Youth Academy inmate assaulted for being gay

ST. AUGUSTIN, Florida. – A 16-year-old inmate, who recently revealed his homosexuality, was assaulted Sunday by other inmates at St. Johns Youth Academy, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators said Devon Jackson, 18, of Orlando, and an unidentified 14-year-old are charged in the attack.

According to a police report obtained by News4Jax, Jackson and the youngest suspect attacked the 16-year-old boy because he had recently been revealed to be gay.

A book was handed to another inmate on Friday with notes about the 16-year-old boy’s homosexuality, according to the report.

The victim told investigators she was in the “B” pod day room when Jackson approached him from behind and attacked him. According to the report, Jackson told the victim he “didn’t want a fat guy in the pod.”

Part of the incident was captured on surveillance video, but not all, the report said.

While Jackson was handcuffed, he allegedly said he only hit the victim because he heard the victim ask another inmate to do him sexual favors.

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Jackson has been charged with one count of first degree felony. A spokesperson for the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office said the state attorney’s office would determine whether the charge against Jackson would be elevated to a hate crime.

The investigator in charge of the case noted in the report that Jackson intentionally caused bodily harm to the victim.

The charges against the 14-year-old have also been referred to the state attorney’s office for further investigation.

Cindy Watson, CEO of JASMNY, an organization that helps gay, lesbian and transgender teens, said seven to nine percent of young inmates identify as gay.

“Most of them don’t go out because they’re scared for their safety, and they’re scared of what’s going to happen to them,” Watson said. “LGBT youth, we know, are among the most at risk of bullying and harassment in these types of establishments. “

The Florida Juvenile Justice Department released a statement regarding the incident:

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“The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice does not tolerate harassment, discrimination or prejudice against young people, and it is our duty to ensure that all young people in our care are protected. All youth in the care and custody of DJJ have the right to a safe, healthy and secure environment. “

St. Johns Youth Academy is a high-risk, secure residential facility that provides treatment to adolescent males who have been referred to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. There are currently 70 boys aged 13 to 19 at the facility who have committed crimes ranging from armed robbery to manslaughter.

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