Prince George's County has cut off admissions to two more privately run homes for problem teen-agers because of complaints that youths were abused by staff members.
One teen-age girl allegedly was bitten on the leg by a staff member, according to the complaints against J.M.F. Juvenile Homes in Brentwood. A staff member was also accused of punishing youths by sending them partially naked to the basement and by forcing them to say awake nearly all night.
In another incident, a counselor allegedly stood by while a boy threatened to jump from a second floor window. The counselor reportedly said it was the responsibility of the other youths to convince the boy not to jump. He did not.
The complaints from staff members as well as youths at the homes were contained in a confidential report prepared by an official of the county branch of the Juvenile Service Administration.
The homes are licensed to house youths who face charges in juvenile court. They live there for up to 30 days before court hearings and ultimately are sent back to their parents, referred to a foster home or halfway house or to a state detention facility.
Raymond McKane, regional director of juvenile services in Prince George's, said yesterday that the county would no longer send youths to the J.M.G. facilities as a result of the allegations.
McKane said his office could not get "uniform substantiation" for those allegations since there were never enough witnesses to an incident. Most of the allegations came from either what the youths witnessed or heard, McKane said. Other complaints came from the EACH program educational counselors who tutored the juveniles in both homes for a few hours a day.
He said the county decided to stop sending youths to the Ferry homes because of differences in opinion over the "use of discipline and the management of the children."
Juvenile services pays $15 a day to J.M.F. for each child housed.
This is the third time in two weeks that juvenile services has removed youths from a home designed to provide shelter and supervision for the juveniles in its care. Earlier in the week, the administration closed the Ira Byram Home in Lanham following a weekend party at which unsupergvised youths allegedly were caught using drugs and a 15-year-old girl was beaten with a broomstick.
All the youths who had been housed in the J.M.F. homes, one at 3900 39th St. and the other at 3500 Taylor St., were removed Feb. 18, according to Frank Frey, administrator of the two homes.
Frey verified that the director if one of the homes bit a teen-age girl, but said the incident evolved out of "horsing around."
Frey said the director had picked the girl off the floor when she began to payfully pull at his hair. When the director told her to stop tragging at his hair and the girl did not, the director bit her leg, according to Frey.
"It was poor judgment - certainly not to be condoned by the administration of the home," Frey said.
The bitting incident was investigated by the police for the State's Attorney's Office, but prosectors decided not to charge the director with either child abuse or assault, Frey said. According to a source at juvenile services, the individual was instead "allowed to resign."
The same counselor was the subject of an investigation by juvenile services about a year ago after several complaints were made that he used physical force - "pushing picking up a kid" - to discipline the youths, according to Frey.
As s a result of that investigation, Frey said counselors were "ordered not to lay their hands" on the youths and were told that they risked being fired it they did.
Frey said he knew of only one incident in which a teen-age youth was sent to the basement while clad only in his underwear "for not being cooperative."
One 16-year-old boy who lived in a J.M.F. home for a months this year said in an interview with The Washington Post that the director often threatened to send youths who misbehaved to the basement "I guess because if was cold down there." He added that such punishments were "seldom" and said he was "sorry to see the place closed down."
Frey said the counselors sometimes made the homes' residents sit up at a table when they did not go to sleep at the designated hour but he denied that the youths were kept up into the early hours of the morning - as was alleged in the report - as a form of punishment.
It also was alleged that the counselors at the homes made youths of the same sex strip in groups to be searched for lice. Frey said he is "relatively sure" there were never any group searches. He added that each child upon arrival at the home, was asked to strip to be searched for drugs or weapons, then showered and rubbed wdown with a lotion to kill lice.
"The reason for all theat was because scabies has been rampant (in the county's juvenile homes)," Frey said.
In the incident in which a boy threatened to jump from a second floor window, Frey said the counselor in charge of the group at the time acknowledged that he hesitated to pull the boy back into the room in part because of the pressure put on counselors tokeep their hands off the home's residents.