TORRINGTON – Torrington Attorney Greg Knudsen owned up to a sexual relationship with a female client he was representing in a divorce case, fabricated stories about fictional conversations with the judge in the divorce proceedings to put her at ease with the situation, lied about the nature of the relationship to the Wyoming State Bar, and encouraged the woman to delete evidence of the affair, according to court documents filed by the Wyoming State Bar Board of Professional Responsibility in the Wyoming Supreme Court.
The court officially disbarred Knudsen, thereby banning him from the practice of law, effective July 15.
“The parties agree, and the board so finds, that aggravating factors present in this matter include dishonest or selfish motive; pattern of misconduct; multiple offenses; submission of false evidence, false statements, or other deceptive practices during the disciplinary process; vulnerability of the victim; and substantial experience in the practice of law,” court documents said.
According to the Order of Disbarment, an investigation was launched when the ex-husband of one of Knudsen’s clients filed a complaint with the Wyoming State Bar Counsel on March 21. The complaint stated Knudsen and the man’s ex-wife had engaged in a sexual relationship during the couple’s divorce proceedings. In the official court documents, the ex-wife who had a relationship with Knudsen is referred to as Wife.
Bar Counsel mailed a copy of the complaint to Knudsen on March 28. Knudsen responded to the inquiry and denied the claims, stating “at no point through Sept. 2018 did I have any sort of romantic relationship with Wife
Later, Knudsen told the court in a written affidavit that he “admitted these statements were untrue and were made for the purpose of protecting himself from disciplinary sanctions to protect Wife.”
On April 23, during the investigation of the complaint, Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation agents executed a search warrant on Knudsen’s home and office. During the search, agents were able to locate electronic communications between Knudsen and Wife.
“A DCI special agent provided Bar Counsel with more than 11,000 text exchanges between (Knudsen) and Wife,” court documents said.
According to the documents, Knudsen first met with Wife on April 9, 2018.
“(Knudsen) did not enter into a written fee agreement with Wife, but told Wife that he would try to keep the legal fees down because Wife was a close friend of Knudsen’s municipal court clerk,” the document said.
Knudsen entered the divorce proceedings as Wife’s attorney on April 10, 2018. Knudsen and Wife began communicating with through text and GIF messages on May 10, 2018.
“Within a few days after the two began texting, the content of the text exchanges and images being sent by (Knudsen) to wife, included many that were explicitly, sexually suggestive,” court documents said. “Initially, Wife expressed concern that her husband might discover the communications. (Knudsen) texted “You do erase our texts, right?” When it became clear to Wife that respondent was proposing a sexual relationship with her, she texted “You need to think of the consequences for me.” Nonetheless the respondent continued to send texts and images that make clear his desire to have a sexual relationship with his client.”
The sexual relationship between Knudsen and Wife began just 10 days after the texts started, on May 20, 2018, when the documents state Wife visited Knudsen’s house.
“Within a few days, the respondent was sending texts to Wife, urging her to visit (Knudsen) again. She responded, ‘I’m a big chicken and scared of getting caught.’ Respondent reassured her, texting ‘I know. We will be careful. Your phone is the most dangerous thing. Always keep it clean and we will be fine.’”
Early in the divorce proceedings, Knudsen told Wife that he discussed the case with the judge.
On May 20, Wife texted Knudsen that she had greeted the judge, but wasn’t sure if he, the judge, knew who she was.
“He knows you, I’ve made sure of that,” Knudsen texted. “He and I were talking about you briefly outside the post office.
“We really were talking about your hearing. Just don’t tell that to anyone. We aren’t supposed to talk about cases outside the courtroom. But (the judge) and I are very good friends.”
Knudsen wrote in his affidavit that “his statements to Wife regarding ex parte communications with the presiding judge were untrue and made for the purpose of reassuring Wife,” the order said.
The Wife began making frequent visits to Knudsen’s home for the “purpose of engaging in sex with him,” the documents stated.
“Occasionally, Wife expressed anxiety that if their sexual relationship would be discovered it would be detrimental to her divorce case,” the documents said. “Nonetheless, (Knudsen) did not relent in his efforts to carry on a sexual relationship with his client.”
The investigators also found Knudsen did not bill Wife for legal services he rendered after May 29, 2018 – after the affair began. Knudsen did collect $1,430 for seven hours of work before the affair. After he stopped billing, Knudsen filed multiple motions on the case.
After the investigation, Knudsen submitted an affidavit to confess to his offenses. The court documents state he did agree to his disbarment.
Knudsen will also pay $800 in fines and fees.