Abused kids to get $14 million in settlement


Published: Saturday, September 29, 2007 at 6:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 29, 2007 at 1:17 a.m.
GAINESVILLE – State officials will pay $14 million to settle lawsuits involving 20 children who were abused while they were in the care of a Gainesville woman, attorneys for the children and the Florida Department of Children and Families confirmed Friday.

The money will be divided among the children who had lived with Nellie Jasper Johnson, 64. They testified at her 2003 trial that they were beaten, force-fed until they vomited, and made to fight one another.

Johnson is serving a 60-year prison sentence at Lowell Correctional Institution in Marion County for 14 counts of aggravated child abuse, 12 counts of child abuse, three counts of tampering with a witness or victim, and two counts of child neglect. Johnson’s adopted daughter, Colony Latrisa Johnson, 24, also was convicted at the Gainesville trial and is serving a 15-year prison sentence at Gadsden Correctional Facility in Quincy on three counts of aggravated child abuse and three counts of child abuse.

Nellie Johnson had cared for more than 25 children, many who she had adopted, after becoming a Florida foster parent in 1991, according to attorneys. In 2001, the Florida Department of Children & Families removed 17 children from her home after one child came forward with allegations of abuse.

Lawyers for the children later reported that DCF investigators had previously visited the woman’s Gainesville home but reported the allegations were not founded, or started by the children, or their biological families who wanted to regain custody. During a two-month period in 1997, investigators went to the home seven times but didn’t pursue allegations. Nellie Johnson was allowed to remain while some children were interviewed and was sometimes informed prior to their visits that investigators were coming.

Lawyers for the children said the children were beaten with sticks, pipes, belts, extension cords and paddles during more than 10 years of abuse.

The settlement involved federal civil rights claims filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida and a negligence claim filed in Alachua County.

The children involved in the cases now are in their mid-teens to mid-20s, Fletcher said.

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About yvonnemason

Background:  The eldest of five children, Yvonne was born May 17, 1951 in Atlanta, Georgia. Raised in East Point, Georgia, she moved to Jackson County, Ga. until 2006 then moved to Port St. Lucie, Florida where she currently makes her home.  Licensed bounty hunter for the state of Georgia. Education:  After a 34 year absence, returned to college in 2004. Graduated with honors in Criminal Justice with an Associate’s degree from Lanier Technical College in 2006. Awards:  Nominated for the prestigious GOAL award in 2005 which encompasses all of the technical colleges. This award is based not only on excellence in academics but also leadership, positive attitude and the willingness to excel in one’s major. Affiliations:  Beta Sigma Phi Sorority  Member of The Florida Writer’s Association – Group Leader for St Lucie County The Dream:  Since learning to write at the age of five, Yvonne has wanted to be an author. She wrote her first novel Stan’s Story beginning in 1974 and completed it in 2006. Publication seemed impossible as rejections grew to 10 years. Determined, she continued adding to the story until her dream came true in 2006. The Inspiration:  Yvonne’s brother Stan has been her inspiration and hero in every facet of her life. He was stricken with Encephalitis at the tender age of nine months. He has defied every roadblock placed in his way and has been the driving force in every one of her accomplishments. He is the one who taught her never to give up The Author: Yvonne is currently the author of several novels, including:  Stan’s Story- the true story of her brother’s accomplishments, it has been compared to the style of Capote, and is currently being rewritten with new information for re-release.  Tangled Minds - a riveting story about a young girl’s bad decision and how it taints everyone’s life around her yet still manages to show that hope is always possible. This novel has been compared to the writing of Steinbeck and is currently being written as a screenplay. This novel will be re-released by Kerlak Publishing in 2009  Brilliant Insanity – released by Kerlak Publishing October 2008  Silent Scream – Released by Lulu.com October 2008- Slated to be made into a movie Yvonne’s Philosophy in Life - “Pay it Forward”: “In this life we all have been helped by others to attain our dreams and goals. We cannot pay it back but what we can do is ‘pay it forward’. It is a simple
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One Response to Abused kids to get $14 million in settlement

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