Local News

Durham Public Defender Accused Of Sexual Misconduct

Posted December 22, 2005
Updated May 3, 2007

— Durham's lead public defender is temporarily off the job, suspended with pay after an assistant public defender accused him of inappropriate conduct.

In an affidavit filed in Durham County Superior Court Wednesday, Assistant Public Defender Danielle Bruno alleges that Robert Brown Jr. used his authority as public defender to make sexual advances toward her.

In one case, Bruno claims Brown, after asking her to share something personal about herself, told him "in graphic details about his anatomy and a personal experience." She also accused him of asking for personal details about her marriage and her life.

Based on the accusations, Senior Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson suspended Brown with pay, pending a hearing to determine whether Brown will keep his job.

"On behalf of Mr. Brown, I can say that he categorically denies engaging in any inappropriate sexual behavior, inappropriate sexual conduct, communications, conversations with anybody -- Mrs. Bruno, nor anybody else," said Brown's attorney, James Hairston.

This is not the first time that Brown, who was appointed legal defender in 1991, has faced allegations of sexual misconduct. In 1996, he pleaded no contest to soliciting sex from a client.

"Based on the investigation that I've conducted with my investigator, I have reason to believe that this is a pattern in practice and that there are other victims of sexual assault or sexual harassment from the public defender's office," said Bruno's attorney, Scott Holmes.

The courts will set a date in the next 30 days. It will be an inquiry, or removal hearing, the end result of which will determine if Brown gets to remain as the lead public defender in Durham.

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