Advocate says Dollar boy is taken from foster home

Date: 2005-03-05

JIM ROSS
St. Petersburg Times

Authorities have removed one of the Dollar children from his foster home, according to a community member who is helping the youngsters.

Joanne Bartell said she didn't know why the 16-year-old boy was taken or where he is living now.

But she said, "I have heard a lot of disturbing things about foster care with more than one of the children."

Bartell is the head of a trust fund formed to benefit the Dollar children. The seven children, ages 12 to 17, have been in foster care since late January.

Authorities say their parents, John and Linda Dollar, tortured five of the seven children, using starvation, isolation, a cattle prod and pliers, among other techniques and tools. The parents face multiple felony counts and are at the Citrus County jail awaiting trial.

The 16-year-old boy was the subject of an emergency hearing that was held in mid February. At that time, officials said only that an urgent medical matter was discussed at the hearing, which was closed to the public.

Because they are juveniles, state officials have not released the children's names.

Bartell previously called on the state to find a professional guardian to oversee the children's care. That hasn't happened, but she was pleased when a judge appointed local lawyer Jack Moring earlier this week to represent the children's legal interests.

"I feel that it's a step in the right direction" to appoint "someone who knows how to get things done in these circumstances," Bartell said.

Sheriff Jeff Dawsy said Friday that he wasn't familiar with the Dollar children's status in foster care. "My investigators have talked to Kids Central and DCF (Department of Children and Families)" to make sure the children "have good medical care and psychological care," Dawsy said.

Kids Central is the private consortium that manages child welfare in Citrus and four neighboring counties.

During a news conference this week, two lawyers who represent the oldest Dollar child, Shanda Rae Shelton, complained about the way the DCF and the Guardian Ad Litem's Office have handled the younger Dollar children.

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