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"S.F. sex-harassment lawyer accused of rape"

on Sunday, 21 August 2011. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

SF Gate

A San Francisco employment lawyer who specializes in sexual harassment cases has been charged with rape and other crimes for allegedly attacking three women who came to his apartment in response to his Craigslist ad for rough sex.

Robert Michael Hoffman, 50, allegedly sexually assaulted a 36-year-old East Bay woman in March, a 19-year-old San Francisco woman in June and a 25-year-old East Bay woman earlier this month. The allegations include rape, sexual battery, forced oral sex and one count of false imprisonment.

Hoffman is being held at the County Jail in San Francisco on $3 million bail.

His lawyer, Stuart Hanlon, said the women had all come to Hoffman's Van Ness Avenue apartment to engage in what his ads in Craigslist's "Men Seeking Women" section billed as dominant-submissive sex.

"His ad clearly said he was seeking dominant sex with submissive women," Hanlon said. "It talked about getting controlled, getting hit and getting their hair pulled."

In at least two cases, the women had sex with Hoffman voluntarily before the incidents in which they accused him of sexual assault, Hanlon said.

Hanlon said the three women, along with a fourth alleged victim, had gone to police accusing Hoffman of having assaulted them in his apartment, but that the district attorney's office declined to file charges until the most recent case. Prosecutors have not filed charges related to the fourth alleged victim, whose accusations predate the other women's.

Hoffman was arrested Aug. 5 and pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Monday.

A spokeswoman for District Attorney George Gascón's office would not comment on why the office had initially declined to file charges against Hoffman when the first three women came forward. She said prosecutors were still reviewing the accusations that the first woman lodged against Hoffman last year. ...

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