After the story climaxed with her guilty plea, we expected it was all over. But then Bajaj thrust herself back into the headlines by suing one of her former lawyers, along with other attorneys, alleging that they shared nude photos of her around the courthouse.
And now Reema Bajaj has been hit with ethics charges from the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (IARDC). The IARDC’s most salacious allegation: that Bajaj traded sex acts for office supplies.
What would Reema do for a ream of printer paper? How much toner to access that taut, toned body?
After Bajaj’s guilty plea to prostitution, we asked Michael S. Frisch, ethics counsel to the Georgetown University Law Center and an editor of the Legal Profession Blog, whether her plea to a a single misdemeanor prostitution count would cause Bajaj to lose her law license. Professor Frisch suggested that her plea, standing alone, would not result in substantial discipline.
But it appears that the IARDC is hot and bothered over more than just Bajaj’s plea. The commission also cites alleged misrepresentations by Bajaj related to her prostitution activity in support of its request that her case be referred to an investigatory panel for further factfinding.
Here’s a report on the IARDC ethics complaint from the Chicago Tribune:
The complaint filed and made public last week against Reema Bajaj, 27, by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission contains the first detailed account of what led to criminal charges being filed against her in DeKalb County in 2011 — including that she allegedly had sex in exchange for supplies for her law office.
Between 2005 and 2008 — before she became an attorney — Bajaj posted online ads under the name Nikita and accepted money from two men in exchange for sex, according to the complaint. The first man paid her $200 for sex at a DeKalb hotel, then paid her $100 per meeting for about 25 encounters they had over the next three years, the complaint alleges. A second man paid her between $25 and $70 in cash or an equivalent amount in DVDs or gift cards for sex on at least 15 occasions between 2007 and 2011, according to the complaint.
Say what? Bajaj allegedly performed sex acts for $70 or less — and not even in cash, but in DVDs? Do people still use DVDs? And one can only imagine what she’d do for unlimited Netflix.
But wait, there’s more. Here is the “sex for office supplies” allegation:
That same year, she had sex with the second man in exchange for about $70 worth of office supplies for her legal practice in Sycamore, according to the complaint.
It’s hard out here for a solo practitioner. Seventy dollars won’t buy you three red Swingline staplers.
- Criminal conduct and misdemeanor conviction for prostitution.
- Making false statements in connection with a disciplinary matter.
- Making false statements on a bar application.
The second count seems straightforward. The complaint alleges that Bajaj lied under oath to an IARDC administrator in September 2012 when she was asked about her alleged prostitution acts. According to the complaint, Bajaj denied charging for or being paid for sex, even though she acknowledged her June 2012 guilty plea to prostitution. From paragraph 17: “I guess I’m saying I pled guilty to it [prostitution] and I do not believe that he paid me for sex.” Strange — last time I checked, a guilty plea was supposed to have a factual basis.
My favorite count is the third count, which is overreaching in a humorous way. The IARDC charges Bajaj with making false statements on a bar application, to wit:
26. Respondent’s answers to the questions, “Have you ever been known by any other first, middle or last name?” were false, because Respondent used the name “Nikita” during the period of at least 2005 and until 2011.
According to the complaint, “Nikita” was Bajaj’s nom de whore on Adult Friend Finder. I’m not sure that’s what the question about “be[ing] known by any other first, middle or last name” is going for. Are bar applicants required to disclose their handles on OkCupid or Grindr? Doubtful.
Also part of count three:
30. Question 16 of the questionnaire, described in paragraph 24 above, required Respondent to provide [information about self-employment].
31. In answer to questions 25 and 16, described in paragraphs 29 and 30 above, Respondent did not disclose her self-employment wherein she accepted cash and other monetary items in exchange for sex acts from [two men].
Going after Bajaj for failing to disclose her prostitution work as “self-employment” seems like a stretch. But given all the publicity Bajaj’s case has received, and how going easy on her could undermine respect for the IARDC as a disciplinary body, one can understand why they’re riding Reema so hard.
Still, it seems to me that Bajaj should be pitied rather than prosecuted. Remember: she allegedly traded sex acts for DVDs, gift cards, and office supplies.
UPDATE (8/9/2013, 10:45 a.m.): Reema Bajaj has agreed to a three-year suspension of her law license (fourth item).
If the IARDC allegations are true, how difficult was it to get sex out of Reema Bajaj? I leave you with the slogan of Staples:
In the Matter of Reema Nicki Bajaj [Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission]
Reema Bajaj Bar Complaint [Legal Profession Blog]
Ethics Charges Filed In Reema Bajaj Matter [Legal Profession Blog]
Lawyer who pleaded guilty to prostitution faces state disciplinary board [Chicago Tribune]
Complaint Alleges Lawyer Had Sex for Office Supplies [NBC Chicago]
Lawyer accused of lying about claimed ‘self-employment’ as prostitute and name used in online ads