Thursday, February 19, 2009
An attorney who had defaulted in New York on charges of misconduct involving a sex assault on a client was disbarred by the Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department. The court summarized the allegations and contentions of the attorney:
All of the allegations of the petition are based entirely upon the complaints of a former client of the respondent. She alleges that the respondent sexually assaulted her during an after-hours meeting at his law office in the Independence Mall. The respondent admits that he represented his former client in or about 1983 in connection with a charge of driving while under the influence. He otherwise has no specific recollection of her and denies all of the alleged acts of illegal conduct. The respondent raised the affirmative defense of laches and violation of due process in that the delay in prosecuting the disciplinary charges against him for more than 22 years constitutes actual prejudice. The Board found that the former client's reporting of the assault nearly 22 years after the fact was not unreasonable under the circumstances and there was no unreasonable delay in the ODC's initiation of disciplinary proceedings thereafter.
A hearing on the allegations had been conducted in Delaware, leading to an order of disbarment:
A hearing was held in the Delaware proceeding on July 11, 2006. The [Delaware] Board considered the respondent's disciplinary history, which consisted of private admonitions in 1984 and 1995 for falsely testifying in support of a claim for fees and failing to disclose a material fact to the Family Court regarding his client when such disclosure was necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client. He was suspended for three years in 2005 for sexually harassing female clients and employees, both verbally and physically, during the past five to ten years, thereby establishing a pattern of illegal activities. The Board also considered, in mitigation, the respondent's substantial record of public and community service and his participation in the Delaware State Bar Association, chairing the Delaware State Bar Family Law Section and the Adoption Committee of the American Bar Association Family Law Section. On balance, however, the Board concluded that the mitigating factors should not operate to reduce the sanction of disbarment.