Scroll To Top
Crime

Lawyer Says He Was Accused of Seeking Sex With 9/11 Suspect

Tim Jon Semmerling
Tim Jon Semmerling

Gay lawyer Tim Jon Semmerling has filed suit, saying other lawyers' actions put his life and career in danger.

trudestress

A gay lawyer representing a suspect in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack says fellow attorneys outed him and falsely accused him of pursuing a sexual relationship with the client.

Tim Jon Semmerling, a lawyer and Middle East expert based in Chicago, has filed a federal lawsuit over the matter, saying the "horrific" allegations have put his life and career in jeopardy, reports Chicago TV station WFLD.

Semmerling was appointed to assist in the defense of Walid bin Attash, a Yemeni man who is accused of helping to train the terrorists who hijacked planes used in the 9/11 attack. Bin Attash is being held in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Semmerling said he never revealed his sexual orientation to bin Attash, given that Muslim fundamentalists are likely to hold antigay views. But, he said, his fellow defense attorneys outed him to bin Attash and told the client Semmerling was interested in a sexual relationship with him.

Semmerling recently told WFLD not only that he would not pursue such a relationship with a client, but that constant camera surveillance at the prison would have made it impossible. For instance, when he at one point took a shoe off, "within a minute they had a guard in there telling me to put my shoes back on," he said. "So it couldn't even possibly happen. So that's what so absurd about it."

He said he believes professional jealousy was the motivator. Bin Attash, Semmerling said, preferred his work to that of other attorneys assigned to the case, and they resented it.

"They have hurt my career, these people, they have made sure I can never go back, by outing me, to Guantananamo Bay to work with any of the people down there," Semmerling said. He would be in danger in the Middle East as well, he added.

The lawyers he named as defendants in the suit, including Chicago attorney Cheryl Bormann, declined to comment. They and Semmerling have agreed for a judge to seal the complaint, but Semmerling said he would now like it to be made public.

Watch the interview below.

trudestress
30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.