PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon State Bar has rejected the application of an ex-Springfield police officer to become a lawyer after its investigators found that he had used his position to exploit vulnerable women for sex and lied about it.
The Board of Bar Examiners determined that Neil Halttunen had not shown that he “is currently of good character” and denied him admission to the bar, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. A hearings panel later upheld the board’s decision.
Halttunen, 51, of Salem has appealed the decision to the Oregon Supreme Court, which in May will hear arguments on the case.
Halttunen’s appeal offers a look into the bar’s confidential admission process, which is overseen by the Board of Bar Examiners. But ultimately, the Oregon Supreme Court has complete discretion over whether an applicant is admitted to the bar.
Details of the bar’s review of Halttunen’s application were disclosed in court filings, which offer an synopsis of the former officer’s on-duty conduct.
It depicts Halttunen as an officer who acted with impunity and used his badge to target and gain access to at least nine women for sex -- though Halttunen acknowledged that the actual number of women he had “some sexual contact with” was greater.
The court filing include accounts from women Halttunen met through routine police calls who said Halttunen pursued them for sex.
“The full extent” of Halttunen’s “predatory conduct is unclear, in part because” he “has consistently claimed difficulty remembering all of his instances of misconduct,” the bar wrote in court records last year.
During a hearing on Halttunen’s application for the bar, the Lane County District Attorney testified that the former officer’s actions constituted official misconduct, a misdemeanor.
“The hearing evidence revealed in excess of 30 violations or attempted violations of this statute,” the bar wrote in its filing.
Halttunen worked in Springfield from 1996 until 2012, when he resigned while under investigation.