TAMPA — A 50-year-old East Tampa woman is accusing Tampa City Council chairman Frank Reddick of sexual battery against her when she was either 11 or 12, an allegation denied by Reddick's attorney.
Reddick has declined to comment so far.
Tampa police investigated the claims of Tasha McCray beginning in October but could not find enough evidence to pursue charges. The investigation is classified as "inactive,'' according to an investigative report.
Police said they will reopen the investigation if anyone else steps forward following McCray's statement, made during the public comment portion of the City Council meeting Thursday, which left a room stunned and sent reporters scrambling to verify her claims.
At the meeting, McCray didn't detail the encounter she said happened when she was a student at Wilson Junior High School in Tampa in the late 1970s. Reddick, 63, worked for the school district at the time, but records don't indicate he worked at Wilson.
McCray told police that Reddick showed an interest in her at school, then invited her to his home where he plied her with a strong cocktail before forcing her to perform oral sex.
"I’m a child of god but I can’t forgive someone who hasn’t acknowledged the cruel, harsh and life-changing experience that led me into the life I came into,'' McCray said during her public comments. "I need that person to understand how that day at 11 years old or 12 changed my whole entire life and what could have been."
McCray told police that she wanted to reclaim her life before her fifth marriage in October. As she referenced in her public comments and told police, she has a history of minor fraud and drug possession arrests in the 1990s, including marijuana and cocaine possession and passing bad checks.
McCray told police she wasn't positive how old she was when the alleged incident occurred but Hillsborough County School District records show that she attended Wilson between 1979 and 1981. McCray, who was born in 1967, would have been between 11 and 13 when she attended the school.
McCray didn't respond to two phone calls requesting further comment Thursday and Friday morning.
Reddick told detectives that he has never met McCray and denied all the charges. He said she was trying to extort him for several years. He told detectives, though, that he knew the allegations involved oral sex because of a letter written to him by McCray. That letter, though, didn't detail the sex act, a fact noted by detectives.
On Friday, Reddick didn't return a phone call requesting comment, although he told reporters in a City Hall parking lot Thursday that he would eventually respond to the accusation.
His attorney, Danny Fernandez, issued a statement Thursday, saying that although there is "no doubt" McCray believes she was assaulted, the damage to his client's reputation could be irreversible.
"In these types of cases recent history demonstrates that in the court of public opinion there is no presumption of innocence and there is no requirement that accusations be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. There is a willingness by many to believe these types of accusations despite the lack of credible evidence."
Elected in 2011, Reddick is term-limited and widely believed to be interested in running for a seat on the Hillsborough County Commission. In recent months, he has taken a prominent role in David Straz's campaign for mayor.
Contact Charlie Frago at [email protected] or (727)893-8459. Follow @CharlieFrago.