The rehab therapist at a DeSoto County juvenile correctional facility was supposed to be providing counseling to kids in need of guidance.
Instead, the therapist reached into his pocket for his iPhone and showed a detainee a video clip of himself and a female staff member having sex. And then he showed off photos of a second female staff member posing in “revealing lingerie,” an inspector general review said.
The 18-year-old from Miami-Dade County filed a complaint after the “disturbing” May 2011 counseling session that led to an internal inquiry and then a police investigation. The porn notwithstanding, the therapist wasn’t very good at his job, the teen said: “He failed to properly manage group sessions and/or keep youth safe from fighting each other. Youth indicated he felt it was his responsibility to inform management.”
The therapist denied doing anything wrong, suggesting that some youths were trying to get him in trouble.
But when investigators spoke with the woman in the video clip, she acknowledged that they were in a sexual relationship. She was “utterly humiliated,” but denied engaging in any inappropriate activities on the grounds of DeSoto Dual Diagnosed Correctional Facility, a now-defunct treatment program in Arcadia for youths with severe mental health and substance abuse issues.
The therapist, she said, “is not suited to be a positive role model for youth.”
The woman filed a criminal complaint with the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office, as did the second woman, who acknowledged texting racy photos to the therapist, though not for the purpose of sharing with detainees.
The sheriff’s office’s investigation was closed due to a lack of evidence.
The therapist was fired.
This narrative is part of Tales from the Front, a collection of short stories about Florida's juvenile justice system. The Miami Herald investigated the state's youth corrections system following the 2015 beating death of a Miami-Dade detainee. Read the full "Fight Club" investigative series here.