Pasco charity co-founder sentenced to 120 days in jail for battery

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NEW PORT RICHEY — Mariah King’s voice shook as she recalled how it impacted her when Brian Anderson touched her without her consent.

King told a judge on Thursday that the October 2020 incident affected her work as a massage therapist, changing how she reacted when clients made physical contact with her.

“I was immediately thrown into the same state of panic as I was locked in a room alone with Mr. Anderson, when he groped my hip,” she said.

A few yards to her right sat Anderson, who was convicted of battery this month for inappropriately touching King during a massage session.

Anderson is the co-founder of Veterans Alternative, a Pasco-based charity that assists veterans dealing with trauma. He is himself a decorated veteran.

He will serve 120 days in jail for battery against King, Pasco County Judge Joseph Poblick announced Thursday. His sentence also requires him to serve eight month’s probation, to undergo psychosexual evaluation and to pay court costs. He will receive credit for time he has already spent in jail.

Anderson’s lawyer, George Angeliadis, declined to comment.

Anderson told Poblick on Thursday that he did not mean to harm King, and he apologized to King for any harm he had done her. He asked Poblick for leniency.

“I’ve had a long life,” Anderson said. “... I’ve carried a lot on my shoulders. Helped a lot of people.”

Angeliadis told Poblick that Anderson should go through veterans treatment court, a system that focuses on treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues. He referenced traumatic experiences Anderson went through in the military.

Prosecutors asked for a year of jail time, the maximum penalty. Prosecutor Pota Papakos said the time for Anderson to have asked for help was when the case was first filed.

Papakos also described a recorded jailhouse phone call between Anderson and his wife, Amy Anderson. In it, Amy Anderson said it would be nice if King were to leave town and offered to make her presence visible, according to Papakos.

Brian Anderson told his wife to do it, Papakos said.

King said in her statement that Amy Anderson came to a chiropractor’s office where King worked and asked a front desk manager about King’s schedule.

Poblick said he had not taken jail calls into account while deciding Anderson’s sentence. Although he said there was “troubling stuff” in Anderson’s jail calls that could amount to tampering with a witness, he said it was up to the state or law enforcement to handle.

Angeliadis declined to comment on jail calls. Amy Anderson did not respond to voicemails and messages requesting comment.

At Anderson’s trial this month, King described the incident last year, in which she said he touched her arm and upper thigh, put his arm around her and violated her personal space.

At the request of lawyers on both sides of the case, the trial focused solely on Anderson’s interaction with King. Jurors did not hear about his charity work; his 14 years of military service; his three Bronze Stars, including one with valor. And they did not hear about the allegations from other women that Anderson sexually harassed them when they worked at Veterans Alternative. (Anderson has denied those accusations.)

Before sentencing, Anderson’s lawyers submitted documents about awards, degrees and promotions he has received, as well as letters to Poblick attesting to Anderson’s character.

Former comrades-in-arms describe his ethics and leadership in uniform. Veterans recall how his charity helped them in dark times.

“Brian is the reason I am alive today,” wrote Abryathyn Connor, a Marine Corps veteran who attended a program at Veterans Alternative.

Anderson struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury after returning from Afghanistan, Amy Anderson wrote. But, she added, he has been a dutiful stepfather to her children and dedicated advocate for veterans.

“I will never believe that my husband has ever had the intent to knowingly hurt someone,” Amy Anderson wrote.

Papakos said Thursday that the other women who have made accusations about Brian Anderson’s conduct wrote letters to Poblick.

Anderson left his job as chief executive officer of Veterans Alternative before the trial.

After the trial, he was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance when the Pasco sheriff’s office said he tried to take a Xanax pill he possessed illegally. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

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