Woman Abused By Therapist In '86 Seeks $100 Million

Defendant Says Sex Was Consensual

March 25, 1992|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff writer

In the early 1980s, at the height of his career as a physical therapist, Ray Scott Teets tended to pro tennis star Pam Shriver and achingathletes from the Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Colts.

Now, convicted of sexually abusing a 15-year-old female patient and stripped of his license, he is defending himself in a $100 million lawsuit in which the woman, now in her 20s, and her parents are charging him with sexual assault and medical malpractice.

"What a great guy he was. He treated the Baltimore Orioles," Stephen A. Markey III, lawyer for Colleen O'Shea and her parents, told jurors.

Hinting that the therapist had a darker side, the lawyer added: "Mr. Teets had quite a following of young girls, particularly young high school girls."

Standing yesterday before a county Circuit Court jury, Markey said Teets, then 39, had treated O'Shea's injured knee. He said the Lutherville girl went to Teets' Severna Park home on July 24, 1986 to observe a day in the life of a physical therapist.

He said Teets showed her the physical therapy equipment in his basement and then ushered her on a tour of the rest of the house.

"When he got her upstairs, he assaulted and raped her," Markey said.

But a lawyer for Teets told a different story, insisting that the girl consented to have sex. And, said Gilbert F. Shelsby Jr., it's not a case of medical malpractice.

"That is a fiction Mr. Markey came up with to try to convince you to give Colleen O'Shea money," Shelsbytold the jurors, stressing that treatments on the girl's knee had ended and the sex took place in the man's house, not his office.

While talking, he pointed to a greeting card, blown up to poster size, allegedly written by O'Shea to Teets on that July day in 1986.

"Heysweetums! How are you?" the card reads. "I had a great time today with you. Your office was a lot of fun. I'm glad that we could spend some time together."

A second, more explicit letter from the girl was destroyed by Teets so his wife wouldn't find it, Shelsby said.

The state's health claims arbitration board has ruled against the O'Sheas' medical malpractice claim.

A lawyer for Physical Therapy and Sports Fitness Associates, the professional association that employedTeets and is named as a defendant in the medical malpractice suit, said the firm should not be considered negligent in its hiring. He said Teets, who was an instructor at the University of Maryland's schoolof physical therapy, had a sterling reputation.

And, said lawyer Robert C. Erlandson, any sex between the two had nothing to do with the firm's physical therapy practice.

"I'm not going to get up hereand say it was right for anyone to have sex with a 15-year-old girl," Erlandson said. "This was an act done by Scott Teets on his own, away from his office, on a frolic.

"We are being sued because Mr. Teets had sex with Miss O'Shea. Under any reasonable definition, that is not a professional service."

Markey, the lawyer for the O'Sheas,said yesterday that four other former patients of Teets' were available to show a pattern of sexual misconduct. Presiding Judge Eugene M.Lerner did not immediately rule on whether those four women will be allowed to testify.

Testimony in the trial, which is expected to last more than a week, began with Julie Coplan, a physical therapist who worked with Teets at Children's Hospital in Baltimore.

Coplan said she often overheard Teets making suggestive remarks to young female patients -- "sexual jokes, about orgasms and sexual body parts andthe like," she said -- and that she was afraid to be in the office alone with him at night.

Through it all, Teets sat in the back row of the courtroom's spectator gallery, whispering occasionally to his wife.

"I have great faith in God and I have faith the truth will come out," said Teets, who received a two-year suspended sentence and five years probation and was ordered to perform 500 hours of community service after pleading guilty in 1988 to sexual child abuse.

Teets is now living in Kentucky and attending seminary school.

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