Florida

Fla. paid anti-gay psychologist more than $120,000

Anti-gay psychologist George Rekers charged Florida $300 an hour to testify as an expert witness in a trial defending Florida’s ban on gay people adopting. The state planned to cap Rekers’ fee at $60,900 — but paid him $120,693 after he exceeded his contracted hours.

“It is not unusual for estimated costs to require adjustment during the course of trial preparation,” said Sandi Copes, communications director for the Florida Attorney General’s Office.

Copes said the extra hours were not agreed to in writing, but “merely by discussion.”

“A total of 402.31 hours was submitted for payment by invoice attached. Of the 402.31 hours, 203 was paid by Direct Order,” according to a 2009 state settlement agreement.

‘‘We accept responsibility for not obtaining a written document for the 199.31 remaining hours. However, the monies are legally due.”

Attorney General Bill McCollum personally requested that the state’s Department of Children & Families hire Rekers, whose national reputation shattered last week after he vacationed for two weeks in Europe with a gay male escort from Miami he met through Rentboy.com.

The escort, Jo-Vanni Roman, 20, says he gave Rekers, 61, nude “sexual’’ massages every day during their trip in April to Madrid and London.

“Our attorneys handling this case have searched long and hard for other expert witnesses with comparable expertise to Dr. Rekers and have been unable to identify any who would be available for this case,” McCollum wrote in 2007 to then-DCF Secretary Bob Butterworth.

But three years before Florida hired Rekers, an Arkansas judge in 2004 denounced him during a similar state adoption case.

“The Arkansas judge, Timothy Fox, said Rekers’ testimony was worthless as evidence because it was only his personal view,” according to an editorial this week in The Arkansas Leader.

The Arkansas Supreme Court also concluded Rekers’ testimony “was pointless’’ and

declared the state’s antigay adoption rule unconstitutional, the editorial continued.

A 2008 Florida purchase requisition states that no payment to Rekers should exceed $60,900.

Florida paid Rekers $60,900 in 2007 and $59,793 in 2009 for his testimony in the case of Frank Gill, a gay foster parent seeking to adopt two young brothers.

Florida is the only state that bans all gay people from adopting.

Among Rekers’ charges to the state of Florida:

n $27,000 (90 hours) to “evaluate and critique’’ new research.

n $5,400 (18 hours) to meet with staff at the Attorney General’s Office to prepare for deposition.

n $6,000 (20 hours) to standby at trial and deliver expert academic opinions.

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