Disbarred BC Lawyer found to have sexually harassed client | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Disbarred BC Lawyer found to have sexually harassed client

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A BC lawyer, who was convicted of sexual assault and disbarred, has been found to have sexually harassed a client seven years ago.

The BC Law Society has found that Nanaimo-based lawyer Marc Andre Scheirer, also known as Marc Andre Eckardt, sexually harassed a client with unwelcome comments, advances and physical contact when he represented her as a client between 2016 and 2017.

According to a June 6 Law Society of BC decision, Eckardt hugged her from behind when they first met, rubbed his foot against the client's leg, and put his hand on her thigh, her arm and her back.

At one point, a social worker in the courtroom asked the client why her lawyer kept touching her.

READ MORE: JONESIE: How Canadian news became victims in its own story

In December 2023, Eckardt was disbarred after he'd been convicted of sexually assaulting a client.

He'd placed his head on his client's chest, rubbed her leg, moved his hand toward her crotch and said "Nicer you are to me now, the sooner we get your husband home."

He received a suspended sentence and two years probation after being convicted.

After working for years in California and Washington State, Eckardt became registered in BC in 2015 and quickly got himself a "very concerning" professional conduct record. He was monitored for alcohol and substance use and got a six-month suspension for "predatory conduct" towards a female client.

The complainant in the current case saw the media coverage and came forward to the Law Society.

The client said she went to Eckardt to get a restraining order to protect her and her children from a violent former partner.

READ MORE: Vernon lawyer who 'misappropriated' funds gets suspended

On their first meeting, Eckardt had come up behind her and put his arms around her upper chest and pressed her body against the front of his body. She "froze" with fear.

After about one minute, he let go, the decision said.

The two then sat down and he rubbed his foot against her leg.

After this, she brought her children with her when visiting the lawyer.

At a court appearance, the client said Eckardt appeared "very dishevelled," "smelled bad" and appeared to be drunk.

When asked why she continued to see Eckardt, she said she didn't know if she'd get another lawyer because he'd been appointed him by legal aid. She also said that she had been subjected to verbal and physical abuse throughout her life and she had learned to de-escalate situations.

The decision said Eckardt gave no evidence on the facts at issue and he was not a reliable witness.

Ultimately, the Law Society found that Eckardt had sexually harassed his client.

Any penalty will be decided at a later date, and might not amount to much as the lawyer has already been disbarred and an early order to pay $14,000 in fees was wiped because of his "dire financial circumstances."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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