IN THE MATTER OF: )
Lee Robert Arzt ) VSB Docket No. 99-033-1567
THIS MATTER, on February 27, 2003, came before a duly convened panel of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board (the (Board(), consisting of John A. Dezio (Chair), V. Max Beard (Lay Member), William C. Boyce, Jr., Theophlise L. Twitty and Peter A. Dingman, pursuant to a Subcommittee Determination (Certification) by a subcommittee of the Third District Committee, Section Three, following a hearing before that group on May 21, 2002. The Virginia State Bar (the (Bar() was represented by Barbara Ann Williams, Bar Counsel. Lee Robert Arzt appeared in person and was represented by his counsel, R. Paul Childress, Jr., and James R. Wrenn, Jr. The proceedings were recorded and transcribed by Tracy J. Stroh, a registered professional reporter, Chandler & Halasz, Post Office Box 9349, Richmond, Virginia 23227 (phone: 804-730-1222).
The hearing commenced promptly at 9:00 a.m., in Courtroom (A( of the State Corporation Commission, with the Chair reciting the purpose of the hearing and the procedures to be followed. The Chair further polled the members of the Board as to whether any of them was conscious of any personal or financial interest or bias which would preclude any of them from fairly hearing this matter and serving on this panel. Each member, including the Chair, answered in the negative.
The hearing then proceeded with the Bar introducing the testimony of the following witnesses: Respondent, Howard Feller, Esq., Judy Lang, Linda Satkowski, Leslie A.T. Haley, Attorney-at-Law, and Sylvia Clute, Attorney-at-Law. The Board also received in evidence documentary exhibits and 129 factual stipulations submitted by the parties. Ms. Williams and Mr. Childress argued the matter, and, after a recess to consider the matters presented, the Board found the following facts to have been established by clear and convincing evidence:
1. Lee Robert Arzt was admitted to the Virginia State Bar on September 21, 1973, and was an active member in good standing to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia at all times relevant to this proceeding.
2. Mr. Arzt first met Linda C. Satkowski in 1993 or 1994 when she consulted him about a Title VII claim against her employer, AMF.
3. Ms. Satkowski next returned to Mr. Arzt(s office in November or December 1996 and consulted him about a claim against Spectacor Management Group ((SMG(), her former employer, and Ollie Harper, her former supervisor, whom she alleged had sexually abused her.
4. Ms. Satkowski advised Mr. Arzt that her former attorney Steve Dalton had fired her and that there was less than a month to file her case.
5. Ms. Satkowski engaged Mr. Arzt to file a Title VII lawsuit against SMG and Mr. Harper.
6. During the course of the litigation,
Mr. Arzt learned that Ms. Satkowski had a criminal history of writing bad checks
as well as prostitution.
7. Mr. Arzt determined that Ms. Satkowski(s history of prostitution would come in as evidence in her case against SMG because the information was contained in her medical records and was part of her medical and psychiatric diagnoses.
8. During the course of the litigation, Mr. Arzt learned that Ms. Satkowski suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ((PTSD() and major depression.
9. Mr. Arzt knew that Ms. Satkowski had qualified for, and was receiving Social Security Disability benefits.
10. Mr. Arzt learned that on November 23, 1995, Ms. Satkowski had been admitted to Chippenham Hospital for a claimed suicide attempt involving an alleged drug overdose.
11. Mr. Arzt also learned that Ms. Satkowski had left the hospital without medical authorization because she claimed that her treating doctor (was not conducive( to her care.
12. Ms. Satkowski was sexually abused as a child. The memory of same could be repressed, and upon her recall of it, could cause the symptoms that she currently exhibits; difficulty in Ms. Satkowski(s relationships with other people.
13. Ms. Satkowski has been diagnosed as having PTSD, although her healthcare providers concede that it is not possible to say that the PTSD is as a result of the alleged rape by Mr. Harper rather than her history of prostitution or other circumstances in her life.
