A prosecutor in Kansas has failed to block the suspension of his law license by arguing that his alleged Asperger Syndrome played a part in his decision to show sexually explicit photos of drunken teens at a party to their parents.
The Supreme Court of Kansas on Friday suspended Anderson County Attorney Frederick Campbell, 49, from practice for six months. The court concluded that he violated attorney ethics rules when he attempted to demonstrate to a group of parents the dangers of teenage drinking by presenting them with photos of teens drinking and engaging in sexual intercourse.
The court in In the Matter of Campbell, No. 101,116, found that despite Campbell's argument that he had released the photos for the "right reason," an initial ethics panel recommendation calling for a 90-day suspension was not severe enough.
Reached by phone, Campbell said that he thought the court made the right decision.
"I don't relate well to other people," he said. Campbell graduated from the University of Kansas School of Law and received his undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Albany.
Asperger Syndrome is considered a form of autism. Individuals with the disorder often have social interaction problems and demonstrate rigid reasoning and narrowly focused interests.
Anderson County is in the eastern part of Kansas and has a population of about 8,000.
Campbell's disciplinary matter stems from a teens' beer party in May 2007 when a minor girl, identified in the decision as C.H., drank six beers and was photographed having sex with a foreign exchange student, identified as M.V. Those taking photographs also were minors.
A few days later, C.H. told her school counselor that M.V. had sexually assaulted her at the party. At the time, the Anderson County Sheriff's Department was investigating a similar report against M.V. from a high school girl, the decision stated.
While investigating C.H.'s case, law enforcement officers obtained the photographs and forwarded them to Campbell. As county attorney, Campbell handled both criminal and civil matters.
He decided not to pursue C.H.'s case after reviewing the photos and concluded that the sex act was consensual.
A local newspaper article detailed Campbell's decision not to prosecute the alleged assault and reported that he planned to show the photographs, which he had altered to obscure the faces and body parts of some of the party-goers, to the parents of the teenagers who attended the party.
Upon reading the newspaper article, C.H.'s mother contacted Campbell and told him that she would not give her permission to show the photos. In response, Campbell told her that he did not need her permission. According to the decision, Campbell sent letters to 12 parents inviting them to see the photographs. Five parents viewed them.
An attorney for C.H. later contacted Campbell about sealing the pictures from public view. Campbell responded by saying that he could not withhold evidence and would continue to allow parents to see the photos. He also said that he welcomed future litigation because "it would generate a large amount of publicity for the issue of underage drinking."
An initial hearing determined that Campbell's conduct had subjected C.H. to public ridicule and that she suffered from depression as a result of the events.
In adopting the ethics panel's findings of fact and conclusions of law, the Kansas Supreme Court nevertheless rejected the three-month suspension as insufficient.
"In view of what we discern as respondent's continued inability or unwillingness to come to grips with the devastation that his conduct has wrought in a least one life and the potential for it to chill reports from victims of future sex crimes and their cooperation with prosecutions of dangerous offenders, we believe a 90-day suspension to be an inadequate sanction," the decision stated.
Campbell said he had not read the court's Friday decision and that he would not go to work starting the following Monday.