Monday, August 5, 2013

Washington DC's notion of moral turpitude apparently does not include holding a minor as a sex slave

If you are a long time reader of this blog, you know that I have asked before for an explanation as to the notion of moral turpitude in Washington DC.  Today I read about a new particularly disturbing case that raises the question again.  In the past, I commented on a case where it was determined that the conduct of a lawyer in lying, cheating and stealing money was not considered to be moral turpitude because it was not "dishonesty with intent for personal gain."  See here.  I could not understand how it could not be, but that was that.  Then there was the case where it was found that tampering with a witness was considered moral turpitude per se which resulted in disbarment (here).  OK.  I have not problem with disbarring an attorney that engages in that conduct, but is that really moral turpitude?

Today, however, the Legal Profession blog published a note about a case in which an attorney who was convicted of felony traveling for the purpose of engaging in sex with a minor was found not have engaged in conduct involving moral turpitude. According to an account of the case, the attorney had made a 12-year-old boy his sex slave for six years....he will spend the next 15 years behind bars. And this is not "moral turpitude" per se?

The Legal Profession blog reports that the disciplinary board's lawyer members (except one recusal and one not participating) concluded that the conduct did not constitute moral turpitude per se, and therefore that there should be a hearing to determine if it was moral turpitude under the circumstances.

What a waste of resources!  Someone please explain to me under what circumstances it can possibly be thought that traveling abroad to engage in sex with a minor, bringing the minor back to the US and then holding him as a sex slave could NOT be conduct involving moral turpitude.

The Board should have held that this was moral turpitude per se and disbarred the attorney.  Period.

The only non lawyer members of the Board dissented.  Good for them.

The Legal Profession blog has the full story here.