Missouri Supreme Court refuses to disbar lawyer who sexually assaulted his clients

Missouri Supreme Court refuses to disbar lawyer who sexually assaulted his clients
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An 86-year-old defense attorney will be allowed to keep his law license after the Missouri Supreme Court in a 4-3 ruling refused to disbar him despite having sexually assaulted six of his clients, all women.

Attorney Dan K. Purdy will be "indefinitely suspended from practicing law but allowed to apply for reinstatement after a year," The Kansas City Star reports.

"In September 2020, Purdy made sexual advances toward four clients in a Vernon County jail interview room, including touching and kissing, that were confirmed by video provided by the Vernon County Sheriff's Office," The Star reports. "Each woman was later interviewed by officers and told them Purdy’s advances were unwanted."

In addition to jail interview roos, Purdy's sexual advances took place in court and in his car. All were locations where his clients might have felt uncomfortable to complain.

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"Purdy's clients either did not know or did not realize they could repudiate his sexual advances," Justice George W. Draper III wrote in the majority opinion.

There are seven justices on the Missouri Supreme Court, four appointed by Republican governors, three by Democratic governors. Four are men, three are women.

The ruling was not along party lines.

"In my view, neither the race, gender, ethnicity, nor age of an attorney should be taken into consideration to determine appropriate discipline," wrote Justice Zel M. Fischer in his dissent. "In my view, Mr. Purdy's conduct, which was clearly and explicitly depicted in the video evidence, warrants disbarment."

"As recognized by the principal opinion, not only did Mr. Purdy sexually assault six female clients, he 'exhibited a continued pattern or practice of improper and disturbing conduct, which continued, even after the present case was filed against him,'" Fischer noted. [Bolding in original text.]

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