Bettendorf attorney appeals discipline in sexual abuse case

    An eastern Iowa attorney accused of sexually abusing a client is appealing a proposed two-year suspension of his law license. (Creative Commons photo via Pxhere.com)

    An eastern Iowa attorney accused of sexually abusing a client is appealing a proposed two-year suspension of his law license.

    The Grievance Commission of the Supreme Court of Iowa alleges that in January 2018, Bettendorf attorney Stephen Newport was representing a woman in a personal injury case when the two were in his office discussing a potential settlement. Newport allegedly told the woman he had erection issues, dropped his pants and began to massage his penis and asking the woman to touch him. When the woman refused, Newport allegedly grabbed the woman’s hand and placed it on his genitalia. The woman reportedly pulled back, gathered her things and left Newport’s office.

    Later that same day, Newport allegedly called her and made a series of sexually charged comments. Five days later, the woman reported the matter to local police and provided a detailed description of Newport’s anatomy, including a scar and a medical implant that police later confirmed.

    During a subsequent, tape-recorded telephone conversation with Newport, the woman raised the topic of providing sexual favors as payment for legal services. According to the commission, Newport did not agree to such an arrangement, but did not dispute that he and the woman had previously discussed sexual favors.

    Newport was criminally charged but was later found not guilty of sexual abuse, indecent exposure and prostitution.

    Newport is also accused of improper conduct with a woman he represented in a child custody case in 2012 and 2013. The woman reported a total of four incidents of alleged misconduct involving Newport. In one of those incidents, Newport allegedly told the woman he had a hernia in his groin and asked her if she wanted to see it. On another occasion, he reportedly raised the issue of her paying for legal services with sex. She came forward with her allegations after reading of Newport’s arrest in the 2018 case.

    At a disciplinary hearing before the commission, Newport denied all wrongdoing, but last July the commission ruled the two women were credible and that Newport had made “contradictory and unconvincing statements” to the police and to licensing authorities.

    The commission recommended the Iowa Supreme Court suspend Newport’s license for two years, with two of the commission members dissenting — one recommending a suspension of six months, and the other a suspension of one year.

    In appealing that decision, Newport cast doubt on his accusers’ credibility and his wife made note of her husband’s Parkinson’s Disease, cancer diagnosis, limited cognitive abilities and impaired memory.

    The Iowa Supreme Court has yet to rule on what discipline, if any, is to be imposed in the case.

     

     

    Clark Kauffman
    Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.