On Aug. 6, 2014, a 15-year-old walked into his therapist’s office at the Palmetto Youth Academy and posed a troubling question: What, exactly, does “sexual abuse” mean?
For two weeks, youth care worker Leroy Donnell Bostic Jr. had watched the boy fondle himself in bed, and showed the teen pornography on a contraband cellphone, a police report said. Bostic also had touched the boy while he was showering, the youth told his counselor.
“He said he was unsure if what the defendant was doing was, in fact, sexual abuse,” police reported. “He said he didn’t like it, but felt bad for accepting the use of the phone and other privileges — such as non-facility food — he was given for allowing the defendant’s behavior.
“He said he was afraid he was going to get the defendant in trouble, and really didn’t want to, because, the lewd behavior notwithstanding, he was nice to everyone.”
It took police only four days to answer the boy’s question and they did so emphatically. The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office charged Bostic with five counts of sexual battery by a person in position of control, lewd and lascivious molestation, providing pornography to a minor and solicitation or use of a child in a sexual performance.
He said he was afraid he was going to get the defendant in trouble, and really didn’t want to, because, the lewd behavior notwithstanding, he was nice to everyone. -From police report
He pleaded guilty to all five charges this past February, and is currently in prison with an expected release date of Aug. 6, 2023.
Bostic had a history of taking jobs where boys were sequestered. At prior stops, molestation accusations or other disturbing allegations followed.
In 2004, Bostic was a caregiver at a Bradenton youth psychiatric hospital. The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office was told Bostic had fondled himself in front of a 17-year-old, and that he offered to bring in pornographic pictures. Bostic volunteered to the boy that he “and his cousins masturbated together,” the teen said. Police concluded the kid was lying.
After Bostic’s arrest in 2014, investigators received an anonymous letter. From 2013 to 2014, the letter stated, Bostic was a caregiver at a Clearwater group home for developmentally disabled boys aged 9 to 17. During that time, the letter writer said, “many suspicious things occurred, and some of the boys began to act out sexually.”
After leaving there, Bostic went to work for the Palmetto Youth Academy, a high-risk drug treatment program just south of Tampa Bay. When police arrested him on charges that he sexually abused delinquent teens, he had another job working as a caregiver for disabled children.
Bostic might still be working with troubled kids if the 15-year-old, who lives in Broward County, hadn’t asked his counselor for the definition of sexual abuse. The investigation that followed uncovered a disturbing pattern of behavior that prosecutors later called the signet of a “sexual predator.”
Investigators say Bostic had left in his wake at least two victims. One boy said Bostic, then 34, had repeatedly performed oral sex on him — and had garnered a reputation across the youth facility as a “creeper.”
Initiation into illicit acts
The 15-year-old said his initiation into illicit conduct began one night when Bostic caught him fondling himself in bed. He tried to cover himself up with a bedsheet, but Bostic “came over and grabbed his penis and said ‘I’ll tear it off,’ ” a police report said.
The encounter morphed into a nightly ritual. Bostic would permit the teen to use the officer’s cellphone, which is forbidden, and view porn on it, which is especially forbidden. In return, the teen would allow Bostic to watch him fondle himself at night, a police report said.
Bostic might still be working with troubled kids if the 15-year-old, who lives in Broward county, hadn’t asked his counselor for the definition of sexual abuse.
Bostic, he added, touched the youth’s penis and buttocks in a lewd manner.
Detectives interviewed one of the 15-year-old’s friends. He confirmed much of the story, and added this: Bostic had been watching him at night, too, as well as in the shower. And not just watching.
Bostic bought a tube of “commercial sex lubricant” for the 17-year-old friend — “Platinum Wet” premium silicone lubricant in a black container, which deputies seized. “The youth said Bostic entered his room and applied some of the lubricant ... and then Bostic placed his hand around the youth’s penis and began to masturbate him,” a DJJ report said.
“I don’t roll like that,” the 17-year-old replied, removing the worker’s hand.
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One night, Bostic took the older boy to the laundry room, a Department of Juvenile Justice report said, and made him “stand guard” at the doorway while Bostic fondled himself. Bostic “called out” to the boy so he could watch.
Detectives thought that was the extent of his misconduct. But that night, the 17-year-old told his mother about his talk with police, initially leaving out details. “She could tell that he was not telling her the whole story. He said she was right, and he broke down and told her the rest of the details,” police reported, “and now wanted to tell [detectives] as well.”
The “details”: Bostic performed oral sex on him “around 10 times.” Bostic asked the boy to perform oral sex on him, but he refused, a DJJ report said. Bostic asked the boy to engage in other sex acts, which he also refused to do.
A sex toy and ‘weed’
The boy told a detective Bostic had performed oral sex on him three times on the night of Aug. 2, 2014. Surveillance video from that evening showed Bostic entering the youth’s room as many as 10 times, and remaining there as long as six minutes, as the boy claimed.
The nocturnal visits all occurred after the hour when all the program’s detainees were supposed to be locked in their rooms for the night. Nobody seems to have noticed the illicit activities.
Detectives interviewed one of the 15-year-old’s friends. He confirmed much of the story, and added this: Bostic had been watching him at night, too, as well as in the shower. and not just watching.
Bostic had given the older boy a sex toy, which workers at the youth academy found in another dorm room, after it had been passed around. And detectives found evidence that Bostic had accessed porn sites on his Samsung Galaxy during work hours. Detectives also found a photo of one of the boys on Bostic’s phone.
Police said Bostic told the 17-year-old he’d give him “weed” to smoke following his release, as well as money and the chance to drive Bostic’s car. “He said the defendant told him that he would kill him if he ever told anyone about any of this,” the police report says.
The teen claimed Bostic had also given him contraband food, the police report said, including a honey bun from the workers’ vending machine. The 17-year-old saved the wrapper and gave it to police.
[This story was originally published by the Miami Herald.]