Women in Pinellas County Drug Court Allege Sexually Abuse at Simply Hope, Inc.

The website for Simply Hope, Inc., promises a transitional housing program serving adults recovering from substance abuse. Through grant money, the company was able to expand into Pasco County in 2010.

It was awarded a 300 Club Grant through the court system which provides more than $35,000 a year from 2010-2013. It became qualified housing for the Jail Diversion Program and received additional support through the Pinellas County Public Defenders Office, members of the Pinellas Ex-Offender Reentry Coalition and co-chairs of the Coalition Housing Committee.

For the CEO of Simply Hope, Ray Harris, the program also granted him an opportunity to exert his influence over vulnerable young women caught up in the Pinellas County Drug Court Program. Over the years, hundreds of these women were required to live at the Simply Hope transitional houses. Ray Harris has a checkered past. He is a former drug addict with felony convictions, including a crime of dishonesty for grand theft.

One of the biggest supports of the Ray Harris and his company, Simply Hope, Inc., was Judge Dee Anna Farnell. In her courtroom, the progress reports from Ray Harris carried great weight. His allegations would send a women to prison for a long time. Anyone who dared to contradict his allegations faced the consequences.

Now dozens of these women have come forward to alleged sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of Ray Harris dating back to 2007.  Those women might risk a hefty prison sentence for complaining except for the fact that one woman was able to record the misconduct on her cell phone.

In the recording you can clearly hear Ray Harris kissing her. She avoids further sexual contact by telling him that she doesn't feel well and asks for a pass. The recording suggests that Ray Harris knows he can get what he wants with women he supervises in the program.

The media has found at least one instances showing a woman in the program reported the abuse to their probation officer, even as early as 2010. For years, nothing was done. The recording on the cell phone leaves little doubt about Ray Harris' intentions.

The local media is reporting that so far, Judge Farnell is not commenting on the allegations. Although no more referrals are being made to Simply Hope, Inc., the court has been slow to act. Drug Court participants are still in the program. After the phone recording surfaced, the Public Defender's Office didn't hesitate to pull female clients it represents out of the program.
Other members of the board of directors include Tommy Gillis, a rehabilitated ex-offender, and Tonya Cardinali, the marketing manager.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has opened an investigation into two of the complaints. It forwarded its findings to the State Attorney's Office in Pinellas County to determine whether charges should be filed against Ray Harris.

Read more about the problems at the Simply Hope Halfway House in Pinellas Park, FL.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The recording indicates that there was a text message before and it was never revealed.. Get you facts straight.. The recording was four months old and supposely in a pawn shop for three months.. Everyone except Mr. Harris is on drugs and continued to use drugs.. Not one woman was sent to prison. There never was any charges filed against Mr. Harris.. I think it is a shame that you as well as the media do not have all the facts and you blog this type of crap.. Records showed that the female urine test were never taken by Mr. Harris and that the girl who went to prison lied.. That records as well as a signed confession by her were made part of the investigation.. You blog on distorted reporting by a irresponsible journalist.. Were you aware that no monies from any grants ever were given to Simply Hope..Were you aware that the girl on the run for five years was at Simply Hope when Mr Harris was not employed nor did he work there at anytime she was there.. The recording does not tell the whole story.. Where are the text messages that were supposely on the phone.. save a recording but not the text's.. Where s the lawyer who told her to record the encounter..Jetta Dietchman was an had consentual contact with Mr Harris.. She kissed him and he responded.. Wrong no doubt but a jealous ex girlfriend and rivals in the housing industry are behind the slander and the facts are in the reports and records.. also where are the dozen of women.. ONE PEOPLE JUST ONE .. all other allegations were dismissed by the police as bogus and no evidence of such.. Jetta Dietchman is the only case that was investigated and it lacks any substance or validity to go forward.. It reeks of Get out of jail free behavior.. Did you know that dietchman and Harris had previous encounter before she was in jail.. Did you know that Harris being an active addict was involved with dietchman years ago before sSimply Hope .. You really should do your homework before you slander people amnd misconstrued facts with distorted reporting assumptions and speculation