Criminal Justice

Lawyer's sexual-assault trial begins; he continued to try cases after indictment

Jury selection begins today in the trial of a Columbus, Ohio, criminal defense lawyer accused of sexually assaulting five women.

The lawyer, Javier Armengau, continued to try cases after his May 2013 indictment, the Columbus Dispatch reports. He represented four murder defendants and an accused drug trafficker, all of whom were convicted.

Armengau was indicted last year on six counts of rape, five counts of sexual battery, three counts of gross sexual imposition, three counts of kidnapping and one count of public indecency for incidents dating back to 1998, the newspaper reported in previous coverage.

The first woman who alleged improper conduct, the mother of a client, told police that Armengau exposed himself and fondled her during at a meeting at his office. She wore a wire at a dinner with the lawyer. He withdrew from the defense of the woman’s son, who was charged with murder.

After the woman’s story was publicized, four other women came forward with similar or more serious complaints, police said. One was the mother of another former client, two were former clients and one was a former employee.

Armengau has said he did nothing improper and all his relationships were consensual.

The Ohio Attorney General’s office is prosecuting the case after local prosecutors stepped aside, saying they wanted to avoid the appearance of favoritism or bias. Fourteen of 17 Franklin county judges also stepped aside; Judge David Fais will try the case after being selected in a drawing among the three remaining judges.

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