LIHUE, Hawaii – A state appeals court affirmed a Kauai attorney's harassment conviction for licking a former client's ear.
Lawrence McCreery did intend to harass, annoy or alarm his former client when he licked the woman, the Intermediate Court of Appeals said in a ruling issued Friday.
A judge found then-64-year-old McCreery guilty of harassment in 2012, calling him a "dirty old man." The judge concluded there was no evidence the woman made up the story.
During the bench trial, the woman testified that she hired McCreery to represent her in a child custody case.
"The witness testified that she went to McCreery's office to pick up some papers and that, after McCreery made copies of the papers, he stood up, touched her hand, and said, 'You look so good ... Too bad you're married,'" according to the appeals court ruling. The woman testified that she laughed and told McCreery she was happily married.
He then hugged her tightly and licked the back of her ear, she said.
"Quite frankly, these are the actions of a dirty old man," Per Diem Fifth Circuit District Court Judge Frank Rothschild said at the time.
McCreery denied licking her and testified she initiated the hug. His attorney, Michael Soong, appealed.
McCreery, who was licensed to practice law in Hawaii in 1975, was ordered to a pay a $250 fine, prosecutors said.
On appeal, Soong argued the judge made a mistake by not making a specific finding of intent, but the appeals court ruled the judge's "general finding of guilt was sufficient to support his conviction."
Soong didn't immediately respond Saturday to a phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment.
McCreery's law license in Hawaii remains current, the Garden Island reported.