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Ex-DLA Piper partner says he had 'emotional relationship' with accuser, denies sexual assault

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A former rainmaking partner at DLA Piper is denying a former junior partner’s accusations of inappropriate sexual conduct.

In a statement issued Monday, Louis Lehot said he “did not assault or harass Vanina Guerrero and she knows it.” Bloomberg and the American Lawyer have coverage.

“I acknowledge poor judgment in developing an emotional relationship with Vanina Guerrero,” Lehot’s statement said. “I deeply regret the pain this has caused my family, colleagues, clients and friends.”

Guerrero has alleged that Lehot kissed or groped her four times, on business trips and at a party at Lehot’s home. She claimed that Lehot retaliated against her when she rejected his advances.

Guerrero had made her allegations against Lehot in an open letter to the firm’s co-chairmen and a supplemental letter to a complaint filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

DLA Piper announced Lehot’s departure from the firm in an Oct. 11 statement to its lawyers and staff. According to previous reports, the DLA Piper statement said the firm had concluded “for various reasons” that it was in the best interests of the firm for Lehot to leave, even though Guerrero’s “allegations have not been substantiated by the investigation to date.”

After Lehot left, DLA Piper placed Guerrero on administrative leave, citing serious allegations about her own conduct that surfaced in the investigation of her claims. A lawyer for Guerrero, Wigdor partner Jeanne Christensen, said DLA Piper’s press release announcing the leave was “a despicable smear campaign against a female victim of sexual assault.”

Lehot’s statement included emails intended to show that Lehot’s relationship with Guerrero was friendly. He included emails showing that Guerrero had planned a trip with Lehot to Machu Picchu after the time period when she said the assaults occurred.

“It’s good to see the truth is beginning to come out,” Lehot said in the statement. “As DLA Piper has said, an investigation by an outside law firm could not substantiate her claims. She is exploiting the #metoo movement to cover up her own issues.’’

Guerrero asked in her open letter to be released from mandatory arbitration. Christensen told the American Lawyer that by making his public statement, “Louis Lehot is saying he’s OK with litigating in open court and no secret arbitration.”

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