Brown Harris Stevens agents sued for alleged “sexcapade” in clients’ home

Lawsuit settled in February alleged breach of contract, emotional trauma

Tri-State /
Apr.April 28, 2022 11:00 AM
BHS' Aubri Peele and Christopher Burnside (LinkedIn, Brown Harris Stevens)

BHS’ Aubri Peele and Christopher Burnside (LinkedIn, Brown Harris Stevens)

James and Laura Glen expected an easy payday when they listed their three-bedroom condo in a red-hot Hamptons market with Brown Harris Stevens last spring.

But listing agents Christopher Burnside and Aubri Peele had other uses for the unit in mind, the couple claimed.

In a lawsuit filed last December, the Glens alleged that rather than soliciting offers for the home, the agents used the guise of an open house to engage in a “sex-capade” in its primary bedroom.

The lawsuit, which alleged that Burnside and Peele breached their contractual and fiduciary responsibilities in addition to inflicting emotional trauma on their clients, sought $100,000 in damages. Burnside, Peele and Brown Harris Stevens of the Hamptons were named as defendants.

“The total lack of interest by defendants to act in the proper manner for the exclusive agent listing was compounded by the absolute disregard for another’s privacy and flagrant disrespect for another’s property,” the complaint read.

The case was settled confidentially in February, at which point the parties signed a non-disclosure agreement. The defendants and their attorney declined to comment and the plaintiff’s attorney did not respond to requests for comment. A Brown Harris Stevens representative also declined to comment.

According to the complaint, James and Laura Glen gave Christopher Burnside exclusive rights to sell their apartment on May 15. Burnside allegedly told the couple their waterfront Southampton condo, complete with a private dock, would be an easy sell.

Shortly after entrusting the listing to Burnside in May 2021, the Glens departed for Florida, according to the complaint. Burnside informed them that a brokers’ open house was scheduled for May 25 and a public open house for May 27, the suit alleges.

But rather than an open house, security cameras on May 25 allegedly captured Peele and a shirtless Burnside entering the unit’s bedroom before emerging 39 minutes later.

Confronted with this information, the lawsuit claims, Burnside confessed to using the bedroom for a sexual encounter and offered to continue the listing with zero commission and fulfill his fiduciary duties under the exclusive contract. He also allegedly offered to rent the condo personally to offset the defendants’ financial damages.

Feeling “violated” by the revelation, plaintiff Laura Glen refused to sleep in the bedroom, the complaint alleged, and “wants nothing to do with the property.”

In September, the Glens reached out to Brown Harris Stevens CEO Bess Freeman to communicate their “total frustration” that their unit had received zero offers, despite a neighboring unit receiving three that summer, according to the complaint. The couple sued three months later.

Burnside has been a “top producer” for BHS since 1999, according to his website, which claims he is “consistently ranked in the top 10 by sales volume in the Hamptons.”

Among his notable listings was the estate at 30 Spaeth Lane in East Hampton, which hit the market for $72 million in 2020 and closed for $60 million last year, according to appraiser Miller Samuel.





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