What happened to the founder of the Sawaya Law Firm?
The Sawaya Law Firm is a personal injury law firm based in Denver, Colorado, that has been serving clients for over 45 years.
The firm was founded by Michael Sawaya, a Colorado native and a prominent attorney in the state.
However, in 2021, Sawaya retired from the firm and sold his shares to Robert Wilhite, who became the majority owner and managing partner.
The firm changed its name to The Wilhite Law Firm on January 1, 2023.
The name change came after Sawaya was accused of sexual assault and battery by a former client and ex-boyfriend, Francisco Jaramillo, in a lawsuit filed in May 2022.
Jaramillo claimed that Sawaya sexually attacked him on five occasions between 2019 and 2021, after they broke up their romantic relationship.
Jaramillo also alleged that Sawaya deceived him into signing unfair contracts that gave Sawaya control over Jaramillo’s properties and business.
Sawaya denied the allegations and countersued Jaramillo in January 2023, accusing him of extortion and defamation.
Sawaya claimed that Jaramillo and his attorney used the threat of bad publicity to demand large cash settlements from him.
Sawaya also argued that he had a consensual relationship with Jaramillo and that the contracts were valid and mutually beneficial.
The lawsuit is still ongoing and has not been resolved as of April 2023.
A Denver judge refused to hide the case from public view, despite Sawaya’s request to do so.
Sawaya also faced professional discipline from the Office of Presiding Disciplinary Judge, which publicly censured him in April 2023 for violating ethical rules related to his business deal with Jaramillo.
Sawaya said he did not realize how his actions would appear unethical and that he accepted the censure as a minor sanction.
The Wilhite Law Firm said that the accusations against Sawaya had no role in its decision to rename itself and that it was grateful to Sawaya for his legacy and foundation.
The firm said it would continue to uphold its “Heritage of Justice” and serve its clients with the same team of attorneys and staff.
The founder of the Sawaya Law Firm, Michael Sawaya, retired from the firm in 2021 and sold his shares to Robert Wilhite, who renamed the firm The Wilhite Law Firm in 2023.
Sawaya is facing a lawsuit from a former client and ex-boyfriend who accused him of sexual assault and battery, as well as financial improprieties.
Sawaya denied the allegations and countersued for extortion and defamation.
The case is still pending in court.
Sawaya was also publicly censured by the disciplinary authority for violating ethical rules related to his business deal with the former client.
The Wilhite Law Firm said it was thankful to Sawaya for his contribution and would carry on his legacy.