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Client Sexually Touching Lawyer Caught on Court Security Camera, Lawyer Suspended

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By George Khoury, Esq. on July 19, 2018 7:00 AM

While jurisdictions may vary in regards to the ethical rules about romantic relationships with clients, lawyers should have all learned the harsh lesson Bill Clinton did: You don't lie about it under oath.

For one Ohio lawyer, that little piece of advice, if he'd followed it, probably would have meant that the two-year suspension he got likely would've only been a slap on the wrist, or maybe just one or a few months. But, thanks to human nature, he lied about the nature of his relationship with his client, and even lied about the fact that there was some sexual touching in the courthouse that was caught on camera, and he seemingly even lied to that very same client.

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The attorney had represented the client in a child custody matter in the fall of 2014. When the father sought to modify the child custody order that same winter, the client was again represented by the same attorney. The two had a charged relationship and exchanged sexual messages and explicit photos online. After the modification hearing, while awaiting the judge to come back, the attorney and client were waiting in a courthouse conference room when things got heated between them.

The attorney sat next to his client, covered his lap with a coat and the case file, and the client then proceeded to engage in some, let's just say, sexual touching. Unfortunately (?) for the attorney, it was interrupted by a phone call, and the delivery of the order in the case. Making matters worse for the attorney, that interaction was caught on a sheriff-monitored live video feed in the courthouse.

Though neither attorney nor client were stopped in the courthouse, sheriffs interviewed the client a few days later. The client then notified and met with the attorney. At the meeting, before talking, he patted her down to check for a wire, then told her she had to hire a new attorney. The two agreed to delete all communications between each other (of course he didn't and saved some photos she sent him), and he then cut off communications with her.

Probably trying to get ahead of it all, the attorney then self-reported, but omitted significant facts. Reading through the order, it appears that those omissions really ended up being the cause of his lengthy suspension.

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