Defense Attorney Facing Sex Charges Finds Himself On Other Side Of Law
Javier Armengau is the defense attorney for a man accused of murder.
His accuser is that defendant's mother.
And she says she has Armengau on tape admitting to forcing himself on her.
The courtroom is Javier Armengau's second home, but never before has the prominent defense attorney been on the other side of the law.
The irony was not lost on Judge Amy Salerno.
"It very much saddens me to have a member of our bar present today in in prison garb and handcuffs. But nonetheless, we do not treat anyone any differently in my courtroom," said Salerno.
Armengau smiled repeatedly during his brief court appearance on Thursday, appearing confident and serene, despite the ugly accusations he faces.
Prosecutor Dan Hawkins spelled out the accusations against him:
"Mr. Armengau then took his free arm, placed it down her shirt, grabbed her breasts and kissed her. (The accuser) then stated Mr. Armengau stood up in front of her, attempted to place her breasts back into her bra. (The accuser) stated she looked up, Mr. Armengau had removed his penis from his pants and stood in front of her.
The alleged victim said in court that the incident happened April 4 in his Brewery District law office during a meeting discussing the defense of her son, who is charged with murder.
That murder trial was set to start next week and is now in jeopardy.
"We don't want a circumstance that's fraught with conflict kind of issues,” said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien. “That can come back to haunt us, whether it's a guilty plea or a trial. A week, a month, a year or 10 years later. So we want the case to be clean."
10TV News spoke off camera with Armengau's accuser, who 10TV News did not name.
She says she has recorded phone conversations where she and Armengau discuss the incident he's accused of.
According to her, when asked why he had forced himself on her, he said, "He was trying to relieve my stress.”
She says he also said, "Why wouldn't I do this? You're an attractive female."
She says she came forward for one reason: to send a message that "whether you're an attorney, a judge or a police officer, you can't go around violating people".
The woman said her family has already paid Armengau some $50,000 for her son's defense, and relatives had to take second jobs to do it.
Now they are at a loss as to how they will pay for a new attorney to take over.
O'Brien said expects Monday's murder trial to be continued until that situation can be sorted out.
Watch 10TV News and refresh 10TV.com for continuing coverage.
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