Simply Hope: behind closed doors, simply nauseating - WFLA News Channel 8

Simply Hope: behind closed doors, simply nauseating

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PINELLAS COUNTY, FL -

After a string of drug related arrests dating back to 2004, the Pinellas Drug Court sent Jetta Deitchman to a drug rehab program called Simply Hope in November 2012.

Deitchman claims that in March, Simply Hope's director Ray Harris sexually abused her.

By April, Deitchman, now 27, fled Simply Hope and Harris, violated the terms of her probation and risked going to prison. Before she left the program, Deitchman had in hand incriminating evidence that Harris tried taking some liberties with her.

Simply Hope offers housing where recovering substance abusers can stay for a price.

Tax dollars are paid to Simply Hope to house some clients represented by the Pinellas Public Defender's office.

Ray Harris has great influence in the Drug Court. His progress reports on clients carry great weight with Judge Dee Anna Farnell.

Related content:  Sheriff's office investigates director of Pinellas drug rehab program

Harris is a convicted drug abuser and thief who claims he turned his life around and is helping others.

Helping others or helping himself?

In April, on the advice of her previous attorney, Jetta Deitchman recorded on her cell phone an encounter with Harris.

She was performing her community service, cleaning an office with a vacuum when Harris showed up.

The video obtained by 8 On Your Side is somewhat obscured because she hid the cell phone in her shirt. But the audio is very clear.

Deitchman asked Harris about the cleaning agent she was using.

"Is this the spray that you want me to use for everything?" she asked.

"Come here," Harris responded.

Deitchman then told Harris she wasn't feeling well.

"I don't know what's wrong with me," Deitchman said.

"What's wrong with you? Harris asked.

"I don't know I just don't feel good," she said.

As the audio continues Harris begins kissing Deitchman.

"Do you think this is a good idea, what if someone..?" Deitchman asked

"Nobody's coming here, heh, heh," Harris said in a low tone as he continued kissing her.

As Harris pressed on, Deitchman asked if, on this day, she could take a pass.

"Sure you can pass today," Harris said.

Related content:  Allegations of sex abuse surface against Pinellas rehab director

Public Defender Bob Dillinger says he has heard the recording.

"An administrator of Simply Hope should not be kissing a client of Simply Hope," Dillinger said.

After hearing what occurred, Dillinger removed from Simply Hope all female clients his office placed there.

Jetta Deitchman is not the first woman complaining about Harris' improprieties.

Documents obtained by 8 On Your Side reveal 29 year old Korrine Burdick complained to her probation officer back in 2010 that Harris propositioned her.

"He's well, I know, I'm in control here and basically what I says goes and you can either give me what I want or you can go back to prison," Burdick recalls.

Probation records raise a question about whether Burdick recanted her story. She insists she never did.

A Pinellas court ordered Andrea Giamportone to Simply Hope in late 2007 following a series of drug related arrests and a DUI crash that seriously injured another driver.

She ran from Simply Hope and Ray Harris in early 2008.

Related content:  Fugitive recounts ordeal at Pinellas drug rehab

32 year old Giamportone is a fugitive wanted by the state of Florida. She is still on the run.

She remains in hiding and claims she is at least one thousand miles from the bay area.

"He would basically try to kiss me anytime we were alone," Giamportone said.

She says Harris hounded her daily for sex and warned her to stay away from other men.

"He would tell me if you don't stay away from men, then I will recommend to the judge that you go back to prison for 7 years," Giamportone contends.

The Pinellas county sheriff's office opened a criminal investigation into the allegations made by Korrine Burdick and Jetta Deitchman. It has forwarded its investigation to the Pinellas County State Attorney to determine if criminal charges against Harris are warranted.                                                             

Harris declined comment.

"You can talk to my attorney if you'd like," he said. "I have no comment."

Harris' current attorney, Denis DeVlaming advised Harris to stay way from Simply Hope until the sheriff's investigation concludes. 

DeVlaming, says he has not heard the recording that investigators have in their possession.

"They've got a surreptitious phone call, that in itself is illegal, technically she committed a felony. she should be charged if my client is charged," DeVlaming said.

DeVlaming's associate attorney Kym Rivellini stated the recording should not have been disseminated to 8 On Your Side.
 
"It is a crime to do so.  It is an illegally taped, tape.  Anyone who disseminates it or plays it is also committing a crime.  I would suggest that you not air that," Rivellini said. 

Jetta Deitchman's current attorney is Roger Futerman.

"She's still cooperating with local authorities as to their criminal case against Mr. Harris," Futerman said.

The day after she recorded that office encounter with Harris, Futerman says Deitchman told him she ran from Simply Hope, violating her probation, risking a prison term.

Why?

Because as the recording clearly indicates Ray Harris was coming back for more.

"We got to get together, alright?" Harris asked.

"Alright," Deitchman replied.

Harris then kissed her and left. The next day, so did she.

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