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FDLE Responds To USF Dozier Study: 'Can't Compare Investigation To Academic Research Project'

Updated 1:05 a.m.

Below is a statement from Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam regarding Florida Department of Law Enforcement's update on Dozier:

I am grateful that FDLE has started to address some of the issues raised by the USF report. The state has an obligation to provide the families involved insight and a meaningful explanation regarding the final resting places of their loved ones. This is a complex and difficult task that will take time.  I'm committed to seeing that we get it right, after decades of failing to do just that.

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The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is sticking by its findings from an investigation into the alleged abuse at a North Florida reform school that was shut down last year. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam had asked the agency why there were discrepancies between the state report and a recent study by University of South Florida researchers.

In their initial study, University of South Florida researchers identified 13 more deaths and 19 more gravesites at the Boot Hill Cemetery near the Dozier School for Boys than the Florida Department of Law Enforcement did a few years ago. But, FDLE Spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger says there really is no comparison between the two reports.

“You can’t compare a law enforcement investigation to an academic research project," said Plessinger. "Both certainly have value, but they have vastly different scopes and standards.”

USF researchers used ground penetrating radar to identify the grave shafts, but Plessinger says that’s only probable information. During the state’s investigation, they interviewed hundreds of people about the abuse allegations at the school. Plessinger says while they couldn’t find any evidence to support the claims, that does not mean the abuse did not happen.

The FDLE issued their response Wednesday and sent its findings to all the members of the Florida Cabinet.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on twitter @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.