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Oct 02 2012

Klayman Accused of Sexual Misconduct With His Own Kids

I’ve long known that Larry Klayman was a scumbag, but this story suggests something far worse than I ever imagined. In a legal battle with his ex-wife over custody and visitation of their kids, an Ohio judge apparently found credible evidence that he had inappropriate sexual contact with his children. You can read the ruling of the Ohio Court of Appeals from July here. Here are the relevant paragraphs, with case references removed:

{¶23} In his third assignment of error, Klayman argues that the magistrate’s finding that he engaged in inappropriate touching of his child was against the manifest weight of the evidence.

{¶24} A judgment supported by some competent, credible evidence will not be reversed by a reviewing court as against the manifest weight of the evidence. A reviewing court must not substitute its judgment for that of the trial court where there exists some competent and credible evidence supporting the judgment rendered by the trial court. Where the decision in a case turns upon credibility of testimony, and where there exists competent and credible evidence supporting the findings and conclusions of the trial court, deference to such findings and conclusions must be given by the reviewing court.

{¶25} The issues raised by Klayman involve credibility assessments made by the magistrate. Klayman challenges these findings. The magistrate heard evidence from the children’s pediatrician who reported allegations of sexual abuse to children services, and from a social worker at children services who found that sexual abuse was “indicated.” Although the social worker’s finding was later changed to “unsubstantiated” when Klayman appealed, the magistrate explained that the supervisor who changed the social worker’s finding did not testify. The magistrate pointed out that he was obligated to make his own independent analysis based upon the parties and the evidence before him. In doing so, the magistrate found on more than one occasion [Klayman] act[ed] in a grossly inappropriate manner with the children. His conduct may not have been sexual in the sense that he intended to or did derive any sexual pleasure from it or that he intended his children would. That, however, does not mean that he did not engage in those acts or that his behavior was proper.

{¶26} The magistrate further found it significant that although Klayman denied any allegations of sexual abuse, he never denied that he did not engage in inappropriate behavior with the children. The magistrate further found it notable that Klayman, “for all his breast beating about his innocence * * * [he] scrupulously avoided being questioned by anyone from [children services] or from the Sheriff’s Department about the allegations,” and that he refused to answer any questions, repeatedly invoking his Fifth Amendment rights, about whether he inappropriately touched the children. “Even more disturbing” to the magistrate was the fact that Klayman would not even answer the simple question regarding what he thought inappropriate touching was. The magistrate stated that he could draw an adverse inference from Klayman’s decision not to testify to these matters because it was a civil proceeding, not criminal.

{¶27} After reviewing the record, we find no abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court in overruling Klayman’s objections regarding the magistrate’s finding that Klayman inappropriately touched the children.

He was also found in contempt of court for failing to pay more than $74,000 in child support and was ordered to pay $325,000 in attorney’s fees to his ex-wife. This on top of the story last year when the Florida Bar Association reprimanded him for taking a $25,000 retainer from a client and then not doing any work for her. He was ordered to repay the client by a court, but filed a brief saying he was completely broke. And on top of the times other courts have sanctioned him for failing to comply with orders. No wonder he can only find clients like Bradlee Dean and the Worldnutdaily.

19 comments

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  1. 1
    slc1

    My only comment is, how come this asshole hasn’t been disbarred?

  2. 2
    Randomfactor

    he never denied that he did not engage in inappropriate behavior with the children

    And the judge who wrote this has the authority of law?

  3. 3
    ashleybell

    Same thing with Orly Taitz. I mean, what do ya gotta do to get kicked out? Jebus

  4. 4
    Homo Straminus

    1) “The magistrate further found it notable that Klayman [...] refused to answer any questions, repeatedly invoking his Fifth Amendment rights.”

    2) “The magistrate stated that he could draw an adverse inference from Klayman’s decision not to testify to these matters because it was a civil proceeding, not criminal.”

    I would’ve assumed this unconstitutional, although my 30-second reading of wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution#Refusal_to_testify_in_a_civil_case) seems to muddy the waters. Wikipedia says this is OK in a civil case, but that a civil case may be considered criminal if it involves, “a proceeding to forfeit a person’s goods for an offence against the laws,” which I would think would apply here—the judgement holds him to forfeit (?) money, right?

    How much am I off-base?

  5. 5
    Ben P

    My only comment is, how come this asshole hasn’t been disbarred?

    My only response to this is just to shake my head. You only get disbarred for “professional misconduct,” and aside from possibly having to pay monetary sanctions (depending on the amount) being disbarred is the most severe penalty a state bar association can invoke.

    The only thing that gets you disbarred every time, all the time, is screwing around with client funds. Many other things might result in a disbarment but often only on a repeat offense.

