Gardiner attorney’s license suspended over sexual advances to clients

A Pittston attorney's license was suspended after the State Board of Overseers of the Bar investigated allegations that he made sexual advances against female clients.

Clarence H. Spurling

Clarence H. Spurling received the provisional suspension of his admission to the bar effective 5:00 p.m. Wednesday. The suspension order was issued by the Maine Supreme Court.

This is not the first time Spurling's behavior has been questioned. Decades ago, he was reprimanded for similar allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment, and the Maine State Bar Association was initially denied entry based on that history.

In its request for immediate suspension, the Maine State Bar Association stated that Spurling's violations included conflicts of interest, disciplinary matters, conduct that undermines the administration of justice, and sexual harassment.

The assignment came after a hearing on September 2nd at which Spurling, who runs the Spurling law firm in Gardiner, was represented by Mark Franco and the client – with the initials J.K. – was represented by assistant attorney Justin Andrus.

"The court found that his client J.K. (Spurling) committed sexual touching of her leg in several cases, culminating in unwanted grasping and touching of her body at the last personal conference," the court order said. The defendant also beat J.K. that he wants a physical relationship to continue, especially when he said he wants "all of the enchilada" from her. The touching and sexual innuendos were for J.K. although she did not tell the defendant to drop by with words or deeds. Rather, she was desperate and almost immediately fired him and hired another lawyer. "

The order also revealed that Spurling “did unwanted sexual progress in another client and she was "significantly incapacitated during the encounter". The order refers to the other customer with the initials K.W.

These acts constituted violations of unwanted sexual contact and sexual relations with a client, the regulation states.

"While (Spurling) immediately admitted that he shouldn't have touched J.K. and that he" had "his responsibility at the hearing, the court is not insured," the decision said. "In the same testimony in which he placed responsibility right on his shoulders, he also stated that he shouldn't let JK" treat "or" manipulate "him. The court does not agree that she should" treat "him or her "Manipulated" and the testimony gives the court a pause as to whether (Spurling) actually understands the problem, including the power imbalance and the client's vulnerability. "

The order stated that Spurling "immediately realized that his actions were inappropriate and disappointing," and later "decided to drink and establish a sexual relationship with another client," which "makes it clear to this court that he was not the problem recognizes . "

“His insight and honesty are further challenged by the fact that he denied Bar Counsel that K.W. was a client, although she had come to him in his professional capacity and paid the guardian, ”the order says.

The next step in this case is for the law firm to submit an official charge form to the court.

aria Eee, Executive director of the board of directors of the bar, said the lawyers' rules allow a number of possible resolutions, but the court will rule on the outcome.

Franco, who represents Spurling, didn't immediately return a call Friday for comment.

The court's immediate provisional suspension order provides that Spurling must vacate its law firms, including a home office, and cease legal practice until further notice. The order also states that he should cease operating websites or social media accounts and any other form of advertising for his legal services during the period of his suspension.

Spurling ran unsuccessfully in a three-way race in 2016 as a libertarian for the probate judge.

The suspension comes decades after Spurling faced similar charges of wrongdoing. Prior to becoming an attorney, Spurling was released from his position as probation officer with the Maine Justice Department in Augusta in 1984 for misconduct that included sexual harassment of female employees in his workplace and physical contact between him and the female employees.

This information was released when Spurling applied to practice law in the state of Maine in February 1990 after passing the bar exam.

After leaving the Department of Corrections, Spurling moved to Los Angeles and graduated from Southwestern University Law School's second place in his 35-member class in 1987. He was admitted to the California bar in 1989. He initially worked as a public prosecutor and later entered private practice.

His bar admission to the Maine bar nearly three decades ago was initially denied by the Board of Overseers and former Maine Supreme Court Justice Morton Brody on the grounds that he failed to satisfy the court's burden that " he had the good moral character required for admission, ”and the details of his discharge were recorded in the record.

Spurling appealed on a number of grounds, including that the court relied on documents related to his dismissal that had not been properly put in place to reach its decision.

In deciding to overturn the denial, Judge Robert Clifford ruled that Spurling's attitudes had changed. He noted that Spurling had admitted the sexual harassment was wrong and he had an exemplary record since 1984.

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