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Parents blame clinic for birth

The mentally disabled woman entered the psychiatric clinic in part to learn how to better control her sexual urges.

Once she got there, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday, officials at the Harbor Behavioral Health Care Institute failed to supervise her _ and she got pregnant during a tryst with another patient.

"She ends up suffering from the very problem that was one of the things she was being treated for," said Dennis Diecidue, a Tampa lawyer who filed the suit involving the 1993 incident.

The woman's parents, New Port Richey residents who are her legal guardians, want the Harbor to pay the costs of raising the woman's child, a 2-year-old boy who might have developmental problems himself. They are seeking in excess of $15,000, the minimum required to file in Circuit Civil Court.

Officials at the Harbor declined to comment, saying they hadn't seen the suit.

Diecidue said the trouble began shortly after the woman enrolled in a day program at the Harbor to learn independent living skills and build her self-esteem.

One of her problems, he said, was that she suffered from poor judgment in sexual situations. "Legally, she's a child. Physically, she's a woman. Therein lies the problem," Diecidue said. "She has all the normal urges that a young woman would have, but she .


. has the judgment of a minor."

In January 1993, Harbor officials caught the woman, who is not identified by the Times because of the nature of the incident, kissing a male client in the parking lot, Diecidue said.

Officials restricted her movement, forbidding her from leaving the building, Diecidue said. Then, during September 1993, she had sex with another male client a half-dozen times in a lounge area in the Harbor during lunch hours.

"You could close the door," the lawyer said. "Nobody bothered them."

No one knew of the incident until seven months later, when the woman's mother took her on a shopping trip, Diecidue said. When the woman showed some reluctance to take off her clothes, the mother discovered her daughter was pregnant.

There is no suggestion that the woman was raped or otherwise taken advantage of, Diecidue said. He said state Health and Rehabilitative Services officials investigated the incident but found no wrongdoing.

HRS officials said they had no record of an incident. However, investigations that are unfounded are destroyed after 30 days, HRS spokeswoman Elaine Fulton Jones said.

"What we've got is a situation where two people are suffering from degrees of mental disability," Diecidue said.

The mother took the woman out of the Harbor in May 1994. The child was born in June 1994. The mother and father of the woman have assumed care of the child, though it's a difficult job, Diecidue said.

The parents, he said, are "left with a child who has been born to a mother who can't take care of herself."