Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Attorney Convicted of Sexual Battery Receives Two-Year Suspension

The Ohio Supreme Court today suspended a central Ohio attorney for two years after he was convicted of sexual battery in March 2015.

The Court voted 5-2 to suspend Kenneth J. Warren of Dublin and to deny him any credit for the time he served under an interim suspension that started the month of his conviction. The per curiam opinion noted that Warren and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel entered a “consent-to-discipline agreement,” which granted no credit for time already served.

Warren Had Sexual Contact with Friend
In the discipline agreement, the parties stipulated that in 2013 a female friend joined Warren for dinner at his home with plans to stay overnight. After dinner, the woman lay down to sleep because she had taken some pain medication. Unaware that she had taken medication, Warren gave her a sleeping pill.

At some point in the night, Warren removed the woman’s pajamas, and she awoke to him having sexual contact with her. She told him to stop, but due to the medication, she fell back asleep and was unaware whether further sexual contact occurred. In 2014, a jury found Warren guilty of sexual battery, but acquitted him of rape. He was sentenced in 2015 to 30 months of community control and ordered to stay away from the victim, to complete a sex-offender treatment program, and to pay a $2,500 fine plus court costs.

Crime Violates Professional Conduct Rule
The disciplinary counsel charged that Warren’s crime violated the professional conduct rule prohibiting a lawyer from committing an illegal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty and trustworthiness. The parties in their agreement presented mitigating and aggravating factors to the Board of Professional Conduct. They noted Warren had no prior discipline in his 39-year career, cooperated with the disciplinary proceedings, provided evidence of good character and reputation, and acknowledged his actions were improper. The parties also agreed that Warren acted with a dishonest and selfish motive.

Along with serving a two-year suspension, Warren agreed that to be reinstated, he would have to fully comply with his criminal sentence and all terms of community control.

The professional conduct board noted that other attorneys convicted of felonies have received one-year and two-year suspensions, and some who committed felony sex crimes have been indefinitely suspended, citing two cases involving minors. The Court’s opinion noted that a three-member panel of the board considering Warren’s case noted the mitigating factors and that Warren’s misconduct arose from an illegal act committed against an adult with whom he had a social relationship.

“We agree that Warren’s conduct violated Prof.Cond.R. 8.4(b) and that it warrants a full two-year suspension with no credit for time served under his interim felony suspension. Therefore, we adopt the parties’ consent-to-discipline agreement,” the opinion stated.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Paul E. Pfeifer, Judith Ann Lanzinger, Sharon L. Kennedy, and Judith L. French joined the opinion.

Justice Terrence O’Donnell dissented and would remand the case to the board to reconsider its sanction. Justice William M. O’Neill dissented and would grant Warren credit for time served under the interim suspension.

2016-0251. Disciplinary Counsel v. Warren, Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-7333.

Please note: Opinion summaries are prepared by the Office of Public Information for the general public and news media. Opinion summaries are not prepared for every opinion, but only for noteworthy cases. Opinion summaries are not to be considered as official headnotes or syllabi of court opinions. The full text of this and other court opinions are available online.

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