TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A former Cleveland-area attorney accused of hypnotizing women for his sexual pleasure has been charged with kidnapping, sexual battery and gross sexual imposition following an investigation that began last fall.
Michael Fine was taken into custody Friday afternoon and charged with 27 counts before being released on bond, according to sheriff's records.
Police in the northeast Ohio village of Sheffield began investigating Fine after two women told investigators they believed they'd been hypnotized after losing track of time and being unable to recall meetings and phone calls with Fine. Police said they later recorded Fine using explicit language while talking to the women.
Fine's attorney, Robert Housel, said on Saturday that he was surprised by some of the charges. He also said that Fine had been undergoing medical treatment for quite a while.
Fine likely will be arraigned within the next week, Housel said.
Just over a week ago, Fine, 58, agreed to permanently surrender his law license, which means he no longer can practice law in the United States.
One woman told authorities she thought Fine hypnotized her numerous times on the phone and during meetings in his office and at conference rooms at the Lorain County Justice Center. She said she hired Fine in February 2013 for a custody dispute.
The woman decided to record phone conversations with Fine.
According to a motion filed by the Lorain County Bar Association, Fine used sexually explicit language during the calls, which ended with Fine and the woman discussing legal matters. She then took the recordings to Sheffield Lake police. According to the motion, she told investigators she didn't go to police earlier because she feared not being taken seriously.
Police officers and investigators from the county prosecutor's office wired the woman with video and audio recording equipment for a meeting in Fine's office last November, the motion said. Investigators said they entered the room when Fine began discussing sex acts.
A second woman, who hired Fine in September to represent her in a divorce, told investigators that Fine discussed relaxation and meditation techniques during their first meeting and suspected that he tried to hypnotize her. The same thing happened in their next three meetings and afterward, according to the motion, the woman felt as if she'd lost time.
The second woman went to Fine's former law firm in early November when she learned he had not filed any paperwork in her case.
She told authorities that when she learned Fine was no longer with that firm, she told an attorney about her suspicions. The attorney advised her to contact authorities.