University of South Florida researchers will request a permit from the state archaeologist to exhume bodies from more than 50 unmarked graves at the former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.
That's according to Attorney General Pam Bondi, who issued a statement Friday announcing the move, which came after a meeting with interested parties, she said.
Last week, a judge in Jackson County denied a request for a court order to allow the exhumation, saying state law already gives a medical examiner authority to do so. He added that for remains interred more than 75 years, the state archaeologist has jurisdiction over their removal.
In recent years, several hundred men have come forward with stories of sexual abuse, extreme beatings from school staff and tales of classmates who disappeared. Their claims have led to efforts by state officials and others to figure out just what went on at the Dozier School, which the Department of Juvenile Justice closed in 2011.
But some area residents have fought such efforts, trying to discredit the men and stop the exhumations to protect the reputation of locals and those who ran the school.
A state permit, under which USF anthropologists have tried to pinpoint where the graves are and who is buried in them, is enough for them to continue their work, Circuit Judge William Wright said. If they unearth human remains, the medical examiner would have the authority to investigate.