Troy Rafferty - Lawyer in Pensacola

Road to Justice for Dozier Survivors Leads to Gov. DeSantis

Despite hundreds of documented cases of rape, torture, and death, the Dozier School for Boys remained open from January 1, 1900, to June 30, 2011. A second campus was opened in the town of Okeechobee in 1955. 

For 16 years, survivors of these atrocities have fought for some form of justice. On Monday, they came within reaching distance. A bill to compensate victims was unanimously approved by the Florida Senate and is now on its way to Governor DeSantis.

It's all thanks to the resolve of survivors--and commitment of a community.

At the Florida capitol on Monday, Levin Papantonio Rafferty Attorney Troy Rafferty was thanked Monday for his tireless pursuit of justice on behalf of survivors of abuse at the Dozier School for Boys and Okeechobee School for Boys.

Road to Justice for Dozier Survivors Leads to Gov. DeSantis

It took a community of caring for the Florida Senate to unanimously approve a $20 million allocation for victims of abuse at state-run Dozier and Okeechobee Schools.

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA [MARCH 6, 2024] – The Florida Senate has taken a significant step towards justice for victims of abuse at the Dozier School for Boys and the Okeechobee School for Boys by unanimously approving a $20 million allocation for the Dozier School for Boys and Okeechobee School Victim Compensation Program (CS/HB 21). This vital allocation represents a crucial milestone in addressing the harrowing experiences of those who endured beatings, rapes, and even death at these institutions.

The approval of this measure, designated as #HB 21 and sponsored by Rep. Michelle Salzman, R-Pensacola, and Rep. Kiyan Michael, R-Jacksonville, marks a historic moment for survivors who have tirelessly fought for justice for over 16 years.

More than 30 Dozier victims and family members were in the Capitol Monday to witness this historical legislation. Many of them testified in House and Senate hearings in prior weeks to the horrific abuse and rapes they suffered as children at the state-run "reform schools."

“The evil is still there. It is palpable. I felt it in the core of my being.”
TROY RAFFERTY, ATTORNEY AND SHAREHOLDER, LEVIN PAPANTONIO RAFFERTY

How We Got Here

The unwavering commitment of Levin Papantonio Rafferty (LPR) Attorneys Mike Papantonio and Troy Rafferty has played a pivotal role in advocating for these survivors and pushing for this essential restitution.

Upon taking on the mission to champion the rights of victims, Papantonio and Rafferty traveled to the Dozier School with survivors to hear firsthand about their experiences. The attorneys were accompanied by a film crew producing a documentary about the institutions.

For the last two years, Rafferty has been meeting with legislators to underscore the importance of compensating victims for the abuse they endured at Dozier and Okeechobee. A pivotal move in this effort was Rafferty convincing Rep. Salzman to sponsor the bill.

Rafferty shared with Salzman the gravity of the situation, highlighting that 183 children who were admitted to the Dozier school have never been located. He described the appalling conditions faced by these children, including the use of a 20-inch mallet with a leather strap and metal rivets--a weapon used repeatedly to inflict harm. He told her about the medical experiments conducted on kids. She was convinced something had to be done.

"I cannot overstate the role Representative Salzman played in Monday's outcome," Rafferty said. "She has been utterly fierce in her dedication to these victims."

Reflecting on the haunting legacy of the Dozier school, Troy Rafferty expressed, "One of the saddest days of my life was the day I walked through the Dozier school grounds with men who survived the horrors of Dozier as young boys. The evil is still there. It is palpable. I felt it in the core of my being."

Where Things Stand

The approved measure not only allocates funds for compensation but also establishes a process for survivors to apply for restitution. Additionally, it enables the state Department of Education to award high-school diplomas to former students who were unable to complete graduation requirements.
Now, as the measure awaits action from Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, survivors and advocates emphasize the urgency of ensuring restitution for decades of pain and suffering. This allocation is a significant step towards acknowledging and addressing the profound injustices inflicted upon the victims of abuse at the Dozier and Okeechobee Schools.

Despite hundreds of documented cases of rape, torture, and death, the Dozier School remained open from January 1, 1900, to June 30, 2011. A second campus was opened in the town of Okeechobee in 1955.

In 2013, a team of anthropologists from the University of South Florida excavated the facility grounds and discovered 55 sets of human child remains.

Additional Dozier Facts

In 2017, the Florida Legislature passed House Bill 7115, establishing the Dozier School for Boys Memorial. “The memorial in Marianna is designed to tell the story of the boys who lived and died while at the school,” stated a DMS press release.

In 2013, a team of anthropologists from the University of South Florida excavated the facility grounds. Over time, the team discovered 55 sets of human child remains.

Papantonio and Rafferty, along with other members of the LPR staff, are participating in “The Florida Boys,” a documentary about the atrocities that occurred in the Dozier School for Boys. The film is currently under production.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Sara Stephens | 281-744-6560 | sstephens@levinlaw.com

About Levin Papantonio Rafferty

Levin Papantonio Rafferty (LPR) is a leading, national law firm dedicated to advocating for justice and compensation for victims of abuse, negligence, and corporate wrongdoing. With a strong commitment to social justice, the firm's attorneys strive to make a meaningful impact in the lives of those affected by injustice.

LPR has been representing injured people across the globe since 1955. The firm has gained national recognition as one of the most successful personal injury firms in the world and has been featured on CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox, as well as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Time Magazine, Forbes, and National Law Journal.

Levin Papantonio Rafferty attorneys handle lawsuits throughout the country involving prescription drugs, medical devices, medical malpractice, auto accidents, and business litigation. Levin Papantonio Rafferty has earned more than $40 billion in jury verdicts and settlements, litigating against some of the largest corporations in the world.

For questions about the firm’s legal practice, call 1 (800) 277-1193.

Copyright © 2024 Troy Rafferty All Rights Reserved.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram