A 7-year-old Dade City boy reported this week that he had been sexually assaulted by another boy in a wing for emotionally troubled youths at the Human Development Center.
On Thursday, a 15-year-old boy from Lutz was arrested in the case. He told detectives that when he was younger, someone had sexually battered him as well, records show.
According to an arrest affidavit, the younger boy said that about 9:30 p.m., he was forced to perform sexual acts on the older boy while they were in the restroom.
When it was over, the older boy reportedly said, "Don't you tell anybody or I'll choke you and kill you with a plastic knife."
Another boy allegedly witnessed the incident while hiding behind a shower curtain, but did nothing to help the 7-year-old, according to Dr. Antoni Sulikowski of the center, which provides psychiatric, counseling and substance abuse services for youths and adults.
"We could not figure out why (the witness) was there," Sulikowski said. "He hid behind the curtain but didn't do anything but observe the incident."
The wing where the incident occurred houses seriously troubled children.
"Basically, these kids are either psychotic, threatening to kill themselves or to hurt others, and can't be controlled," Sulikowski said.
The restrooms are segregated by gender, and before Wednesday's incident, they often were unsupervised, Sulikowski said. Now, youths in the facility must go into the restrooms one at a time after asking a center staff member to let them inside.
The 15-year-old charged with sexual battery was placed in the county's Juvenile Detention Center in San Antonio. The 7-year-old stayed Thursday at the center, but then was transferred to Charter Hospital, Sulikowski said.
Nurses and other staff members at the center spoke with the 7-year-old boy, telling him not to blame himself for the incident, as rape victims often do, Sulikowski said.
"Surprisingly, for a kid, he's bouncing back really well," he said. "He's a bouncing, cheerful kid. You and I will probably be depressed by this for a while, but he seems to be okay."