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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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Mother retells old sex charge
By KEVIN GRAHAM, Times Staff Writer
Published October 25, 2007
TAMPA - Nearly 25 years ago, a 13-year-old boy accused Roger Stowell of molesting him on a school camping trip in Germany.
Stowell, who at the time was the vice principal at Berlin American High School, never faced criminal charges. In fact, he won a settlement for wrongful termination after the Defense Department fired him over the allegations, his attorney said.
But the 13-year-old boy was never the same, according to his mother, who testified in federal court Wednesday as the now 72-year-old Stowell was to be sentenced for pleading guilty in August to possessing child pornography.
The sentencing didn't conclude as scheduled. U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday continued the hearing when Stowell's attorney said he had not reviewed records about the boy's 1982 claim and wanted time to do so. Judges consider a person's criminal history in sentencing.
The current case began in April, after Stowell's wife became suspicious of his secretive computer use at home and asked their son to help her check on his activities.
Court documents say they discovered photographs and videos of naked, underage boys engaged in sexually explicit activities and literature on pedophilia and adults having sex with minors.
Stowell's family contacted authorities, who arrested him in April at Tampa International Airport as he returned from a trip to Peru.
After Wednesday's hearing, Sandra Culliton, the mother of the boy in Germany, said she feels like her son finally has had a voice. Other students called him names and beat him up throughout high school because he reported Stowell.
Later in life, Culliton said, her son turned to a life of alcohol and drugs. He died in 1995, at age 26, after a cliff fall that Culliton said she's unsure was accidental.
"Maybe I've helped him some and he can be at peace now," Culliton said, an engraved box with her son's ashes in her lap.