Another suit filed against embattled jail psychiatrist
By TONY HOLT | Hernando Today
Published: June 7, 2011
She was offended, violated and wasn’t going to take it anymore, she said.
The former Hernando County jail inmate reported the alleged sexual harassment by her psychiatrist to a female correctional officer.
She consoled the shaken inmate. The two women talked. They cried. The officer promised to report it to her supervisors.
Less than an hour later, the inmate was led to a dark, isolated cell with no windows. She remained in solitary confinement for another nine days, she said.
She only received one visitor – an investigator from Corrections Corporation of America, the company that ran the jail.
Feeling ignored and intimidated, she was too scared to push the matter further, she said.
When she learned last month two of her former inmates filed lawsuits against Dr. James Yelton Rossello, she changed her mind and joined them, said attorney Samuel Rogatinsky.
Rogatinsky, of South Florida, is representing all three women in the lawsuit.
The latest plaintiff, identified in court documents as Jane Doe III, filed her suit Tuesday in Hernando County Circuit Court.
She sobbed during a conference call with her attorney.
“It wasn’t about me getting money,” she said. “It’s about him not being able to do this to anyone else.”
Jane Doe III was incarcerated at the jail from May to October 2010. CCA managed the jail until late August of that year.
She was released from solitary confinement about two weeks before the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office took over jail operations.
By then, the officer who consoled her was no longer employed at the jail and the other CCA managers who supposedly handled the complaint were gone. Yelton also had transferred.
CCA eventually fired him following a slew of sexual misconduct allegations.
Yelton has never been criminally charged, but the State Attorney’s Office is still investigating the Hernando cases.
Jane Doe III described Yelton as a large, broad-shouldered man who weighed about 250 pounds.
“He could have restrained one of us easily if he really wanted to,” she said.
In his court filing, Rogatinsky stated Yelton “sexually molested the Plaintiff on numerous occasions by touching the tattoo that was just above her buttocks while counseling her.”
Jane Doe III said Yelton repeatedly asked her about her sexual preferences, including whether she was bisexual or had any “lesbian relationships” in the jail. He also asked her to describe her favorite sexual positions.
Rogatinsky said Yelton initially would ask his patients sexually charged questions, but made them think it was part of his psychoanalysis.
Eventually, he stopped asking questions and started beckoning his patients to shed their clothes or perform other sexual favors, Rogatinsky said.
During her second visit with Yelton, the latest plaintiff told him she had gained weight. She assumed it was a side effect from one of the drugs the doctor had prescribed her.
“He told me to pull my pants down,” she said. “He told me he wanted to have sex with me.”
At one point, Yelton ordered her to show him her tattoo. When she lifted her shirt and revealed her lower back, he caressed it, she said.
The other two plaintiffs accused Yelton of rubbing, kissing and fondling them during their visits.
Yelton would invite his patients into a small office and he would lock the door to prevent correctional officers from entering, Rogatinsky said.
Jane Doe I accused Yelton of “threatening her with additional criminal charges and threatening to withhold her medications if she refused to cooperate with his deviant behavior,” the attorney wrote.
Jane Doe II accused him of forcing her to sit on his lap while he was sexually aroused, grabbing her crotch area and sexually battering her.
When the allegations first came to light in March, the Florida surgeon general restricted Yelton from treating female patients.
Rogatinsky said Yelton told at least one of the plaintiffs he was “98 percent faithful” to his wife and claimed he had an expense account and a hotel room for when she would be released from jail.
Rogatinsky said he would contact the State Attorney’s Office about the latest allegations.
CCA, based out of Nashville, Tenn., has declined to comment on the Yelton lawsuit.
Reporter Tony Holt can be reached at 352-544-5283 or firstname.lastname@example.org.