Supreme Court annuls Charles Town attorney's law license for sexual harassment of client

By Kyla Asbury | Jan 26, 2019

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals annulled the law license of a Charles Town attorney after he was convicted of a crime.

John Michael Cassell was admitted to practice law in West Virginia in 1985.

In May 2017, a criminal complaint was presented to Jefferson Magistrate Judge Gail Boober by Det. Alissa J. Meeks. The complaint stated that the victim met with Cassell to retain him to represent her interests in the pursuit of Social Security disability benefits and Cassell informed her she was "too young and pretty and smelled too good to be involved in a disability claim," according to a petition for annulment obtained by The West Virginia Record.

Cassell then asked the victim if she would be interested in performing light work around his office and offered to pay her under the table so it wouldn't interfere with her disability claim.


The victim came to the office on a Saturday regarding the work Cassell had asked her to do and when she arrived, he said they already had someone to clean the office and, instead, he wanted her to be his playmate and forced himself on her and began kissing her, according to the petition for annulment.

The victim pushed Cassell away, but he pursued her until she finally was able to leave. She went straight to the Charles Town Police Department to report the incident to law enforcement, according to the petition.

Later, Cassell was sentenced to one year in jail for sexual harassment and indecent exposure, but he only served one day. He was also given one-year unsupervised probation and was fined $500. 

"Having reviewed the Hearing Panel Subcommittee’s decision denying the request for a mitigation hearing, the Court upholds the Hearing Panel Subcommittee’s decision that a mitigation hearing is not warranted in this matter," the annulment order states. "Upon consideration and review of the petition seeking annulment, the Court is of the opinion to and does hereby grant the petition. It is therefore ordered that the license to practice law in the State of West Virginia of the respondent, J. Michael Cassell, shall be, and it hereby is, annulled."

Cassell was convicted of a crime that reflects adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness and fitness as a lawyer, which is in direct violation of the West Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct, according to the petition.

West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Case number: 18-0067

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