LIMA — The Ohio Supreme Court suspended the law license of a Lima attorney for one year Tuesday for exchanging sexually oriented text messages with a client.
N. Shannon Bartels will have six months of the suspension stayed subject to conditions she receive training on proper communications and interactions with clients, and serve one year of monitored probation when her license is reinstated.
Bartels has a history of similar conduct.
In 2010, the Ohio Supreme Court publicly reprimanded Bartels for engaging in a sexual relationship with a married client. In 2014, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel charged Bartels with violating the rule prohibiting a lawyer from soliciting or engaging in sexual activity with a client, unless a consensual sexual relationship existed before the client-lawyer relationship.
The court expressed concern of a pattern of conduct by Bartels.
“Because this is Bartels’ second disciplinary action within five years for a violation of the same rule and her responses to the questions at the hearing indicate a lack of awareness of the nature of her wrongdoing, we conclude that the board’s recommended sanction is the more appropriate option,” the court said in the order.
In addition to training and probation, to get her license back she must not commit further misconduct and pay the cost of the proceedings, the court said in its order.
In the most recent case, Bartels was accused of having sexual conversations via hundreds of text messages with a man who hired her to handle his divorce.
“The text messages were mutual, reciprocal and very explicit and graphic in their sexual content, expressing among other things, a mutual desire to engage in sexual intercourse,” according to Ohio Supreme Court records.
Bartels and Troy Bailey exchanged the text messages and had frequent phone calls that were of a graphic sexual nature. The two, however, did not have sexual intercourse, according to records.
Bailey’s girlfriend then tried to blackmail Bartels by threatening to send the text messages to authorities if he didn’t get what he wanted in his divorce and get back $3,000 he paid her to handle his divorce.
Bartels informed law enforcement.
Bailey and his girlfriend, Ann Perkins, each pleaded guilty to obstructing justice, a fifth-degree felony. Each were placed on two years probation and Perkins was fined $500.
Bartels, 46, has been an attorney since 1994.
Reach Greg Sowinski at 567-242-0464 or on Twitter @Lima_Sowinski.