• Questions raised about foster care process after girl, 12, reports sexual abuse


    MARION COUNTY, Fla. - A case of alleged child sex abuse in Marion County is raising questions about the Department of Children and Families and the foster care process.

    A 12-year-old girl told investigators she was sexually abused for years by a man while she was in DCF custody.

    James Strawder, 30, is facing charges for the allegations.

    DCF officials said the teen was placed in custody of her aunt and the aunt’s boyfriend, Strawder, in 2010 after being removed from her parents for alleged drug abuse.

    “With her living with them he began the sexual abuse and battery,” said Lauren Lettelier of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

    According to reports, the abuse began soon after the victim moved in.

    She told investigators she was forced to perform sex acts as often as once a week.

    She said Strawder had a special place in the home where he would abuse her, and he would tell her to, “go to her spot.”

    Eventually the aunt and boyfriend broke up, and he moved out.

    With him out of the house, the victim said the abuse stopped.

    However, when the aunt and Strawder began to work things out, the victim decided to come forward.

    “One of her concerns is that this individual would come back and live with them and she wanted to tell someone,” Lettelier said.

    DCF officials said they perform background checks on all caregivers and after placement, there is six-month placement supervision.

    During that time, children and caregivers are seen at least every 30 days.

    They also said caregivers should be vigilant in knowing who is watching their child.

    Strawder was arrested and booked into the Marion County Jail.

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