Abuse Complaints Part of Camp Tracey's Troubled Past

By Jackelyn Barnard
First Coast News

July 7, 2008

ACKSONVILLE, FL -- Camp Tracey, in Baker County, has been part of numerous investigations, over the years, revolving around abuse.

First Coast News has obtained copies of lawsuits filed against Camp Tracey and it's owner Harvest Baptist Church in Jacksonville.

Six lawsuits have been filed against Harvest Baptist and the camp since 2003.

Allegations range from sexual abuse to physical abuse.

According to one lawsuit, a boy who was not a student at the camp, but a visitor, says a counselor would massage and fondle his genitals. He claims the counselor performed oral sex on him and he had to perform oral sex on the counselor.

Another boy, who lived at the camp says, "...He was subjected to continuous sexual abuse," by a staff member.

He says, "The sexual assaults occurred in various locations within Camp Tracey." The boy's attorney says he has no doubt the allegations are true.

"People have come forward to tell me that everything my clients have said is absolutely what took place there," says Joel Magolnick, the attorney for the boys.

Magolnick says some of his clients described being physically abused at the camp too. According to the lawsuit, one boy said he was, "....subjected to continuous physical abuse...excessive beatings in the body and face with wooden paddles and other objects....he was pushed, punched and thrown by staff members....denied food....and punished with an electric cattle prod."

Magolnick says he is not surprised by the latest investigation involving physical and sexual abuse at the camp.

The lawsuits were dismissed by a judge because certain evidence was thrown out and the statute of limitations was up.

Magolnick appealed the judge's recent decision and in the last week, Magolnick says both sides have settled their cases out of court. The details of the settlement are confidential.

Calls made to the church and the church's attorney were not returned.

The camp is licensed with a private agency by the name of Florida Association of Christian Child Caring Agencies.

FACCCA is the licensing agency for 27 religious home agencies. It's executive director, Buddy Morrow, says all homes are inspected annually.

Morrow says in the last twelve months he has been to Camp Tracey three times. Twice for inspections and once to investigation an allegation.

Morrow said he couldn't talk about the allegation but it was un-founded by their agency as well as the Department of Children and Families.


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