Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Groping Conviction Leads To Disbarment: "Believed She Was Enjoying It As Much As He Was"

The New York Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department has accepted the resignation of a British solicitor convicted of groping a woman on a bus trip from Edinburgh to London.

The Express (U.K.) had the story of the criminal trial

Hugh Robert Wotherspoon was arrested after the German woman plucked up the courage to tell the driver how the man had been repeatedly fondling her thigh on a journey south from Scotland.

The 54-year-old married solicitor, who specialises in patent applications from his firm’s offices in London, Munich and New York, admitted that he had “tried it on” with the woman.

He insisted he was not guilty of any criminal offence because he believed she was enjoying it as much as he was.

But the woman, from London, said Wotherspoon’s behaviour had left her “shocked and shaken” and the only reason she did not hit him or scream for help was that she was too afraid of what his reaction might have been.

Legal Cheek also reported on the trial

Wotherspoon, who lives in Surrey, said that after sitting for so long next to the woman in the bus’s cramped seats it seemed natural to stroke her thigh.

So, about 90 minutes into the journey, with no words having been exchanged between the pair, he put his hand on the woman’s knee. The Exeter University and College of Law-educated lawyer told the court:

“It seemed suitable and comfortable and proper at the time and I thought she would feel the same…I put my hand on her knee. I thought she might like it. It just seemed right. It didn’t seem wrong or terrible in that situation…”

But the woman removed Wotherspoon’s hand with what he termed “a gentle, diffident brush-off”. Undeterred, half an hour later Wotherspoon pushed his hand down between her thigh and his, and started tapping her leg with his fingers.

“I did not have any reason to believe that another touch would be unwelcome,” he explained.

Earlier on, the woman, who comes from London but can’t be named, had told the court that she was left “shocked and shaken” by what happened.

The court

...the resignor informed the Grievance Committee for the Second, Eleventh, and Thirteenth Judicial Districts that on August 8, 2012, in the Crown Court at Carlisle, United Kingdom, he was convicted of sexual assault of a female. He also informed the Grievance Committee that on August 31, 2012, he was sentenced to supervision in the community for 36 months, directed to pay certain costs, directed to pay compensation to the complainant, and required to remain on the sex offenders registry for five years. He further informed the Grievance Committee that by order dated December 10, 2013, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal suspended him from practicing as a solicitor in the United Kingdom for an indefinite period, and directed him to pay certain costs. The resignor acknowledges that if charges were predicated on the facts and circumstances underlying his criminal misconduct, he could not successfully defend himself on the merits against such charges.

The resignation results in disbarment.

In the District of Columbia, as a result of this decision, the disciplinary system would not have been able to rely upon the conviction as a basis for discipline. In my opinion, a case such as this shows why the linked opinion is bad law and policy. (Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2014/07/the-new-york-appellate-division-has-accepted-the-resignation-of-a-british-solictor-convicted-of-groping-a-young-woman-on-a-bu.html

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