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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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Notorious rapist flees from detention center
While a nurse, Bruce Alan Young raped sedated patients at a hospital in the '90s.
By STEPHANIE GARRY, Times Staff Writer
Published February 9, 2008
Bruce Alan Young listens to his attorney during his 2005 civil trial under Florida's Jimmy Ryce Act.
[Ted McLaren | Times (2005)]
A man convicted of raping sedated patients at a Citrus County hospital escaped from a detention center early Friday.
Bruce Alan Young, 59, disappeared about 1:30 a.m. from the Florida Civil Commitment Center in Arcadia, southeast of Sarasota.
Law enforcement from the DeSoto County Sheriff's Office and the Department of Corrections used dogs to search for Young all day but had not found him late Friday. He is considered dangerous.
Pablo Paez, a spokesman for the company that has run the center since 2006, would not specify how Young escaped, saying the cause was under investigation. This was the first escape since the company took over the operation of the facility, which has 680 beds and houses 635 residents, Paez said.
DeSoto County Sheriff Vernon Keen told the Charlotte Sun that a breach was found in the security fence, but deputies couldn't find a track leading away from it.
The center, which has held notorious criminals such as "Hyde Park Rapist" Bobby Joe Helms, confines and treats sexual offenders who have served their sentences but are considered too dangerous to go free.
The facility opened after the Legislature passed the Jimmy Ryce Act, named for a 9-year-old Miami-Dade County boy who was killed by a child molester, in 1998. It is the only facility of its kind in the state.
When the facility was run by a different contractor, Liberty Behavioral Health Corp., state investigators reported a chaotic environment in which inmates brewed alcohol, fought and bought drugs from corrupt staff members. In 2004, eight inmates sued the state, saying they did not receive the mental health treatment that would help them get released.
But the new contractor, GEO Group Inc., has been doing a good job, Department of Children and Families spokeswoman Erin Geraghty said.
"The department's been pleased with their level of security," Geraghty said. "We're pleased how they're handling this situation, too."
Young was a nurse at Citrus Memorial Hospital when he raped women as they recovered from surgery. Another nurse caught him on top of a patient in 1994. He pleaded guilty to seven counts of sexual battery on a helpless victim in 1995. Ten years later, he had served enough of his sentence to be released.
But his victims lined up to testify in court that he should remain locked up under the Ryce Act. Some of the women said they received venereal diseases from the assaults.
Jurors agreed with the victims, and Young was committed to the facility in Arcadia, where he has been since February 2005. He asked for release again in 2007 with plans to move to St. Petersburg.
The DCF leases the facility from theCorrections Department, Geraghty said. The DCF administers a contract with GEO, which has run the center since July 2006. This year's contract is worth $24-million, Geraghty said.