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Santa Barbara Man Accused of Sex Assault, Hate Crimes Appears in Court

Michael John Stinchfield, 55, is awaiting arraignment on 13 felony counts in connection with a Nov. 2 downtown attack

Michael John Stinchfield, 55, who remains in custody on 13 felony counts, including sexual abuse and hate crimes, in connection with a Nov. 2 attack on two women in downtown Santa Barbara, makes a court appearance Thursday.

Michael John Stinchfield, 55, who remains in custody on 13 felony counts, including sexual abuse and hate crimes, in connection with a Nov. 2 attack on two women in downtown Santa Barbara, makes a court appearance Thursday.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper |

A Santa Barbara man accused of 13 felony counts, including sexual abuse and hate crimes, appeared in court Thursday morning, but was not arraigned because he has not been assigned a lawyer yet.

Michael John Stinchfield, 55, appeared in court Thursday in an orange jumpsuit and has been denied bail.

He was arrested Nov. 2 after officers were dispatched to his home in the 1700 block of Garden Street just before 5 a.m. to a report of a disturbance in progress. When they arrived, two women were seen running out of the house, one of whom was screaming, and both had visible injuries, according to Santa Barbara police Detective Michael Claytor.

The women told officers that Stinchfield had attacked them with a bat, held them against their will for several hours, and sexually assaulted them. Stinchfield was taken into custody at the scene, and later booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail.

The District Attorney’s Office is charging him with assault with intent to commit rape, sexual battery by restraint, dissuading a witness by force or threat, criminal threats, false imprisonment by violence, and assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury with a weapon, allegedly beating both women with a bat and one of them with a guitar strap.

The complaint charges Stinchfield with the same charges for each woman, however, with the first victim, identified only as Jane Doe 1, Stinchfield faces special allegations of hate crime. Prosecutor Ben Ladinig confirmed that the hate-crime allegations were based on the woman’s sexual orientation.

Judge George Eskin granted media requests to photograph and tape Stinchfield in court Thursday.

Much of the details surrounding Stinchfield’s case remain a mystery, and Ladinig could not release any more details about the victims or how they had come to be in Stinchfield’s house.

“I can say that there is a significant history of mental-health issues with Mr. Stinchfield,” Ladinig told Noozhawk outside of court Thursday.

Judge James Herman denied Stinchfield’s bail at his last court appearance, saying that he was “extremely dangerous,” Ladinig said.

Stinchfield was arrested in September for allegedly refusing to pull over after reaching speeds of 100 mph and led officers on a chase from Carpinteria to Los Angeles. An unidentified woman was in his vehicle at the time, and Stinchfield eventually was arrested at gunpoint on the freeway.

Attorney Joe Andrade appeared in court on behalf of Stinchfield on Thursday but will not be taking the case.

Ladinig said Stinchfield should appear in court on Monday or Tuesday for arraignment because he may be appointed counsel by then.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.




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» on 11.16.12 @ 12:39 AM

With a house at 1700 Garden Street and owning, apparently, a restaurant or one in the process of being opened on lower State Street, why would he be “appointed” counsel?

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