Florida abuse hotline glitch blocks hundreds of cases from being reported

News 6 uncovers 1,500 reports not sent to law enforcement

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Hundreds of reports of sexual and physical abuse made to the state of Florida's abuse hotline were not sent to law enforcement over a period of months, according to records obtained by News 6.

A spokesman for the Department of Children and Families said the agency learned on Saturday that a link connecting the Florida Safe Families Network (the abuse hotline) with the Florida Crime Investigation Information Center had stopped working after a software update in February.

"A Feb. 4 software update to the connection between FSFN and FCIC caused an error which slowed the release of electronic notifications to sheriff’s offices and created a backlog of electronic notifications," DCF spokesman David Frady said.

That backlog contained approximately 1,500 reports of physical and sexual abuse that were not released to investigators.

At least two of them were reported in Volusia County.

Volusia County sheriff's investigators said one of the cases was in the Volusia County Courthouse.

According to an incident report, two teenage girls being held by the juvenile justice center were left alone in March, and they were caught kissing and touching one another sexually.

Another case happened in February at a residential behavior center in Daytona Beach.

Sheriff's investigators looked into allegations that a 16-year-old boy woke up in the middle of the night to find another resident performing a sex act on him.

News 6 learned that both cases were reported to the Florida abuse hotline, and in both cases, authorities were not alerted by DCF about the abuse until April 29.

Frady said some of the 1,500 cases might have been called in to law enforcement directly, but others might not have been.

He said the agency is taking steps to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.

"The department is working with the software vendor to implement an alert system to notify the department any time a backlog is created in the future," he said. "The department is continuing to work with our partners in law enforcement to appropriately investigate these allegations, and we remain committed to ensuring the safety of all children and vulnerable adults in Florida."

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