Trial Opens In The Case Of A Columbus Attorney Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Five Women

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UPDATED: Tuesday June 10, 2014 6:25 PM

Is a prominent Columbus attorney a sexual predator, or a target of law enforcement?

Those were the two pictures painted for jurors Tuesday in the trial of Javier Armengau.  He's accused of sexually assaulting five different women.

Armengau was arrested in April of 2013, accused of sexually assaulting the mother of a client in his law office.  After that arrest, Columbus Police say four other women - none of whom know each other - came forward with similar stories.

On Tuesday, the defense told jurors all of those women, and police, have motive to go after Armengau.

Javier Armengau has years of experience in the courtroom.  Today, he's not the defense attorney, but the defendant, accused of preying on women in need.

Prosecutors say one of his accusers is a woman who was in danger of being deported and losing her child.

"She remembers being in the defendant's office and he serves her a drink, some coffee,” said Melissa Schiffel of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. “The next thing she knows, she wakes up, the Defendant is engaging in sexual conduct and that he is putting her clothes back on her.  And (the woman) will tell you that the defendant says to her, ‘oh don't worry - you blacked out.’"

They say two other victims came to Armengau to represent their sons.

"The defendant asks for oral sex and (the woman) says no,” said Schiffel. “And the next thing (the woman) knows, she will tell you, the defendant stands up, drops his pants, (and) continues to request oral sex and continues to imply that he has judges in his pocket. And the evidence will show the power of the defendant and how he controlled these women to prey upon them."

Prosecutors say after forcing himself on one woman to the point that she became physically ill, he taunted her about her son's case.  "The Defendant says to her, ‘your son would not have gone to prison if you had been cooperative.’"

While Armengau has no criminal record, his attorneys say some of his accusers do, and say at least two of them have previously made false rape claims.  "We will prove to you throughout the course of this trial, even though the burden is not ours, that these women were motivated by greed, by revenge, by envy, by jealously, and by money," said defense attorney Jennifer Coriell.

She says even police had a motive to take him down.

"Mr. Armengau's practice became one that focused on representing individuals who were targeted by law enforcement. And this commitment and arguably his success, we argue the evidence will show, has set him up with the police as a target of law enforcement."

Armengau is charged with six counts of rape, three counts of kidnapping, three counts of gross sexual imposition, five counts of sexual battery, and one count of public indecency.

Tuesday was the first day of testimony.  The trial could take as long as three weeks.

The defense told jurors Tuesday that Javier Armengau will be taking the stand in his own defense.

 

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