Youth Challenge Program officer arrested for cruelty to a juvenile

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Denson
Denson

An incident involving the alleged physical abuse of a 16-year-old male cadet at the Youth Challenge Program at Camp Minden led to the arrest of his supervisor.

Charles Henry Denson III, 37, of the 3200 block of Knight St. in Shreveport, was arrested Thursday, April 2, and charged with three counts of cruelty to a juvenile and 37 counts of improper supervision of a juvenile by a legal custodian.

Officials say he is still incarcerated at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center on a bond of $100,000.

Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton says the military called their office and asked them to look into the incident. According to reports, Denson was arrested after he admitted to “slapping a cadet in the chest twice.”

“He also forced a fellow cadet to participate in the physical abuse of the victim, a cadet under the supervision of Mr. Denson,” according to the report.

“My understanding is this guy got out of hand with a cadet,” Sexton said. “We were called directly by the military and asked to handle the situation. That’s exactly what we did. Apparently the violation was certainly against their policy and procedure, because they called us. It wasn’t a third party deal. When they (YCP) viewed the tapes, they certainly didn’t condone his actions, and that’s when they called us to come investigate it.”

The reporting officer writes in the report that Denson “used a football to hit the victim while making (the) victim stand at attention. [sic] Suspect also made the victim remove his shirt, then wet the victim’s chest with water before delivering a roundhouse blow that struck (the) victim
in the chest.

“(The) victim was propelled seven or eight feet backwards prior to hitting (the) wall then falling to the floor unable to breathe,” the report continues.

Reports indicate 37 other cadets witnessed the incident, which is why he was charged with 37 counts of improper supervision of a juvenile by a legal custodian.

Sexton says the program at YCP is an exceptional one.

“I tip my hat to them,” he said. “They do a lot of good for kids. It’s a program everybody supports. This is an isolated incident. We’ve never had this kind of incident take place before, and it’s probably a personality clash between the cadet and the instructor.”

The Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program began at Camp Minden in 2001. The program offers cadets a chance to turn their lives around. It is open to teens 16 to 18 years of age and is a voluntary program.

According to the National Guard, YCP is an 8-component program that offers students “a way to succeed outside of a traditional school setting (to) learn self-discipline, leadership and responsibility while working to obtain a high school equivalency diploma.”

At this time, it is unknown if Denson is still employed with the Youth Challenge Program. Attempts to reach a public affairs officer with the Louisiana National Guard were unsuccessful as of press time.

Arresting officers included sheriff’s deputies John Byrd, Dillard Sikes and Lt. Angela Evans.

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