Friday, July 8, 2022
The Nevada Supreme Court has ordered an attorney's interim suspension and prohibited him from withdrawing entrusted fund without Bar Counsel's written approval.
Law & Crime reported on his recent arrest
A Las Vegas lawyer who previously had his license suspended for stealing from his clients appears to be in a world of trouble—again—after allegedly sexually harassing his employees, having sex with his clients that he knew was being captured on video, and attempting to kiss an undercover investigator.
Douglas Crawford, 67, was arrested on May 26 and charged with five misdemeanor counts of open and gross lewdness. The charges came one day after an officer posed as a potential divorce client in connection with an investigation into claims of sexual harassment made by women working at Crawford’s law firm.
Crawford is alleged to have targeted potential clients, particularly young women in search of a lawyer for divorce or child custody proceedings, in addition to employees.
When an undercover officer met with Crawford as part of a law enforcement investigation into harassment allegations at Crawford’s firm, she hadn’t been speaking with him for 20 minutes before he allegedly started making comments about her appearance, according to a story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Crawford allegedly told the officer he wanted to take her on a date once she was no longer his client.
He then reportedly escalated his behavior: as the officer was leaving, Crawford reportedly gave her a hug and “began to slide his hands down towards [the officer’s] buttocks,” the Review-Journal said, citing the police report.
“At the conclusion of the operation,” investigators wrote, according to a report in the Reno Gazette Journal, the undercover detective said “if she did not know what she was walking into, she believed she would have been caught off guard by Crawford’s sexual advances.”
According to police, Crawford would have sex with clients in his office, knowing that employees were able to see a live feed of surveillance footage from the room, according to the Review-Journal report.
“It was so well-known that the staffers would sometimes go gather around the video monitors in order to watch him have sex with clients when the door was closed,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacob Villani reportedly said at a court hearing Tuesday.
Investigators had obtained video showing Crawford “engaging in a sex act with a client in his office” that appeared to end abruptly, the Review-Journal said. Apparently, according to employees, Crawford was on a video call waiting for a court hearing at the time, and the sexual encounter only stopped because the judge had called Crawford’s case to be heard.
Reports of Crawford’s alleged sexual harassment also included him showing employees nude pictures of other women and videos of himself having sex, making comments to at least one employee about her breasts during a staff meeting, asking another employee to engage in sex acts with him for money, and exchanging legal services for sex with clients, the Review-Journal reported.
Police had begun investigating Crawford in April after the district attorney’s office received an emailed report regarding his alleged sexual harassment, the Review-Journal said, citing the arrest report.
Nevada State Bar records show that Crawford’s law license had previously been suspended, stemming from a 2007 incident in which he was found to have taken more than $100,000 in client funds. In 2009, it was discovered that he had misappropriated client funds in order to support his gambling addiction.
The Nevada State Bar disciplinary panel recommended disbarment, but the state Supreme Court found that mitigating factors—including the “mental disabilities of depression and gambling addiction”—supported a 5-year suspension of his license instead.
In 2011, Crawford pleaded guilty to stealing more than $300,000 from clients.
Las Vegas police have asked additional victims to come forward with information.
The order in Discipline of Douglas Crawford was entered on July 1. (Mike Frisch)