Lawyer facing lewdness charges accused of exchanging legal services for sex
Police began investigating Douglas Crawford after the DA’s office received an email stating that multiple women “would like to come forward about sexual harassment, but are scared and do not know how.”
Updated June 1, 2022 - 10:22 am
Police sent an undercover officer to gather evidence against a Las Vegas attorney accused of inappropriately touching and sexually harassing multiple employees, according to an arrest report.
The undercover investigator, posing as a client seeking a consultation on a divorce case, met with 67-year-old Douglas Crawford on May 25 at his law office on the 500 block of South Seventh Street. During the meeting, Crawford made multiple sexual comments to her, attempted to touch her buttocks and tried to kiss her on the lips, according to the Metropolitan Police Department arrest report.
Crawford was arrested the next day and was booked into the Clark County Detention Center. Prosecutors have charged him with five gross misdemeanor counts of open and gross lewdness, court records show.
Police began investigating Crawford in April after the district attorney’s office received an emailed report regarding his alleged sexual harassment, according to the arrest report. The email stated that multiple women “would like to come forward about sexual harassment, but are scared and do not know how.”
After speaking with four former employees and multiple witnesses, investigators determined that Crawford had engaged in “a pattern of inappropriate sexual behavior” with his employees.
The employees were not identified in the report, and each was referred to as “Jane Doe.”
Crawford also is accused of exchanging his legal services for sex with clients, Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacob Villani said during a court hearing Tuesday.
After his arrest, police indicated there “may be additional victims who have not come forward,” according to a Metro news release.
Villani said Tuesday that “a handful, approximately four to five” additional people have come forward to say they have witnessed “the same type of behavior” by Crawford.
‘Pattern of behavior’
Police spoke with former employees who accused Crawford of touching their buttocks and breasts without their consent, the arrest report said. Some of the employees said Crawford would force them to kiss him by grabbing their jaws and pulling their faces toward him.
“Crawford continued this behavior on numerous occasions even after victims told him to stop,” an officer wrote in the arrest report. “Your Declarant believes this pattern of behavior is still ongoing and current/future employees may become victims.”
Crawford’s attorney, Tony Abbatangelo, did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Multiple judges recused themselves from Crawford’s case on Tuesday morning, until Justice of the Peace Suzan Baucum agreed to hear it.
“I’ve known Mr. Crawford for a lot of years,” Baucum said. “I do believe that I can be a neutral fact finder in this matter. I don’t see Mr. Crawford. I haven’t seen him in years unless he’s appeared in court.”
Baucum issued a $100,000 bail for Crawford and ordered him to appear in court again on July 19 for a preliminary hearing.
Crawford has been a member of the State Bar of Nevada since 1985.
In 2009, the Nevada Supreme Court suspended Crawford’s law license for five years after he stole more than $300,000 from clients to support his gambling and drug addictions. He pleaded guilty to two counts of felony theft in 2011.
Captured on video
Employees and witnesses told police that Crawford would have sex with clients in his office, knowing that employees were able to see a live feed of surveillance footage from the room, according to the arrest report.
“It was so well-known that the staffers would sometimes go gather around the video monitors in order to watch him have sex with clients when the door was closed,” Villani said Tuesday.
One woman said Crawford would “target” young female clients seeking an attorney for divorce or child custody court proceedings, according to the arrest report.
A video obtained by investigators showed Crawford engaging in a sex act with a client in his office, according to the report, but the incident “appeared to end abruptly.” Multiple employees said that while Crawford was touching the client, he was on a video call waiting for a court hearing, and the encounter only stopped because the judge called his case to be heard.
The employees also said Crawford would show them naked pictures of other women or videos of himself having sex.
Police spoke with one employee who said Crawford made comments about her breasts during a staff meeting. A different employee said Crawford repeatedly asked her to engage in sex acts with him for money, the report said.
In March, three employees turned in their two-week notices that they were quitting. Crawford then asked the women if they were going to “report him for sexual harassment” and offered them a “substantial” pay raise if they stayed at the law firm, the report said.
When the undercover officer met with Crawford, the two spoke for just under 20 minutes before he began complimenting the woman’s appearance, the report said. Crawford also said he wanted to take the officer on a date once he was no longer her attorney.
As the woman was leaving, Crawford gave her a hug and “began to slide his hands down towards (the woman’s) buttocks,” the report said. He then hugged the officer again and tried to kiss her on the lips.
“As he was walking her out of the office, he asked her if she knew anyone who was looking for a legal job,” the report said.
Contact Katelyn Newberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.