14. As the case progressed, Ms. Satkowski began to spend more and more time at Mr. Arzt(s office. Ms. Satkowski observed that Mr. Arzt would take long-standing clients to lunch or dinner and asked why Mr. Arzt did not take her to meals. Mr. Arzt told her that the others were long-standing clients and she was not, and that he would work through lunch with these clients. Ms. Satkowski called Mr. Arzt sexist because he would not take her to lunch and then would arrive at his office at mealtimes. Mr. Arzt took Ms. Satkowski to lunch or dinner on many occasions.
15. Mr. Arzt would hug Ms. Satkowski at her request once or twice a week, particularly at the end of office visits.
16. Mr. Arzt was not comfortable hugging Ms. Satkowski, but according to him, she seemed to need it.
17. After July 1997, Mr. Arzt considered non-suiting Ms. Satkowski(s case; however, he was concerned that the case would never get so close to trial again given Ms. Satkowski(s condition. He believed that it was best to continue on as if the case were going to trial in order to obtain a settlement for her.
18. Mr. Arzt was not certain that he could ever find an expert witness to relate Ms. Satkowski(s damages to the alleged acts of Mr. Harper versus the other problems that she had.
19. Dr. John Gilliam, a psychiatrist whose practice focuses on the treatment of women, began treating Ms. Satkowski during her July 1997 hospitalization. Ms. Satkowski advised him she was spending considerable time in Mr. Arzt(s office. Dr. Gilliam felt this was detrimental to Ms. Satkowski(s health and recommended that she get someone else to do that work.
20. On August 8, 1997, based upon a letter from Ms. Satkowski(s treating psychiatrist, indicating that she was (still not functioning at a level that would enable her to participate in her current court case,( Judge Payne continued the trial date from September 16, 1997 to December 8, 9 and 10, 1997.
21. Norma Murdoch-Kitt, Ph.D. is a psychologist to whom Mr. Arzt referred Ms. Satkowski for treatment.
22. In September 1997, without informing Ms. Satkowski, Dr. Murdoch-Kitt called Mr. Arzt and alerted him to the fact that Ms. Satkowski apparently had information about the cases of other clients of Mr. Arzt.
23. Ms. Satkowski testified that on September 14, 1997, she went to Mr. Arzt(s office and he was distant and would not let her hug him.
24. Dr. Murdoch-Kitt(s therapy note of September 16, 1997, indicates that Mr. Arzt told his client that there would be no more meals together, no joking around and more boundaries.
25. Dr. Murdoch-Kitt testified that Ms. Satkowski told her that she was upset because Mr. Arzt told her they would be focusing on work, and that he had distanced himself from her and put up boundaries.
26. According to Ms. Satkowski, the boundaries did not remain in place very long; within a week, Mr. Arzt said (to hell with what anybody thinks. I(m going to treat you and act any way I want. I don(t care what people think.(
27. In October 1997, Ms. Satkowski(s doctors were telling Mr. Arzt that she was in a fragile condition; however she was spending a great deal of time at Mr. Arzt(s office.
28. Ms. Satkowski told Mr. Arzt that she felt safe in his office and, according to Mr. Arzt, she liked working on her case.
29. On the evening of November 5, 1997, Mr. Arzt and Ms. Satkowski had dinner together, then returned to Mr. Arzt(s office and continued to work on her case.
30. Ms. Satkowski was in the associate(s office.
31. She was upset and crying, and asked Mr. Arzt for a hug.
32. According to Ms. Satkowski, the embrace turned into a kiss, then Mr. Arzt sat in a chair and pushed her down to the floor between his legs, unzipped his pants, and asked her to give him oral sex.
33. According to Mr. Arzt, after he hugged Ms. Satkowski, she clamped her arms around his mid section, would not let go and started trying to kiss him.
34. According to Mr. Arzt, when Ms. Satkowski told him that she wanted him, he told her that it was not going to happen and tried gently to push her away and break her hold.
