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Former Gainesville juvenile corrections officer jailed
Woman charged with sex crimes against 14-year-old
0316juvenile-Ardith  Laurette  Brown
Ardith Brown

A former employee of the Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center has been charged with two felonies - both for alleged sex crimes against a 14-year-old resident.

Ardith Brown, a former juvenile corrections officer in the detention center, was charged with child molestation and sexual assault against persons in custody, following an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

On Tuesday, the GBI took out warrants for Brown.
The trial date has not been announced.

Gainesville facility director Gary Payne deferred comments to the Department of Juvenile Justice's central office.

The charges come in the wake of a "surprise inspection" of the 27 juvenile detention centers in the state, starting with the Gainesville facility.

Jim Shuler, the department's director of communications, said the "safety and security inspection task force," charged with the statewide inspection, found some "deficiencies" at the Gainesville campus.

"The inspection task force found undisclosed safety and security deficiencies at the Gainesville RYDC and gave specific instructions for them to be corrected," said Shuler.

That investigation, he said, led to information about the staff misconduct with residents.

"As a result of our surprise inspections at all 27 Georgia juvenile detention centers, we've observed many of our juvenile corrections officers become more diligent in monitoring youth activity at all our facilities," said L. Gale Buckner, DJJ commissioner. "That's how this current misconduct evidence originally came to our attention."

Brown was released from her position on Feb. 2 following an internal investigation into "allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old resident."

The Justice Department began the "systemwide security sweep crackdown" in the state's facilities following a teen homicide at the Augusta YDC campus.

That investigation involves violations of physical abuse of inmates, as well as personnel smuggling contraband into the facility.

Buckner predicts more violations across the state will come to light and hopes the prosecution of Brown will curb future misconduct.

"We want this action to serve as a strong deterrent and we welcome this opportunity to help local authorities prosecute these crimes against the children in our care and custody," Buckner said.

Those unannounced investigations will continue.


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