Thursday, April 19, 2018
News Roundup

Former St. Petersburg church leader, convicted of molestation in 2010, sent to prison for violating probation

ST. PETERSBURG — A former St. Petersburg church leader, convicted two years ago of molesting a young boy, will spend the next 13 years in prison after he was found guilty of violating his probation.

Richard O'Toole, 73, was arrested in May after a probation officer, during a routine search of O'Toole's home, found a pornographic video, a pornographic image on a computer jump drive, and a pornographic sculpture. O'Toole was forbidden from possessing such items as a condition of his sex offender probation.

He was previously sentenced in November 2010 to 21 months in prison followed by 10 years probation after he pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious battery, unlawful sex with a minor and practicing medicine without a license. He served less than a year.

The convictions stemmed from accusations that O'Toole had molested a boy whom he met when the boy was 12 and offered to perform yard work. The boy came forward after rumors spread among members of First Unity Church in St. Petersburg that O'Toole had made sexual advances toward several young boys.

At First Unity, O'Toole had convinced some members that he was a doctor specializing in adolescent psychology. He counseled several church members, including children.

But during the "counseling" with youths, the subject of masturbation and sex often came up.

O'Toole was found guilty last week of violating his probation and ordered to serve 13 years in prison. He remained in the Pinellas County Jail on Thursday awaiting a transfer to the Department of Corrections.

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