An Ohio divorce attorney who used in-office meetings to put female clients into a trance so he could sexually assault them without them remembering is headed to prison after one of his victims recorded the session.
The Washington Post reports that Michael Fine, who pleaded guilty in September to assaulting at least six clients in a plea agreement that saw other charges against him dropped, was sentenced Monday to 12 years in prison. He has also been disbarred and will have to register as a tier-two sex offender.
Fine, who is married with two daughters, hypnotized his divorce clients during meetings in his office, where he sexually assaulted them before instructing them to forget the encounters.
“I went to Michael Fine with help in getting out of a terrible and abusive situation,” one victim told the court before his sentencing. “I paid him to help me. He used my trust and his position as my attorney to gain information about my vulnerabilities. He then used that information not only to protect and defend me, but also to manipulate, hurt and take advantage of me.”
“It confirmed my worst fears,” she continued. “That my attorney, the man who had come to my rescue through a very painful divorce, the man who had made himself invaluable to me through this extremely difficult and vulnerable time in my life, the man who helped me with every challenging issue I encountered in my life and the man who built up my confidence when I was feeling anything but confident by calling me special, unique and beautiful, was sexually misusing many of his other clients as well.”
Some of his victims told prosecutors he would advise them to sit in a chair and practice breathing exercises in a form of meditation. Another would-be victim said Fine tried unsuccessfully to hypnotize her by telling her to “focus on his voice while he counted down from ten,” and later asked her if her arms felt weightless. She was unsure if he was successful during subsequent meetings ostensibly set to discuss her divorce case, which she said left her feeling like she’d “lost time.”
That was intentional, court documents reveal.
“You’ll only recollect what we were talking about your case until we see each other tomorrow,” Fine told one victim, who recorded the meeting but did not remember the assault. “Do you understand?”
That victim, who has not been named publicly, decided to record her meetings with Fine after she left his office and noticed her bra had been adjusted and her vaginal area was wet, but could not remember what had happened.
It was those recordings that initiated the criminal investigation, the Washington Post reports. She told prosecutors she was afraid she wouldn’t be taken seriously by police without some evidence of the assault.
Eventually, she grew concerned enough that in September 2014, she reported it to the Sheffield Village Police Department.
That’s also when she began recording her meetings with Fine. After one particular meeting, she left with the same mysterious sensations but only remembered speaking about “legal matters,” according to court documents.
Then she played the tape back. On it was a “sexually charged discussion” between her and Fine, during which Fine said he will give her “the most amazing pleasure” and he would “build [her] towards a massive orgasm.” At one point, he said she was “soaking wet” and he was her “teacher and you are my student.”
“I can do it to you, with you all the time, can’t I,” he stated, according to court documents. “I am the only one who knows how to trigger it.”
In one recording, Fine reportedly instructed her to have an orgasm and informed her that she was “being made love to by the world’s greatest lover.”
After listening to the tapes, the Sheffield officer on the case “strongly suggested she cancel their next meeting.” Eventually prosecutors sent her in one more time, wearing audio and video recording equipment. Fine immediately put her into a trance, according to the Post, and was preparing to assault her again when police busted into the room and arrested him.
He ultimately pleaded guilty to hypnotizing and assaulting at least six clients. The ABA Journal reports he had more than 50 letters written on his behalf begging for leniency, a request the court of its own free mind denied.