A South Portland attorney has been suspended from practicing law for sexting a client, according to the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar, the organization that licenses lawyers.
Some of the texts included pictures of his genitalia, a court document made public Tuesday said.
Paul L. Letourneau, 55, is the first Maine attorney to be disciplined for sexting, according to J. Scott Davis, bar counsel to the board.
Letourneau agreed to a suspension of 20 months, 16 of which he has already served, according to an order signed by Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Jeffrey J. Hjelm. Only judges on Maine’s highest court may disbar or suspend attorneys on the recommendation of the Board of Overseers.
Hjelm found that Letourneau engaged in “recurrent, unsolicited, and unwanted ‘sexting’ with a vulnerable client,” and that he failed to withdraw as that client’s attorney of record immediately after she fired him.
Letourneau, a solo practitioner, represented the victim, who is not named in the suspension order, in criminal matters in York County. He was appointed by a court to represent her, so she was reluctant to fire him, the suspension order said.
Letourneau agreed that he violated professional conduct rules relating to conflicts of personal interest, terminating representation, and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, according to the order.
Justin Andrus of Portland, the attorney who represented Letourneau in the matter before the board, did not reply Wednesday to an emailed request for comment.
The attorney’s behavior was reported to the Board of Overseers on June 15, 2016, by Richard Berne of Portland, the victim’s new lawyer. The board issued an interim suspension order the following month. Hjelm finalized the order on Jan. 12.
Letourneau may return to the practice of law on April 1 but must be overseen for one year by a monitor, an attorney appointed by the board to oversee if he is following the professional conduct rules for lawyers, and continue to receive counseling.
If his victim or her family decide to seek compensation from the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection for the impact of Letourneau’s sexting, he agreed not to contest it.
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