21 August 2019

General counsel criticises plea bargain in MeToo incident

In-house counsel who filed a complaint against lawyer who “squeezed her butt” complains opposing counsel only received 'small slap on the wrist' for alleged assault.

A Houston general counsel has criticised a plea deal for a San Antonio lawyer she accused of grabbing her buttocks in a courthouse lobby. Michelle Acosta said opposing counsel Allan Manka received only a “small slap on the wrist” for the alleged June assault at the courthouse in Floresville

“Grabbing my butt”

Taking to Facebook, Ms Acosta wrote “In exchange, rather than prosecuting the case, Assistant County Attorney Christopher Rodriguez offered deferred adjudication on the charge of Manka grabbing my butt in the lobby of the Wilson County District Courthouse following a family court hearing.” Ms Acosta is general counsel of a Houston vegetation management company. She had traveled to Floresville to represent her brother in a child custody matter, while Mr Manka represented the ex-wife of Ms Acosta’s brother. She said Mr Manka touched her twice, first on the waist after the hearing, and then on the buttocks after they completed negotiations for their clients. Ms Acosta alleges that when she extended her hand as a departing gesture at the end of the negotiations, instead of accepting her outstretched hand Mr Manka reached behind her back and grabbed her buttocks.

Accepted plea deal

A surveillance video shows Mr Manka reaching around Acosta’s waist in the first incident. It also shows Manka reaching behind Acosta and Acosta’s startled reaction in the second incident, but any buttocks squeeze was blocked from view. Mr Manka accepted a plea deal that requires him to pay a $400 fine and donate $100 to a children’s services nonprofit. If he stays out of criminal trouble for 90 days, the misdemeanor assault charge will be dropped.

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