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Ex-Michigan State medical resident claims he misinterpreted ‘flirtatious behavior’ when he masturbated in front of women


A former Michigan State University medical resident claims he “misinterpreted months of flirtatious behavior” when he groped two women and masturbated in front of them.

Michael Phinn was slapped with a sentence of 5 to 15 years in prison on Wednesday after previously pleading guilty to multiple charges, including second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

“The boundary between friendship and coworkers was blurred ... I’m not a manipulator or a monster,” Phinn said in court during his sentencing hearing, according to the Lansing State Journal.

The women had previously testified during a hearing that Phinn exposed himself to them while wearing a lab coat. He also made them look at videos and photos of him masturbating, and grabbed their breasts, according to the newspaper.

The 33-year-old Phinn also blamed the easy access to porn for his behavior.

“I believe he has reflected and is remorseful,” defense lawyer Timothy Williams said in the Lansing courtroom, according to the newspaper. “He took things too far... and misread signals.”

He worked in the neurology clinic at the university, and the women were not his patients. Ingham County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Steve Kwasnik said the defendant was “cooperative, almost charming” when he had spoken to the probation department before the sentencing.

“The manipulation Mr. Phinn exhibits, I think it’s very telling,” Kwasnik said, according to the Lansing State Journal. “(He) still doesn’t understand the impact of what he did to these victims.”

Phinn initially faced 26 charges before agreeing to plead guilty.