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Bettendorf attorney's license suspended for one year because of sexual harassment case

Bettendorf attorney's license suspended for one year because of sexual harassment case

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A Bettendorf attorney accused in 2018 of asking for sexual favors from his clients lost his license to practice Friday. 

The Iowa Supreme Court suspended Stephen Newport's license for one year Friday, about a year after he was found not guilty of prostitution.

Newport, 69, was originally charged with third-degree sexual abuse and indecent exposure as well as the prostitution charge, but was found not guilty of those charges in an earlier trial.

He also had a trial with the Iowa Grievance Commission for sexual harassment against two of his former clients, and sexual abuse and indecent exposure toward one.

The commission, which handles the disciplining of attorneys who break the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct, unanimously found Newport guilty on the charge of sexual harassment. The commission also found him guilty on the sexual abuse and indecent exposure charges, but was split 3-2 on that decision.

An attorney does not need to be convicted criminally to be punished by the grievance commission.

The commission majority recommended that Newport’s law license be suspended for two years while the dissenters disagreed between themselves. One recommended a six-month suspension and the other recommended one year. 

The case was then sent to the Iowa Supreme Court, which submitted its ruling Friday.

The Supreme Court agreed with the two dissenting votes of the grievance commission, finding Newport guilty of sexual harassment but not indecent exposure or sexual assault. 

The Court said in its opinion that while Newport's testimony about the sexual assault was not convincing, they also had concerns about the testimony of his former client. The woman claimed Newport had removed his pants and forced her to touch him inappropriately while they were alone in his office.

The Court said in the ruling they were "unable to conclude by a convincing preponderance of the evidence" that the assault had taken place, but there was sufficient evidence to prove that Newport had "discussed a series of highly inappropriate topics" with the client.

They also agreed there was sufficient evidence from another former client to prove this was not the only time this had happened.

“Newport repeatedly subjected female clients to sexual harassment," the Court concluded.

They suspended Newport's license to practice law for one year without possibility of reinstatement. After that year, he will have to file a written application to have his license reinstated.

The Court made this decision unanimously, with two judges choosing not to vote. 

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