Authorities investigate allegations of inappropriate behavior at Florida youth academy

Several law enforcement agencies are investigating allegations concerning inappropriate behavior involving a cadet and an employee at the Florida Youth Challenge Academy in Starke.

STARKE, Fla. – Several law enforcement agencies are investigating allegations concerning inappropriate behavior involving a cadet and an employee at the Florida Youth Challenge Academy in Starke.

The academy is a program that helps troubled teens. Back in the spring, the program started to receive concerns about an inappropriate relationship that involved a cadet and potentially two contracted employees, who no longer work for the academy.

According to the state Department of Military Affairs, a mother learned about the alleged inappropriate relationship from her daughter who was attending the camp. The mother then reported the incident to academy officials.

The academy said it referred the incident to the “appropriate state and local authorities for due process.” New4JAX reached out to the academy to learn more about the investigation.

“The Department of Military Affairs and FLYCA leadership are committed to cooperating with law enforcement for the duration of this investigation and will continue doing everything possible to ensure the safety of our FLYCA cadets,” the Florida Youth Academy said in a statement.

We received the following statement from Deputy Communications Director William Manley:

“The Florida Department of Military Affairs (DMA) is aware of an ongoing investigation involving two Athena contractors who previously worked at the Florida Youth Challenge Academy (FLCYA). While we cannot comment on active investigations, we can confirm that the accused individuals have been banned from the FLYCA campus. This matter has been referred to the appropriate state and local authorities for due process. The DMA and FLYCA leadership are committed to cooperating with law enforcement for the duration of this investigation and will continue doing everything possible to ensure the safety of our FLYCA cadets,” Manley said.

The two former workers accused in this incident were sourced from a staffing company called Athena Staffing. News4JAX visited their office and called to get more information on the former employers, but no one answered.

It appears that the staffing company is still recruiting others to work for the academy.

The FLYCA is a program a part of the National Guard Youth Program which includes over 20 sites around the country. FLYCA has a 5-month residential program for troubled youth, followed by a 12-month mentor program.

The Department of Military Affairs agreed to send more details on the allegations and investigation. We will provide updates as that information is brought to us.


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