Former attorney gets 12 years for hypnotizing, sexually assaulting female clients

A bailiff handcuffs former Ohio attorney Michael Fine, 59, in a Lorain County courtroom. (WJW/CNN)

A former Ohio attorney who authorities say hypnotized unwitting female clients for his sexual gratification was sentenced Monday to 12 years in prison.

Michael Fine was sentenced in Lorain County after pleading guilty in September to kidnapping and attempted kidnapping charges involving six women. The judge ordered Fine, 59, classified as a registered sex offender.

Defense attorney Robert Housel said Fine has had difficulties in his life, voluntarily gave up his law license and acknowledged what he had done by entering guilty pleas.

Authorities say Fine's criminal activities were exposed in 2014 after a client who suspected she'd been hypnotized recorded two telephone conversations during which Fine used explicit sexual language before ending calls discussing legal matters. Publicity prompted other women to contact authorities with their suspicions.

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 and then took those recordings to police. Court documents filed later by the Lorain County Bar Association said the recordings included when he placed the woman in a trance. The documents were included in the bar association's motion filed in November 2014 seeking an emergency suspension of Fine's law license.

The woman told investigators she didn't go to police earlier because she feared not being taken seriously, according to the motion.

After taking the recordings to law enforcement, the woman agreed to wear audio and video recording devices into a meeting with Fine at his Sheffield law offices. Once Fine put the woman into a trance and began discussing sex acts, law enforcement raided the office and searched it for evidence, according to court documents.

A second woman, who hired Fine to represent her in a divorce, told investigators that Fine discussed relaxation and meditation techniques during their first meeting and she suspected that he tried to hypnotize her then. The same thing happened in their next three meetings and afterward, and the woman felt as if she'd lost time, according to the motion.
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