    Conviction of a crime can be per-se professional misconduct and can result in your license being revoked, although that’s not even common with the exception of really serious felonies and crimes involving dishonesty. A DWI or drug possession or even simple assault or domestic battery won’t get you there. On the other hand, a fraud or perjury conviction will usually get you there.

  6. 6
    dingojack

    “In a legal battle with his ex-wife over custody and visitation of their kids…”

    So Homo Straminus, Mr Klayman’s children are his property now?

    ;) Dingo

  7. 7
    Ben P

    I would think would apply here—the judgement holds him to forfeit (?) money, right?

    How much am I off-base?

    You’re off base. You’re correct that the 5th amendment prohibits drawing an adverse inference from refusing to testify in your own defense. As you say it doesn’t apply to civil cases.

    The quick and easy test is to ask yourself “does the inference benefit the state.” In a criminal proceeding or say, an administrative proceeding to levy a civil fine, like say a traffic infraction or an environmental violation, the answer is yes.

    In a divorce, the answer is no, it just benefits the opposing party.

    I have to admit, I came to the article prepared to be pretty skeptical. It’s uncomfortably common for very serious allegations to be thrown around in divorce cases. Physical abuse is very common, sexual abuse is less common but not unheard of.

    But where the husband or wife is making this allegation to gain advantage in a divorce proceeding usually the evidence is very scant. It’s alleged in the pleading and maybe the spouse testifies that they once saw “X,” never any contemporaneous report or third party testimony.

    On the other hand, the testimony cited here. A pediatrician who had medical records of purported abuse, a social worker who was called contemporaneously, that’s real evidence. Supposedly the social worker’s finding of abuse was later changed to “unsubstantiated” but Klayman couldn’t get the supervisor who changed the ruling to come and say why he or she did it. That’s more than enough to create a circumstantial case of something strange.

    I also note on the side that Klayman filed a motion to have the magistrate recuse, which was denied. This seems typical for a wingnut. Also typical for Klayman

    The magistrate found that
    Klayman’s conduct “made this matter anything but routine and straightforward.” He
    found that not only did Klayman file many motions in the case, he also battled the release
    of his financial records “here as well as in Alabama and Florida.” Additionally,
    Klayman filed a petition for writ of mandamus, four interlocutory appeals, and sued Luck
    and her counsel in federal district courts in Florida.Klayman “repeatedly interfered
    with” Luck’s legitimate discovery requests, and refused to “accept and adhere” to
    decisions of the court and the court of appeals. The magistrate found that Klayman
    purposefully prolonged litigation, telling Luck’s mother that if she did not settle, he would take the case through years of litigation which would cost them hundreds of
    thousands of dollars. Klayman did not deny that he made the statement.
    The magistrate further considered the testimony of Luck’s counsel, who
    practices almost exclusively in domestic relations matters, that this was the most “atypical
    domestic relations matter” that she had ever been involved in. Luck’s counsel testified
    that since 2007 she had charged Luck $464,041 in attorney fees and an additional $17,208
    in expenses.

    The court upheld a judgment against Klayman for $325,000 in attorney’s fees.

  8. 8
    raven

    1) “The magistrate further found it notable that Klayman [...] refused to answer any questions, repeatedly invoking his Fifth Amendment rights.”

    2) “The magistrate stated that he could draw an adverse inference from Klayman’s decision not to testify to these matters because it was a civil proceeding, not criminal.”

    This is standard law practice.

    In a civil case you can take the 5th amendment.

    But the judge and jury are allowed to wonder why you took the 5th amendment and draw an adverse conclusion about it.

    A common reason to plead the 5th in a civil case is because it can lead to the individual then being charged with a criminal offense. In this case, Klayman, if admitting to child sexual abuse, is admitting to a criminal act.

  9. 9
    raven

    My only comment is, how come this asshole hasn’t been disbarred?

    My only response to this is just to shake my head. You only get disbarred for “professional misconduct,”

    It varies by state.

    Usually a lot. Too much.

    Having sex with an intern in the White House while being president will do it in Arkansas.

  10. 10
    lorn

    Larry Klayman would fit the profile for an anal personality and would be distressed at the disordered, unscheduled nature of children toilet habits. His own toilet could be used to set your watch. Anal personalities often show great pride in such details. An uncorrected anal personality might seek to impose order on the children’s bowels by use of enemas.

    Regular and systematic use of enemas to impose regulation over elimination would fit as a form of inappropriate touching that wouldn’t involve the perpetrator receiving direct sexual gratification.

  11. 11
    slc1

    Re raven @ #9

    Was Clinton disbarred or was his law license only suspended?

