Lawsuit states 2 women were sexually assaulted at Sarasota rehab facility

Sarasota County

A Sarasota drug rehab center is under fire after two women claim they were sexually assaulted there. 

Two former patients have filed a lawsuit against a Sarasota drug rehab center, claiming the center should have done more to protect them.

Brandy Mooney has been living with this pain for years and now feels compelled to speak out.

“I want to be a voice for the women who don’t have one,” said Mooney.

In 2015, she was assigned by a judge to live at First Step, a substance abuse treatment center. 

In the lawsuit, she claims a kitchen employee sexually assaulted her in a cooler.

Another woman listed in the lawsuit, Megan Gault, said the same employee attacked her as well.

Mooney said she was initially scared to tell supervisors.

“I was afraid of not being believed. I was afraid of being chastised. I was afraid of losing my safe place to live. I was afraid of losing my covering and I was scared of him,” said Mooney.

Her attorneys say that man is no longer employed at First Step.

A report was later made with the sheriff’s office but no charges were ever filed.

Mooney is now pursuing this lawsuit because she believes First Step was negligent.

She feels the agency is failing to protect its patients from sexual assault and should have stricter policies to prevent these sorts of attacks. The two patients are also suing for monetary damages.

“This is a rehab facility where Ms. Mooney and Ms. Gault trusted this place, where they wanted to get help. They had sponsors, they had counselors, and they came to this place for help and unfortunately they were sexually assaulted by this place that they thought they were safe at.” said attorney Benjamin Garcia.

Mooney has a message for other potential victims.

“I would say you’re worthy. I would say find your worth in reaching out. I would say stop being a victim, there are no victims. I would say speak up for yourself  because that’s what predators want you to do, they want you to feel like you’re not worthy and you can’t stick up for yourself,’ said Mooney.

First Step of Sarasota released a statement saying, “First Step is aware of a recent lawsuit filed with the Circuit Court in and for Sarasota County, Florida. As this is a pending litigation, we are not in a position to discuss the specifics of this case at this time.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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