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Lawyer in 10th delay of molestation trial could be disbarred

Staff writer

A lawyer in a 2017 district court case delayed June 23 for the 10th time might be disbarred, in part because he was found to have repeatedly delayed other trials.

Jerry Thouvenell was charged in February 2017 with 12 counts of aggravated indecent liberties with children and one count of battery. The alleged crimes spanned from Jan. 1, 2012, to Aug. 8, 2016.

The Wichita lawyer Thouvenell hired to defend him, David P. Leon, was examined by a state attorney disciplinary board after four complaints filed against him were investigated. The board unanimously recommended his license be suspended. The disciplinary administrator recommended disbarment.

The matter of Leon’s discipline is now in the hands of the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments in the case Sept. 14.

If the court decides Leon should be disciplined, it has the option to send out press releases about his actions, put him on probation, suspend his license for a specific or indefinite time, or disbar him.

Complaints against Leon included repeatedly delaying trials, mingling clients’ money with his own instead of holding it in a different bank account, and not staying in communication with his clients.

According to the board’s report, Leon was earlier put into a diversion program in 2021.

“(Leon) repeatedly engaged in delay tactics in three of the four cases,” the board wrote in its report. “The hearing panel unanimously recommends that (Leon’s) license to practice law be indefinitely suspended.”

The board noted also that Leon had delayed providing information to investigators working with the complaints against him.

On June 23 — the day Thouvenell’s trial was to begin — lawyers for the attorney general’s office told judge Michael Powers that they had become aware of disciplinary actions against Leon only two days earlier.

Prosecutors asked Powers to postpone Thouvenell’s trial and appoint a second lawyer because of the severity of the allegations against Leon.

Powers appointed Newton lawyer Kevin Loeffler to assist in defending Thouvenell. Leon will remain on the case.

Thouvenell is accused of engaging in lewd fondling or touching with the intent to arouse or satisfy sexual desires of himself or the children.

His wife, Sheila Thouvenell, was charged with interference with law enforcement and two counts each of aggravated endangerment of a child and aggravated intimidation of a witness.

She pleaded no contest in April 2018 to interference with law enforcement and was sentenced to 12 months’ probation. The remaining charges were dismissed.

Last modified July 29, 2021

 

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