A former client and a former employee of Tampa's Touched by the Hand Outreach Inc., claim they were touched inappropriately by the program's president.
44 year old Ralph Perkins, who suffers with paranoia, schizophrenia, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, complained to the Florida Department of Corrections Probation office in May that TBTH Inc.'s president Ruben Alvarez asked Perkins to perform sex acts on him.
Lena Volmer, a former Chief Operating Officer at TBTH Inc. who was terminated by Alvarez after one month on the job, reported to law enforcement in May that Alvarez inappropriately touched her.
"Mr. Alvarez reached out and grabbed me by my backside," Volmer said.
She claims he also exposed himself.
Travis Seaman, a convicted sex offender, ordered into TBTH Inc. by a judge on the recommendation of the Lake County Public Defender office, says he witnessed the incident.
"Me and Lena were both sitting in the office and Ruben was there in his gym shorts and he just pantsed himself for absolutely no reason...I don't know why," Seaman said.
Volmer claimed Alvarez was not only out of line with her, he also sexually exploited clients.
"There is a gentleman on site that was made to use a sex toy on Mr. Alvarez," Volmer said.
According to his letter in Alvarez's probation file, that was Ralph Perkins.
"It started with me on April 9th, he started having me come over at midnight and perform sexual things with him and it lasted for about a month," Perkins said.
Perkins came to Touched by the Hand Inc. from an Albany, Georgia crisis center.
"I came to Touched by the Hand because I was homeless, didn't have a place to stay and income," Perkins said.
Perkins says he couldn't pay the $900 dollar a month fee to stay at TBTH Inc. and felt as though Alvarez had him over a barrel.
"He was giving me a place to stay I had to do what he tells me or I'd be on the street," Perkins said.
Lake County Public Defender Mike Graves admits an attorney in his office recommended TBTH Inc., for Travis Seaman.
Graves contends Alvarez told the office what it wanted to hear.
"That he was aware of the difficulties in finding work and in finding counseling, in finding housing," Graves said.
He is stunned to hear allegations of sexual exploitation at Touched by the Hand Inc.,
"It offends me as a lawyer, it offends me as an officer of the court, it offends me as an elected official and I hope that if that's the case that he's prosecuted for it," he said.
Alvarez is in the Hillsborough County Jail. In May a urine sample detected cocaine in his system, and his probation was revoked.
A judge sentenced him to 5 years in prison. He has not responded to a request for an interview.
Alvarez will be arraigned Thursday on a misdemeanor battery charge for the alleged incident involving Lena Volmer.
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