Child abuse charges dropped in Heritage Boys Academy case

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Panama City - A local judge has dropped the charges against three men accused of child abuse at a special school. The Department of Children and Families shut down the Heritage Boys Academy in Bayou George in June after several teens claimed they were beaten. But Friday the judge ruled there was not enough evidence to support the allegations.

Complete vindication. That's how members of the Maynard family describe their feelings after a judge dropped the charges against Clayton and Russell Maynard as well as Robert Unger.

The Maynard family provided WJHG with video of nearly 150 people singing and holding signs in front of Bay County courthouse Friday morning, in support of the men and the Heritage Boys Academy were they worked.

Clayton Carl Maynard was the director of the academy, a 24 hour home for troubled boys. The crowd cheered as all three men were cleared of all charges. It's some consolation for the family which suffered a lot of damage when the allegations first arose. They say they're thankful this is now behind them.

"We felt like in the court of public opinion, especially, when the news gets out people don't know what to think, people wonder is there truth to this, then new evidence comes to light so it is wonderful to see these men, my father, my brother and my dear friend, the assistant director of the school Robert Unger, to see that come to light and to see them vindicated," said Clay Maynard, the Maynard family spokesman.

Maynard says the school did use corporal punishment, but followed the Florida statutes which regulate public schools.

More than a dozen people lost their jobs when the Heritage school closed.

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