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Cawood not censured for sex encounter

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By The Staff

By DAMON LAWRENCE

rclawrence@bellsouth.net

Repulsive, inappropriate and outrageous.

That’s how a hearing panel for the Board of Professional Responsibility described the behavior of Kingston attorney Chris Cawood.

However, the panel concluded the behavior did not violate any rules of professional conduct.

The Board of Professional Responsibility, which acts as a watchdog agency for the Tennessee Supreme Court, brought the action against Cawood for dealings he had with Lisa Steinmetz.

She alleged that Cawood promised he would get her boyfriend released from jail in exchange for sex.

According to the findings of fact, Cawood had sex with Steinmetz and her friend Christy DeRossett.

The sexual encounter, which occurred at Cawood’s office, was audio recorded.

After reviewing the transcript, listening to the recording and hearing testimony from Cawood, Steinmetz and DeRossett, the panel concluded the sex was consensual.   

The panel also determined the women had serious credibility issues.

According to the panel’s report, Steinmetz denied having a criminal history, even though she had been found guilty of harassment and assault.

“Ms. Steinmetz specifically testified that she ‘has never been in trouble’ when nothing could be further from the truth,” the report states. “Ultimately, Ms. Steinmetz’ testimony is replete with factual inconsistencies and untruths.”

The report also states that DeRossett testified that Cawood said Steinmetz’s boyfriend would be released from jail sooner if a single young woman was brought to him to have sex.

“Ms. DeRossett was that woman, yet she testified that she had no idea that her visit with Mr. Cawood was for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity,” the report states.

Cawood fondled “one or both women with their consent” and performed a sex act in their presence, according to the report.

Even though the panel found disdain with his behavior, they determined discipline wasn’t warranted and dismissed the action brought by the Board of Professional Responsibility.

“This panel is compelled to point out that the conclusions and final judgment in this matter were not reached without trepidation,” the report states. “Morally, the panel cannot and does not condone any of (Cawood’s) conduct with respect to Ms. Steinmetz and Ms. DeRossett. Nonetheless, the panel does not find by a preponderance of the evidence that (Cawood’s) repulsive conduct violated any of the rules of professional conduct of the state of Tennessee.”

Despite the panel’s decision, Cawood could still find himself in trouble.

Rita Webb, the executive secretary for the Board of Professional Responsibility, said they plan to appeal the panel’s decision.  

Cawood’s libido has gotten him in controversy before.

He was previously involved in a legal fight with local authorities over what he contended was “just a little sex with a divorce client.”

Cawood, who also moonlights as an author, detailed the saga in his 2006 book “Sex, Lies and Videotape.”