Health Care

Two rapes put a 19-year-old in therapy. Then, her therapist told her she was ‘so sexy’

A Palm Harbor mental health counselor gave up his license after the Florida Department of Health suspended him for sexually pursuing a 19-year-old patient, a two-time rape victim.

The emergency suspension order (ESO) on Stephen McGinley’s license says he told the young woman she was “extremely hot” and “I want to make love to you, girl ... slowly” and touched her sexually while slow-dancing with her during a session.

A week after the Florida Department of Health online dropped the ESO on McGinley’s license on July 11, he proffered a “voluntary relinquishment pending board action.” His current license status: retired. The 55-year-old had been licensed in Florida since December 1999.

The 19-year-old woman lived in Tampa with her family. She began seeing a counselor where her family lived previously after being raped in high school and her first week of college. Upon their move to Florida, she started therapy with McGinley at The Brain Enhancement Institute in Palm Harbor on Feb. 12.

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According to the ESO, McGinley began bringing his personal life into the sessions, telling the woman he was dating a 19-year-old stripper while he went through a divorce.

“Mr. McGinley became flirtatious ... during their sessions and would tell her that she was beautiful and ‘hot,’ the ESO states. “Mr. McGinley also told [the woman] that he wanted to take her to expensive restaurants and would sit close to her on the couch, instead of sitting in a separate chair.”

The ESO said McGinley took the woman’s nervousness about a coming date as an opportunity to give her his personal cellphone number to call if she wanted to talk.

By April 2, McGinley began communicating in a personal manner with the woman. He told her he’d like to “hang out” with her but it would cost him his license.

“Mr. McGinley then told [the woman] that she was ‘extremely hot,’ that he had fantasized about her, and that he enjoyed flirting with her,” the ESO said. “Mr. McGinley also began to call [the woman] ‘baby’ and use emojis demonstrating romantic attraction.”

During an April 15 therapy session, McGinley talked his teen patient into slow dancing with him to a song off her phone. The ESO describes what the therapist did with a patient trying to work through the effects of two cases of men taking advantage of her.

“While they were dancing, Mr. McGinley grabbed [the woman’s] waist and pulled her body close to his and began to kiss her. Mr. McGinley then sat down in his office chair and pulled [her] onto his lap, placing her legs around him so that she was straddling him. Mr. McGinley placed his hands under [her] sweater and cupped her breasts in his hands, over her bra. Mr. McGinley grabbed [her] buttocks and placed his hand between her legs, touching her vagina through her pants.

“Mr. McGinley took [her] hand and placed it on his penis, through his pants.”

The receptionist knocked to tell them they’d gone beyond the arranged time. McGinley got his patient to agree to see him outside the office. That night, the ESO says, he talked with her via phone about his personal life and other clients.

After agreeing to an April 18 dinner date at McGinley’s house, the woman began getting texts from McGinley before the night: “We are off to a good start. You are so sexy, honey”; “I would really like to make slow and passionate love to you, baby.”

After April 16 texts from McGinley, the woman called her previous therapist to talk about McGinley. Her father saw her crying on the phone. The therapist told the woman’s parents about McGinley’s behavior.

When McGinley texted her the next morning, the parents answered that he needed to cease communication. That day, the ESO says, McGinley told his receptionist he’d kissed the patient and told the owner of the Brain Enhancement Institute that he kissed his patient while dancing with her.

After the woman’s parents filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, “McGinley admitted to a deputy that he felt his conduct toward ... was unethical and a poor decision on his part.”

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Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.