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Complex sued over sex incident fights back

The complex's owners contend that the mother of a girl who had sex with a worker didn't supervise her properly.

By CHASE SQUIRES

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 25, 2000


DADE CITY -- The owners of a Land O'Lakes apartment complex sued over a sexual incident involving an underage girl fired back last week, saying the 14-year-old girl's mother was to blame for her daughter's sexual activity.

Nashville, Tenn.-based Brookside Properties Inc. denied it was to blame for a 1998 incident when a 30-year-old maintenance worker at Land O'Lakes Village Apartments engaged in sex with the girl.

The worker, Jason Ray Wise, later pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious behavior in the presence of a child and is serving a five-year prison term, court records show.

The girl's mother sued the apartment complex in Circuit Court, claiming the management did not check Wise's background and was unresponsive when residents reported a "steady stream" of underage girls were seen going in and out of his apartment on the property.

She alleges that witnesses saw girls under 16 carrying cases of beer into Wise's apartment and notified a property manager, who fired him in April 1998. But according to the suit, a company representative hired Wise back and apologized "because Brookside Properties Inc. feared Wise would sue them."

Brookside's Tampa attorney, Joseph T. Patsko, demands a jury trial and claims in his response that the girl was an "emancipated minor and all her actions were consensual." He also indicated the girl was of "sufficient age, experience and intelligence to appreciate the consequences of her actions."

Patsko alleges the girl's mother was negligent in not supervising her daughter better.

No court date has been set for the case.

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