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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

No shirt, no charge

I spotted this interesting item about a Boston lawyer in our sister publication, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

A Boston attorney has been cleared of all criminal wrongdoing after he had been accused of forcing open the jacket of a woman and exposing her bra during the December 2006 opening of the new Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.

Prosecutors dismissed the case against attorney Stephen T. Kunian, a partner at the Boston law firm of Eckert, Seamans, Cherin & Mellot, after the alleged victim chose not to go forward.

Richard M. Egbert of Boston, counsel for Kunian, said that the case all along was motivated by money, and that his client "did not do the acts he was accused of."

"I called it a good old-fashioned shakedown from the beginning, and I haven't changed my opinion," said Egbert.

James S. Dilday, attorney for the alleged victim, an independent museum curator, said, "At this time, my client, who has experienced substantial emotional damage, did not want to deal with a trial."

The woman had filed a police report claiming that Kunian approached her on the night in question and opened up her jacket. Dilday said she had the jacket zipped up to neck level but was not wearing a top underneath the jacket. She also claimed that Kunian's hands touched her breasts at the time.

Kunian allegedly said after the incident: "Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you had a shirt on." Kunian and the woman did not know each other prior to the incident.

The woman's lawyer at one point sent a letter demanding a settlement of $500,000 in the case. Kunian, through his previous lawyer, countered with a settlement offer of $25,000. Dilday insisted that his client deserved a minimum of $100,000. That offer was rejected.

Hmmm. I am assuming that the settlement offers had to do with a potential civil claim arising out of the same set of alleged facts. It does get tricky when civil and criminal cases collide.

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