Courtsey of Bonnie L. Solloway
VP Programming & Community Relations
First Coast News
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Former State Official Says 'White House' Investigation Stalling
BRUNSWICK, GA -- A former state official says the state investigation into claims of abuse at the Florida Reform
School for Boys in Marianna is going nowhere.
Gus Barreiro made the claims at a reunion of men who call themselves the White House Boys.
The group of 156 men say they were abused in the 1950s and 1960s at the reform school. They say they were
beaten in a little white building on campus called the "white house."
This past weekend the group met, for the first time, in Brunswick, Georgia, in part to try and heal from their past.
The White House Boys surfaced last fall when two survivors broke their silence to a state worker.
At the time, Barreiro was the director of residential facilities for the Department of Juvenile Justice, which now runs
the reform school.
Barreiro was fired in January. He was accused of surfing sexually explicit web sites on his work computer.
Barreiro says he was let go because of his push for an investigation into the allegations of abuse by the White
Barreiro says after he talked to some of the survivors, he went to Marianna and the school to investigate.
"It was really bizarre. The thing that caught my attention was everybody(in the town) knew about it.
He says people in the small town told him what happened at the "white house" and then told him about graves
belonging to the school.
"I didn't know about the grave sites. All of a sudden someone mentions the grave site, some old timer in town tells
me about the grave site. (I say)can you show me this grave site? We drove out into the woods and we came across
32 unmarked graves."
Barreiro says he took the information to his superiors and even organized a ceremony to honor the men at the
"Two weeks prior to event occurring, I was notified that the Governors office wasn't going to be at the event. And I
was notified that the Secretary(of DJJ) wasn't going to be there because they felt that it was a negative tone to the
department and to the Governor's office, which I was dumbfounded by. Because the department has always taken
this reactive role when things happen."
Barreiro says after the ceremony he got a warning.
"The day I came back from Tallahassee, after the 'white house' event occured, I was already told by a Deputy
Secretary, listen be careful, watch your back. They are going to get you. They want you out of here." Juvenile
Justice says the comment was not made.
Barreiro believes the state's investigation into the unmarked graves and the claims of abuse won't go far.
"One thing about government is they try to wear you out when they want things to go away. My guess is they hope
this thing just kind of dies off."
Barreiro says the investigation is taking too long. FDLE says it is still talking to people and searching through
Barreiro says those he's trying to help are now standing by him. One of the White House Boys says he believes
Barreiro lost his job by letting him go through the "white house" building.
While he's out of a job, Barreiro says his mission now is to continue to help these men get their stories told, and to
help bring the truth to light.
"Covering up things don't work. You can't change the truth, and it holds all answers always."
Barreiro, who has hired an attorney, says in the coming weeks there will be more details released on what
happened with him at the Department of Juvenile Justice.
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