A Chicago attorney is fighting to protect his reputation. He claims he's been falsely accused of trying to have a sexual relationship with one of his clients.
But here's the real shocker. That client is one of the alleged Islamic terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks.
Tim Jon Semmerling says that like many people, the 9/11 attacks changed his life forever.
“I wanted to be a part of making a difference,” Semmerling said.
Semmerling already was an expert in Near Eastern languages and cultures when he decided to become a lawyer. At DePaul, he focused on defending death penalty cases.
Before long, his expertise in Muslim cultures had him working at Guantanamo, helping to defend Walid bin 'Attash, one of the alleged plotters of 9/11. That work, he now says, produced some shocking allegations which have endangered his life, his family and his career.
“It's horrific. It's heinous. And it should not stand,” he said.
Semmerling is gay, and because of Muslim views regarding LGBT issues, he was warned by the CIA to never reveal his sexual orientation. But in a federal lawsuit, Semmerling now claims that his fellow defense attorneys outed him to his client, which got him fired, and leaves him as a potential target, especially in the Middle East.
“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.
Semmerling says defense lawyers also told bin Attash, and other defense lawyers, that Semmerling was trying to have a homosexual relationship with the alleged Islamic terrorist.
“How would that even be possible? If you meet with somebody down there, constantly around with cameras. I remember being in one, and the minute I took my shoe off, because my shoe was bothering him that day, and within a minute they had a guard in there telling me to put my shoes back on. So it couldn't even possibly happen. So that's what so absurd about it,” he said.
Raymond Wigell represents Semmerling.
“The concept of Doctor Semmerling hitting on one of his clients is so absurd to me it’s difficult to speak to,” Wigell said.
The defendants named by Semmerling include veteran Chicago defense attorney Cheryl Bormann, who's made headlines for wearing a hijab at Guantanamo hearings out of respect for her client's Muslim beliefs. She and her attorneys declined to comment on the lawsuit, but in court documents they argue she is immune from liability because she was providing legal services to a client. Semmerling believes Walid bin Attash preferred his work to theirs, and they had a personal vendetta against him.
“So they looked for a scapegoat, They found a homosexual bogeyman to do it to. And that’s where we're at,” Semmerling said.
“Quite frankly, this is about right and wrong,” Wigell said.
Semmerling's lawsuit was sealed by a judge shortly after it was filed. We've learned much about his complaint from documents filed by defense attorneys, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They've also declined comment on the case.
Both sides agreed to have the judge seal Semmerling's complaint, but he now says he'd like it to be made public.