35. According to Mr. Arzt, he backed up and dropped into a chair, breaking Ms. Satkowski(s hold.
36. According to Mr. Arzt, Ms. Satkowski then dropped down on top of him, kneeled between his legs and began stroking him.
37. According to Mr. Arzt, Ms. Satkowski knocked his hands away when he tried to block her.
38. Mr. Arzt claims that he felt he would have to become violent with Ms. Satkowski in order to get away from her and chose not to do so because of her condition and the status of her case. A completed act of oral sex occurred.
39. On November 6, 1997, Ms. Satkowski and Mr. Arzt worked past midnight preparing exhibits for the settlement conference on November 7, 1997.
40. Mr. Arzt stayed in his office, and Ms. Satkowski worked in the conference room.
41. When Mr. Arzt went into the conference room where Ms. Satkowski was working, he discovered she had disrobed above the waist except for her blazer.
42. Mr. Arzt stated that "it must be a lot hotter in the offices" than he thought and walked out of the conference room.
43. When they had finished working for the evening, Mr. Arzt returned to the conference room where Ms. Satkowski was working.
44. According to Ms. Satkowski, Mr. Arzt came in, looked over everything and then took her in his arms and began to kiss her as he had the previous night.
45. According to Ms. Satkowski, Mr. Arzt got her jacket off, she unbuttoned his shirt, moved her hand over his breast and squeezed his nipples, then they ended up on the floor, where he unbuttoned her pants and took them off, pulled her panties down and took off his underpants.
46. According to Ms. Satkowski, as they were kissing and petting, Mr. Arzt pushed her head down between his legs, telling her, (It(s all right. Just take your time. I(m going to be gentle.(
47. According to Ms. Satkowski, Mr. Arzt gave her instructions on what to do and she performed oral sex on him.
48. According to Ms. Satkowski, while she was doing what Mr. Arzt told her to do, he pulled her up and said (This is too much.(
49. According to Ms. Satkowski, she thought that Mr. Arzt meant they should not be doing what they were doing so she stopped and started to grab her clothes.
50. According to Ms. Satkowski, while she was on her hands and knees gathering her clothes, Mr. Arzt re-innitiated sexual contact with her.
51. According to Ms. Satkowski, Mr. Arzt also performed oral sex on her, then pulled her on top of him and engaged in sexual intercourse.
52. Mr. Arzt claims that after he entered the conference room, Ms. Satkowski, naked except for her blazer, ran down to the other end of the table cutting off his exit from the room.
53. Mr. Arzt claims that Ms. Satkowski told him that she had waited to have sex with him for too long and she was going to have it with him whether he liked it or not.
54. According to Mr. Arzt, Ms. Satkowski said that she was going to get what she had wanted from the beginning.
55. Mr. Arzt claims that when he told her no, Ms. Satkowski told him that he would submit or she would tear her clothes and his and run out screaming that Mr. Arzt had tried to rape her.
56. Mr. Arzt claims that he did not voluntarily engage in sexual intercourse with Ms. Satkowski. A completed act of sexual intercourse did occur. Mr. Arzt was (and remains) a married man.
57. On the afternoon of November 7, 1997, Mr. Arzt drove Ms. Satkowski to the settlement conference in his vehicle. After back and forth negotiations between the parties, the defendants agreed to pay $150,000.00 to settle Ms. Satkowski(s claims.
58. Dr. Dell, a treating psychologist for Ms. Satkowski, testified, in a different legal proceeding, that the nature of the relationship between Ms. Satkowski and Mr. Arzt was a major trusting relationship that, upon her report, came to involve sexual discussions and the sharing of a great deal of personal information. According to Dr. Dell, Ms. Satkowski was a highly traumatized woman whom Mr. Arzt made feel good about herself.
59. Dr. Dell testified (in that other proceeding) in his experience many traumatized women are not able to set appropriate boundaries and to stand up for themselves.
