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Lawyer had Client Pose in the Nude

NORWALK, OHIO- The Ohio Supreme Court has imposed a six month suspension against the license of Norwalk attorney Thomas H. Freeman for paying a female client to pose nude for photographs in 2001.

According to the court decision, in 2001, a 17-year-old woman hired Freeman to defend her against serious criminal charges. Shortly after her 18th birthday, while he was still representing her, Freeman paid the woman $150 to pose for photos in various states of undress. After their attorney-client relationship ended, the young woman used a police surveillance wire to tape Freeman. On the tape, Freeman, admitted to the bar in 1975, offered the young woman alcohol, asked her to pose nude for photos and asked her to perform certain sex acts for specified amounts of money.

Freeman admitted that he had taken nude photos of his client while he was her lawyer. He also said that he suspected that his client feared that refusing his illicit requests might jeopardize her defense in the criminal case in which he represented her.

The charges against Freeman had been brought by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline in an April report. The Court adopted the board’s findings that Freeman violated state disciplinary rules that prohibit engaging in conduct that adversely reflects on fitness to practice law and that bar an attorney from accepting employment if the exercise of professional judgment on behalf of the client reasonably may be affected by the lawyer’s financial, business, property or personal interests.

Holding that an actual suspension from practice was warranted in light of “the unconscionable way” Freeman took advantage of his client, the Court voted unanimously to suspend Freeman’s license for six months. Justice Terence O’Donnell concurred in judgment only.

In its opinion, the court criticized Freeman for what it deemed a lack of remorse. “Indeed, for the unconscionable advantage he took of his client, respondent offers nothing in the way of contrition or promises of rehabilitation,” the justices wrote. “Moreover, of the letters recommending respondent’s character, none explain why the authors continue to hold him in such high regard despite the truth of allegations lodged against him.”

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