Professional Liability

Lawyer disbarred for 'Sextortion'

Date: 18 January 2019; Type: Legal News; Source: Philippine News Agency

MANILA, Jan 18 (PNA) - The Supreme Court (SC) disbarred a lawyer who abused his authority to get sexual favors from his secretary.

In a 15-page per curiam decision dated Sept. 18, 2018, which was released to media Friday, Antonio N. de los Reyes, a former vice-president of the Legal and Administrative Group of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp. (NHMFC), was found guilty of gross immoral conduct and violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 and Rule 7.03, Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

The High Court also ordered the removal of de los Reyes' name from the Roll of Attorneys.

Rule 1.01 mandates that a lawyer “shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct,” while Rule 7.03 mandates that a lawyer “shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.”

The SC noted that de los Reyes used his position to obtain sexual favors from his subordinate, which rendered the latter unable to refuse his demands for fear of losing her job.

"The sexual exploitation of his subordinate, done over a period of time, amounts to gross misbehavior on the part of respondent Attorney de los Reyes that affects his standing and character as a member of the Bar and as an officer of the Court. All these deplorable acts of respondent Attorney de los Reyes puts the legal profession in disrepute and places the integrity of the administration of justice in peril, thus warranting disciplinary action from the Court,” the Court ruled.

The Court held that the respondent’s “actions show that he lacks the degree of morality required of him as a member of the legal profession, thus warranting the penalty of disbarment.”

“Respondent Attorney de los Reyes is disbarred for his gross misbehavior, even if it pertains to his private activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor. Possession of good moral character is not only a prerequisite to admission to the bar but also a continuing requirement to the practice of law.”

The Court adopted the findings and conclusions of the Investigating Commissioner, as sustained by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Board of Governors.

The Court, however, held that IBP’s recommended penalty of indefinite suspension from the practice of law is not enough as a sanction for the grave acts committed by respondent.

The Court noted that a perusal of transcript of stenographic notes taken during the hearing of the instant case shows the victim’s “straightforward testimony of her ordeal at the hands of the respondent.”

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