CHARLESTON - A Marion County attorney is accused of similar conduct that resulted in the disbarment of his father.
George P. Stanton III is named as a respondent in a two-count statement of charges filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. In its statement filed Feb. 2 with the state Supreme Court’s Lawyer Disciplinary Board, ODC, the arm of the court that investigates attorney misconduct, alleges Stanton, a sole practitioner in Fairmont, had too close a relationship with three female clients while they were incarcerated.
Three years ago, the court disbarred Stanton’s father, G. Patrick Stanton, Jr., who, while working in then-Gov. Joe Manchin’s administration, allegedly attempted in 2005 to have a sexual encounter with a woman with whom he maintained a nearly 20-year relationship while she was incarcerated.
A statement of charges acts like an indictment for disciplinary purposes.
According to the statement, Stanton III had a sexual relationship with Jessica Lee and Jessica Odom prior to their respective convictions and subsequent incarcerations at the Lakin Correctional Facility for Women in Mason County.
In Aug. 2006, Lee was convicted on one count each of conspiracy to commit forging or uttering or other writing, forging or uttering or other writing and grand larceny, while Odom was convicted in March 2008 on a charge of conspiracy to commit grand larceny.
During their incarceration, Stanton placed into Lee’s and Odom’s prisoner trust accounts $1,170 and $240, respectively. The contributions, the statement says, were improper as they were not connected to any pending legal matters involving the women.
Also, the statement says Stanton visited Lee three times between 2007 and 2010, twice as a social visitor, and the third time on Feb. 18, 2010 to represent her in a parole hearing. Though she was denied parole, Stanton picked her up in a recreational vehicle when she was released for unspecified reasons nine months later, it says.
According to the statement, they “resumed their sexual relationship for a short time.” Currently, Lee remains incarcerated at Lakin with a projected discharge date of Nov. 5, 2016, and another parole hearing is scheduled for Aug. 1.
Prior to her conviction in Dec. 2009 on four counts of manufacturing and delivery of a controlled substance, the statement says Stanton had no romantic relationship with Kimberly Anderson. Also, Stanton kept their relationship strictly professional when he visited her three times in 2011 relating to and including her parole hearing.
After her parole was denied, Stanton visited Anderson twice in July 2011 and once the following December. Those visits, the statement says, “were on weekends, a time wherein only personal visits are permitted and attorney/client meetings are not permitted.”
Between February and Nov. 12, 2011, the statement says Stanton sent money to Anderson totaling $1,160. On the latter date, Anderson allegedly enclosed a $40 money order enclosed in an unsigned letter that ended with “I love you and will see you again soon! Just think, we only have two more months…”
According to the statement, two months later the prison warden notified Stanton he would not be allowed to visit Anderson as a personal visitor. The decision was based partially on a letter he wrote Anderson the month before.
According to the statement, the letter said, “And speaking of looking good, I’ll bet you look really good naked. Stop obsessing on getting dark as a negro, and having big boobs. If that’s what I really wanted I would have gone for a big boobed negro. I really like the way you are.”
Despite the warden’s modification of his visitation privileges, Stanton continued to secure Anderson’s release from Lakin, which apparently worked as on an unspecified date she was transferred to a work release program at the Beckley Correctional Center where he “resumed personal visits with [her],” the statement says.
On an unspecified date, the statement says Stanton told ODC in the course of its investigation that after she’s paroled from the work release program “it is his intention to move to Florida with [Anderson] and marry her.”
According to the state Division of Corrections’ website, Anderson is back at Lakin with a projected release date of Sept. 4, 2023, and a parole hearing, like Lee, scheduled for Aug. 1.
The statement accuses Stanton of committing three violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct including those dealing with prohibited transactions.
About the time Stanton III was involved in a sexual relationship with Lee, Stanton Jr. was representing Rose Auvil on criminal charges in Taylor County. Records show Stanton Jr. and Auvil had a long-standing relationship going back to 1986 when they first had a sexual encounter, and then resuming in 1992 when he represented her regularly in unspecified legal matters.
Stanton Jr. worked on Auvil’s case until May 2004 when he took a job as an assistant prosecutor in Marion County. Fourteen months later, Gov. Joe Manchin appointed Stanton Jr. to be the first director of the state Office of Consumer Advocacy, the agency that represents citizens in administrative hearings before the state Insurance Commission.
According to court records, Stanton Jr. paid a visit to Auvil on Oct. 11, 2005, while she was incarcerated at the Pruntytown Correctional Center near Grafton. On the visitor log, he listed his reason for the visit as “attorney.”
After concluding their visit, Stanton Jr. unzipped his pants, and Auvil began to perform oral sex on him, it was alleged. Their encounter was interrupted by corrections officer who was monitoring the visit.
Two days later, Stanton Jr. resigned as OCA’s director. The reason for his resignation, he told The Associated Press, was to avoid “the giggle factor.”
Though questioned by police immediately following the encounter, Stanton Jr. was never charged with any crime. However, ODC filed a statement of charges against him on June 21, 2008.
The statement came in the midst of Stanton Jr.’s wife Shirley’s campaign for family law judge. In November’s general election, she lost to her Democratic opponent Amy Jo Swisher.
Since it was the first time disciplinary charges were filed against him since his admission to the state Bar on Sept. 11, 1979, the board’s hearing panel subcommittee recommended Stanton Jr. be admonished. However, the court on June 10, 2010 threw the book at him and ordered his disbarment.
According to the Stanton Law Office’s website, Stanton Jr. now works as Shirley’s legal assistant. Though no dates are provided, the site says he began working for her “after retiring.”
A public hearing on Stanton III’s statement is scheduled for June 11 at ODC’s office on the 12th floor of the City Center East building in Kanawha City.
West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, case number 13-0138