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St. Louis attorney acquitted of sexually abusing client at law office

St. Louis attorney acquitted of sexually abusing client at law office


ST. LOUIS A judge on Tuesday acquitted a St. Louis lawyer accused of sexually abusing a female client at the lawyer’s office in 2018.

Warren County Judge Michael Wright found Joseph Neill not guilty of misdemeanor sexual abuse after a two-day bench trial in St. Louis Circuit Court.

Wright was appointed to hear the case after all St. Louis judges were excluded because of Neill’s legal practice in St. Louis and relatives of his who have previously served as judges.

Neill, 67, of St. Louis, stood trial on the claim by one of Neill’s former clients that he placed her hand on his crotch Sept. 29, 2018, at his law office at 5201 Hampton Avenue.

Angela Corder, 39, testified Tuesday that she led Neill on about their relationship but did not consent to sexual contact. The Post-Dispatch typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault but Corder said she wanted to be identified.

“I’m very disappointed,” Corder said of the ruling. “This has been a very long process. I’ve told nothing but the truth.”

Neill, who has practiced law in the region for more than four decades, did not testify and declined to comment after the trial.

Assistant Circuit Attorney Melinda McMahon argued on Tuesday that Neill was “preying on” Corder, and that Neill’s successful decades-long legal career gave him leverage over a woman with a criminal history who “spent her whole life trying to make ends meet.”

“The circumstance surrounding this particular sexual contact is between a powerful person and a vulnerable person,” McMahon told the judge.

Defense lawyer Scott Rosenblum said Neill made “an unfortunate moral lapse” by having a “flirtatious” relationship with the woman outside his marriage. He called Corder “an actress” who lied about her relationship with Neill, had deleted months of text messages between them and also schemed with her “fraudster” boyfriend to squeeze Neill for money.

Corder said she deleted the texts to shield them from her boyfriend but denied Rosenblum’s other claims.

After fist-bumping Neill on the way out of the courtroom Tuesday, Rosenblum said the judge’s ruling was “the right decision.”

“I’m thrilled for him,” Rosenblum said of Neill. “He’s a good guy. I’m glad he can go forward without this hanging over his head.”

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