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Judge Could Get Involved If State Denies USF Request To Exhume Bodies At Dozier

The University of South Florida could ask a judge to intervene if the school’s latest request to unearth the remains of boys believed to have died at the infamous Dozier School for Boys is denied. USF officials are first asking Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner to reconsider his earlier denial of their exhumation permit request, before the matter goes before a judge.

In a letter sent last week, Secretary Detzner said his agency does not have the authority to grant the exhumation permit request. But, USF spokeswoman Lara Wade-Martinez says as outlined in the school’s 5-page legal response sent to the Secretary Monday, the university disagrees.

“So, what we need now is a final determination from his agency, whether it’s yes or whether it’s no. If he grants it, we will proceed with the excavation. If he denies it, we will file a 120 appeal. That 120 appeal would be an administrative hearing in front of an administrative law judge, who would then be able to make a final determination,” said Wade-Martinez.

Detzner says his agency does not have the authority to allow human remains to be dug up for research purposes. USF says it agrees, adding that researchers are hoping to return the remains of the boys allegedly abused at Dozier School for Boys to the boys’ families—not using them for academic research purposes.

Researchers last year found as many as 50 unmarked graves at the former reform school in Marianna. A spokesman for Detzner’s office says he’s now in the process of reviewing USF’s legal response.

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.