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Attorney charged with lewdness ordered to stop practicing law

Updated June 29, 2022 - 4:52 pm

A judge on Wednesday ordered a Las Vegas attorney charged with multiple counts of lewdness to stop practicing law.

Douglas Crawford, 67, was arrested May 26 and charged with five gross misdemeanor counts of open and gross lewdness after prosecutors said he sexually harassed and inappropriately touched multiple employees. He is also accused of exchanging his legal services for sex with clients, Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacob Villani has said.

Although Crawford had previously told a judge he would voluntarily surrender his law license, he is “currently engaging in the practice of law,” prosecutors wrote in court documents filed June 10.

Documents included with the court filing show that Crawford signed a fee-sharing agreement with a client and another attorney on June 9.

“This demonstrates a clear intention to continue to practice law and put our community at risk,” prosecutors wrote in the court documents.

Crawford’s defense attorney, Tony Abbatangelo, said the client met with the other attorney instead of Crawford.

“Our position is he’s not practicing,” Abbatangelo said following a court hearing on Wednesday.

Justice of the Peace Suzan Baucum ordered Crawford not to practice law and to stay away from his law office, at 501 S. 7th St. She also ordered him to stay away from any current employees.

Villani declined to comment on the case on Wednesday.

The Metropolitan Police Department began investigating Crawford in April after the district attorney’s office received an emailed report regarding the alleged sexual harassment, according to Crawford’s arrest report.

Police spoke with former employees who accused Crawford of touching their buttocks and breasts without their consent, the arrest report said. Some of the employees said Crawford would force them to kiss him by grabbing their jaws and pulling their faces toward him. When some employees tried to quit, Crawford would offer “substantial” pay raises.

Employees and witnesses told police that Crawford would have sex with clients in his office, knowing that employees were able to see a live feed of surveillance footage from the room, according to the arrest report.

One woman said Crawford would “target” young female clients seeking an attorney for divorce or child custody court proceedings, the report said.

Prosecutors wrote in court documents that since Crawford’s arrest, multiple people have “come forward with similar allegations.”

Crawford has been a member of the State Bar of Nevada since 1985.

In 2009, the Nevada Supreme Court suspended Crawford’s law license for five years after he stole more than $300,000 from clients to support his gambling and drug addictions. He pleaded guilty to two counts of felony theft in 2011, although the case was dismissed in 2017 after Crawford paid restitution, court records show.

Crawford has been released from custody after posting bond on a $100,000 bail, court records show. A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for July 19.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.