Florida lawmakers apologize for the torture and mysterious deaths children suffered at Dozier School

Posted at 7:02 PM, Apr 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-05 02:06:56-04

Retired Army Ranger Captain Bryant Middleton earned many medals including a Purple Heart.

"I have served our country and our flags for more than 20 years," said Captain Middleton.

But he can't defeat his deep seeded wounds.

"None of those medals have healed the pain of what happened to me as a child 58 years ago at the Florida school for boys," said Captain Middleton.

He recounted numerous beatings at the Dozier school for boys and worse.

"The sexual abuse was rampant, I was molested by a medical doctor," said Captain Middleton.

PHOTOS: USF researchers unearth remains at the infamous Dozier School for Boys

Tuesday, a step toward closure. Captain Middleton surrounded by other victims finally heard an acknowledgment from lawmakers.

"I can not say with enough heartfelt remorse that it's taken this long for a legislature with all the evidence that has come forth to apologize for what has to be one of the blackest moments in our history, " said Speaker of the House, Republican Richard Corcoran.

It's taken years for this resolution. The school shut down in 2011 after decades of abuse allegations. A year later, USF forensic anthropologist Dr. Erin Kimmerle embarked on a quest for answers.

Her team unearthed  55 bodies, including Ovell Krell's brother. He was 14 when he went to the school only for the family to get news over his mysterious death months later.

She waited nearly 74 years for a proper burial. Talking with Action News by phone she is not ready to forgive. Neither are some others we spoke with.

Captain Middleton hopes this is a step in the right direction. Along with a formal apology, the state is promising two things: to build a forensic facility in Pasco County and name it after one of the victims.

"The most important is that it never happens to anyone else," said Corcoran.

"The wounds within me deep within my soul are actually starting to heal and I am thankful," said Captain Middleton.