By CANDACE RONDEAUX, Times Staff Writer
She says he molested her during counseling sessions at the university's outpatient clinic.
Published October 15, 2005
TAMPA - A Tampa woman filed a lawsuit Friday against a former chairman of the University of South Florida psychiatry department, alleging that he sexually molested her and several other female patients during counseling sessions.
The lawsuit states that Dr. Anthony T. Reading made sexual advances to Gail Blanco on several occasions while treating her at the university's outpatient clinic. Blanco claims that Reading fondled her breasts and forced her to touch his genitals under the guise of psychiatric care.
Blanco, treated by Reading from September 2002 to December 2003, also alleges that the university was negligent when it allowed him to keep working despite a sexual misconduct complaint filed with Tampa police by another patient. The university's Board of Trustees has also been named a party in the legal claim.
On March 3, 2003, the other patient told Tampa police that Reading had made sexual advances during counseling sessions. Soon after, a detective contacted the Health Department about the allegations, according to the lawsuit.
No formal charges have been filed against Reading.
Reading, who now works at the Bay Behavioral Health Center in Panama City, was out on sick leave and could not be reached at his office. Attempts to reach Blanco were unsuccessful Friday and her attorney, James W. Clark, could not be reached for comment.
The lawsuit is the latest in a scandal that broke early this year after the Tampa Tribune reported that Reading had resigned as department chairman and director of the university's outpatient clinic. Several months after he retired in late December 2004, Florida Health Department officials put his license on emergency restriction, barring him from treating female patients.
USF College of Medicine spokesman Michael Hoad said he was aware of the lawsuit but that it was too soon to determine the level of the school's liability in the case. Hoad said USF has referred similar complaints from three of Reading's female patients to the Health Department and that a fourth patient had also complained directly to the state agency.
"This is a serious allegation and because we take it seriously we would like to see a full investigation conducted by the Department of Health," Hoad said.
Health Department spokesman Doc Kokol said he could not confirm whether his agency is investigating Reading's conduct. But he said Reading remains on restriction and can only treat male patients.