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Nanaimo lawyer sexually harassed client, law society finds

Lawyer already disbarred for sexual assault of a different client
Nanaimo lawyer Marc Andre Scheirer was disbarred after the Law Society of B.C. considered his sexual assault conviction related to his interactions with a prospective client in 2018.

A Nanaimo lawyer, disbarred for sexually assaulting a woman who sought his counsel, sexually harassed another client, the Law Society of B.C has found.

Marc Andre Eckardt, who has also used the surname Scheirer, saw his law licence revoked in December 2023 after behaviour that led to his November 2020 conviction. According to a decision from the society at the time, a woman came to him seeking advice on bail conditions for her husband, and Eckardt put his head on her chest and his hand on her leg and moved it "towards her crotch." He subsequently received a suspended sentence with two years' probation.

The society sought to find if Eckardt committed professional misconduct and in a decision released on June 6, a three-person panel found the lawyer acted inappropriately with a woman he represented in incidents between January 2016 and November 2017.

He had been hired to deal with child support and a protection order and matters pertaining to familial law. The client was fearful of men, having suffered abuse throughout her life, but went to Eckardt's office in June 2016, stated the society. Eckardt then "came up behind her and put his arms around her upper chest and pressed her body against the front of his body" and she "froze with fear." He also "started rubbing his socked foot against her feet and leg under [his] desk," and the woman was "petrified."

Additionally, Eckardt inquired whether she wanted to have other children and when she said she didn't, responded stating "how lucky he would be if she was the mother of his children," according to the society.

The woman said she continued with Eckardt's legal services because she didn't like confrontation, worried about obtaining another lawyer as he had been delegated by Legal Aid B.C. and knew "it would be her word against that of ... a licensed lawyer," the society said in the decision.

The woman also provided an account of an October 2016 court appearance where Eckhardt seemed "very dishevelled" and "appeared drunk." While outside the courtroom, he put his hand on her thigh, according to the decision. A friend of the woman's also testified she saw the lawyer touching her friend inappropriately and that he had an odour of alcohol and was not speaking clearly.

As Eckardt did not respond to the society's notice, it is assumed he admitted to the facts.

According to the society's code of professional conduct, lawyers are bound to practise law and carry out duties with the public and peers with integrity and honour. Dishonourable conduct, whether in private or at work, reflects poorly on the profession and in the carrying out of justice and the society "may be justified in taking disciplinary action," the code stated.

The panel found that Eckardt's conduct was "sexual in nature" and had "adverse consequences" to the woman, and decided that his actions equate to professional misconduct.

Karl Yu

About the Author: Karl Yu

I joined Black Press in 2010 and cover education, court and RDN. I am a Ma Murray and CCNA award winner.
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