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‘Boys School’ tells harrowing tale of 111 years of abuse, rape and murder


In 1900, a school was established in the quaint, picturesque town of Marianna, Florida to change the trajectory of troubled boys – youths deemed incorrigible because of chronic truancy, petty larceny and running away from home. From the outside, it appeared to be the ideal place for these young boys to learn and grow into men. But on the inside, unspeakable acts of violence were being committed, and for 111 years, most of Marianna’s residents were unaware of the horror unfolding in their backyards. Their story is now told in a new documentary by director Ric Acevedo. Simply titled, Boys School will be screened during this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival.

The Dozier School for Boys promised a new beginning for the young boys who were entrusted to the care of the school’s staff. But what they found once inside were leg irons and handcuffs. They were hung from bed frames, beaten repeatedly, raped, and even murdered.

The school also promised to bring prestige and respect to Marianna. Instead, the city became shrouded by the black shadows cast by the acts of horror that took place within the compound that the city may never be able to escape. How could the residents not know what was taking place inside Dozier? How could authorities allow the school to remain open in spite of repeated claims of abuse and investigations? Did they turn a blind eye to save the reputation of the town?

Today the town appears almost deserted – as if residents are hiding from Marianna’s scarred past. The historic downtown area is cluttered with abandoned buildings with “for rent” signs taped to dirty window, parked cars with “for sale” signs, and streets that do little more than provide a means of conveyance for passing through.

In 2011, the school was permanently closed. Left behind is the stuff of nightmares. A small white house holds secrets of rape and murder. A feeding trough for hogs holds the memory of the boys who were cooked and fed to the animals. Countless graves hold the remains of murdered youngsters. And the boys who made it out alive carry brutal scars that will never heal.

After nearly 50 years of silence, the survivors tell their stories with the help of a brave reporter. Boys School will be shown in the grand atrium of the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center at 12:15 p.m. on Sunday, March 25.

March 13, 2018.


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