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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Football player accused in attack, theft
By JAMAL THALJI and IZZY GOULD
Published May 19, 2007
NEW PORT RICHEY - A Gulf High School football player is accused of breaking a man's jaw and ripping a $400, ruby-studded gold crucifix from his neck.
When Julian Raymona Ford was asked why he landed so many blows on the victim, authorities say, the 17-year-old said he was angry.
"It just came out, " the teen told a detective.
Ford was arrested May 3 on campus on a charge of strong-arm robbery. A second suspect is being sought in the attack.
The junior was a returning starter for the Buccaneers who was projected to start at fullback and linebacker next season, his senior year.
But because of the arrest he'll miss Tuesday's spring scrimmage. His senior year of football could also be in danger.
The Pasco County Student Code of Conduct calls for a 20-day suspension for any student-athlete arrested on a misdemeanor or felony charge. After that, the school's administration could extend his suspension.
If he pleads no contest or is adjudicated guilty of a felony, he would miss 90 school days of athletic eligibility from the date of conviction. But a not guilty verdict would restore his athletic eligibility.
The incident took place the night of April 4 in the parking lot of the Bourbon Street nightclub, according to a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report.
The 50-year-old victim, whose name is being withheld by the Times because the second suspect has not been arrested, told deputies he was placing fliers on vehicles in the parking lot off U.S. 19 when he was attacked.
The victim said he saw the two attackers walk by him. Then, the victim said, he saw them run at him. They beat him to the ground with their fists, the report said, and took the 14-karat gold cross with a figure of Jesus on it. Ford, according to the report, admitted to "snatching" the gold crucifix.
But his mother, Sherry Smith, said her son didn't do it. "My son is innocent, " she said. Smith declined to comment further.
Ford, of 6236 Seaford Drive, was taken to the juvenile detention center after his arrest.
He was still being held there Friday, according to football coach Jay Fulmer, who declined to comment about the arrest.
But in the past the coach has described Ford as a team leader and recalled an incident that he said reflected well on Ford.
The teen once a found a woman's purse that contained $1, 500, the coach said, and returned it. No reward was given. Fulmer had the football team sign a card and give it to Ford with $50 inside.