The entertainment world is quite familiar with the “casting couch” where aspiring actresses and actors are expected to grant sexual favors for parts. Now an attorney has been suspended for 180 days after being accused of using a “restitution couch” for clients to pay for legal services with sexual services. Michigan attorney Murdoch Hertzog pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault and battery in exchange for dismissal of charges of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in 2001. Now, a panel has shown Hertzog the sofa of suspension.
One client Cheryl B. said that Hertzog groped her on the buttocks and made sexual statements to her about not having to pay his fees if she chose to handle it on his “couch of restitution.” Other women also reported the offer of using the “couch of restitution.” It is not clear if the “couch of restitution” comes with a recliner of reimbursement or the bench of benefits. However, the Michigan committee found striking similarities in these accounts:
The high degree of similarity of these separate accounts established [his] system of making sexual overtures to female clients who were seeking legal assistance in a domestic matter. These overtures occurred during a discussion of his legal fees. Both [victims] testified that [he] used the phrase “couch of restitution,” and closed the blinds before making sexual remarks to them. The panel did not err in finding a commonality in [his] approach indicating a scheme, plan, or system and the panel did not err when it found that “prior bad acts” evidence was offered for a proper purpose…
Yet, the panel surprisingly opted for only a suspension of 180 days Presumably, Hertzog will be required to get new furniture for the office.
Here is the disciplinary decision: 2009-11-23-06o-76
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