Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Phony counselor charges mount against ex-church leader

ST. PETERSBURG — Richard O'Toole, the former First Unity Church board member accused of phony psychology, now faces four more criminal charges of providing mental health counseling without a license.

On Thursday, police arrested O'Toole, 69, for the second time in two months. Arrest affidavits say O'Toole counseled three men, including a 16-year-old, at his home and at First Unity. He counseled one man twice.

One of the victims came forward after reading a recent St. Petersburg Times article detailing how three leaders of a youth group said they were forced out of the church after raising concerns about O'Toole.

They said the church's minister, the Rev. Temple Hayes, ignored their suspicions that O'Toole was making inappropriate sexual advances toward young teenage men.

One of the youth group leaders, Francine Arrington, has filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against the church.

Church officials have declined to comment on the allegations because of the pending litigation.

O'Toole smiled as police led him out of his house and into a cruiser Thursday. When asked if he had anything to say, O'Toole replied: "No, thanks. We're going to let the courts take care of it."

O'Toole now faces 10 charges of practicing medicine without a license. He is not charged with any crimes involving sexual abuse against children and is not on the state sex offender registry. But police say they are still investigating whether O'Toole may have engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with youths, in addition to whether any more people were duped by his claims of being a mental health specialist.

"The investigation is still ongoing, and we still have a lot of work to do," said detective Joe Gasper.

According to the lawsuit, Arrington first learned O'Toole had made sexual advances toward two young men in early 2007. She said she reported the conduct to Hayes, and learned that Hayes had been contacted by the grandparent of a third young man who also was concerned about O'Toole.

But Hayes continued to let O'Toole interact with youths, the lawsuit says, and fired Arrington in October 2007.

That same month, two other youth group leaders —Arrington's husband, Jim, and Tom Crowley — said they encountered a 17-year-old who did yard work for O'Toole and accused him of making a sexual advance.

The former youth group leaders said they told Hayes about the incident and called police, but authorities could not charge O'Toole in connection with that case because of insufficient evidence.

Police ask anyone with information to call (727) 893-7780.

Phony counselor charges mount against ex-church leader 04/10/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 1:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Half of Florida lawmakers fail or nearly fail review of support for public records

    State Roundup

    WEST PALM BEACH — Half of Florida's legislators failed or nearly failed in a review of their support for public records and meetings given by Florida newspapers and an open-government group after this year's legislative sessions.

    State Senator Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton (left) and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran ranked on opposite sides of the spectrum in an analysis of support for open records. Galvano scored a B-minus and Corcoran scored a D-plus.
[Times file photo]
  2. Yale dean on leave over offensive Yelp reviews leaves post

    Bizarre News

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Yale University dean who was placed on leave over offensive reviews she posted on Yelp has left her position at the Ivy League institution, school officials said Tuesday.

  3. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  4. The people you meet along O.J. Howard Lane

    Bucs

    OJ Howard (far right) is seen in a photo from his adolescent years at Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Prattville, Ala., on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Howard served as an usher in addition to attending regular services at this church.