Originally created 09/21/00

Authorities shut down boy's home



Authorities took custody of 10 residents of the Winner's Circle Group Home on Wednesday, shutting down the home for troubled boys after more allegations surfaced of sex between boys and a counselor.

Bucking efforts by the South Carolina Department of Social Services to work with home administrators to correct recent problems, the Aiken County Sheriff's Office used its legal authority to remove the juvenile residents "from a situation that could be potentially harmful to them," sheriff's spokesman Lt. Michael Frank said.

The boys were split up and taken to various agencies, including foster care, mental health facilities and the Department of Juvenile Justice, Lt. Frank said. At least one boy was returned to his family.

There have been a rash of problems since the home opened last year. Most recently, sheriff's officials arrested two female counselors - one for statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy and another for beating up a resident and ordering other residents to attack the boy. On Labor Day, authorities also charged a resident with sexually assaulting another boy and forcing him to perform oral and anal sex on him.

Now, a male counselor is being investigated for allegedly having sex with at least one of the boys.

"All of those reports have had a cumulative effect that has led us to this point, and so we are investigating the operating practices of the home to make sure the home runs safely and operates in the best interest of the children who live there," Lt. Frank said.

"Law enforcement (has the authority) to go in and remove children from a situation that could be potentially harmful to them. We certainly don't want it to get to that point."

There is no indication the home's license to operate has been revoked, but its future remains in doubt.