Chattanooga: Local sexual harassment attorney being sued for fondling waitress

Chattanooga: Local sexual harassment attorney being sued for fondling waitress

July 9th, 2009 by Monica Mercer in Local - Breaking News

A local attorney who concentrates his practice on sexual harassment investigations and prevention has been sued by a local waitress who claims he fondled and belittled her at Big River Grille & Brewing Works in downtown Chattanooga.

In the lawsuit filed in Hamilton County Circuit Court, the 20-year-old plaintiff is asking for $500,000 for the "physical, mental and emotional damages" allegedly caused by Charles D. Lawson, a shareholder in the prominent, local law firm of Chambliss, Bahner and Stophel, P.C.

Mr. Lawson was prosecuted criminally for the incident, which allegedly took place during last year's Riverbend Festival. He received six months of probation after being charged with sexual battery in Hamilton County General Sessions Court and was ordered to have no contact with the victim.

According to the civil action now pending against Mr. Lawson, he became drunk at Big River and proceeded to push the defendant up against a wall and tell her "how beautiful" she was. He then grabbed her hair and started to rub against her genital area, the lawsuit states.

Mr. Lawson had had several run-ins with the wait staff at Big River during prior visits, the lawsuit states. When staff members would ask Mr. Lawson to control his "belligerent" behavior, he would remind them that he is a lawyer and that their "station in life" was beneath him.

See tomorrow's Times Free Press for complete details.