Fugitive recounts ordeal at Pinellas drug rehab - WNCT

Fugitive recounts ordeal at Pinellas drug rehab

Posted: Updated:
Ray Harris, director of Simply Hope Ray Harris, director of Simply Hope
Mugshot of Andrea Giamportone, who claims she fled Simply Hope after Ray Harris' advances Mugshot of Andrea Giamportone, who claims she fled Simply Hope after Ray Harris' advances
Korrine Burdick, another woman who claims Harris made sexual advances Korrine Burdick, another woman who claims Harris made sexual advances
HERNANDO COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Andrea Giamportone is a fugitive from the law. She has been in hiding for 5 years.

Giamportone, 32, emerged from her out-of-state sanctuary long enough to explain to 8 On Your Side what she claims happened to her at the Simply Hope drug rehab program in Pinellas County, and why she ran from it and its director, a man named Ray Harris.

"He would basically try to kiss me anytime we were alone, you know pulling me on the side of the house where I was staying at," Giamportone said.

Giamportone spoke to 8 On Your Side via Skype.  She says she is more than 1,000 miles away from the state of Florida, incarceration and Ray Harris.

A Pinellas judge sent her to the Simply Hope rehab program in 2007, following a series of drug-related arrests and a DUI crash that seriously injured another driver.

Records show she repeatedly violated probation.  She had been in the county jail for 4 months in late 2007 when Harris agreed to take her into his program.

"He picked me up from jail and as soon as I got out, sitting in the lobby, he gave me a kiss on the mouth.  At the time it was awkward, but you're so vulnerable and you're just so happy to be out the doors, that it really didn't register as a problem in my head until later on, unfortunately," she said.

Simply Hope is part of the Pinellas court jail diversion program.  It offers housing for drug abusers trying to get clean.  Tax dollars pay to house some clients there.

Ray Harris is Simply Hope's director and a member of its board of directors.  Harris is a convicted felon who claims to have turned his life around.  His reports on Simply Hope clients carry great weight with the courts.  Those reports help determine who stays in his drug rehab program and who goes to jail.

During Andrea Giamportone's roughly 3 months at Simply Hope, she remembers she and Harris flirted with one another and he took her to a friend's party.

"We were standing in the kitchen and he pulled me into the closet and tried to start kissing me and putting his hands all over me and I didn't want anybody to see that, it was embarrassing to me," Giamportone said.

She claims, during her stay at Simply Hope, Harris repeatedly kissed and touched her.

"He would hold on to me, put his hands down my back, towards, my, what's the word, my butt," she said.

She also claims that Harris repeatedly made late night visits to the Simply Hope house in which she was staying.

"He did come in my room often, at a point where it did make me uncomfortable," she said.

While she was staying at Simply Hope, Giamportone said Harris began threatening her when he learned she was seeing another man.

"He would tell me if you don't stay away from men then I will recommend to the judge that you go back to prison for 7 years," she said.

Giamportone admits she used drugs while she was in the Simply Hope rehab program.

She was sent to a detox center called Turning Point.

Giamportone says it was the telephone conversations with Harris that convinced her to run.

"It was the phone calls, where I had to check in with him and he would say, 'Is today the day we're going to have sex?' I knew it wouldn't stop," she said.

In early 2008, she ran from Harris, Florida and hasn't been back since.

Giamportone regrets not speaking up in 2008, but claims she was afraid she would be sent back to jail.

"It's my word against his, I'm the addict in the facility and he's the director, so I didn't know what they were going to believe or anybody would believe at that time," she said.

Andrea Giamportone is not the first woman to run from the Simply Hope drug rehab program.

29-year-old Korrine Burdick fled from Simply Hope in 2009. Records show she told her probation officer that Harris propositioned her.

"He's well, I know I'm in control here and basically, what I say goes and you can either give me what I want or you can go to prison," Burdick said.

Probation records raise a question about whether Burdick ever recanted her story. She states she never did.

In August, another Simply Hope client, 27-year-old Jetta Deitchman, informed her probation officer of an incident that occurred in March involving Harris.  Deitchman ran from the program shortly afterward.  Her attorney, Roger Futerman, says she is a victim of sexual abuse and is cooperating with law enforcement in an ongoing criminal investigation involving Harris.

All of these women were sent to Simply Hope by Pinellas judges in an effort to get them off drugs and avoid prison time.  Running from the program meant they violated their probation and could face probable prison time.

Giamportone fled Florida and is still on the run.

"It's horrible, you're constantly looking over your shoulder," she said.

Former Simply Hope administrator Teresa Croyle was also Harris' former fiancee. Croyle claims that in January she discovered on Harris' cell phone inappropriate texts between Harris and several former and current female clients.

"I called the drug court manager and I spoke my beans about everything.  I told him about what I found in Ray's phone in January," Croyle said. "As far as I know there was no investigation done."

The sheriff's office has confirmed a criminal investigation involving Ray Harris is ongoing.

