By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - A former Ohio lawyer was sentenced to 12 years in prison for hypnotizing and sexually abusing women clients, his attorney said on Tuesday.
Michael Fine, 59, was sentenced on Monday by judge Patricia Cosgrove and also ordered to register as a sex offender for 25 years, attorney John Pyle said.
Fine was set to go to trial on Sept. 19 in a Lorain County Court about 30 miles west of Cleveland but pleaded guilty six days before the trial was scheduled to open to five counts of kidnapping with sexual motivation and one count of attempted kidnapping.
Fine had practiced law since 1981, according to court records, but lost his license in November 2014 after the Lorain County Bar Association filed a motion with the Ohio Supreme Court saying Fine, “utilized hypnotic therapy to facilitate the impairment of and sexual exploitation of his clients.”
Law enforcement began its investigation into Fine in 2014 after a female client discovered her undergarments were disheveled and she could not recall what had occurred following meetings, according to the bar association filing.
The Sheffield Village Police Department investigated Fine, a former Sheffield, Ohio-based attorney, after nearly two dozen women come forward with similar complaints and a former client began tape recording her conversations with Fine.
The recordings revealed that Fine shortly after the meetings started, “began to use ‘code’ words that induced (her) to enter a trance-like stage,” according to the bar association filing.
One of Fine’s victims testified before his sentencing and two others sent in statements, Pyle said. Fine, a married father of two daughters, was “full of remorse and regret” for his crimes, according to Pyle.
Sheffield police referred the case to the Lorain County prosecutor’s office in October 2014 and police listened in on one of his client meetings where he used hypnosis techniques again, according to the filing.
A spokesman for the Lorain County prosecutor's office could not be reached to comment.
(Reporting by Kim Palmer in Cleveland, Editing by Ben Klayman and Grant McCool)