SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- A hypnotist was charged Tuesday with sexual abuse for allegedly trying to hypnotize two women and make them desire him sexually whenever he snapped his fingers, authorities said.
Peter Morkovin, 57, of Syracuse, pleaded innocent in City Court to two counts of sexual abuse and was released on $2,000 bail, officials said.
Morkovin was arrested at his home Monday when he made sexual advances to an undercover deputy posing as a woman seeking a job as Morkovin's assistant, Onondaga County sheriff's deputies said.
Contacted by telephone after his release, Morkovin called the charges 'ludicrous' but refused to comment further until he consulted his lawyer.
Deputies said this was the first time they arrested anyone on such charges.
'We've never had a case like this before,' said Lt. Dave Wall. 'We've had hypnotists hypnotize victims as part of investigations to help them remember details. But we've never had a suspect hypnotizing people.'
Two women filed complaints with deputies, charging Morkovin made sexual advances while trying to hypnotize them May 19 when they went to his home to seek jobs as his assistants, Wall said.
Police said Morkovin tried to make the women desire him whenever he snapped his fingers.
The women said he persuaded them to undergo hynopsis so they would better understand the sessions, Wall said. Morkovin also told them to not remember what happened.
Morkovin specialized in behavior-modification treatment for people who wanted to lose weight or quit smoking, Detective Sgt. Peter Bailey said.
One of the victims, a 31-year-old woman, said in an affidavit that she complied with his demands that she hug and kiss him, but refused when he told her to respond with more passion.
'I knew what he was trying to do was wrong but I couldn't move,' she said in her statement. 'I kept trying to open my eyes and run out of the room but I couldn't.'
Bailey said deputies also are seeking other women who may have been subjected to sexual contact with the hypnotist, but said he realizes such a search may be difficult.
'If there was a post-hypnotic suggestion so they wouldn't remember it, how would they know?' he said.