Former Georgia DJJ Officer Arrested for Alleged Sexual Assault of 14-Year-Old in Custody

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Interior, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center

A former Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) corrections officer was arrested Wednesday for alleged sex crimes that occurred while she was a staff member at the Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDC) in Gainesville.

Ardith Brown faces charges of felony child molestation and sexual assault against persons in custody. Brown was removed from duty at the RYDC and suspended in January after other corrections officers alerted a DJJ Safety and Security Team to evidence of officer misconduct during an unannounced inspection. She was terminated February 2 following a DJJ internal investigation into allegations Brown had an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old RYDC resident in DJJ custody.

The Gainesville RYDC was the first DJJ secure facility to receive a surprise facility inspection after Commissioner L. Gale Buckner began a system-wide security sweep crackdown following a homicide at the Augusta YDC campus last November.

“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 Buckner in an statement released late Wednesday.

She added, “We’re wasting no time recommending criminal prosecution wherever evidence is found and prosecution is warranted to remove officer misconduct from our ranks and protect Georgia’s youth in detention.”

Buckner predicted more misconduct violations would come to light as the statewide internal investigation continues. She also promised more prosecutions.

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

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Ryan Schill

Ryan Schill is the editor of the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. In 2012 he wrote a comics journalism piece about the ongoing U.S. immigration debate, published in partnership with Cartoon Movement. His 2011 story about a case of misdiagnosed child abuse won first place in the non-deadline writing category of the Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Awards for Excellence in Journalism. Ryan is completing his MA in professional writing at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, and has a BS in media studies. His research interests include experimental journalism forms, journalism ethics and philosophy, theories of literary journalism and the intersections of social justice and journalism.