NC State Bar sanctions former Durham prosecutor

Nov. 30, 2012 @ 07:20 PM

RALEIGH — The North Carolina State Bar has sanctioned a former prosecutor in Durham for improperly having a woman arrested during a child sex investigation.

Jan Paul was disciplined because she had a woman arrested so that she could not visit the child who had testified against the woman's boyfriend in a sex-abuse trial, The News & Observer of Raleigh (http://bit.ly/V8bI63 ) reported.

Paul did not contest the complaint.

"I made a mistake of law in my effort to protect a child, and I have accepted responsibility for that error," she said Wednesday.

Paul had represented children in guardianship cases for years in Durham County. She specialized in child-abuse prosecutions when she joined the district attorney's office.

She filed a felony sex offense case in 2007 against a man accused of assaulting his girlfriend's daughter. The girl's mother did not believe her daughter had been abused. A judge dismissed the most serious charges against the man during a 2009 trial.

Paul learned during a lunch break at the trial that the girl's mother planned to visit her daughter, who was in her father's custody.

Paul had the woman arrested as she left court because she was afraid the woman would harm her daughter because she had testified against the man.

A judge who found out about the arrest that afternoon had the woman released and dismissed the charge.

The bar panel decided against disbarring Paul because her motive was unselfish. But the panel felt something more serious than a reprimand was needed.

Paul's license will not be suspended for the yearlong period as long as she meets certain conditions.

She left the district attorney's office in 2010 and now works as a researcher for the General Assembly.