On Tuesday, September 12, 2023, attorney Andrew Edward Russ received notification of a complaint for reciprocal discipline filed by the Florida Bar. The complaint stems from his prior discipline in Ohio, where he was found guilty of professional misconduct due to engaging in inappropriate sexual advances toward a vulnerable client.
The case is entitled “The Florida Bar v. Andrew Edward Russ,”
On April 27, 2023, the Supreme Court of Ohio suspended attorney Russ for making sexual overtures toward a vulnerable client. The suspension was based on a two-count amended complaint filed by the relator, disciplinary counsel, which alleged that Russ violated four professional conduct rules by making sexual overtures and arriving late or failing to attend hearings on behalf of ten other clients.
Following the discipline imposed by the court of Ohio, the Florida Bar filed a reciprocal discipline action against Russ. Allegedly, Russ began communicating with the client (C.L.) through text messages, and at times in person, expressly soliciting a sexual relationship with her. Those solicitations included explicit language and references to a “daddy/daughter dynamic” in and out of the bedroom.
The complaint states:
“After his appointment, the respondent began communicating with C.L. through text message, and at times in – person, expressly soliciting a sexual relationship with C.L. Those solicitations included:
“I’m interested in a relationship with you.”, “I want you.” “I think we have that daddy/daughter dynamic going on.”, “As far (sic) as time with you, I can send (sic) considerable time not a problem with as dating/spending time and I’m sexually attracted to you.”
Although Russ did not have a physical sexual relationship with C.L., he acknowledged sending the soliciting text messages. The communications made C.L. uncomfortable, and she mentioned them to the biological father of the child, who was involved in the juvenile court proceeding. C.L. also told the guardian ad litem (GAL) about the inappropriate solicitations, leading to an investigation by Relator.
During the investigation, Russ contacted C.L. again by text message, asking her what she had told Relator about their interactions. Russ then responded to the Letter of Inquiry, denying that he had sent sexually inappropriate text messages and suggesting that C.L. had misled the GAL.
Relator took Russ’s deposition, during which he discovered that his text messages had been supplied to Relator. Until then, Russ had not admitted to sending the text messages.
Based on the parties’ stipulations and testimony, the panel found that Russ engaged in professional misconduct in violation of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct.
The request states:
“WHEREFORE, The Florida Bar prays respondent will be appropriately disciplined in accordance with the provisions of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar as amended.”
According to avvo.com, Mr. Russ is a probate attorney in Columbus, Ohio. He attended the Capital University Law School, graduating in 2002. He acquired his law license in Florida in 2003.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.