A Lakeland Mental Health Counselor was arrested a second time for sexual misconduct by a psychotherapist.
On September 12, 2016, the Lakeland Police Department began to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct by psychotherapist, Anthony H. Conti Jr.
Conti is a licensed Mental Health Counselor at Tony Conti, M.A. Counseling Center, located at 1962 E. Edgewood Drive in Lakeland.
Six victims were identified and charges were filed with the State Attorney’s Office. Conti was out on bond at the time of the arrest Friday morning.
Lakeland Police opened another investigation on Conti on June 6, 2017 looking into additional allegations of sexual misconduct. The victim, 33 years old, stated she attended three therapy sessions with Conti from December 2014 to January 2015.
The victim stated that on January 17, 2015 she met with Conti at his office for a scheduled therapy session. During the therapy session, the victim was seated on a sofa in a sitting position and Conti requested that she close her eyes while he began some breathing exercises with her. Conti then began to touch her inappropriately. The victim described the exercise to police as 'sexual and caressing.'
According to the police report, Conti proceeded to pull down the victims' sweatpants and continued to touch her inappropriately.
"As Conti touched her, he explained a technique that would help her move chemicals throughout her body and help her with depression. Conti advised lymph nodes hold toxins which affect depression and needed to be massaged out. The touch therapy lasted 20 minutes," the report stated.
The report states that during the therapy, the victim stated she kept her eyes closed, and was afraid to open them. She stated she was uncomfortable, confused, scared and was panicking.
According to police, "After the session, Conti scheduled another session and explained that she had anger build up in her genitals and he needed to massage it. The victim never went to see Conti again."
The victim told police that during prior therapy sessions, Conti told her how beautiful she was and how touch therapy would help her release serotonin levels and help her feel more balanced.
On March 3, 2015, the victim reported this incident to her Employee Assistance Program service who arranged the referral to Conti. The incident was documented and a representative from the EAP service spoke to Conti. The incident was never reported to the Lakeland Police Department by the EAP referral service.
LPD’s investigation revealed that Anthony Conti utilized his position to provide and purport treatment “massaging/touching therapy” as a representation to the client that sexual contact by the psychotherapist is consistent with or part of the treatment of the client for the betterment of her PTSD, anxiety and depression.
Lakeland Police obtained an arrest warrant for Sexual Misconduct by a Psychotherapist and Conti was arrested at his home on June 22 and transported to the Polk County Jail.