JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The director of a group home for foster children in Jacksonville is charged with child neglect and failure to report child abuse. According to court documents obtained by News4Jax, the director tried to cover up an allegation of molestation at the group home.
Torrance Gary, 48, the director of the IKARE facility on the Westside, was released on a $25,000 bond.
According to investigators, employees were reviewing surveillance video of the alleged incident when Gary told them not to report it.
Police were called to the facility on Nov. 20 to investigate a report of lewd molestation on a child, the report said. One of the employees, who is now a key witness, said she was alerted to the incident by another employee who heard a child scream on surveillance video. News4Jax is not identifying her.
"She reported it to me, then I called my director, (who) was Torrance Gary," she said. "I called him and he said he was going to come over and talk to me."
She said the director told her and her co-worker not to write an incident report.
"I quit five days after the incident, and I reported it after I left," she said.
A detective noted in the arrest affidavit that the surveillance video showed a possible lewd molestation, but that employees said the video had been altered. The detective also stated there appeared to be a 30 second time gap in the video.
"It had been edited to where the non-verbal kid screamed," the employee said. "You see the staff walk out, but there had to be a motive to why the staff walked out when the kid screamed."
According to the affidavit, the witnesses had previously seen the video in its entirety and saw the molestation. The affidavit said the molestation itself was investigated separately, and involves a separate suspect.
News4Jax went to Gary's home for comment but could not get past the security gates.
Employees say Gary is a former Miami Police detective, which is why News4Jax not been able to obtain his mug shot.
A spokesperson for Family Support Services of Northeast Florida said the facility is licensed by the Department of Children and Families. The spokesperson said it is a home available to all foster youth in the state of Florida and it is a licensed placement option for Family Support Services of North Florida for foster children with special needs. Family Support Services told News4Jax that upon notification from DCF that abuse reports had been received, the organization immediately made the decision to seek safe alternate placement options for its children in the group home, and they were removed.
It's unclear if Gary is still the director.