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18-02-13 Sexual Abuse at Tallahassee Homeless Shelter

18-02-13 Sexual Abuse at Tallahassee Homeless Shelter

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Published by William J Greenberg

Seriously, a staff member - a person with some authority - was propositioning me - no, better yet, PREYING on a woman he KNOWS is in a vulnerable situation. A woman comes to The Shelter to escape the insecurity of the streets, not to be thrown to the wolves. Now I know why he let me stay and kicked the older woman out. He didn't want to get in her pants.

Seriously, a staff member - a person with some authority - was propositioning me - no, better yet, PREYING on a woman he KNOWS is in a vulnerable situation. A woman comes to The Shelter to escape the insecurity of the streets, not to be thrown to the wolves. Now I know why he let me stay and kicked the older woman out. He didn't want to get in her pants.

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Published by: William J Greenberg on Feb 19, 2013
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09/17/2013

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Home> I Went Undercover at a Homeless Shelter -- You Wouldn't Believe the Shocking Abuses I FoundThere
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By 
 
[2] 
I Went Undercover at a Homeless Shelter -- You Wouldn't Believe the ShockingAbuses I Found There
February 18, 2013
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Editor's note: This post originally appeared onTallahassee Grapevi ne.
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Aninvestigation has been launched into allegations of abuse at the shelter. 
[4] 
I work with the homeless every day at City Walk (and I mean Every Day, onSundays when we are closed, my husband and I take a group of them tochurch.) One of my biggest goals is to show them God's love for them, thatthere is hope, that they have value and they can overcome this trial in their lifeand get back on their feet.We have a group of guys that stay at The Shelter that come every day toescape the drama of that area of town. They love to come help and pass thetime blessing other people. We help them apply for jobs online or in person,counsel them and figure out where they need to be (sometimes this involvesletting them work off a bus ticket back to family.)Whenever I first heard complaints about The Shelter, I shrugged it off. Ifiguredof course they are going to complain about it. It is not supposed to beClub Med, but a place to sleep outside of the elements. If it was toocomfortable, people would not be motivated enough to leave.But as time went on, the complaints started coming from different sourcesabout the same things. We give out backpacks, clothes and blankets at CityWalk. I kept seeing the same faces come back for blankets or backpacks.
 
When I ask them what happened to their other blanket or backpack, they tellme that staff at The Shelter threw them away. After getting this "excuse" 10 times a week for several weeks, I decided toinquire with my daily volunteers. They told me that they won't let you bringyour own blanket. I figured it must be so people can't sneak in any drugs,alcohol or weapons.Many of the guys sleep outside under the polebarn, which is fenced in onShelter property. They told me that they are not allowed to bring their backpacks inside when they go eat. When they come back out to the polebarntheir backpacks were collected by staff and thrown in the dumpster.Many of these backpacks contained all the men had to their name, includingimportant documents like their Birth Certificate, and photos and letters fromloved ones.The last straw was Sunday morning when we picked up 4 of the guys for church. I asked them how they slept and they all said lousy. Their blanketswere taken away and staff would not issue any of the 42 men that sleptoutside a blanket at check-in.When one of the men went back up to tell staff that they all needed blankets,the staff member yelled at all the guys, "You are not getting blankets tonightand I don't care if you all freeze to death!"This irritated me, but I know there are two sides to every story. As I inquiredwith others, the stories matched up too well. I also know that many goodcitizens of Tallahassee go out of their way to donate blankets to City Walk or directly to The Shelter, so to deny the men a blanket is spiteful to the rest of us whodonate. It's funny they don't have any problem collecting their paycheck paid for from our donations and tax dollars.So I decided to go undercover and see for myself what it was like for a womento check herself into the Tallahassee Shelter.Since many of the staff has seen me around there giving out blankets andBibles, I knew I had to disguise myself. I put on an auburn wig that made myhair shorter and a baseball cap.
 
Sunday night, as I entered the area to check-in, an older black womanentered right behind me. The male staff member behind the counter yelled atthe woman,"You're late for check-in, you have to sleep outside tonight!"The woman walked out. I wondered why he let me in as she walked in rightbehind me.He asked me if I had been there before. I told him no. He asked for my name.I made one up. He asked me for my phone number. I thought that was odd soI made one up. He told me to wait outside.I went out with the other ladies and children and a few minutes later he cameout. He told me that the phone number I gave him did not work.I told him it was dead and I needed to charge it.He said, "Okay, well here is my number. Call me and we can hook up later tonight."Did I just get propositioned by a staff member? I was infuriated but did notwant to break my cover.I answered, "Nah, man, I just need some food and some sleep.""You don't want to sleep in there. It's dangerous. You can come sleep at myplace. We can stop at McDonald's."Seriously, a staff member - a person with some authority - was propositioningme - no, better yet, PREYING on a woman he KNOWS is in a vulnerablesituation. A woman comes to The Shelter to escape the insecurity of thestreets, not to be thrown to the wolves. Now I know why he let me stay andkicked the older woman out. He didn't want to get in her pants.I wanted to stall him so I asked for a drink of water. He came back with hisown half-drank bottled water for me.He propositioned me again. He said, "It's not safe in there for women. You arebetter off coming home with me. I get off at 11:45. Just meet me in thatparking lot over there."I wanted him to leave me alone so I told him I would go with him later.

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