60. Dr. Dell testified (again, in that other proceeding) that one of the ways that victims of sexual abuse attempt mastery over their trauma is by sexual aggression.
61. When Dr. Murdoch-Kitt, who also testified in another proceeding, was asked if the fact that Mr. Arzt was representing Ms. Satkowski in a sexual harassment case involving rape made her trust of Mr. Arzt more significant, Dr. Murdoch-Kitt replied, (Very(much more important.( Dr. Murdoch-Kitt also testified that Ms. Satkowski had been in several unhealthy intimate relationships and had a very difficult time trusting not only men, but people in general. Dr. Murdoch-Kitt indicated that it was helpful to Ms. Satkowski to have found someone to work with whom she could trust.
62. Robert Brown, M.D., Ph.D., who was also a witness in a different proceeding, testified that if a woman has previously been sexually violated by one man, and subsequent to that trauma is sexually violated by another man in whom she has placed a great deal of trust, the second traumatization could be more severe than the first. Dr. Brown testified that this is known as betrayal trauma, as opposed to physical or sexual trauma. According to Dr. Brown, once trust is reestablished, betrayal of that trust multiplies the stress of the person and lengthens her recovery.
In consideration of the foregoing factual findings, the other evidence presented to the Board by testimony, exhibit and stipulation, and the argument of counsel, the Board concluded that Respondent was guilty of professional misconduct under the (then applicable) Code of Professional Responsibility in that the conduct proved by the Bar violated DR1-102 which provides in pertinent part:
(A) A lawyer shall not:
* * *
(3) Commit a crime or other deliberately wrongful act that reflects adversely on the lawyer(s fitness to practice law.
After the Board announced its finding that Respondent was guilty of professional misconduct, the parties were permitted to present their evidence and arguments with regard to the appropriate sanction. The Bar invited the Board(s attention to the American Bar Association(s standards for imposition of attorney discipline and argued that the facts introduced in the hearing demonstrated that Respondent acted from a selfish motive and, pointing to the testimony of Dr. Brown, that Ms. Satkowski was a particularly vulnerable client. In mitigation, Respondent offered that Respondent had no prior record of professional misconduct in over 30 years of practice, argued that he had himself been a victim of abuse as a child, suggested that Ms. Satkowski had contributed to the events of the case, pointed to the passage of time, without repetition of the misconduct, since the events in this case and told the Board that Respondent had already sought counseling with regard to the factors contributing to these events.
The Board took note of Respondent(s lack of prior record and the likely impact of the finding of a violation, on these facts, on Respondent(s personal and professional life. The Board felt that Respondent had cooperated with the Bar as evidenced, in part, by the extensive factual stipulations in the case, and that Respondent had demonstrated remorse for his conduct and candor to the Board in his testimony at the hearing. The fact that Respondent had pursued counseling with regard to the conduct which contributed to this violation was also noted.
In consideration whereof, it is
ORDERED that Lee Robert Arzt be, and he hereby is, admonished, effective upon entry of this Order.
FURTHER, ORDERED that pursuant to Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13B8c(1), of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Clerk of the Disciplinary System shall assess costs; and
FURTHER, ORDERED that a copy of this Order shall be mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested to Respondent at his address of record with the Virginia State Bar, Suite 208, 8001 Franklin Farms Drive, Richmond, VA 23229, via regular mail to Respondent(s counsel of record, R. Paul Childress, Jr., Esq., Thompson Smithers Newman Wade & Childress, LLP, 5911 West Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia, 23230, and James R. Wrenn, Jr., Esq., 14210 Michaux View Way, Midlothian, Virginia, 23113, and by hand delivery to Barbara Ann Williams, Attorney-at-Law, Virginia State Bar, 707 East Main Street, Suite 1500, Richmond, Virginia, 23219.
ENTERED this ______ day of March, 2003.
VIRGINIA STATE BAR DISCIPLINARY BOARD
John A. Dezio, Chair