Patient Awarded $546,000 For Abuse

Physical Therapist Had Sex With Teen Client

April 03, 1992|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff writer

A former physical therapist to professional sports stars was orderedyesterday to pay more than half a million dollars to a woman he sexually abused five years ago as a teen-age patient.

Ray Scott Teets,once a physical therapist for the Orioles and Colts, and the firm that employed him, Physical Therapy and Sports Fitness Associates, wereordered to pay $46,000 for medical expenses and pain and suffering. Teets was ordered to pay $500,000 in punitive damages to Colleen P. O'Shea, ending a seven-day civil trial in county Circuit Court.

After deliberating for seven hours over two days, a jury ruled that O'Shea did not consent to have sex with Teets while receiving treatment for an injured knee on July 24, 1986, at the therapist's Severna Park home. O'Shea, now 21, was 15 at the time; Teets was 39.

"Hepushed me back on the bed and then he performed oral sex on me and then he raped me," O'Shea had told the jury, hesitating and appearing to fight back tears. "I tried to push him off me. His grip got tighter."

After the verdict was announced, O'Shea, of Lutherville, said she was glad the jury rejected Teets' defense.

"For the past sevenor eight days, the defense has tried to prove I had some capacity atage 15, a sophomore in high school, to consent to the acts of a 39-year-old, a monster," said O'Shea, an aspiring lawyer and a junior sociology major at Loyola College.

She also said she was frustrated because other former patients who claim Teets abused them as teen-age girls were not allowed to testify.

Her father, Michael O'Shea, said, "We would have never been here if he would have gotten what he deserved in another courtroom." He said he was referring to a 1988 criminal case in which Teets pleaded guilty to sexual child abuse in exchange for a suspended sentence.

Teets, who was stripped of his license after that conviction, had testified that O'Shea willingly participated in the sex act. Neither he nor his wife displayed a reaction when the verdict was announced.

Afterward, Teets said: "From my standpoint, this is just about money. The things that are important to me, my marriage and God, they can't take that away from me."

Teets, who says he is now living in Kentucky and attending seminary school, added, "I don't have $500,000."

His lawyer, Roy F. Mason, said he will ask a judge to throw out the punitive damages.

During closingarguments Wednesday, Mason told the jury the girl's father was justified in wanting to blow Teets' head off with a gun after learning of the sexual encounter, but he asked the jury to set aside the emotional response to seek vengeance.

"Mr. Teets did something that was morally wrong. No question," Mason said. "The plaintiff, we contend, did something morally wrong, too. She came before you and didn't tell the truth about what happened."

The woman lied, Mason suggested, because the only thing worse than telling her father she had been rapedwould have been to tell him she had consented.

Mason reminded thejury that the state's Health Claims Arbitration Board had ruled lastyear against the O'Sheas' medical malpractice claim.

Robert C. Erlandson, representing Physical Therapy and Sports Fitness Associates,the professional association that employed Teets and was named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit, said the firm should not be considered negligent in its hiring because Teets was well known for teaching physical therapy at the University of Maryland and for treating professional athletes.

The jury did not find the firm negligent but did find it liable for assault and battery. Erlandson said he would ask Judge Eugene M. Lerner to set aside that verdict.

During closing arguments, attorney Stephen A. Markey, representing the O'Sheas, said: "Mr. Teets violated the trust that Colleen O'Shea had placed in him as aphysical therapist. Mr. Teets violated the standards required of a physical therapist. Mr. Teets violated all standards of common decency. Mr. Teets violated the laws, and Mr. Teets violated Colleen O'Shea."

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