“It is almost always the cover-up rather than the event that causes trouble.“–Howard Baker
On Monday, the Young At Art (YAA) Children’s Museum website deleted any mention of a board member after REDBROWARD started asking questions about a controversial Facebook post. In a March 2017 Facebook post, Young At Art Board member Brian Silber questioned whether a seventeen year old Texas student could truly be the victim of his twenty-seven year old teacher. Sarah Fowlkes, a Lockhart High School science teacher, was arrested for having an improper sexual relationship with the student. Fowlkes became an instant internet sensation when her smiling mugshot was posted online.
On March 22, Silber posted a link to a Huffington Post story about Fowlkes’ smiling mugshot. Silber added the caption, “The ‘victim’ is 17,” with the word victim in quotation remarks. In response to a comment from a Facebook friend, Silber wrote, “In less than a year he can be sent to die for this country. 17 year old male is hard argument for victimization (unless its unconsensual).”
A Miami Herald story responded to those who questioned whether the teenaged male could truly be a “victim”–
Grown women chasing after pubescent boys is a difficult and disturbing scene to imagine, but just as troubling are the comments from the flakes who think that a young boy’s sexual initiation by a female teacher is something to be envied. It’s not. This is victimization. This is abuse. This is rape. And it is particularly unnerving when the horror is committed by the very people trusted by parents to guide their children. Preying on someone who is young and vulnerable is never, ever right, regardless of age, gender or circumstance.
In 2009, a TIME magazine investigation showed how rampant the problem of female teachers preying on students had become across Florida. In response, then Congressman Adam Putnam pushed for the passage of the Student Protection Act. Putnam said, “Let’s call these cases what they are: sexual assaults.” Currently the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, Putnam is running to be the next Governor of Florida.
As a criminal defense lawyer, Brian Silber should be well versed in Florida’s consent laws. As the operator of police blotter blog, its natural for Silber to discuss titilating cases and trials. But it’s troubling that a board member of a taxpayer-supported children’s museum could be so nonchalant about the sexual assault of teenagers.
The Young At Art website and social media accounts boast how local teenagers work at the museum. Teens are recruited to be museum volunteers and summer camp counselors.
It’s safe to assume most parents believe Young At Art will protect their children while visiting or volunteering at the museum. Many parents would agree that any minor is the “victim” if they are sexually involved with any adult or authority figure.
DEAFENING SILENCE FROM YAA BOARD
REDBROWARD tried to discuss this matter with members of the Young At Art. Messages asking for comment were left for eleven board members. An attorney for one board member stated there would be no comment.
A voicemail left for Brian Silber asked for an explantation of his Facebook comments as well as information regarding the two YAA lawsuits filed against Broward County.
On Monday afternoon, the rarely camera-shy attorney sent a brief reply via email.
Silber wrote, “You are mistaken–I am not a member of the YAA board. As for whatever lawsuits you mentioned regarding the Spechlers, I have no knowledge and therefore cannot comment.”
REDBROWARD informed Silber that a screenshot of the YAA website taken on Monday morning showed his name on the list of YAA board members. By Monday evening, the YAA website deleted Silber’s name.
REDBROWARD asked Silber to explain the sudden disappearance. He has not responded.
This is just the latest troubling incident of Young At Art and hyper-sexualized topics. Last year, REDBROWARD reported how the Young At Art sponsored “Naughty By Nature” exhibit in Fort Lauderdale exposed children to nude peep shows, vagina-shaped sculptures and other exhibits of a highly sexualized nature. REDBROWARD showed how YAA curator Zack Spechler created a PEN15 (Penis) Club and his sister painted a self-portrait of herself laying nude across her father’s lap. The Spechler’s parents are Young At Art CEO Mindy Shrago and her husband Jay Spechler.
Former Judge Jay Spechler and Brian Silber represented YAA Board Chairman David Di Pietro in his lawsuit against Florida Governor Rick Scott. Di Pietro dubbed them his legal dream team.
If Young At Art will delete a board member over a Facebook post, what else would they be willing to hide from Broward taxpayers?
Broward voters deserve answers before giving Young At Art another public dime.