Carey Roberts
October 9, 2008
Another Way shelter, where the inmates are running the asylum
By Carey Roberts

If a friend of yours was in desperate straights and had to seek refuge in an abuse shelter, wouldn't you want that person to be able to go to a place with staff who are qualified, compassionate, and have a clean record? Then you'll be shocked to learn what's going on at Another Way in Lake City, Fla.

I have reported previously on this star-crossed shelter: www.renewamerica.com/columns/roberts/080728 . But it turns out, the situation is worse than I originally thought. Because three employees of Another Way have criminal records, and a fourth flunked her rehab.

Here's the line-up: Wendy Pittman, former shelter manager; Shanna Travis, current residential director; and front-line employees Brenda Collins and Gloria Taylor.

First, Wendy Pittman. Her rap sheet includes four criminal charges of passing bad checks. And then assorted charges like welfare fraud, reckless driving, auto negligence, and more. (See: www2.myfloridacounty.com/ccm/do/personSearch?county=12)

In January of 2007 Pittman's husband filed a claim accusing her of domestic violence. Right around that time she was hired as manager of Another Way to help women break the cycle of abuse.

On May 6, the police spotted a group of teenagers drinking alcohol behind a van at a nearby river. According to the policeman's report, "As I approached the van I observed a white female passenger. I observed that the driver's eyes were severely bloodshot and pupils were dilated. The driver identified herself as Wendy Renee Pittman."

Pittman resigned from Another Way shortly afterwards.

She was replaced by Shanna Travis, a nurse who had worked at a local hospital. On February 20, 2002 Travis was admitted to the hospital for detoxification from OxyContin. Over the next two years her drug use escalated and she finally dropped out of treatment.

In 2004 the state Department of Health determined that her "judgment is so impaired that she will cause harm to patients. This probability constitutes an immediate serious danger to the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the State of Florida." On April 26, 2005, Travis signed an agreement that suspended her nursing license for three years. (See: http://ww2.doh.state.fl.us/IRM00PRAES/PRASLIST.ASP)

Next in the line-up is Brenda Collins. Her rap sheet includes two counts of cocaine possession and one charge of aggravated assault with a weapon. All told she spent two years in prison, and remains on probation through 2009. (See: www.dc.state.fl.us/ActiveOffenders, Department of Corrections number 543466) Collins left Another Way earlier this year.

And then there's Gloria Taylor. This is a sad one...

In 1995 two persons obtained protection orders against Taylor for her "repeat violence." Four years later her husband (or ex-husband, we're not sure which) successfully petitioned the court for an order of protection against her. (See: www2.myfloridacounty.com/ccm/do/personSearch?county=12)

Now, her convictions for non-violent offenses: resisting an officer, one each for petit and grand theft, and six convictions for passing bad checks.

And finally the convictions for violent crimes: Improper exhibition of a dangerous weapon and two counts of written threats to kill or injure. These charges landed Taylor in the tank for 32 months. (See www.dc.state.fl.us/ActiveOffenders, Department of Corrections number: 285003) Her probation is set to expire in 2032.

Oh, and did I mention the numerous traffic violations, and the fact that she was arrested this past Friday, October 3 for grand theft?

Add them up, and Taylor has over 30 cases on file in Columbia County including 9 misdemeanor convictions and 3 felonies. Let's just say Ms. Taylor has worn out her welcome mat at the county courthouse.

So there you have it. Wendy Pittman, a hard-luck case that reminds me of a Country and Western song. Shanna Travis, who constitutes an "immediate serious danger to the health, safety, and welfare" of Floridians. Brenda Collins, thrice convicted and imprisoned two years. And Gloria Taylor, another ex-con who supervises vulnerable persons in an abuse shelter.

I know it seems hard to believe, but it's all in the public record. So what happens when the inmates take over the asylum?

Horrific tales of drug use and drug dealing by shelter residents. Unreported incidents of child abuse and sexual assault. Misappropriation of shelter assets. Accounts of drug-dealing at staff parties. Discrimination against male victims. An astronomical employee turn-over rate.

Does the word "mayhem" come to mind? Or merely "abject chaos"?

For months, Another Way staff has been urging shelter director Donna Fagan to run background checks on all employees to weed out the undesirables. But the manager has refused those pleas.

Maybe Ms. Fagan is worried she'll lose too many of her trusted employees.

© Carey Roberts

 

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Carey Roberts

Carey Roberts is an analyst and commentator on political correctness. His best-known work was an exposť on Marxism and radical feminism... (more)

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