Department of Juvenile Justice is investigating allegations of abuse by other campers and by a counselor against a teen who was in the camp.
7News spoke with the teen’s mother, we are keeping her identity hidden to protect her son.
The woman says that her son arrived at Camp White Pines on March 30th after she asked for him to be entered into the family court system due to behavior issues.
After being at the Upstate Evaluation Center, he was placed at Camp White Pines, because they thought it would be a good behavioral fit, said his mother.
The 15-year-old arrived on Wednesday, March 30th. On Sunday, the mother received a call from a supervisor saying her son had tried to escape the facility, but that he hadn’t made it out of entrance.
Meanwhile we learned that the Union County Sheriff’s Office was called out to a neighbor’s home across the street from the facility, after the teen ran all the way down his driveway and hid behind a truck, according to neighbors.
The neighbors then told the Sheriff’s Office that the teen was beat by other teens at the facility and dragged back into the camp.
The Sheriff’s Office took photos of the teen’s face, that are not available to the public.
The teen’s mother says that the child was then choked and beaten by a counselor, and thrown across the room and then thrown in a shower, a towel put in his mouth, and then continued to be beat.
The Sheriff’s Office says it wasn’t until 12 hours later from when the teen escaped that he was given medical attention. We asked White Pines Executive Director Ronnell Furgeson why he wasn’t taken sooner, he said it was because the teen wasn’t bleeding badly at the time.
The teen’s mother says the hospital examination revealed the teen had a concussion, a broken nose, popped blood vessels and other bruises.
Brianna Smith visited the camp on Monday after we heard about his escape, the teen told his mother he saw Brianna standing outside the administration office and that they wouldn’t let her see his face. When Brianna asked about the beating outside of the facility, Furgeson told Brianna that it didn’t happen that the teen had tripped.
The teen was transferred to another facility on Monday hours away, without his mother being informed.
The Sheriff’s report triggered an investigation from DJJ in Columbia. The camp is now under investigation by DJJ and a counselor has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation.
AMI hired all the employees for these facilities and said that they are background checked like all DJJ employees and also receive training from DJJ and AMI.
We visited DJJ in Columbia hoping to get answers to several questions, after not receiving answers to phone calls for 4 days, they asked us to leave the property.
DJJ said they would give us answers to our questions today, we still haven’t heard back.
We have asked for a sit-down interview with the director to address these issues at a later date.