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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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Elijah Dukes: A decade of trouble
By the Times staff
Published June 23, 2007
At age 22, Tampa Bay Devil Rays outfielder Elijah Dukes has amassed dozens of contacts with law enforcement and the court system. They range from traffic stops to paternity suits to his own calls to report being a crime victim to calls others made to report his actions. The following list was compiled from public records showing some contacts with the system. In some cases, records could not be obtained to show the resolution.
Sept. 29: Dukes, 13, is arrested on a battery charge, according to Tampa police records. Because he's a juvenile, no details are available.
Nov. 21: Dukes is again arrested on a battery charge, but because of his age details aren't available.
Dec. 8: Hillsborough sheriff's deputies are called to Dukes' home after he fights with NiShea Gilbert. She says he threw a remote control at her. Prosecutors later drop the charges against Dukes.
Dec. 25: Dukes is pulled over on suspicion of careless driving. When a Tampa police officer approaches, he calls her obscene names, according to an arrest report. The officer yanks him out of the car after he tries to roll up his window and charges him with obstructing an officer without violence. He is allowed to enter a misdemeanor intervention program and charges are dropped.
Jan. 30: Dukes calls Hillsborough sheriff's deputies after a fight with Gilbert, accusing her of spraying him with an unknown substance from an aerosol container. He tells deputies he wants to document the incident but doesn't want to prosecute.
March 16: Gilbert files for child support from Dukes for their son. A judge orders Dukes to start paying $222.26 per month at a later date. Dukes is already $23,337 in arrears, and the debt is factored into his monthly payments.
April 26: Gilbert calls Hillsborough deputies and says Dukes is harassing her and making threatening phone calls. No arrest is made.
April 28: Gilbert files for a protective order, also known as a domestic violence injunction, against Dukes, accusing him of peppering her with telephone calls threatening to kill her. She said she also receives threatening calls from other members of his family. A judge denies her order.
Sept. 15: Dukes' ex-girlfriend, Carla Bryant, asks a judge to order a paternity test. It shows Dukes is the father of her baby.
Oct. 12: Gilbert calls Hillsborough deputies and says Dukes threw a soda can and a candy jar at her. No arrest is made.
Oct. 15: Gilbert files for another protective order against Dukes.
Oct. 25: Bryant files for a protective order against Dukes.
Oct. 28: A judge grants Gilbert's order and bars Dukes from contacting her for one year.
Oct. 31: A judge grants Bryant's order and bars Dukes from contacting her for one year.
Jan. 18: Dukes quarrels with his sister, Katrina Evans. Evans tells Tampa police he grabbed her by the throat and punched her in the left arm. Dukes is charged with battery. He does not contest the charge and is sentenced to one year of probation.
Jan. 24: Dukes' ex-girlfriend, Zanquesha Jefferson, files a request for prosecution with Tampa police. In it, she says Dukes came to her home and choked her. No charges are filed.
March 10: A paternity test shows Dukes is the father of Shantell Mitchell's baby, who was born on June 7, 2004.
June 16: Gilbert gives birth again and adds the baby to her child support claim against Dukes.
Aug. 8: Dukes is ordered to pay Shantell Mitchell $881.73 per month in child support until $10,871 in retroactive support is paid off. After that, he must pay $734.78 per month.
Feb. 27: Dukes marries NiShea Gilbert.
May 1: Gilbert files a petition for divorce, claiming Dukes married her to avoid paying child support. She accuses him of being abusive.
June 5: Gilbert voluntarily dismisses her petition for divorce.
Aug. 24: Hillsborough sheriff's deputies arrest Gilbert after she scratches Dukes in the back during an argument. Charges are later dropped.
Sept. 20: Dukes and Shantell Mitchell reach a settlement allowing their child to live with him for the six months of the year he is in Tampa. Child support is suspended; Dukes informally agrees to pay for the child's expenses.
Jan. 15: Dukes and his passenger, Willie Evans, 23, are arrested during a traffic stop after Tampa police find about 2 grams of marijuana in his car. The case is pending.
March 8: The child support case between Dukes and Gilbert is settled through mediation.
April 26: Porcia Reneal Daniels files a paternity suit, which includes a test result showing Dukes is the father of her baby born on July 19, 2006.
April 30: A Hillsborough County deputy issues Dukes a trespass warning after he shows up at Beth Shields Middle School in Ruskin, where Gilbert teaches. The deputy says Dukes was "very irate."
May 1: Gilbert files for a protective order against Dukes.
May 14: A judge throws out the petition after Gilbert fails to show up for a hearing.
May 17: Gilbert again files for a protective order.
May 23: The St. Petersburg Times reports allegations by Gilbert that Dukes threatened to kill her and their children.
May 29: Dukes apologizes to "family, teammates, the fans and the organization" for causing a distraction.
May 30: Gilbert gets a one-year protective order and says she has filed for divorce.
June 13: The Times reports that a teen who lived in the foster care of a relative Dukes told police the Rays outfielder got her pregnant. Detectives believe the sex was consensual and no crime was committed, but according to the police report the incident has prompted a review of the foster home.
June 19: Dukes calls a Tampa radio station to defend himself and his family and make further accusations against Gilbert. Rays officials acknowledge they are frustrated over the continued distractions.
June 22: The troubled outfielder is optioned to the minor leagues and placed on the temporary inactive list.