Florida Juvenile Residential Facilities Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

Fighting for Survivors Sexually Abused in Florida Juvenile Residential Facilities

For over a decade youth in Florida have suffered in the custody of residential facilities, both state run and privately operated. These youth have been sexually abused in places that were specifically designed to help them and improve their lives. But instead have contributed to the harm and suffering of those youth.

It’s been a long time coming, but survivors are finally coming forward to talk about what they experienced and to let these residential facilities, in Florida and throughout the country, know that what they went through is not acceptable. And the perpetrators and the system will be brought to justice in some way.

If you or someone you love was an inmate or resident in a Florida juvenile detention or residential facility and experienced sexual abuse, Levy Konigsberg can help you in your fight for justice. We can help you find out what your compensation options are, and get you everything you deserve. 

Levy Konigsberg is a nationally recognized trial practice with a legacy of litigating sexual abuse lawsuits against powerful institutions, public and private prison systems, and juvenile detention centers. We serve survivors statewide and offer FREE and confidential consultations. Call (800) 315-3806 or contact us online to speak with a lawyer. 

Sexual Abuse at Florida Juvenile Residential Facilities (Privately Operated)

Privately operated juvenile residential facilities within Florida are run by companies such as TrueCore, Rite of Passage, and Youth Opportunities Investments, each of which are for-profit companies. 

When it comes to sexual abuse in these facilities it can be more difficult to find the information, because not everything is reported to the authorities the way it should be. But what we know is that there has been a great deal of sexual abuse happening at privately operated juvenile residential facilities in Florida for many years. 

A December 2019 report from the US Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reported increases in sexual victimization rates of over 20% at three juvenile residential facilities including Liberty Juvenile UNit for Specialized Treatment at 26%, Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program at 22%, and Gulf Academy at 21%. 

Facilities operated by TrueCore also saw increases nearly across the board, including Highlands Youth Academy at 9.5%, Lake Academy in Tampa at 13.8%, Palmetto Youth Academy at 9.1%, and Tampa Residential Facility at 3.8%.

History of Sexual Abuse at Highlands (Avon Park) Youth Academy

Highlands Youth Academy was a non-secure residential commitment program that closed in 2021. The facility was run by Trucore, which holds approximately $350 million of state contracts between its nine private juvenile facilities in Florida.

History of Sexual Abuse at Palmetto Youth Academy

Palmetto Youth Academy works with high-risk juveniles with substance abuse and mental health disorders. Prior to its closing, the facility was run by a for-profit company (Trucore).

History of Sexual Abuse at Milton Girls Juvenile Residential Facility

The Milton Girls Juvenile Residential Facility was closed on December 24, 2012 following years of abuse allegations against the school and its staff. The facility was operated by a private contractor.

History of Sexual Abuse at Central Pasco Girls Academy

Central Pasco Girls Academy is a for-profit juvenile corrections facility that provides intensive mental health treatment services for girls of moderate-risk. This residential program is operated by TruCore. 

History of Sexual Abuse at St. John’s Youth Academy

St. John’s Youth Academy was a boys facility run by Sequel Youth and Family Services. The Department of Juvenile Justice ended their contract in 2022. Sequel has had other issues with abuse and ‘failure to ensure a safe environment’ at its other facilities and has had other facilities closed down. In fact, the company ‘sold, transferred, or otherwise closed all of its former 40 operating facilities.’

  • February 2013: Dwayne Ross asked for assistance from a teen and then showed the youth illicit photos then forced the youth to perform oral sex on him before raping him and then performing oral sex on the youth. 
  • October 2022: An 18-year-old inmate allegedly attacked a staff member who they alleged was having a sexual relationship with other youth inmates. 
  • 2022: St. John’s Youth Academy closed after the Department of Juvenile Justice ended the contract with owner Sequel Youth and Family Services.

History of Sexual Abuse at Charles Britt Academy

Charles Britt Academy was a non-secure residential treatment center for teen boys with high-risk behavioral problems run by Sequel TSI. It provided substance abuse treatment, social and life skills, vocational training, and on-site educational classes.

  • June 4, 2022: A 17-year-old boy was allegedly involved in an argument with staff members at Charles Britt Academy. Andra Walters then, allegedly, assaulted him by punching him in the face, striking him, and elbowing him multiple times while he was held down by Pete Adolphus Battle. Other staff members are said to have watched and not intervened. 
  • June 2022: Charles Britt Academy closed following the arrest of two employees (Pete Aldolphus Battle and Andra Walters) on child abuse charges. The report does not indicate whether there was sexual abuse. However, sexual abuse is very likely to occur in facilities where other physical abuse is known to have occurred.

History of Sexual Abuse at Okeechobee Youth Development Center

Okeechobee Youth Development Center was originally a second campus of the Florida School for Boys in Marianna, a facility rife with abuse reports, though it changed names and owners several times after that. As of 2009 it was purchased by G4S Youth Services, which changed its name to TrueCore in 2017. It operated for 60 years before the Department of Juvenile Justice chose not to renew the contract.

History of Sexual Abuse at Florida Challenge Academy (Camp Blanding)

Florida Challenge Academy is an alternative program for at-risk youth that works with the National Guard to aid those involved with or at-risk for involvement with substance abuse, teen pregnancy, delinquency, and criminal activity.

History of Sexual Abuse at Walton Academy for Growth and Change

Walton Academy is a residential treatment program offering mental health and substance abuse services for adjudicated boys in a secure setting. 

  • July 2018: Antoine Davis, youth worker at Walton Academy, was alleged to have watched four residents sexually assault a fellow detainee using a shampoo bottle. It was alleged that he not only watched the event and celebrated it with the attackers afterward but actively instigated and then encouraged the attack.

History of Sexual Abuse at Broward Girls Academy

Broward Girls Academy was a non-secure youth residential program operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, LLC. The facility is now closed. 

History of Sexual Abuse at Fort Myers Youth Academy

Fort Myers Youth Academy is a non-secure, residential treatment facility for girls run by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, LLC. 

  • December 2015: JoEllen Marie Gardner was arrested for allegedly sending obscene text messages including sexual photos to a 16-year-old former resident at the Fort Myers Facility where she worked.
  • December 2015: JoEllen Marie Gardner was charged with distributing obscene material to a 17-year-old.

Florida Statute of Limitations

The amount of time that a victim of childhood sexual abuse in Florida has to file a lawsuit depends on the facts and circumstances of the particular case. We recommend that you reach out to us if you have questions about the statute of limitations in your case.  For those who were sexually abused in privately-operated Florida juvenile residential facilities when they were under age 16, and were born after July 1, 1988, there should be no statute of limitations that applies. So, in most cases, this means that a person who experienced sexual assault when under age 16 is permitted to file a civil lawsuit at any time so long as they were born after July 1, 1988 (i.e. the person did not turn age 22 as of July 1, 2010). Once again, you should always speak with an attorney who can explain to you how the statute of limitations law in Florida applies to the facts of your case.

Call for a FREE Consultation: (800) 315-3806


Levy Konigsberg is a top-rated trial practice that’s recovered over $3 billion in verdicts and settlements, including millions in compensation for victims of sexual abuse.

We’ve built a legacy fighting for survivors in high stakes claims across the country and are available to discuss how we can use our experience and resources to fight for you.

Contact Levy Konigsberg if you were a victim of sexual abuse while housed in a youth detention or residential facility in Florida. We are here to help and there’s no fee unless we win.


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