'Draw me like one of your colleagues.'
Lawyers accused of upskirting have suffered setbacks on both sides of the Channel this week.
In the UK, a partner was struck off after becoming obsessed with a colleague.
Richard Smith sent the woman identified as ‘Person A’ over 1,000 messages and showered her with gifts.
More problematically, he was accused by a member of the public of taking a photo up Person A’s skirt on a train which led to his arrest by transport police.
60 covert videos of Person A were found on his phone along with hundreds of images of her, said the SRA in its prosecution.
Smith, who headed up the firm's environmental law practice, told police he was simply amassing material in order to paint a picture of Person A.
However, at the SDT tribunal he admitted the SRA’s charges and agreed to be removed from the Roll, having stated in mitigation that he “may well have suffered a midlife crisis”.
Conversely, a French lawyer has denied that he upskirted multiple female colleagues.
Patrick Thiébart, who now co-heads the employment department of Parisian firm Franklin, was prosecuted after three woman at his former firm, Jeantet, accused him of sexual misconduct.
“I ran into [Thiébart] in the kitchen, then I saw that he had sent me an email inviting me to join him”, said ‘Rym K’, who was an intern at the time.
“He asked me which master's degree I planned to take at the start of the school year, then he asked me to come and write it on his computer. I refused the first time, but he insisted. I told myself I was going to do it even if I found it weird. I walked around the desk and he leaned back in his chair. By the time I bent down, I heard the sound of the start of an iPhone video”, she told the court in 2021.
“I know the sound very well, I'm from Gen Z, I'm not wrong about that. I turned around, I saw him with his arms outstretched between my legs with his phone facing the ceiling. I was completely stunned.”
Not the insights they were expecting.
Two other former colleagues claimed he also upskirted them in the office, allegations Thiébart has always denied.
“I dispute the facts in the strongest possible way. I'm furious. In this matter, obviously, I am completely innocent. The three complainants are lying”, he was reported as saying at the original trial.
No incriminating photos or videos were found on the partner’s phone and a number of colleagues defended him on the stand.
“I worked 14 hours a day with him for 20 years. I would have seen it!” testified one colleague, adding that she was “deeply feminist ” and “would not have stayed” if she had noticed him upskirting.
His defence raised the possibility that the accusations were manufactured to destroy his reputation as a result of inter-team tensions in the Jeantet office, according to reporting of the trial.
Thiébart was found guilty of voyeurism and ordered to pay each victim 3-4,000 euros in damages, but he has appealed the verdict.
This week he lost his appeal, however he told RollOnFriday that he would continue to fight to clear his name.
“I strongly challenge the decision rendered on 27 October 2023 by the Paris Court of Appeal. I have immediately filed an appeal against this decision with the French Supreme Court to have it quashed”, he said.
“I would like to stress that there is absolutely no material evidence against me”, he added, pointing to “the absence of any conclusive proof” and stating that “under French law, I am still presumed innocent”.
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