Fmr. Starting Place Counselor Pleads Guilty To Sex Crimes

HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) – A counselor at the Starting Place, a drug and rehabilitation treatment facility in Plantation, accused of sexually assaulting teen has taken a plea deal.

In court Thursday Raphael Castillo, 44, pled guilty to sexual battery on a minor. In exchange, he was given a ten year sentence. Castillo’s lawyer, Joshua Sheskin said the change of plea was the best thing to do given the nature of the evidence. He pointed out that while Castillo pled guilty it was not an admission of guilt.

According to Castillo’s arrest affidavit, a 17-year old told police on September 21st, 2011, Castillo, his state appointed drug treatment counselor, picked him up in his Jeep. At one point, the teen told police, Castillo put his hands down into the teen’s pants and fondled him.

On October 10th, the teen told police Castillo picked him up again and then they drove to the area of N 35th Avenue and Van Buren Street in Hollywood where they parked in an alley. It was there that Castillo allegedly forced the teen to perform a sex act on him and then he sexually battered the teen.

The following day, Hollywood police arrested Castillo who reportedly confessed to two of the sex acts.

The Starting Place, which receives state funding and has several contracts with the Department of Children and Families, has gone through many changes since allegations surfaced in 2008 that female teenagers at their residential treatment center in Hollywood were being sexually abused. Six girls came forward to say that two former staffers had sexually abused them.

The Hollywood residential treatment center was closed down permanently and 45 teenagers who were undergoing treatment had to be relocated.

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