TAMPA (FOX 13) - The office of Attorney General Pam Bondi says there's more to the story of her alleged stalker being released from a mental treatment facility without law enforcement being notified.
Wednesday, after winning an injunction to keep Bondi's alleged stalker, William Wilkes away from her, she said the mental health clinic, Gracepoint "failed her."
"I had a false sense of security thinking he was still getting treatment," Bondi said Wednesday following a court hearing.
It's likely Wilkes was released from Gracepoint after a psychiatrist answered "no" to the question, "Is he imminently threatening to hurt himself or others?"
That's the requirement to continue holding someone under the Baker Act.
Bondi said Gracepoint should have notified law enforcement when Wilkes was being released, but the Baker Act only requires such action when there is a warrant for the patient's arrest - and in this case, there wasn't.
However, Bondi's office says Gracepoint promised state troopers they would be notified anyway. Her office has now learned a paperwork mix-up at Gracepoint led to Wilkes being discharged without troopers being notified.
"I spoke to the CEO at Gracepoint myself after this happened," said Nicholas Cox, the statewide prosecutor. "He was great, he apologized, he told me what the problem was, that they were going to address it with discipline issues and that they were going to change policy."
Of course, Bondi is fortunate to have the ability to protect herself with a security detail and access to the state's legal system at the highest level.
"This is Pam Bondi, the attorney general of Florida who couldn't get a simple notification that one of her stalkers was out," said Cox. "What about Suzy Q on the street?"
Cox's statements could mean Bondi will take a victim's advocate role in changing the way cases like hers are handled in the future.
"They owe the community a duty of safety as well," said Cox. "All we are asking for is notification. It seems silly we would have to do this. But it strikes me that we may have to go to the legislature and say, 'Make them do it.'"
Gracepoint released a statement to FOX 13 on Friday saying:
"Due to HIPAA and patients' rights we cannot confirm or deny anyone has received treatment. In general terms, if law enforcement Baker Acts someone and there is not a legal hold or a warrant, legally we are not required to notify law enforcement. As a courtesy we can call. If there was ever a circumstance we did not, we apologize.
"The Baker Act law is designed to assist with an emergency mental health crisis. A person is only discharged after a psychiatrist determines a person no longer meets that legal threshold.
Can the "system" sometimes fail? Yes, Florida used to have short-term residential programs that would allow a judge to court order up to 3 months of treatment. "
-Joe Rutherford, CEO