One woman’s fight to protect a sexually exploited child.

One woman’s fight to protect a sexually exploited child.

In late September, my mother Sharon Russ of St. Petersburg FL became the unofficial caretaker and protector of Aliya Brown, a four year old African American girl whose home life was completely out of control. Aliya, who suffers from asthma, is a victim of an inadequate Florida system which cannot, or refuses to shield children from sexual predators. Aliya has been dragged from place to place by her drug addicted mother, exposed to crack houses, and used as a sexual slave. Aliya needs rescuing before it’s too late. Her life is in grave danger.

To feed her mother’s drug habit, Aliya is sexually exploited by the property manager of apartment complex Whitehall Gardens in exchange for free housing. Aliya’s father is an alcoholic who when inebriated is aggressive to the point where Aliya fears to be left alone with him. Aliya wishes for a normal and stable life with a loving family who will not exploit her. Aliya needs the system to come her defense. She is a child who needs protection but the reality is she has no method to acquire protection. Joy Bowden, the property manager will do anything to have access to Aliya Brown. My mother poses as a threat to her obtaining complete access to the child. Therefore, she does not want my mother on the property. She knows that the owner will support her and that none of the residence will make a fuss.

Out of concern for Aliya’s life, my mother made numerous calls to The Florida Abuse Registry Hotline. She contacted the Department of Children and Families who informed her that they were investigating the situation. She even made calls to The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. So far nothing has been done and Aliya remains in danger. The shameful reality is the system could care less for young Aliya Brown who remains in harms way despite numerous complaints by my mother.

Aliya’s mother Shona Brown is a parolee and a crack addict. Shona Brown has been in and out of Aliya’s life since she was born. Aliya’s drunken father was recently given full custody of the child by The Department of Children and Families. Shona mother was ordered not to be left alone with the child yet she remains in the home with Aliya. Aliya’s parent’s reside together with in an apartment paid for by the property manager Joy Bowden who supports Shona Brown’s drug habit in exchange for sexual favors from young Aliya.

Joy Bowden, the property manager of White Hall Gardens is a known sexual predator who even offered to purchase Aliya outright from her mother on one occasion. She has managed to slip under the radar for many years choosing to exploit African American children whose parents are drug addicted or absent. Bowden is under investigation for numerous human rights violation as manager of Whitehall Gardens. She has been protected and given free reign by the absentee owner Donald Jacobsen to do whatever she desires as long as the rent is collected. Due to fear of retaliation of eviction, many of the residents at Whitehall Garden’s are afraid to take action. As a result their living conditions have worsened and their human rights continue to be violated. A word to describe Whitehall Garden’s would be a plantation where Joy Bowden is an overseer.

The Department of Children and Families as well as the local authorities have been informed numerous times by my mother, but refuse to take action. Donald Jacobsen, the absentee owner of Whitehall Gardens, was notified by both the local authorities and my mother of the situation. I spoke with Donald Jacobsen after an invasion of my mother’s home orchestrated by Joy Bowden in April and he gave me his word that he would have Joy Bowden removed as property manager. So far he is yet to follow through on his promise and the situation at White Hall gardens has spiraled out of control. Donald Jacobsen has allowed such behavior to continue and will not make an effort to change the situation.

Due to the constant harassment from the property manager my mother filed a complaint with the Department of Human Rights . In good faith she dropped the complaint based on the assurance from property owner Donald Jacobsen that she would not be discriminated against in the future. She since reopened the complaint due to further retaliation. In early April, my mother’s apartment was unlawfully invaded and her belongings were searched and taken out onto the street in grocery buggies. My mother came home to find a deadbolt on her front door. Once the deadbolt was taken off, she entered her apartment to discover all her possession placed in six grocery buggies lined up against the wall of her apartment. It took weeks to remove all the items. The carpet was soiled; the grocery carts were pushed through mud and sand. My mother’s personal items were thrown into the street. Garbage was poured on her clothing. She was forced to throw away most of her clothing because they were badly soiled. The mental anguish she experienced was tremendous. The humiliation of the events made my mother ill. She felt as if she had been violated. This act was another indication of the contempt and disregard for her privacy that she continues to experience at Whitehall Gardens. She is afraid and threatened of what Ms. Bowden may do next. She also worries about the state of Aliya who remains in harms way. She has received harassing calls from Joy Bowden asking her to leave.

A month later Joy Bowden participated in a dubious injunction filed by Cheryl Bidelman, a drug addicted prostitute and grandmother of Aliya Brown. Bowden along with Bidelman attempted to have my mother arrested and removed from her home. Joy Bowden encouraged and assisted Cheryl Bidelman in filing the a dubious injunction. My mother was falsely accused of stalking Cheryl Bidelman after she reported Bieldelman to the police for attempting to buy drugs on Whitehall Garden premises. It was the second time in which Ms. Bowden attempted to have my mother arrested and slandered. Lastly, Cheryl Biedelman accused my mother of physically assaulting her, a claim which was later dismissed.

Because of her constant worry over Aliya, and the harassment caused by Joy Bowden my mother suffers from anxiety; she does not know what may happen to her at the residence from day to day. The property manager has a vendetta against her and will not stop at nothing to destroy her life, peace, and well being. She does not feel safe at her home. She remains under a tremendous amount of stress. She is being treated for self stress related illness due to the conditions where she reside. At this time she is unable to seek new residence. We have communicated frequently with the apartment owner by email. He was well aware of the circumstances involving the manager as well as the abused child.

The Tampa Bay area has a shameful history of failing to protect children from child predators. Due to cheap, substandard investigations, numerous children have died under the supervision of the Florida Department of Children and Families. According to the Florida Child Abuse Death Review, twenty-nine children who had prior involvement with The Department of Children and Families died during 1999. The school system once a safe haven for children has been infiltrated by morally bankrupt teachers who seek haven in environments where children are readily available to satisfy their deviances. In Pinellas County alone during 2001-2005 nearly 100 teachers were accused of sexual misconduct. What this shows is a complete break down in the educational and social service institutions of Florida. This shows an infiltration by pedophiles at the state and local areas and the influence that such beings possess here in Florida. Florida is slowly becoming a safe haven for pedophiles. The reality is that they are organized and protective of their own. Children such as Aliya are more at risk due to their parents addictive natures.

In February 2008, Al Zimmerman of Hillsborough County a spokesman for The Department of Children and Families was arrested for production of child pornography. According to the Tampa Tribune Zimmer met the child through DCF, and paid the child for explicit pictures after the boy ran away from his foster home. What’s more troubling is the rumor that Zimmerman received his post at DCF after receiving a letter of recommendation from Governor Charlie Christ. Another Governor Christ associate, the late St. Petersburg City Council Chairman John Bryan committed suicide after it was reported that he sexually abused two of his adopted daughters. Bryan was a well known pedophile for nearly two decades, yet his behavior was dismissed as only rumors while his victims suffered. We cannot expect The Department of Children and Families, the Pinellas County Sheriff Department, and or our elected officials to save Aliya. They are part of a systematic problem that must be alleviated.

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