Two fired, two suspended at Augusta YDC



Two more staff members have been fired from the Augusta Youth Development Campus, including the recreation director who was let go for sexual misconduct just days after a sexual assault was reported by a youth at the facility.

Charles McGruder was terminated for a “sexual misconduct policy violation involving a resident under the care and custody of the department,” according to a news release.

Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Gale Buckner would not say if the firing was related to the incident reported Saturday night,in which an 18-year-old victim told YDC staff he was assaulted. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has been asked to help with the case, according to Special Agent in Charge Mike Ayers.

That incident is the second report of sexual assault in as many months. In December, Devin Scott Ardoin, 17, was charged with aggravated child molestation after a 14-year-old was sexually assaulted at the facility.

Along with McGruder, juvenile corrections officer Edward Henderson was fired for a “misconduct policy violation involving a resident under the care and custody of the department,” the release said.

Another corrections officer, Steven Whitaker, and a Counselor 3, La Tonya Durden, were suspended with pay. Both were suspended “following an investigation into policy violations regarding contraband.”

Buckner said none of the firings or suspensions were related to the November death of Jade Holder, 19, who was beaten to death in his cell.

“All these individuals remain under investigation,” she said. “Further incident details are being withheld pending the conclusion of both our administration investigation and the criminal investigations that are ongoing.”

These staff changes are in addition to the five staff members fired Dec. 16, two of whom were offered positions at other facilities at a demoted status. Former Director John Brady was fired Dec. 5, and Marlon McCreary Sr., a guard at the facility, was fired Nov. 10.

Heather Gates, another security employee, was suspended with pay Nov. 9 and Capt. Victor Martin was suspended with pay Nov. 10, both for possible employee misconduct. Gates has since resigned.

The facility was placed on lock-down pending an investigation into a missing set of keys.

Buckner said progress has been made since her initial visit in November and the follow-up trip to the facility in December. The remaining Augusta YDC staff members are receiving refresher training courses and the filling of vacant positions is going “smoothly.”

“We still have some inefficiencies that need to be addressed and those are being hit head-on,” she said. “We are still reviewing incidents that I have not discussed today and other personnel issues.”

She said there are other employees under investigation for policy violations that she was not willing to discuss.

“It’s important for me to be able to note to the citizens of this community that as commissioner of Georgia’s Department of Juvenile Justice, no violation of our policies and procedures as it deals with our safety and security of our campus will be tolerated by this administration.”