LAKELAND (FOX 13) - A third victim has reached out to Lakeland Police after a mental health counselor's arrest on sexual misconduct allegations Tuesday. Officers charged 71-year-old Anthony Conti Jr. with two felony counts of a psychotherapist engaging in sex with a client.
Conti is accused of touching at least two women inappropriately, touching that continued after clients expressed discomfort with the situation. According to Lakeland Police two women came forward with similar stories about recent sessions with the same counselor. Detectives utilized a series of undercover techniques to make the arrest.
"It's shocking" said Lakeland Police Sgt. Gary Gross. "You go to him for help and become victimized. We're shocked. The community is shocked. We're glad he is in jail."
A sign posted outside the counselor's Edgewood Drive office Wednesday included the message "Due to a family emergency, this office will be closed the rest of the week. Normal business hours will reconvene on Monday, October 3, 2016. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience. The Contis."
Authorities tell Fox 13 the allegations surfaced after a victim reached out to the State Attorney's office. The officer referred the victim to Lakeland Police. During the course of the investigation, a second victim alerted the police department about a similar experience.
In statements to police, victims said Conti described inappropriate touching as "eastern medicine therapy." The counselor allegedly told victims the intimate touching would help relieve depression and restart the body. The counselor is accused of groping the clients and making improper sexual contact.
Lakeland Police released redacted versions of affidavits (will email the link ) and expressed concern about more potential victims. The State Attorney's Office and special victims unit are involved in the investigation. Anyone with information is urged to contact Lakeland Police.
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