Legal Ethics

Lawyer gets suspension for impersonating college acquaintance on lesbian dating website

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A lawyer who served as a judge advocate in a unit assigned to the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq has received a one-year suspension for posing as a former college acquaintance on a lesbian dating website.

The New York Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, affirmed the suspension for Staten Island lawyer James O’Hare, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports. The Legal Profession Blog links to the court’s July 17 opinion. O’Hare pleaded guilty in 2011 to a misdemeanor charge of attempted aggravated harassment in connection with the fake profile.

O’Hare has already served the suspension under an interim order and is eligible to apply for reinstatement. He had admitted the allegations, but cited seven awards he received for meritorious service as a judge advocate in Iraq, including a Bronze Star, the opinion says. His psychotherapist testified that O’Hare suffers from an adjustment disorder, but O’Hare had gained insight into his behavior through therapy. O’Hare also pointed out that the woman he impersonated was not a client and did not suffer any physical or financial harm.

O’Hare was a lieutenant colonel and judge advocate for the Long-Island-based 800th Military Police Brigade assigned to the Abu Ghraib military prison in Baghad, according to prior coverage by the New York Post and the Staten Island Advance. He was mentioned in a Pentagon report on detainee abuses that said his unit was “dysfunctional” and “lackadaisical” in its oversight of Iraq detention facilities. O’Hare defended his service in 2004 news coverage, saying that he received a Bronze Star and it was an indication “of what my superiors think of my service.”

At the time of his 2011 arrest in connection with the website impersonation, O’Hare was a top lawyer for the Administration for Children’s Services on Staten Island. According to the New York Post’s 2011 story, the woman he impersonated was an acquaintance at St. John’s University. She is the mother of three children and her husband is a prominent lawyer, the story said.

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