A Florida teenager who spent more than a year in a detention center for bullying because her parents sued over her treatment is receiving federal aid.
Kristen Anderson spent months in the Collier County Jail before she was released after her parents agreed to a settlement that would provide her with a new job and school in Collier, Fla., according to a court filing.
She is one of about 30 young people who filed a lawsuit in February over what the plaintiffs called abuse by Collier police officers.
Anderson was not arrested or charged with a crime and is not a defendant in the lawsuit, the documents state.
But in an effort to prevent her from being bullied, the plaintiffs allege Collier Police Department officers subjected Anderson to physical and verbal abuse during her two-year stint in the jail, including threats of rape and a sexual assault.
Anderson’s mother, Jennifer Anderson, said she was forced to sign a release that said she could not contact her daughter or talk to her outside the jail.
The release, Anderson’s mother said, was made in an attempt to avoid the lawsuit.
Collier Police Chief Mike Schumann said he could not comment on pending litigation.
He said Anderson has not been formally charged with any crime.
Colliers lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Anderson, a 15-year-old senior at Collier High School, spent her first year in the county jail for “bully” and other offenses that would have resulted in a criminal charge, according to court documents.
Collier is a large, predominantly black suburb that includes Palm Beach County, and many black and Latino residents of Collier are on the streets, according the lawsuit filed by Anderson’s father and her mother.
Her father, Joseph Anderson, filed a civil lawsuit against Collier and the city of Colliers last year, alleging the department and police officers “exceeded their authority and violated Ms. Anderson’s rights” by using excessive force and arresting her and others, the lawsuit states.
In his lawsuit, JosephAnderson said the department “conducted a racially discriminatory and abusive policing policy, using excessive and discriminatory force against Plaintiff’s family, including, but not limited to, her father, and their children.”
The lawsuit also accused Collier of “failing to provide adequate training for Collier Officers, including the use of non-stop and non-credible false arrest and false imprisonment techniques.”
Collier police have been accused of violating the constitutional rights of many people over the years, including a black teenager who was arrested and charged with battery and was eventually released without charges.
A white man who was accused of trying to rape a white woman was convicted in 2011 after prosecutors said the officer mistook him for a woman.
The Collier lawsuit says the city is also under “unprecedented scrutiny” and that Collier has received “a series of awards” for its use of force and law enforcement since 2013.
Collies lawyer said that while the case has yet to be decided by the judge in the case, the Colliers are “very pleased” with the settlement.
The case was filed by Kristina Meeks, a senior at University of Florida and a member of the Collar County NAACP chapter.