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Man Accused of Assault, Hate Crimes Pleads Not Guilty

Michael John Stinchfield, 55, faces 13 felonies stemming from a Nov. 2 incident at his downtown home

Michael John Stinchfield, 55, pleaded not guilty this week to 13 felony counts, including sexual abuse and hate crimes, in connection with a Nov. 2 attack on two women in downtown Santa Barbara. He is scheduled to return to court Dec. 6.

Michael John Stinchfield, 55, pleaded not guilty this week to 13 felony counts, including sexual abuse and hate crimes, in connection with a Nov. 2 attack on two women in downtown Santa Barbara. He is scheduled to return to court Dec. 6.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper |

A Santa Barbara man accused of assault, sexual abuse and hate crimes following his arrest early this month has pleaded not guilty to 13 felony charges.

Michael John Stinchfield, 55, entered the pleas Wednesday in Superior Court in Santa Barbara via his attorney, Catherine Swysen.

Stinchfield 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 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, where he was being held without bail.

The District Attorney’s Office has charged Stinchfield 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 a hate crime.

Prosecutor Ben Ladinig has confirmed that the hate-crime allegations were based on the woman’s sexual orientation.

Stinchfield was arrested in September for allegedly refusing to pull over after reaching speeds of 100 mph in his vehicle, leading 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.

He is due back in court Dec. 6 to set a date for his preliminary hearing.

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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