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Florida restricts license of ex-Hernando jail psychiatrist accused of molesting female inmates

BROOKSVILLE — The Florida surgeon general has restricted the license of a former Hernando County jail psychiatrist after authorities say he asked female inmates to expose themselves, give him a lap dance or a kiss and implied he would trade medication for sex.

In one instance, authorities said, Dr. James A. Yelton Rossello, 53, pinned a woman to the wall and molested her.

The accusations against Yelton stem from his treatment of four female inmates from November 2009 to August 2010. During that time, the state records show, he was employed by the Corrections Corporation of America, which for 22 years was contracted to run the county jail.

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office took control of the jail from CCA within weeks of when accusations against Yelton surfaced Aug. 3. U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent, who was sheriff at the time, said Sunday that the incidents had nothing to do with the change in control.

Yelton could not be reached Sunday for comment. At an office listed under his name in Gainesville, the number was disconnected. A home phone number was not available.

Under his profile on the Florida Department of Health's website, Yelton is listed as a clinical assistant professor at the University of Florida's College of Medicine. It said he received his medical degree in Puerto Rico and had received training at UF and New York Medical College.

The order, released by the state Health Department, said Yelton's actions showed he had a "serious defect in judgment and moral character."

"Dr. Yelton's actions regarding his patients were egregious and constitute a threat to the public health and safety," the March 22 order states. "Dr. Yelton's actions demonstrate such a disregard for the laws and regulations governing physicians that the safety of patients cannot be assured as long as Dr. Yelton continues to practice medicine without restriction in the State of Florida."

As of Tuesday, according to the Health Department's website, Yelton was restricted from providing medical, mental health or psychiatric treatment to any female patients. Yelton may provide treatment to male patients only if he's supervised by a third party who is a licensed medical professional.

Hernando County Sheriff's Office spokesman Capt. Jim Powers said he was unaware of any ongoing criminal investigation of the reported incidents. Sheriff Al Nienhuis did not respond to a message Sunday evening.

Nugent said he vaguely recalled deputies being involved in the case, but now given the state order, said Yelton should face further investigation.

"He's using his official position," Nugent said. "You can't do that with an inmate."

Each of the four inmates included in the state report were listed only by initials.

During a session with 24-year-old "C.A.," records show, Yelton asked if she was an exotic dancer, where she performed and if she was attracted to older men. During the course of her treatment, Yelton said he had been married about 25 years but implied he was faithful to his wife "98 percent of the time" and had become a "bad boy" because of women like C.A., the records show.

Around early August 2010, he asked to see her topless. When she refused and attempted to leave, Yelton pushed her against a wall, kissed her neck and lips and placed his hand down her pants, the state records show.

At a meeting in March 2010, Yelton questioned 21-year-old "T.A." about her job as an exotic dancer and said he would like to receive a "lap dance" from her. He also asked if she would have sex with him after she was released, and he made her sit on his lap, the records show.

Yelton, around July 2010, asked T.A. if he could see her naked. T.A. inferred he would prescribe her medications only if she agreed. As she pulled down her pants, Yelton grabbed her underwear, at which time she pulled away and left the room, the records show.

Later, he also asked to see her socially, to have her phone number and for a kiss, which she refused before he gave her a kiss on the cheek.

Records show that in a meeting with "J.W.," 29, Yelton asked to meet with her after she was released. Based on the conversation's context, the records show, she believed Yelton would trade anxiety medication prescriptions for sex.

On Aug. 3, 2010, Yelton asked that J.W. pull down her pants, which she refused, the records show. Later that day, she informed a correctional officer of what had happened and an investigation was initiated.

While he treated 24-year-old "S.B," Yelton asked to see her breasts, the records show, and she complied.

At her final meeting with Yelton, the two kissed and Yelton told her he would take her shopping when she got of jail. The records show S.B. said she believed he was offering an exchange of goods for sex.

In an interview with the Sheriff's Office on Aug. 18, 2010 — the week before the county took control of the jail — Yelton admitted to sending a Christmas card to S.B. and said he sometimes allowed female patients to hug him, the records show.

John Woodrow Cox can be reached at (352) 848-1432 or jcox@sptimes.com.

Florida restricts license of ex-Hernando jail psychiatrist accused of molesting female inmates 03/27/11 [Last modified: Sunday, March 27, 2011 10:54pm]
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