Diversion Center Controversy

By: Erika Kurre
By: Erika Kurre

One local family spent New Year’s weekend in a local emergency room. They took their teenager there after they say she was abused, and then denied medical attention at the Southeast Alabama Diversion Center.

The family says the incident started when the girl was being defiant. Then, in their words, the situation got completely out of control.

While most were celebrating and ringing in the New Year, Sheila Whitten and her husband, Robert, went to visit their granddaughter at the Diversion Center.

They say what they found when they arrived was the teenager, bruised, cut and obviously mistreated.

"I do not have a problem with her being disciplined or punished, but I have a problem with abuse and this is clearly a case of abuse," said Sheila Whitten, who is the detainee's grandmother.

According to the girl, she was standing on her bed talking to a roommate when she was wrongly reprimanded and put into restraints by two staff members.

The young detainee said, "A male grabbed me from behind and one grabbed me from the front and they slammed me on the ground. I hit my head on the side of my bed and they were on my arm. I also hit my face on the side of my bed and I was spitting blood out while I was restrained and they didn't do anything about that."

What has the teenager's family so upset is according to them, after she was reportedly injured, she was told she wouldn't receive medical attention for at least three days.

However, none of these claims are adding up for officials at the Diversion Center.

They say not only has a child never been injured by staff members at the facility, but none of the claims in this case make sense with the center's medical or disciplinary policies.

They say their initial investigation has turned up no evidence of any abuse.

Southeast AL Youth Svcs., Exec. Dir. Gerald Love said, "We have looked at every written record, heard every oral record and viewed every video tape. Nothing pertaining to this child or any other child should be brought in form of an allegation for anything!"

It took two days for the Diversion Center to be notified that a police report was even filed.

When we last checked on Tuesday, the police report wasn't yet complete.

A police department investigator confirmed they are looking into this incident.

The Diversion Center has also requested the Department of Human Resources get involved in the case.

Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, the girl in this case will not return to the Southeast Alabama Diversion Center. She will be transferred to a different center in the area.


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