State restricts psychiatrist for making sexual advances on inmates

March 29, 2011

BROOKSVILLE - State officials have placed emergency restrictions on a psychiatrist who used to treat female inmates at the Hernando County Jail following accusations he sexually fondled patients and, among other charges, requested they take off their clothes during therapy sessions.

The state surgeon general ruled that Dr. James Yelton Rossello cannot treat female patients and must be supervised if he treats male patients after concluding that he abused his role as a psychologist by making sexual advances toward female inmates while working at the jail between November 2009 and August 2010.

Florida Department of Health officials also declared him, "an immediate serious danger to the public health, safety or welfare."

An investigation was eventually prompted after one inmate informed a correction officer at the jail.

The victims' ages ranged from early to late 20s.

Attempts to reach Rossello were unsuccessful. Attempts to reach him through, Corrections Corporation of America, which ran the jail at the time, were also unsuccessful. An employee said she believes he is no longer employed there.

According to the FDH emergency restriction order, Rossello asked female inmates to expose their breasts to him, requested hugs, kisses and in one case, a lap dance. He also handed out contact information to see about getting together for sex once they were released from jail.

His most avert attempt to engage in sexual activity with a patient occurred while treating a 24-year-old woman who would not allow him to touch her beyond a tattoo and scar on her wrist, the report showed.

After agreeing to give him a hug, the woman claimed he pushed her against a wall, kissed her lips and neck and placed his hand between her legs.

"Dr. (Rossello's) actions demonstrate such a disregard for the laws and regulations governing physicians that the safety of patients cannot be assured as long as Dr. (Rossello) continues to practice medicine without restriction in the state of Florida," the report showed.

Other examples from the FDH included:

• While treating a 29-year-old patient, he inferred that he would provide her drugs for sex.

• During a session with one 21-year-old patient, Rossello had her sit on his lap and later requested she undress for him.

Believing that whether she complied would influence whether she received her medications, she complied, but pulled away when Rossello grabbed for her underwear. Afterward, Rossello increased her anti-psychotic medication and then later asked to see her once she was released from the jail.

• That Rossello told one patient he was, "faithful to his wife 98 percent of the time," and that, "he became a bad boy," with women like the patient he was treating.

• Rossello also prescribed lorazepam to a woman who he knew to have a history of medication abuse. An independent medical expert also concluded that the drug was inappropriate for her and that nothing in her medical records justified the treatment.

• That Rossello also falsified medical records, claiming he evaluated a patient once when he provided treatment for her for roughly six months. He also failed to document multiple treatments.

Officials are now seeking a proceeding to determine future discipline and restrictions on Rossello's license. Sgt. Donna Black, spokeswoman for the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, said she could not comment on whether charges locally are pending against him.

Source: Jeff Schmucker, "State: Sexual advances lead to jail psychiatrist's restrictions," Hernando Today (Tampa Tribune), March 29, 2011.


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