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Clearwater officer terminated after touching, texting physician assistants

CLEARWATER — A Clearwater police officer was terminated Wednesday after an internal investigation found that he had unwelcome, sexually charged conversations with two Morton Plant Hospital physician assistants.

Officer Pasquale Calabrese, a 10-year veteran, will be forced to turn in his badge for inappropriate conduct and lying during sworn statements, according to Clearwater police reports. He will have until Monday morning to resign or be fired.

The investigation started May 25 when a Morton Plant doctor called police to report that an officer who regularly patrolled the hospital on extra duty was sexually harassing a physician assistant in the emergency room.

The physician assistant told investigators that Calabrese had approached her to ask about a medical condition. The encounter, in which Calabrese put his face very close to hers, made her uncomfortable.

The medical condition was redacted from Clearwater police reports. They state that the woman told the officer she didn't want to look at it.

She told Calabrese to schedule an appointment with his family doctor, according to the report. But, investigators said, Calabrese persisted: "So, should I just microwave some oil and slap that on there?"

He also at one point tried to rub her shoulders, she said.

"I always had a relationship with her — a rapport, if you will — that I thought I'd be able to discuss," he told investigators. "So I got up the nerve to talk to her privately."

Another physician assistant told investigators she had complained to Calabrese about the noise caused by a bar outside her condo. Calabrese, she alleged, then asked for her phone number and said he would look into it.

Soon, according to the report, she started receiving personal text messages from Calabrese in which he said the noise problem had been solved: "Did I mention, you owe me BIG TIME?"

Records show Calabrese sent her dozens of text messages in April and May, insulting her boyfriend and demanding to meet: "You have to spend 15 minutes with me … over a cup of coffee. And you have to pretend you were really looking forward to it. …"

After denying some of the conversation in an interview with investigators, Calabrese eventually admitted to sending all of the texts, according to the report.

"We were getting personal," he said. "She was telling me about her life, and I was telling her about mine."

The woman told investigators she thought he crossed the line.

Calabrese was the subject of a Clearwater police internal investigation in 2009, when another officer's wife claimed he sent her lewd messages on Facebook.

Danielle Paquette can be reached at dpaquette@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8321.

Clearwater officer terminated after touching, texting physician assistants 08/14/13 [Last modified: Thursday, August 15, 2013 1:10pm]
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