Lawyer is accused of offering free legal services if woman cleaned his home in the nude

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An Ohio lawyer is accused in an ethics complaint of propositioning clients and would-be clients, mentioning the possibility of marriage, and using names for them such as “gorgeous” and “baby doll.”

The lawyer, Richard Federle of Wilmington, Ohio, was accused in an Oct. 30 ethics complaint noted by the Legal Profession Blog. The complaint is available here.

In one instance, Federle is accused of offering to represent a woman for free if she cleaned his house in the nude. He is also accused of forcibly kissing the woman, asking her for sex and calling her “gorgeous.”

The woman hired Federle to represent her in a case involving a civil stalking protection order but not in her divorce.

The woman complained to the Wilmington Police Department and the Clinton County sheriff’s office, but no charges were filed, according to the ethics complaint.

Federle didn’t have an office and met with clients at his home or other secluded places, such as the county law library, according to the complaint.

The complaint also alleges:

• Federle made comments of a sexual nature to a woman who worked as an administrative assistant and victim service coordinator at the Clinton County Municipal Court. In one instance, he allegedly grabbed the woman’s knee and ran his hand up to her thigh. In another instance, he allegedly pressed his body against hers when they were standing by as shredder.

• After being appointed to represent a drug client, Federle told the woman that she needs a man to take care of her. He also allegedly said the client can’t hustle drugs if she has any interest in a relationship. When the client said she would like to go back to work, he allegedly responded via text message, “Or you could just be my wife. That position is open.” The client went to the Clinton County sheriff’s office, which initiated an investigation. The woman wore a wire in client meetings with Federle.

In one of the recorded conversations, Federle told the woman that he might get to see her tattoos someday and asked her how much time she had that day. “I would like to see you naked,” he allegedly said. The Clinton County prosecutor did not file charges but initiated an ethics grievance against Federle.

• While discussing possible criminal representation with a client at his home, he allegedly tried to put his hand down her pants. She told Federle that she was “not that kind of girl” and did not hire him.

• While representing a woman accused of telephone harassment, Federle allegedly made “multiple unsolicited and unwelcome personal comments” to her on Facebook Messenger. He implied that police wouldn’t bother her if she moved in with him and asked whether she had a passport, so they could travel to the Caribbean together, the ethics complaint alleges. The client agreed to go out to dinner with Federle. The client later told Federle that she dates only Christian men.

• Federle allegedly had sex with a client in a case alleging child abuse and neglect. Federle told the client after sex that he loved her and wanted to marry her. He also told the client that sex was in lieu of legal fees. The woman did not appear at hearings at Federle’s direction, and the court awarded custody of her child to a family friend, the ethics complaint says. The woman had sex with Federle a second time after he offered free representation in an impaired driving case, according to the complaint.

Federle did not immediately respond to the ABA Journal’s voicemail seeking comment.

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