Attorneys Behaving Badly

Dallas defense attorney accused of sexually assaulting 16-year-old client

Dallas attorney accused of sexually assaulting 16-year-old client

Criminal defense attorney Michael Edward Harssema was arrested February 12 for sexual assault of a child. Harssema, 41, is accused of raping a 16-year-old girl who was his client.

According to a police report, in the summer of 2013, Harssema asked the victim's mother if he could speak to the girl privately to get her to "open up." The mother agreed, and Harssema met with the teen at a Starbucks in Dallas.

While her mother reportedly waited outside in the parking lot, the girl took drugs provided by Harssema, who told her she needed to relax. Harssema then asked the mother if he could take her daughter to dinner so they could continue their conversation.

After eating at a local Italian restaurant, Harssema stopped at a convenience store to buy beer and a 4-Loco alcoholic beverage, which he gave to the teen. Ignoring repeated phone calls from the girl's mother, Harssema parked his car and allegedly raped the 16-year-old in the backseat.

Harssema didn't take the girl home until the next morning, citing car troubles and a dead cell phone battery. The victim reported the rape to a counselor, resulting in Harssema's arrest. He is out on a $50,000 bond.

Harssema graduated from SMU law school in 1999 and has practiced law in Houston and Dallas. Harssema has twice been disciplined by the State of Texas, including a suspension from 2006 to 2008.

Attorney Michael Edward Harssema
Attorney Michael Harssema was arrested February 12. Photo courtesy of Collin County Sheriff's Office