One year after Thompson Academy settled a federal lawsuit alleging a 14-year-old boy was twice sexually assaulted by a counselor at the lockup, the head of the Pembroke Pines juvenile detention center is facing scrutiny. Administrator Craig Ferguson has left his post amid allegations that he took residents home with him, bought them new clothes, and allowed them to shower at his house.
Thompson is an all-male, "moderate risk" detention center for teenagers, funded by the state and run by the for-profit company Youth Services International. Local attorney Michael Aaron Hoffman represents three former Thompson Academy employees -- Kamal Warren, Farouto Austin, and Marcus Blue. In March, Hoffman called the state Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to report a troubling incident described by the ex-employees.
On April 24, 2011, Ferguson drove three Thompson Academy residents to Walmart and bought them shoes and suits, the ex-staffers alleged. Then Ferguson brought the boys home with him and allowed them to shower. He drove them back to Thompson Academy at 11 p.m. that day.
DJJ officials began investigating the allegations within days of Hoffman's complaint. According to agency spokesman C.J. Drake, the investigation is still in progress.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to New Times Broward-Palm Beach's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling South Florida's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
But Ferguson is no longer running Thompson Academy. By April 26, his name had been removed from the lockup's website, replaced by acting facility administrator Jasir Diab. According to Hoffman, Ferguson's name was listed the day before.
Jesse Williams Jr., senior vice president of operations at Youth Services International, has not responded to the Pulp's request for comment.
To read New Times' in-depth investigation of previous abuse allegations at Thompson, click here.