HOUSTON - A California criminal defense lawyer is charged with exposing himself to two women aboard a Houston flight, despite having recently completed counseling from two prior sex crimes, Local 2 Investigates reported Wednesday.
Leonard Julius Sawyer, 32, was charged Tuesday in Houston Federal Court with a sex crime aboard an aircraft.
Prosecutors filed a charge known as "criminal information" against him, accusing the attorney of exposing himself to two separate women aboard Continental Airlines Flight 594 from Los Angeles to Houston on Valentine's Day.
The criminal information spells out that he exposed himself to one of the women during a state of arousal.
It was unclear from the court filing whether the women were flight attendants or fellow passengers, but no Texas listings could be found in address databases for either woman.
Local 2 Investigates sent an email to Sawyer's law office, which was linked through the State Bar of California website. He then called the station and asked a reporter not to broadcast a story on the matter, saying it would affect his business and his family.
Sawyer was asked several direct questions about the Houston flight, but he declined to provide any answers about the encounter.
When asked about the episode and the criminal charges against him, he said, "If this is true, I'm really taken aback by this."
He said he did not have a copy of the criminal charges against him and then he said, "I need to find out what's going on." He then hung up as a reporter was asking another question.
His record includes two 2009 criminal convictions for groping two other women at the Los Angeles County Courthouse, and the State Bar of California put his law license on probation for what it called a "pattern of misconduct," including fondling a third woman.
In a disciplinary filing with the State Bar Court of California, Sawyer admitted that he placed his hand on the buttocks of a female courtroom clerk on Sept. 17, 2009. On that same date, he was charged with groping a female assistant district attorney in the same manner as she was leaving the courtroom. He was charged with two counts of sexual battery, and State Bar records indicate he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of battery.
The State Bar records indicate he also admitted to patting the buttocks of a female security guard at the courthouse metal detectors on Sept. 25, 2009. He was not charged with a criminal count from that episode.
State Bar records show he was placed on one year probation, which included 52 sessions of "sexual deviency (sic) counseling." After that, the State Bar records show he would be allowed to withdraw his guilty pleas on the sex charges, so that two counts of disturbing the peace would instead be listed on his criminal record.
Sawyer's signature appears on the State Bar documents on May 11, 2011, which was following the Houston flight.
The State Bar proceedings in California make no mention of the Houston episode.
The California Bar did not suspend his law license, which remains in good standing. Instead, a "stayed suspension" was entered, with a notation in his file that reads, "Respondent successfully completed the terms of probation in the criminal matter, including completion of 50 counseling sessions."
His law license was placed on probation for one year, commencing on the date in May that he signed the order.
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