More than 20 foster children sue Clearwater foster family for decades of mental, physical, sexual abuse

More than 20 former and current foster children are suing a foster family in Clearwater. The lawsuit alleges decades of mental, physical and sexual abuse. Some of the alleged victims say they were subjected to manual labor from sun up to sun down, left with little food to eat and cruel living conditions.

The 669-page lawsuit filed in Pinellas County Circuit Court describes allegations of mental, physical and sexual abuse against Clearwater couple and former foster parents Jerold and Jacklyn Logemann dating back to 1997.

"The first month was great. It just seemed like everything was cool. We were playing games all the time, but then eventually you got a lock on the fridge. It finally sets in that one toilet paper roll a month is not normal," plaintiff William Sheeler said.

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Sheeler who is now 37 is one of the 21 plaintiffs who are all male and at one time were in the foster care of the Logemann's. According to the suit, some were forced to perform yard work eight hours a day, served expired food for meals and subjected to sexual abuse by their foster father.

At one time, the suit said Jerrod Logemann shot BB gun projectiles at one of the plaintiffs and tased them with a taser gun. 

"He pretty much told us that if we said anything, we could get in a lot of trouble. He could put us in places where we don't want to be so at this point I was extremely scared. I didn't know what to do," plaintiff Jonathan Feyes said.

In January, the Clearwater Police Department removed nine boys from the Logemann's home after the abuse allegations came to light, but the criminal investigation was closed in April after the police chief said they could not corroborate claims of criminal conduct.

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"Our clients have been running a great foster home for 30 years, 30 years without any blemishes, and they're innocent of these allegations," Richard Escobar, the attorney for Jerold and Jacklyn Logemann said.

Along with the Logemanns, the Florida Department of Children and Families and several other state agencies are named as defendants in the case.

"The heinous allegations in this case are troubling and upon learning of the allegations the Department took immediate action. We are working with law enforcement, and will ensure a full investigation will take place," a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Children and Families said in a statement emailed to FOX 13 Tuesday. "The Department is launching a review of the licensing process and related concerns of this home with our contracted providers, as well as our own internal processes. This is in addition to the standard investigations conducted by the Department concerning any allegation of abuse, neglect or abandonment."

Adam Hecht, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said the case is about a larger problem with the foster care system. 

"The system needs to be reformed. The system is flawed. The system of privatization that allows these child welfare agencies to make millions and millions of dollars while at the same time putting children at risk needs to stop," Hecht said.

Hecht says all the defendants were served the lawsuit Tuesday, and they have 20 days to respond. After that the discovery phase begins where depositions can be taken.