Thursday, June 12, 2014
An attorney who sexted a law student clerk has been suspended for a partially-stayed one year term by the Ohio Supreme Court.
The inappropriate text messages were sent to a third year University of Akron student who had interviewed for a student law clerk position with his firm.
The student accepted the position and shortly thereafter received an invitation to travel to Washington, D.C. with him. When she declined, he e-mailed her that it was strike one and three strikes you are out.
The student resigned the clerkship and reported the conduct to the professor who had posted the position. The professor reported the matter to the bar.
In order to fully recognize the gravity of the misconduct in this case, however, it is necessary to consider the content of the text messages that Mismas sent to this third-year law student who sought employment as a law clerk in his firm—facts that the parties do not set forth in their stipulations and neither the panel nor the board set forth in its report. Although the [interview] conversation began with a general discussion of Ms. C’s commitment to Mismas’s primary area of practice—asbestos litigation—and the psychological toll that the clients’ circumstances can have on those who assist them, it soon took an inappropriate turn.
The turn was into a discussion about "taking beatings" that became sexual in nature.
The actual text messages are not in the record before the court.The attorney's explanation was that he was intoxicated and the messages were in jest.
The court rejected a proposed public reprimand and imposed a one year suspension with six months stayed on conditions, noting that unwelcome sexual advances made in the context of continuing employment constitutes particularly egregious misconduct. Thus, the misconduct not only involved the ianappropriate texting but also the abuse of the employment relationship. (Mike Frisch)