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Police: Girl's fall, skull fracture at Scientology building was accidental

A view of the Church of Scientology's Flag Building in downtown Clearwater, where a 17-year-old girl fell with the back of her head hitting the marble landing Oct. 15, according to Clearwater police. Police investigated after the Child Protection Investigation Division of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office received a tip about the case. Police concluded the fall was accidental. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
A view of the Church of Scientology's Flag Building in downtown Clearwater, where a 17-year-old girl fell with the back of her head hitting the marble landing Oct. 15, according to Clearwater police. Police investigated after the Child Protection Investigation Division of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office received a tip about the case. Police concluded the fall was accidental. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
Published Oct. 25, 2017

CLEARWATER —The Clearwater Police Department has closed its investigation into a 17-year-old girl who fractured her skull at the Church of Scientology's international headquarters, stating the fall was accidental and nothing criminal took place.

Church video surveillance given to police, and viewed by a Tampa Bay Times reporter, shows the girl walking down a flight of interior stairs Oct. 15 when she stumbled and fell, with the back of her head hitting the marble landing.

The girl, who is from Mexico and studying at Scientology's downtown Flag Building, suffered a bruise to the front of her forehead and a fracture to the back of her skull, according to the police report.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Clearwater Police investigating teenage girl's injury at Scientology headquarters

She was walking down the stairs to lunch with two staff members when she fell. Scientology medical liaison Allen Taft told police the girl was walking around after the fall and stated she did not want medical attention but church staff decided to drive her to the hospital.

The driver bypassed Morton Plant Hospital, which is a mile from the Flag building, and drove to Largo Medical Center four miles away because "the wait time is much shorter at Largo Medical than Morton Plant," Taft told police.

Largo Medical transferred the girl to Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg after performing a CT scan.

The girl's Scientology guardian while she is in Clearwater was with her at the hospital until her parents arrived from Mexico on Oct. 16, according to the police report.

The Child Protection Investigation Division of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office received an anonymous tip on Oct. 16 about the incident. The CPI investigator, which handles the child welfare component, contacted Clearwater police on Oct. 19 to cover the criminal investigation portion.

On Wednesday Sgt. Spencer Gross said the agency's Child Protection investigation is still ongoing but did not provide further detail.

Contact Tracey McManus at tmcmanus@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4151. Follow @TroMcManus.

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