Attorney accused of molestation out on bond

Clearwater, Florida -- Robert Tankel listened to the proceedings in jailhouse blues, his sons and wife seated behind him.

Lewd and lascivious molestation: "it's a life felony, your honor," said Pinellas County Assistant State Attorney Kate Alexander.

Tankel, 57, is accused of inappropriately touching a 9-year-old boy on multiple occasions this past month. That 9-year-old told police Tankel inappropriately touched him during a "Big Brother Big Sister" trip to a Rays game and again at a Clearwater Threshers game a few weeks later.

"...Bob was sitting next to him and Bob reached over and rubbed his upper thigh," Clearwater Police Officer Justin Murray reported the child said.

According to the arrest affidavit, Tankel -- an attorney himself -- is accused of inappropriately touching a boy younger than 12 on June 17. The report also indicates that the incident happened while the victim was at an event with his "Big Brother" Willy Harris, who is part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program.

READ: Robert Tankel's arrest affidavit (PDF)

But the allegations didn't end there: the State's Attorney read a document in which she says Hankel admits to inappropriate actions.

"In this statement to Big Brothers Big Sisters, (Tankel) tells the match manager that he's 'a touchy-feely guy.' That he was with Willy Harris' little brother, corroborating the victim's statement, and while they were walking out he pinched his butt and it 'felt like electricity,'" Alexander said.

Tankel's defense called this "horseplay."

"This is just the very beginning. We plan to investigate this case and thoroughly defend," said defense attorney Bobbi Madonna of the Todd Foster Law Group.

Tankel is out on a $100,000 bond. He is required to have no contact with children during this investigation and has already surrendered his passport.


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