The story contains details of a sexual assault that some viewers may find disturbing.
The Law Society of B.C. has disbarred a Nanaimo lawyer who was found guilty of sexual assault of a prospective client.
Marc Andre Scheirer, now Marc Andre Eckard, was found guilty in November 2020 for sexually assaulting a prospective client. He was given a suspended sentence and two years probation. According to the Department of Justice, a suspended sentence is a sentence where the offender is released on probation for a period under the supervision of a probation officer.
In February 2018, the prospective client, who is unnamed, came to Scheirer for help with her husband’s bail. She wanted the terms of his bail to be changed so he could cohabitate with him.
When the woman came to visit Scheirer at his place of business, Scheirer asked if she was married, and she said yes, for 29 years.
“He then moved closer to her, putting his head on her chest, rubbing her leg and moving his hand towards her crotch,” the decision says. “She tried to stand up; he pushed her down and said, ‘Nicer you are to me now, the sooner we get your husband home.'”
The assault lasted for approximately 60 seconds, and the woman has since needed to go on medication and is fearful of lawyers and all professionals where there is a power imbalance.
“In this case the Respondent’s conduct was indeed utterly reprehensible. A potential client came to see him in a vulnerable state looking for professional assistance,” the decision says.
“Instead, the Respondent preyed on the victim, X, and intimated that his assistance was dependent on her cooperation with his sexual advances.”
Because the Nanaimo lawyer was found guilty of sexual assault, the Law Society of B.C. found the appropriate disciplinary action to be disbarment.
The law society says it would typically impose a fine of $13,732.50 for this, however, given his financial situation and medical issues the panel is not ordering any costs from Scheirer.
Though this is the incident that led to his disbarment, the decision notes that in his short time as a lawyer in B.C., Scheirer has a number of undertakings on his licence to practice, including that he is not to practice criminal law, not to practice family law, and not to meet with any person under 19 or any female unless there is another person over 19 present in the room.
Scheirer was called to the B.C. bar in 2015, but prior to that practised in California and Washington.
He had also received a citation from the Law Society of B.C. for his interaction with another client he had arranged to meet at his home.
In December 2021, a family law client met at his home. Before her arrival, he had consumed alcohol. When she arrived he offered a martini, she declined. He poured one for himself then changed from his business suit into shorts and an unbuttoned shirt.
For this, he was given a six-month suspension and fined $24,084.86.
“It is clear that the Respondent’s professional conduct record is troubling. Particularly troubling is the fact that this is not the only time that the Respondent has engaged in predatory behavior towards a female client,” the decision says.
“As the protection of the public is the objective of lawyer discipline, this Panel must consider the Respondent’s past conduct record as a significantly aggravating factor.”