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Lexington lawyer liable to client on battery claim

A Roanoke woman has won a $28,000 jury verdict against her former lawyer for his alleged sexual overtures in a jailhouse visit videotaped by police.

A Roanoke County jury returned the verdict Feb. 15 against Robert B. Armstrong of Lexington, lawyers in the case reported. It’s the third penalty for Armstrong arising from the incident. He already has served a 30-day jail sentence for sexual assault and had his law license suspended for 30 days.

The former client acknowledged prior consensual sexual encounters with Armstrong, but she said he made unwelcome advances after she hired him for a probation violation charge in 2008. She reported her concerns to authorities and police wired an interview room for video and sound.

The video showed Armstrong placing the client’s hand on his pants while making a suggestive comment.

The former client sued Armstrong for $300,000, but her lawyer, Thomas Strelka of Roanoke called the $28,000 verdict for assault and battery a “moral victory in every sense.” He said the jury’s award sent a message to the victim that “what [Armstrong] did was terrible and we agree with you.”

Circuit Judge Charles Dorsey tossed out a legal malpractice claim and a claim for punitive damages in the case. The jury found for Armstrong on a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Armstrong was represented by Vicki Wiese of Roanoke.

Armstrong is now listed as active in good standing with the VSB.

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