A Burnsville lawyer who had an affair with a vulnerable client and “bill[ed] the client for meetings in which they engaged in sexual relations” was suspended for a minimum of 15 months, according to an order Thursday by the Minnesota Supreme Court.
In 2011, after being hired by a woman pursuing divorce, Thomas P. Lowe asked her personal questions, including whether she wanted to have sex with him, according to a petition from the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibilty.
The client, who wasn't identified by name, told Lowe at the beginning of the attorney-client relationship that she had been sexually abused by a high-school coach and had attempted suicide as a result of the abuse, the petition said.
Lowe and the client had sex at hotels, the client’s home and in his car while parked at a restaurant. Records show Lowe billed the client for their meetings.
When Lowe’s wife discovered the relationship, he blamed the client “for ruining his marriage and threatened to commit suicide.” Though the client sought professional help for depression, insomnia and panic attacks at that time, Lowe continued to have sexual relations with her for two months, the petition stated.
The client attempted suicide the month after her relationship with Lowe broke off. On the same day, Lowe withdrew as her attorney and sent her a bill stating that she still owed him money.
According to the Supreme Court's order, Lowe "unconditionally admits the allegations of the petition."
Lowe must pass the professional responsibility portion of the state bar exam before petitioning for reinstatement.
Lowe has been disciplined by the state on four previous occasions.
In 1995, he received an admonishment for shouting obscenities at and trying to hit a lawyer representing the other party in a case.
In 1997, he was placed on probation for using cocaine, being involved with the purchase of cocaine from a client and providing the drug to a law partner.
In 2001, Lowe was admonished for swearing at a court employee.
In 2004, he was admonished for insulting a judge during a proceeding.
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