Nurse cleared in denial of pill

A woman jailed after a rape report didn't get a dose of contraception.

Published February 2, 2007

TAMPA - A jail nurse denied an inmate emergency birth control because of a mistake, not because of religious objections, a sheriff's official said Thursday.

Hillsborough sheriff's Col. David Parrish called the situation a "break in communication," emphatically denying that religious beliefs about Plan B, the so-called "morning after pill" played any role in the nurse's decision.

His statement Thursday was the first substantive response by the Sheriff's Office since the incident became public four days ago.

The controversy surrounds the arrest of a 21-year-old University of South Florida student who was jailed after she reported being raped at Gasparilla.

At the Orient Road jail, the woman was denied an important second dose of Plan B to prevent pregnancy. Her attorney, Vic Moore, says a nurse refused for religious reasons.

But a three-day internal investigation by the Sheriff's Office and medical provider Armor Correctional Health Services concluded the nurse was not authorized to give her the pill.

When the woman was booked into the jail, a police officer told deputies about the medication.

But the woman was just one of 166 people booked into jail on the busy Saturday, and another deputy picked up the medication, unaware of the unusual circumstances, Parrish said.

Medications brought to the jail by inmates must be taken to medical professionals, who verify it before dispensing anything. In this case, that didn't happen, Parrish said.

He dismissed the woman's claim about religious objections.

"We categorically deny that," he said.

He refused to go into more details about the woman's jail stay, saying Moore threatened legal action. Moore declined to confirm that.

"Our story remains consistent," said Moore's wife, Alice G. Moore, who spoke on his behalf. "We do believe there are witnesses - it was in a jail after all. It is unfortunate that they refused to take responsibility."

Abbie VanSickle can be reached at 813 226-3373 or vansickle@sptimes.com.