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Posted May 16, 2017 10:57 am CDT
Jurors in Denver have awarded a woman $1.7 million in damages in her privacy invasion suit against a Colorado lawyer who exposed her secret life as a prostitute.
Suspended lawyer Sean Saxon was found liable for revealing Jerene Dildine’s work to her family members and classmates, CBS 4 reports.
Dildine told the television station that she began working as a prostitute when a divorce and a cutback in her work hours created financial problems. Saxon became one of her clients in November 2013, and soon they became romantically involved.
But Saxon didn’t like Dildine’s work as a prostitute and he became angry and violent at times, Dildine said. Dildine said she broke off the relationship, but Saxon stalked her and threatened to expose her. Eventually he carried through on the threat.
Saxon says she was depressed and considered suicide. She contacted lawyer Tom Overton, who helped her file an ethics complaint against Saxon and filed the civil suit on her behalf.
Saxon had represented himself in the trial and claimed his revelations were protected by the First Amendment.
Saxon was fired in 2014 from the Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell law firm, where he handled pharmaceutical and medical device litigation, after the firm learned of Dildine’s allegations, according to a report by an ethics hearing board. He pleaded guilty to violation of a protective order in January 2015 for continuing to send texts to Dildine and was sentenced to two years’ probation.
“The evidence is irrefutable,” the hearing board concluded. “Dildine suffered considerable injury—emotional, physical, and reputational—at [Saxon’s] hands.”
The hearing board imposed a three-year suspension in November 2016, and Saxon appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.
Saxon provided this statement to CBS 4: “I am deeply sorry I became involved with Jerene Dildine, most of all because I betrayed my family. I profoundly regret much of the language I used in my communications when I exposed Ms. Dildine as a prostitute to people who know her. All the material I sent was true and was taken from Ms. Dildine’s own marketing materials that she placed on the internet and sent to her clients to promote her business. I am appealing the jury’s decision. I do not believe that Ms. Dildine should be allowed to recover damages because of embarrassment over having her illegal conduct exposed.”
Headline updated to clarify that it was a verdict.
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