CHARLESTON – Records show very early in his legal career, Gerry Hough was scolded by the Lawyer Disciplinary Board for violating federal law when he improperly accessed a Glenville State College student's academic records in the course of representing her accused attacker in a sexual assault case.
The Board on Dec. 9, 2000, filed a one-count statement of charges against Hough for committing three violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct when he asked for, and received, a copy of Anita Phillips-Wiseman's transcripts on Nov. 13, 1998. At the time, Hough was representing Wilkie Perez, a GSC student and quarterback of the football team, on charges he raped Phillips-Wiseman.
In the statement, which acts as an indictment for disciplinary purposes, the Board stated that Hough was also a member of the GSC faculty at the time he was representing Perez. Hough, the statement alleged, used his position on the faculty to mislead the GSC Registrar's Office into getting a copy of Phillips-Wiseman's transcripts for the sole purpose of aiding in Perez's defense.
Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, strict limits are placed on disclosure of a student's academic records, and who has access to them. Among those who are permitted access to a college student's records, including his or her transcripts, is the student's advisor.
According to the statement, at the time he requested her transcripts, Hough was not Phillips-Wiseman's advisor. Because of that, the Board charged Hough with violating Rules dealing with truthfulness in statements to others, respect for the rights of third persons and misconduct.
Eventually, the Board on Aug. 4, 2004, opted to dismiss the charge, and "caution" Hough, who by this time had become Gilmer County's prosecutor, for his conduct, and fine him $400. The reason for the Board's decision was due to the fact that at the time of the incident, Hough had been a member of the state Bar for only a month, and, upon learning of his actions, Thomas Powell, GSC's then-president, reprimanded Hough, and denied him a pay raise given to other GSC faculty and staff.
As part of the agreement to dismiss the charges, Hough, despite his initial denial, had to admit to them, and express remorse for his actions.
Records show the sexual assault charges against Perez were dismissed.