Date:March 8, 2015; Folos: March 15, 22; May 3, 31; July 26
Treasure Coast Newspapers' reporter Melissa E. Holsman began investigating Martin Girls Academy after hearing from prosecutors, defense attorneys and others concerned with the sometimes brutal violence being reported at the facility since it opened in 2008. Records detail multiple assaults victimizing youth and, more often, employees. The monthslong research included reviewing hundreds of arrest and assault documents, juvenile justice reports, Department of Children and Families abuse records, videos capturing assaults at the complex and personal interviews with current and former staff, attorneys and state officials. Melissa found such a high level of violence within the facility that it is a safety hazard to employees and to the girls themselves. The violence also is costing Martin County taxpayers thousands of dollars annually.