Roger Kiser survived Dozier Reform School For Boys and accepts state's apology for the horrors

Ken Amaro is on your side. The state of Florida issued an apology to all former students of Dozier Reform School For Boys. It closed in 2011.

BRUNSWICK, Ga -- Roger Kiser, 71, never dreamed he would see the day when the state of Florida offered him a formal apology for the atrocities at the Arthur G. Dozier reform school.

"It should have never happened in America," said Kiser.

But it did and Kiser is one of boys abused at the school for boys in Marianna. "I try to control the monster they put in me," he said.

Kiser said it has taught him to hide his emotions in a very dark place, away from the people he so much want to love.

"I would describe myself as a person who wanted to love but couldn't," said Kiser.

During his experience Kiser was an orphan or ward of the state. During that period he was sent to the reform school twice, first from 1959-1960 and again in 1961.

"I will never forget what my parents did to me," said Kiser, "my parents being the state."

He said since 1977 he has been telling about the horrors that took place in the white house at the Dozier School. He has even written a book about his experience.

"I don't think that there's anything that can give me closure because. It has become part of me," he said.

Kiser said he is not angry, but he is hurt. He has accepted the apology from the state's Senate Judiciary Committee.       

"I forgive them but I can't forget," he said, "so there will never be closure for me."

More than 500 children passed through the doors of the Dozier school. The reference to the White House Boys is because punishment was administered in the white house on the campus.

Kiser said he's grateful to those who have fought for decades to bring attention to this ugly side of Florida's history.

"I'd like to thank Dick Colon, Robert Straley, Andrew Sprool, Jerry Cooper, Bob Baxter, Michael McCarthy, Bryant Middleton and Johnny Daddy," said Kiser.
 
Kiser now on his sixth marriage is a father of five. He said his experience caused him to beat his daughter so badly she couldn't walk for days. He said he apologized to his child since.

When he transitions from this life he wants his epitaph to read, in part, that he fought a good fight.

"We went to war and we made it," he said. "I hope it never happens again to another child in state custody."

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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