PINELLAS PARK, Fla. — The caretaker accused of inappropriately touching women at the mental health facility he worked for in Pinellas Park was granted bond on Sunday.
- Mental health worker accused of sexual battery on patients
- Incidents occurred at Personal Enrichment through Mental Health Services
- Investigators say three adult females were sexually battered, molested
Nicholai Brief, 34, has been charged with sexual battery and three counts of lewd and lascivious molestation of elderly or disabled person. Investigators say he touched three victims inappropriately while caring for them at Personal Enrichment Through Mental Health Services, known as PEMHS.
Brief first appeared in court on Friday. The judge allowed the State Attorney more time to establish probable cause for the lewd and lascivious molestation of elderly or disabled person charges.
Then on Sunday, the judge found probable cause to raise Brief's bond to $140,000. If he does bond out, he'll need to wear a GPS monitor. He also cannot have contact with the victims.
Police intitially received a report that a staff member at Personal Enrichment through Mental Health Services had engaged in non-consensual sexual activity with multiple patients. Investigators learned a total of three adult female victims had been sexually battered and molested in the presence of an elderly person or disabled person, according to the report.
"They're there to receive treatment and help, and what we don’t want is for anyone to shy away from receiving treatment or help," said police Sgt. Lonnie Lancto.
Alleged victim speaks
An alleged victim reached out to us on Saturday. She didn't want her identity revealed, but detailed what happened to her over the phone.
She said she was at the facility seeking help when Brief had inappropriate contact with her.
“They have some really good techs in there, they do," she said. "That just really actually care and listen. They do. And just one person just ruins it and it makes you fear all the rest of them.”
She went on to say she's upset that Brief was hired by the facility at all, because in 2016 he was charged with domestic battery by strangulation. According to an arrest affidavit, he was accused of strangling a woman he was married to for years, then smashing her cell phone when she tried to call police.
Documents show the State Attorney later said the facts of the case didn't warrant prosecution.
The victim says she hopes if there are more victims, they will come forward to investigators. Regarding Brief, she went on to say, "he deserves to be punished because he’s a predator.”
The facility sent out a statement saying:
PEMHS has a strict protocol in place regarding any and all reports of this nature, takes these reports seriously, and condemns this type of alleged behavior. Once PEMHS became aware of these claims, it opened an immediate investigation regarding the incident, terminated Mr. Brief’s employment, and promptly notified appropriate officials.
(Mugshot of Nicholai Brief: Courtesy of the Pinellas Park Police Department)
The police department is asking anyone at PEMHS who believes they may be a victim of sexual misconduct to contact police at 727-369-7864.
The investigation remains ongoing.