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Former church leader convicted of molesting boy arrested on probation violation

ST. PETERSBURG — A former church leader who was convicted in 2010 of molesting a young boy was arrested Wednesday on a probation violation after his probation officer found pornography in his home, authorities said.

Richard O'Toole, 73, was sentenced in November 2010 to 21 months in jail, followed by 10 years of probation, after he pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious battery, unlawful sex with a minor and practicing medicine without a license. He was released from prison in October, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.

During a routine search Wednesday morning at O'Toole's home at 2819 35th Ave. N, a probation officer found a pornographic video, a pornographic image on a computer jump drive and a pornographic sculpture, according to an arrest report. Possession of the items constituted a violation of O'Toole's sex offender probation.

He was booked into the Pinellas County Jail and held without bail.

O'Toole's convictions stemmed from accusations that he 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.

Former church leader convicted of molesting boy arrested on probation violation 05/25/12 [Last modified: Saturday, May 26, 2012 12:00am]
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