  12. 12
    slc1

    Re Ben P @ #5

    But it appears that he did mishandle client funds: This on top of the story last year when the Florida Bar Association reprimanded him for taking a $25,000 retainer from a client and then not doing any work for her.

    If he did no work for her and subsequently tells the court that he can’t reimburse her for the retainer, that indicates that he did mishandle client funds as he spent them on other activities unrelated to her cause of action.

  13. 13
    Homo Straminus

    Thanks for the clarification, folks!

  14. 14
    raven

    Re raven @ #9

    Was Clinton disbarred or was his law license only suspended?

    I don’t quite remember.

    IIRC, he plea bargained and voluntarily surrendered his Arkansas law license or some such. Hard to say what would have happened if he had fought the charges against him though.

  15. 15
    Ben P

    Having sex with an intern in the White House while being president will do it in Arkansas.

    No…admitting that you committed perjury and being cited for contempt by a sitting federal judge might do it in Arkansas. I happen to practice in Arkansas.

    However, we won’t ever know because the sanctions were voluntary.

    In 1999 Susan Webber Wright found clinton in contempt of court for presenting “intentionally false” testimony in Jones v Clinton and referred the case to the Arkansas Committee for professional conduct.

    In 2000 The Arkansas Supreme Court suspended Clinton’s license temporarily pending further proceedings. In January 2001, Clinton voluntarily agreed to a five year suspension of his law license and a $25,000 fine to resolve the investigation of the special counsel into the perjury. Subsequently Clinton also resigned from the US Supreme Court bar rather than have proceedings begin.

    When Robert Ray (Ken Starr’s follow up special counsel) concluded his investigation he concluded criminal charges for puerjury weren’t warranted based on
    (1) Clinton’s admission that his testimony had been false and prejudicial to the admission of justice
    (2)his admission the conduct violated the Rules of Professional Conduct
    (3) The Civil contempt penalty of $90,000 assessed by Federal Judge Susan Webber Wright
    (4) the settlement payment of more than $850,000 to Paula Jones to resolve her sexual harassment case
    (5) Clintons’ impeachment and substantial public condemnation.

  16. 16
    Ben P

    Re Ben P @ #5

    But it appears that he did mishandle client funds: This on top of the story last year when the Florida Bar Association reprimanded him for taking a $25,000 retainer from a client and then not doing any work for her.

    If he did no work for her and subsequently tells the court that he can’t reimburse her for the retainer, that indicates that he did mishandle client funds as he spent them on other activities unrelated to her cause of action.

    A minor quibble that is not intended in any way to defend Klayman.

    There’s a subtle but important distinction between “client funds” and “payment for services.” Klayman alleged the latter in that case if I recall correctly.

    Here’s the difference.

    If you come to my office and want me to represent you, and I say “sure, that will be $25,000 up front.” I’m clear that this is an up front payment, not a retainer. You pay $25,000, then I don’t do what we agreed or do it in a very poor manner such that you think you’ve been cheated.

    That’s certainly a breach of contract and it could possibly be malpractice or fraud depending on the circumstances. Either way, you can still sue me to try to get the money back.

    On the other hand.

    You come to my office and want me to represent you, I say “all right, my rates are $250 an hour, and I’ll need a retainer for 100 hours of work ($25,000). I’ll bill you monthly and deduct that amount from your retainer. If we exceed the retainer, I’ll ask you to provide more funds. If we complete the matter before the money is exhausted, I’ll refund the rest to you.”

    In the first situation the money is mine to do with as I please. In the second situation, the money is client funds. I’m obligated to put that $25,000 in my trust account and hold it there until i can deduct from it under the fee agreement. If I do otherwise, that is serious misconduct.

    in Klayman’s situation the Plaintiff said the latter while Klayman said the former. If I recall the court found the evidence supported the former but still found Klayman’s conduct violated other rules.

  17. 17
    aaronbaker

    Another paragon of my profession. I do like that you can draw the obvious inference in a civil proceeding from someone’s invoking the Fifth Amendment.

  18. 18
    Pierce R. Butler

    ashleybell @ # 3: Same thing with Orly Taitz.

    OT has been charged with kiddy-fiddling?

  19. 19
    jakc

    @Ben P

    I appreciate your point, but I am hard-pressed to think of how 25,000 upfront can be considered as anything but a retainer. He had done absolutely no work at that and couldn’t be considered to have earned any of the money. It should have gone into his client trust fund. Allowing him to take 25,000 under a contract theory negates the purpose of requiring client trust funds and leads to this very point. No matter how bad his personal finance are, he should have been able to refund the money. That fraud or conversion ought to be e tough to have him disbarred.

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