Bob Brown, Jr., former Durham chief public defender, has admitted harassing three female subordinates and has agreed to an order suspending him from practicing law for at least three years.
According to the consent order, Brown repeatedly made sexual advances to women who worked for him. He wrapped his arm around them, gave massages, and stroked one employee’s stomach. He also made louche comments such as asking them about their sexual preferences and bra sizes. In addition, he would suggest he could do them favors if they would do something for him. Specifically, he told Danielle Bruno, an assistant public defender, that “she had three days to be his friend” if she wanted a job that had recently become open.
Bruno pressed for Brown’s firing. Brown agreed to quit the position in 2006 after a judge suspended him. In 2007, Brown was sued by Bruno, a paralegal and a legal assistant.
Not surprisingly, this was not Brown’s first malfeasance. Twelve years earlier, was accused of grabbing a female client’s buttocks. He pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor assault charge; however, the North Carolina bar only reprimanded and fined him, and he was reappointed to serve as public defender two years later.
Apparently, it takes two strikes to be out in Durham. Although in this case, the first “strike”–against a client, no less–was serious enough to wonder why the bar and the county did not take stronger action back in 1996.