I-TEAM: Lawyer accused of sex acts against clients in jail could lose license

Taped interviews with women who hired Anthony Blackburn released

By Tarik Minor - Anchor, I-TEAM reporter , Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects , Eric Wallace - Senior Producer, I-TEAM

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville lawyer accused of having unwanted sexual contact with his clients in the Duval County Jail could find out in a matter of days when his license to practice law will be reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court.

Two clients of attorney Anthony Blackburn have come forward saying that while meeting with Blackburn in jail, he wanted sexual favors in exchange for getting them favorable plea deals. Those scathing allegations of sexual misconduct were videotaped and obtained by the I-TEAM.

Editor's warning: The below content includes material that may be offensive to some.

"He shows me his tablet, he says, 'This is the paperwork,' and his porn collection pops up," said one of the female inmates to the detectives in an interview captured on video.

"OK, this is right after the discussion about you don't have any more money for him?" one detective asked her.

"Uh huh," she answered.

One of the accusers said Blackburn groped her. The other told detectives Blackburn coerced her to perform a sex act on him while in the jail's meeting area.

"He unbuttons his belt a little bit, unzips his pants, pulls his pants, his underwear inside out, OK, then he says, 'This is how I like it. I like it nice and slow, just how you're doing it.' Then, he finishes,” the first accuser said.

That female inmate said she felt like she had no other choice but to comply, because she wanted to get out of jail. She said Blackburn coerced her into the sexual acts by putting money in her account and even giving her a bottle of Benadryl so she could sleep. On one occasion, she said, Blackburn brought his own lubricant.

”He goes on my breast inside my shirt," she told the detectives. 

"Inside your shirt, OK. Are you wearing a bra at the time?" the female detective asked.

"Uh huh," the accuser answered.

"OK, so is it inside the bra?" asked the detective.

"Yeah, inside the bra," the woman answered.

"OK, so your naked breast, basically?" asked the detective.

"Yeah," she answered.

The second accuser told the detective a similar story.

"He just reached over. He didn't ask me. I was like, like I said, he’s not direct; he’s very indirect. He just reached over, and then he grabbed me and that’s how it all went,” the second accuser told the detective.

She went on to say she knew what Blackburn wanted, but wasn't going to do it.

"Just touched me and grabbed me to touch him,” the woman added. 

In an interview with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Blackburn admitted he may have accidentally shown one of his clients pornography on his laptop in the jail, but he denied sexual contact.

"In your line of work, would it be approved or appropriate to have sexual contact with a client inside of the jail?" one detective asked Blackburn.

Blackburn paused for nine seconds before answering the detective's question.

"There would be a big issue, because you know that I cannot say if someone did something," Blackburn answered.

Blackburn pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery, and the two sex charges were eventually dropped in this case, but the state Supreme Court will set a trial date by Oct. 26 to determine if the attorney will lose his law license.

The I-TEAM spoke with Blackburn, and he declined to comment, saying he was unaware of what the videotaped interviews we obtained from the State Attorney's Office actually show.

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