Harris has refused comment.

Harris' attorney Denis DeVlaming says his client did have a meeting last week with two Pinellas County detectives. The meeting lasted about an hour.

DeVlaming says the detectives went over some documentation to establish Mr. Harris' position, and both he and Harris offered their continued cooperation with law enforcement.

The Pinellas drug court has suspended sending female clients to Simply Hope at least until the investigation is finished.

Public Defender Bob Dillinger confirmed his office removed any female clients it was paying to house at Simply Hope.

Andrea Giamportone is watching from a distance, wishing for many reasons she had stepped forward five years ago.

"I do apologize to all the other women who had to go through this and maybe if I had come forward sooner, it wouldn't have happened to them," Giamportone said.

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Outpouring of support for New Port Richey soldier dealing with squatters

    Outpouring of support for New Port Richey soldier dealing with squatters

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 1:21 PM EDT2014-04-23 17:21:16 GMT
    Soldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photoSoldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photo
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community. Many News Channel 8 viewers and Facebook followers are angry about what happened to the soldier.
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community. Many News Channel 8 viewers and Facebook followers are angry about what happened to the soldier.
  • Pricey processing issue at Tampa hair academy resolved

    Pricey processing issue at Tampa hair academy resolved

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:35 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:35:13 GMT
    Loretta Maloy says she always expected to pay for the courses she took those several weeks, but thought $10,000 in loans just wasn’t right.
    Loretta Maloy says she always expected to pay for the courses she took those several weeks, but thought $10,000 in loans just wasn’t right.
  • New Port Richey soldier says squatters won't leave his home

    New Port Richey soldier says squatters won't leave his home

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 8:58 AM EDT2014-04-23 12:58:50 GMT
    Soldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photoSoldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photo
     When soldier Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he asked a friend to watch over his New Port Richey house. Now, they're fighting to get their house back.
    When soldier Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he asked a friend to watch over his New Port Richey house. Now, they're fighting to get their house back.
  • NewsMore>>

  • TPD homicide detective subject of federal probe

    TPD homicide detective subject of federal probe

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 6:02 PM EDT2014-04-23 22:02:03 GMT
    File photo: TPD homicide Detective Eric HoustonFile photo: TPD homicide Detective Eric Houston
    Tampa police detective Eric Houston is one of the investigators who worked the crime scene at the New Tampa home of Julie Schenecker. She's the mother accused of killing her two teenaged children.
    Tampa police detective Eric Houston is one of the investigators who worked the crime scene at the New Tampa home of Julie Schenecker. She's the mother accused of killing her two teenaged children.
  • Home alone: Sarasota kids help deputies catch burglary suspects

    Home alone: Sarasota kids help deputies catch burglary suspects

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 5:57 PM EDT2014-04-23 21:57:07 GMT
    Burglary suspects from left to right: Marcus Felder, Darian Jones, Trevor Jackson and Gary Saulby. Sarasota Co. Jail booking photosBurglary suspects from left to right: Marcus Felder, Darian Jones, Trevor Jackson and Gary Saulby. Sarasota Co. Jail booking photos
    Some quick-thinking kids in Sarasota are being credited for helping sheriff's deputies catch a group of burglary suspects who investigators say broke into the kids' home.
    Some quick-thinking kids in Sarasota are being credited for helping sheriff's deputies catch a group of burglary suspects who investigators say broke into the kids' home.
  • Homicide under investigation in Plant City

    Homicide under investigation in Plant City

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 5:49 PM EDT2014-04-23 21:49:24 GMT
    Plant City Police are investigating a murder on South Maryland Ave. Wednesday afternoonPlant City Police are investigating a murder on South Maryland Ave. Wednesday afternoon
    Plant City Police are investigating a homicide that occurred Wednesday afternoon at 516 South Maryland Avenue.
    Plant City Police are investigating a homicide that occurred Wednesday afternoon at 516 South Maryland Avenue.
  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Woman claims pedicure crossed the line

    Woman claims pedicure crossed the line

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 11:45 PM EDT2014-04-23 03:45:39 GMT
    A Shreveport woman said a nail tech from Style Nails in Shreveport crossed the line during a pedicure, and that she has cell phone video to prove it.
    A Shreveport woman said a nail tech from Style Nails in Shreveport crossed the line during a pedicure, and that she has cell phone video to prove it.
  • Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 2:49 PM EDT2014-04-22 18:49:19 GMT
    Image from CNN/KHOU-TVImage from CNN/KHOU-TV
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...
  • Search halted for missing Gaboon Viper

    Search halted for missing Gaboon Viper

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:08 PM EDT2014-04-22 23:08:20 GMT
    The missing viper could still be out there, but the search has been halted for safety concerns.
    The missing viper could still be out there, but the search has been halted for safety concerns.
Powered by WorldNow

3221 South Evans Street
Greenville N.C. 27834

Telephone: 252.355.8500
Fax: 252.355.8568
Email: newsdesk@wnct.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.