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Practical World True News Magazine

Mental health worker charged with abusing 2 teen patients


Sarasota, Florida -- Jeremy Henry, a Sarasota mental health care worker, remains in jail Monday night on $500,000 bond after his arrest for allegedly sexually abusing two 15-year-old girls in his care. Police worry there may be more victims. "These teens may have been scared into saying anything that's why we encourage fold who know anything, heard anything even rumors to give us a call," says Genevieve Judge, spokesperson for the Sarasota Police Department. Henry was entrusted with the mental health of patients, particularly teenagers, and was arrested Friday on two counts of lewd battery. The victims are two girls while they were his patients at Bayside Center for Behavioral Health. "It's an unforgivable thing giving me the chills to think we had a neighbor that close that would do something like that," says Helen Olson, Henry's neighbor. Olson lives across the street from Henry's Port Charlotte home that he shares with his wife and two young sons. Olson says the family keeps to themselves. Olson's 15-year-old granddaughter lives next door to her. Olson says, "I wouldn't want him in my neighborhood." Health worker investigated in assault case The mother of one of the victims became suspicious when she noticed text messages between Henry and her daughter days after she checked out of Bayside. That's when she called police. Judge says, "He sexually and inappropriately touched them whether it be in a group setting or bathroom or shower taking advantage of the fact he had power over these girls because he was there to help them get them back on track and took advantage of that." Police say he had sex with the teens and forced them into oral sex during their two-week stay last month. One victim was being treated for making suicidal threats. Judge says, "He told one of the victims no one would believe them be police or family members because of where they were." According to the arrest report, the teens told police Henry would tamper with surveillance cameras by turning them off or changing the direction they were pointed. "No, that cannot be true not Jeremy," says James Henry's, Henry's 80-year-old father. Henry says that's not the kind of man he raised he's innocent. "He's a family-type guy," says Henry. Police say Henry admits to the texting but denies having any physical contact with the teens. Henry has worked at other mental health centers in the area including Manatee Glens. He joined Bayside in July. Sarasota Memorial Hospital officials say Henry passed all criminal and professional state and federal background checks. The hospital has fired Henry. Sarasota Memorial Health Care System released this statement: We were deeply disturbed by what we heard from investigators about Jeremy Henry. Concerns about Henry were initially raised when a patient's mother informed us of text messages Henry had exchanged with her daughter. Although Henry denied inappropriate contact with the patent, we immediately suspended him while we continued an internal investigation. We concluded that investigation Friday and made the decision to terminate him. As we gathered additional details, we also reported those findings to law enforcement and the Florida Abuse Hotline (DCF). The health, safety and welfare of our patients is always our top priority. While we cannot discuss details of the situation due to patient privacy issues, we are assisting authorities with this case and looking at our internal protocols and processes to identify ways we can strengthen our system of care. Henry has worked as a psychiatric technician at Bayside Center for Behavioral Health since July 21, 2014. As a psych tech, he helped care for and monitor patients in our behavioral health hospital. We conducted an extensive employment and criminal background check before placing Henry in that position of trust. He passed not only the standard FDLE criminal background check we conduct on all employees, but also received clearance from the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA) and U.S. Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in a more advanced Level II background check required of anyone working with vulnerable patient populations. Before hiring Henry, we also checked professional references and confirmed there were no complaints or concerns reported by previous employers. He had no previous complaints during his employment with Bayside.
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