Two men have been arrested and a total of 36 children have been removed, after the Alabama Department of Human Resources and Mobile Police Department officials conducted a criminal abuse investigation at two youth residential facilities.
The facilities that DHR spokesman Barry Spear said could be classified as boarding schools under the department’s definition, were operated by Saving Youth Foundation. MPD arrested the organization’s Founder and CEO, John Young Jr, on a traffic warrant. Police also arrested an employee named William Knott, on three outstanding traffic warrants and a warrant for domestic violence in the third degree, from the Prichard Police Department, according to a statement from MPD Chief James Barber.
Mobile Police, DHR and Mobile County Health Department officials conducted an investigation first at a facility for girls at 770 Sullivan St., after the MPD received a complaint alleging abuse, according to Barber’s statement.
Officials found enough evidence to remove all 15 residents from the location, according to the statement.
The health department found code violations, such as a sewage leak near the kitchen, food being improperly stored and expired food at the facility, according to the statement.
Police and DHR then conducted an investigation at 1260 Spring Hill Ave., at a male youth residential facility reported to be managed by the same organization. Once again, investigators found enough evidence to remove 21 residents from that facility, according to the statement. Young and Knott were at the Spring Hill Avenue facility when they were arrested, according to the statement.
The criminal abuse investigation is ongoing.
Spear said under DHR policy, relatives of the children involved are notified when they are removed from a residential facility. He said if relatives are unavailable then the child is put into the foster care system.
Spear said the facilities weren’t licensed through DHR, but added it’s unclear if they were licensed through another state department. Michael Sibley, Communications Director with the Alabama Department of Education, said the facility would not be licensed through that department, as it is not a public school.
Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich said her office was still in the process of determining under which authority the facilities were licensed.
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