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Lawsuit accusing Las Vegas lawyer David Phillips of rape dropped, but legal fight continues


A Maryland woman has dismissed a lawsuit accusing veteran Las Vegas attorney David Phillips of raping her in 2012, but she is sticking by her allegations.

Meanwhile, a long-running battle between Phillips and the State Bar of Nevada has intensified. Phillips claims the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, acting on his complaint, has charged the bar with discrimination, and the bar then “turned up the pressure” on him by filing a “false and illegitimate” disciplinary complaint. On Feb. 23 he filed a motion seeking dismissal of that complaint.

Phillips last week filed a new civil rights lawsuit against the bar, citing what he describes as the EEOC action and seeking an injunction to stop any investigations or disciplinary proceedings against him.

“The filing of the charge-of-discrimination against the State Bar of Nevada represents the first time in the history of the commission that such a charge has ever been leveled against a state bar or analogous entity,” reads Phillips’ motion for a preliminary injunction.

EEOC spokeswoman Kimberly Smith-Brown on Tuesday said the agency is “strictly prohibited by law from confirming or denying the existence of discrimination charge filings, investigations, or administrative resolutions.”

Bar Counsel Stan Hunterton said he has not seen an EEOC charge.

“We deny the allegations,” he said Tuesday. “We will proceed with the disciplinary hearing against Mr. Phillips.”

No hearing date has been set.

Hunterton dismissed Phillips’ move to involve the EEOC by claiming the state bar’s oversight of legal professionals amounts to a “quasi-employment relationship,” saying “Mr. Phillips is not a quasi-employee or employee of the state bar, no more than I, who subscribe to the Review-Journal, am an employee of the Review-Journal.”

Phillips, a Nevada lawyer since 1983, was reprimanded by the bar in 2008 and in 2009. His current battle with the bar followed publicity last year about his personal, professional and legal troubles. The Nevada bar was then investigating multiple grievances against Phillips, including one filed by a judge, while in a separate lawsuit Maryland attorney April Ademiluyi accused him of raping her at a 2012 National Bar Association conference in Tampa, Fla.

The Review-Journal typically does not name sexual assault victims, but Ademiluyi agreed to be identified. In her lawsuit she accused Phillips of drugging her without her knowledge and engaging in sexual intercourse with her, “knowing that she was too incapacitated to appreciate, understand, or resist the sexual act being committed upon her.”

Authorities in Tampa determined there wasn’t enough evidence to file charges. Phillips did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

Ademiluyi, representing herself, requested a dismissal of the lawsuit in October.

“First and foremost, I will not have a full and fair opportunity to litigate this case in this forum,” she wrote. “I don’t have sufficient financial resources, I am suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress as a result of the defendant drugging and sexually assaulting me, and trying to sue him on the other side of the country, in a state I have never traveled to and have no contacts or assistance.”

In November she filed a new federal lawsuit in Maryland against the National Bar Association and two officers of the organization. It accuses the defendants of negligence and of conspiring with public officials “to alter and destroy evidence to cover up” her rape.

“The allegations are frivolous, and we look forward to the court’s determination as to whether or not this case merits any further litigation,” said J. Wyndal Gordon, a Maryland attorney representing the group’s former president, Daryl Parks. Ademiluyi claims she was drugged at a party in Parks’ hotel room.

Messages left Tuesday for Keith Perry, the National Bar Association’s executive director, and for the organization’s current president, were not returned. Phillips is not named as a defendant in the new lawsuit, which seeks at least $20 million in damages.

Phillips, who is black, first sued the Nevada bar in December 2014. In a lawsuit in federal court he accused the bar of leaking confidential information about him to the press, and later alleged the “mostly white organization” shows racial bias by “picking on attorneys of race and color.”

The new lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, includes claims of discrimination and retaliation. It follows the state bar’s Feb. 4 filing of a six-count complaint of misconduct against Phillips. One of the counts stems from a grievance filed by District Judge Elissa Cadish.

“Judge Cadish believed that (Phillips) had either lied under oath or had a fundamental misunderstanding of the law and the court system,” according to the disciplinary complaint.

Phillips had testified at a hearing related to a personal injury case involving former client, Pamela Burford. A grievance by Burford resulted in a 2012 reprimand of Phillips for violating rules involving attorney fees and safekeeping of property.

Two counts in the recent complaint stem from Nevada Supreme Court referrals for investigation after Phillips failed to comply with the court’s orders.

According to another count in the complaint, the state bar “identified multiple areas of concern” in a review of Phillips’ trust account.

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710. Find her on Twitter: @CarriGeer

 

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