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Cops and Courts

UPDATED: Fine pleads not guilty to all charges at arraignment

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ELYRIA — Former attorney Michael W. Fine sat silently with arms crossed in court Thursday during arraignment proceedings, waiting for his turn to step before Judge John Miraldi.

Fine, 58, accused of hypnotizing female clients for sexual gratification, pleaded not guilty in the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas to all charges against him.

He is charged with rape, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, attempted rape, 15 counts of kidnapping, three counts of attempted kidnapping and two counts each of attempted sexual battery, attempted gross sexual imposition, gross sexual imposition and illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

Robert Housel, Fine’s attorney, spoke on Fine’s behalf Thursday. The only time Fine spoke was to voice concern with a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Sept. 11 before Judge James Miraldi because his wife is employed at the Justice Center.

A visiting judge has been requested to hear Fine’s case to avoid any conflicts of interest.

Fine declined to comment on the charges to the reporters surrounding him as he left his arraignment Thursday.

Housel said Fine is obviously upset, and he wouldn’t comment on the nature of his client’s crimes or whether Fine has anything to say to his female victims.

“Anything he has to say will be done in court,” Housel said.

Although the indictment lists six victims, about 30 victims initially came forward with allegations against Fine when his alleged crimes came to light.

The prosecution has said Fine used techniques to control his female victims’ behavior while holding them against their will to engage in sexual activity between 2013 and 2014.

Fine fell under suspicion last fall after one of his clients became concerned she was experiencing missing time and that “she was wet in her vaginal area, and that her bra was disheveled” after she left his office or had conversations with him, according to court documents.

Fine was arrested in November after a victim secretly recorded his activities as he put her into a trance and gave her sexual commands.

The victim gave the recordings to police, who had her wear a wire and raided Fine’s office as he again put her into a trance and told her she wanted him to touch her.

Fine, who agreed to accept an emergency suspension of his law license last year, resigned as an attorney earlier this year, something Housel said his client felt was the best thing to do.

On Thursday, county Domestic Relations Judge Lisa Swenski sat in the court room during Fine’s arraignment but declined to comment. Swenski was mentioned in a February lawsuit against Fine in which a woman said Fine separated her from her daughter and took her into a separate room in the courthouse to use “mindfulness” techniques to help her relax before a custody hearing.

The lawsuit said while the meeting appeared to last only five minutes, it actually took more than an hour, and the woman had no recollection of the conversation.

While at the Justice Center for another hearing, Fine allegedly told the woman “not to worry about Swenski as he could handle her if he could get her alone with him.”

Swenski, who removed herself from all of Fine’s cases in December, citing previous encounters with him, including efforts to get alone with her, has said she never had a private meeting with Fine.

Housel said he doesn’t believe any of the allegations listed in the indictment include acts that occurred inside the courthouse.



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