Simply Hope board silent about incriminating recording - WFLA News Channel 8

Simply Hope board silent about incriminating recording

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PINELLAS COUNTY, FL -

So what is going on at Simply Hope?

The Pinellas drug rehab program is racked with allegations that its director Ray Harris was inappropriate with some women clients.

Sheriff's detectives investigated. The state attorney's office is looking into whether criminal charges are appropriate.

Simply Hope's board of directors is staying quiet.

Harris is the director of the non-profit drug rehab program. Simply Hope offers housing for recovering substance abusers.

It also receives tax dollars to house some clients represented by the Pinellas public defender's office.

An 8 On Your Side investigation revealed that at least three former female clients claim Harris sexually harassed them and more.

Jetta Deitchman told investigators that last March Harris sexually abused her. In April, on the advice of her previous attorney, Deitchman recorded on her cell phone an encounter with Harris.

The video is somewhat obscured because she hid the phone in her shirt. The audio clearly reveals Harris alone with Deitchman, in an office she was cleaning as part of her community service.

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

"Come here," Harris responded.

Deitchman told Harris she was not 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.

Harris began kissing Deitchman and it was clearly picked up by the cell phone recording.

"You think this is a good idea, what if someone?" Deitchman asked Harris.

"Nobody's coming here, heh, heh," he stated as he continued kissing her.

Public defender Bob Dillinger heard the audio. He pulled all female clients out of Simply Hope housing.

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

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

Harris has refused comment about any of the allegations.

"I have no comment," he said and referred 8 On Your Side to his attorney.  Harris' attorney, Kim Rivellini, says Harris is staying away from Simply Hope.  She calls the recording illegal.

8 On Your Side wanted to know what Harris' board of directors had to say about all of this.

According to its website, Simply Hope has only three board members and Harris is the chairman.

In an email, 8 On Your side asked the other board members, Tonya Cardinali and Tommy Gillis if the Simply Hope board of directors condoned kissing encounters involving Simply Hope's director and female clients. If not, what action if any is the board of directors taking.

Cardinali responded via email.

"The board will not comment while there is an ongoing investigation. I want to make you aware that Mr. Harris is cooperating with investigators," she wrote.

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