were told that they went to Raiford Prison. We didn't know that one had to be convicted of a felony crime 
at trial to go to Raiford but we were afraid to ask. So what happened to them? Where are their bones buried? How 
many of them had no family at home to question the authorities. If the juvenile justice system was this bad in the 
1950's how bad was it in the 30's and 40's?

Michael O'McCarthy: Something happened to me the 15 year old boy, the juvenile delinquent that was sentenced to 
FSB. My innocence, the essence of childhood trust in adults and adult institution was essence was killed. More to the 
point, the humanity that children bring to the world as a free gift from nature was twisted into a rational twisted with 
selfishness and cowardness and a twisted viewpoint that believed in manipulation and connivance as the way to live. 
What survived was a tormented boy with a twisted sense of what I had to do to survive in a life I neither understood 
nor was capable of dealing with on life's terms.

Roger Kiser:  When I looked up at the men's faces, they were plain, cold and hard. They had no expression 
whatsoever. I did what they told me to do. One of them said to move my hands to the top of the bunk bed and grab 
the bar at the headboard. I did so as quickly as I could. Not one sound could be heard. I felt one of the men reach 
under the pillow and slowly pull something out. I turned over quickly and looked at the one who was standing near 
me. He had a large leather strap in his hand.

THE PADDLE. an innocuous schoolroom term given it by the director. The Paddle. Two strips of quarter-inch 
polished leather, two feet long, over two inches wide, separated by a sixteenth-inch piece of taut, pliant sheet metal. 
Attached to a four-inch round hand grip, the leather was perforated on either side midway down, with
one-eighth-inch holes, ending in a half-inch long taper. The effect brought the whipping weapon down in a cracking 
slap that drove through the thinness of the cotton shorts, into the upper tissues of the skin. Halfway through the 
beating, the holes were filled with blood-covered flesh.

Dick Colon: Colon, who said he was only 14 and weighed less than 100 pounds, still can feel the fury. "I can tell you 
that at that moment, there's absolutely no doubt in my mind, I could have stuck my hand through his heart and his 
chest cavity and ripped his heart out with my hand and bit it in his face," he said.

"Sealing of the WhiteHouse Ceremony" 2008 Left to Right Bill Haynes

Dick Colon, Robert Straley, Roger Kaiser. Michael O'McCarthy is speaking.

Carole Marbin Miller's camera crew from 
The Miami Herald Newspaper

From Left To Right: Roger Kiser, Michael O'McCarthy, Bill "Willy" Haynes, Dick Colon and Robert Straley

From Left to Right:   Michael O'McCarthy, Robert Straley, Dick Colon, Roger Kiser


EXCERPT FROM:   FDLE investigation into Florida School for Boys cemetery is over,
but mystery lingers

By Ben Montgomery and Waveney Ann Moore, Times Staff Writers
In Print: Saturday, May 16, 2009

They don't know the exact whereabouts of any of the remains because the graves were unmarked for years, until a 
superintendent ordered Boy Scouts to make markers. The same man supplied the number of graves — 31 — based 
on an educated guess. Some 20 years later, part of the cemetery was destroyed by prisoners farming the land. 
Another superintendent ordered pipe crosses erected, but workers had no reference point and placed them based 
on "how they thought they should be arranged."

                                                                                 Courtesy Rick Flagg FNN News 31 Unmarked Graves


Building Pics By Robert Straley

October 22, 2008


The DJJ was not expecting this and the very next day disavowed that the ceremony and the plaque meant nothing 
at all. As far as I know, there has never been a inmate facility in the United States that has opened its gates to 
former inmates, held a ceremony, created a plaque admitting to abuse and promised to destroy a building in which 
68 years of abuse occurred. They would have never open the gates at Dozier if they had not known that a storm 
was coming when Carol Marbin Miller broke the story in 2008. They knew exactly what happened in that small 
white-washed room or the gates would have remained closed. Here are the details of those two days in October:

In October 21. 2008 the gates of the Dozier School (FSB) were opened so a group of five men, now in their sixties, 
could be taken to a ceremony that the State of Florida and the Juvenile Justice Department had sanctioned. 
There, amid roughly 50 spectators, the men were to speak of their experience in front of the "whitehouse" 
punishment room which had been closed for four decades. They could speak of the past, not the present, that 
being the only restriction.

The ceremony was conducted with the presentation of a plaque which promised that these types of abuses would 
never happen or be tolerated  again. At some point the "whitehouse" was to be torn down. The men were taken to 
a graveyard with 31 unmarked crosses amidst the woods, accessed by a dirt road.

When the story went nationwide on the Associated Press the next day, the officials at Dozier said "it was neither an
admission nor an apology." Then what was it and why was the ceremony even conducted?

Damage control appears to be the reason with a continuation of denial of events of the past. The cover up began 
on that day and continues to this very day as more abuses are uncovered; yet are without, admissions or 
apologies, nothing changes it would appear. The FDLE merely followed suite and " the whitehouse was once again 
whitewashed and a broader cover up has begun."

"When we left the ceremony that day we felt a deep and emotional sense of relief, we had been given an
apology, we felt it was a beginning. Never, in the history of Florida had former inmates been allowed back inside an 
institution to reconcile a wrongdoing by the State. The State of Florida had admitted to the floggings that had 
happened in this frightening white cinder block building. We felt somewhat vindicated for the past transgressions 
perpetrated against us and hoped we could finally move on with our lives. Then the very next day the facility 
blatantly denies us closure and acts as if the ceremony never occurred and their expressed words rang with little 
or no remorse. Those empty promises and dishonest words that meant nothing to the state, still prevail to this day.

Senator Al Lawson stated at a Jackson County Chamber of Commerce meeting in Marianna that he would try to
have the plaque removed from the notorious "whitehouse" punishment room. The citizenry of Marianna felt it
was a "stain" on their town. Their town was already stained as they had surrounded the boy's school with a wall of 
silence. They knew the boys were being brutalized, but put jobs and money over human compassion and dignity. 
This went on from the time it opened in 1900 to 1968 when O.J. Keller finally stopped the floggings.

Photo Below By Robert Straley


Photo by Robert Straley

Please Remember Me

Row upon row of crosses white,
Plain, unmarked, their names unknown,
Lie children, and short were their lives,
Buried beneath Florida's tall pine trees,
You can almost hear them whisper,
Please remember me ..….

You were big and I was small,
Under your hands, not protected,
But crushed by them, you took my all,
Alone and afraid, where none could see,
I rest uneasy and forgotten,
Please remember me ...…..

RStraley 2008

CCMiller & Crew on left by R. Straley