A Lakeland licensed mental health counselor made his first appearance before a judge Wednesday on charges he sexually battered two clients.

  • Anthony Conti accused of touching women during visits
  • More potential victims come forward, police say
  • Attorney asks for no rush to judgment

Detectives said Anthony Conti touched the women on their private areas during visits to his Edgewood Avenue office and told the women it was a form of therapy.

The Lakeland Police Department said Conti admitted to the touching Tuesday when one of the women visited his office and was wired for sound.

"I mean, it's very strange," said police Sgt. Gar Gross. "They are going in there for help, for counseling. He's gaining their trust. He's going way overboard and the next thing you know they are being sexually battered."

Conti could face more charges, according to police.

Gross said two other accusers have come forward since Conti’s arrest.

"And we had one additional victim come through after seeing it on social media and the news, and then a little bit later (Wednesday) we have another victim," Gross said. "We are looking at a total of four."

Gross also said detectives still need to call back another half dozen potential victims.

Conti has been a mental health counselor for more than 30 years. The Florida Department of Health said it has no previous reports of complaints against him.

Conti's attorney, Art Fulmer, spoke with reporters outside a courtroom after Conti's first appearance.

"I have known Tony for a long time. He's a good man. He has a practice upstairs from my practice," Fulmer said. "At this point, what I am asking you and everyone to do is not to rush to judgment."

Anyone with additional information about Dr. Conti is asked to call police at (863) 834-8977.