TAMPA - City Council Chairman Frank Reddick said Thursday that police have cleared him of any wrongdoing in connection with a woman's claim last week that he raped her as a child nearly 40 years ago.
"I've been cleared because the case is closed. I've been cleared. I just want to move forward with my life," said Reddick, 63, who has been a council member since 2011.
His comments to the Times were his first public remarks since Tasha McCray's dramatic accusation during a Dec. 6 City Council meeting that Reddick, an assistant teacher at Wilson Junior High School during the late 1970's, lured her to his home, where he gave her a strong alcoholic cocktail then forced her to give him oral sex.
Police investigated the claims this fall but didn't pursue charges. They said there wasn't enough evidence to find probable cause. McCray said the incident occurred when she was a student at Wilson between 1979 and 1981, but couldn't remember the exact date.
A police spokesman has said the case could be reopened if more people came forward with accusations or more evidence emerged about how old McCray was when the alleged incident occurred. Reddick has previously denied the allegations to detectives.
The case is currently inactive, police said. Under Florida law, if an offender over the age of 18 sexually abuses a child younger than 12, they are charged with capital sexual battery. If the child was 12 or older when the abuse occurred, the charge is lewd and lascivious assault.
With a few exceptions, the statute of limitations for the lewd and lascivious charge is about four years. But there is no statute of limitations for a capital sexual battery charge.
Meanwhile, the alleged victim, Tasha McCray, told the Times that she has hired an attorney and plans to file a civil suit against Reddick. She declined to name the attorney.
"The Lord knows the truth and so does Frank Reddick," McCray said via text message on Thursday.
Reddick talked Thursday after council members met as the city's Community Redevelopment Agency. During public comment, one resident, Frank R. Williams, addressed the issue, saying Reddick was "caught up in a mess and yet he's sitting right up there with you....doing wrong himself."
Neither Reddick nor the other six council members responded to Williams' comments.
Last week, McCray, 50, said during public comments that the incident had weighed on her for nearly four decades and she was seeking closure. She said she had only recently told her mother, but had tired of ignoring her own health and protecting others.
"I tried on every level to get verbal closure with no success. I feel like this is the only way I can get acknowledgement needed to really move on with my life," McCray said at the meeting. "I seek nothing more than acknowledgement."
Reddick has been widely viewed as a likely contender for a Hillsborough County Commission seat in 2020. His council term ends in May. In recent months, he has been a prominent and active supporter of David Straz's campaign for mayor. The Straz campaign has declined comment on Reddick's current or future role with the campaign.