San Francisco News

Attorney accused of sex assault appears in court

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A San Francisco attorney appeared in court on Wednesday to face charges stemming from an alleged sexual assault on three women that he met through the Craigslist website.

UPDATE: Charges against Hoffman have been dropped.

Attorney Michael Hoffman was arrested a week and a half ago and is being held on $3 million bail. Hoffman's attorney told a different story than the authorities and says the case will boil down to whether there was implied consent from the three women he's charged with attacking.

Authorities say all of the sexual attacks took place in his apartment.

"We're alleging he committed these acts against three different female victims, individuals whom he met as a result of contact that was, initially, made through Craigslist," said Erica Derryck with the San Francisco District Attorney's office.

Prosecutors say a 36-year-old woman was attacked at Hoffman's apartment in March. A 19-year-old was also allegedly attacked in the same apartment, and a third case involving a 25-year-old took place in early August.

Hoffman is an employment attorney who specializes in cases where workers may have been wrongfully terminated and sexually harassed. Hoffman has an office in the Financial District of San Francisco.

Prosecutors say the 50-year-old lawyer advertised in the "Men seeking Women" section of Craigslist and that his victims answered his ads believing what followed would be normal dates.

Hoffman's attorney says otherwise, claiming his client posted an ad on Craigslist for women who wanted to be beaten, have their hair pulled and who would whimper.

At night, his attorney says Hoffman lived in another world.

"It's a world of domination and S-and-M," attorney Stuart Hanlon said.

Hanlon says the three women who answered the sadomasochistic ads must have known what he wanted when they went to his apartments.

"Implied in this is a rape fantasy," said Hanlon. "I mean, women who want to go there and get humiliated and dominated, and hit and beaten."

Police say just the opposite, claiming Hoffman prevented some of the victims from leaving and forced them into sex acts.

Prosecutors and police won't talk about the case because the investigation is ongoing; however, one of the three alleged victims did speak with ABC7. The victim didn't want to go on camera, but did say Hoffman didn't write anything about S-and-M activities on his Craigslist advertisement.

The woman said she thought she was going on a normal date the night she was attacked at his home.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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crime, san francisco news, vic lee
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