Do not conclude I am equating an attorney to a prostitute. I’m not. Jerene Dildene started working as an escort when a divorce and cutback in work hours (teaching Spanish in area pubic school) created financial hardship. Initially she searched Craigslist for part time work. She became a bikini model. On one modeling job, the client apparently asked her if she would exchange sex for money. She did and then created a prostitution website offering sex for $300/hr.
“I had a lot of doctors, lawyers, professors, retirees, single people who didn’t have time to date. I liked it. It was very empowering. I had control over my life and I had options.”
Attorney Sean Saxon worked for years in Denver handling pharmaceutical and medical device litigation.
Saxon, a married man, became Dildene’s client in 2013. They soon became romantically involved.
Saxon did not appreciate Dildene’s continuing her current career. Dildene broke off the relationship. Saxon continued stalking her. He threatened to “expose” her career to her family members.
Saxon eventually followed through on his threats. He sent a letter to Dildine’s mother, father, brother and other relatives describing her life as a prostitute, including revealing sexual photos and online reviews. He sent the same packet to her classmates and a teacher at an aesthetician school.
Dildine considered suicide.
She eventually filed a civil lawsuit and bar complaint.
Saxon defended himself, arguing he had a First Amendment right to free speech.
A Denver court disagreed. They awarded $1.7 M to Dildene.
“I am deeply sorry I became involved with Jerene Dildine, most of all because I betrayed my family. I profoundly regret much of the language I used in my communications when I exposed Ms. Dildine as a prostitute to people who know her. All the material I sent was true and was taken from Ms. Dildine’s own marketing materials that she placed on the internet and sent to her clients to promote her business. I am appealing the jury’s decision. I do not believe that Ms. Dildine should be allowed to recover damages because of embarrassment over having her illegal conduct exposed.”
The State Supreme Court suspended Saxon’s law license for three years. His former law firm fired him.
Dildene was never a legal client of Saxon. So, he had no professional obligation to maintain confidentiality. But, the Bar noted:
“Through this conduct, Saxon violated Colo. RPC 8.4(b) (a lawyer shall not commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects) and Colo. RPC 8.4(h) (a lawyer shall not engage in any conduct that directly, intentionally, and wrongfully harms others and that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness to practice law). Saxon later violated a protective order that the same woman had obtained,
leading to his conviction of a class-two misdemeanor. This conduct transgressed Colo. RPC 3.4(c) (a lawyer shall not knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal).”
Licensing boards have broad discretion to adjudicate whether a professional meets its criteria for, well, professionalism. This is true in the legal word. It’s true in the medical world. And professionalism is never explicitly defined.
What do you think?