CASSOPOLIS — Former Southwestern Michigan College instructor George Field’s alleged victim testified Wednesday she felt threatened by Field after he initiated a sexual relationship with her during counseling sessions.
The woman, now 22, was among five people to testify during Field’s preliminary hearing Wednesday in Cass District Court. Field, 57, faces 17 felony charges ranging from first-degree criminal sexual conduct to practicing psychology/counseling without a license, perjury and insurance fraud.
After the hearing, Cass District Court Judge Stacey Rentfrow found probable cause to bind Field over for trial on all 17 charges. He remains in jail and will be arraigned May 7 in Cass Circuit Court. A trial date will be determined later.
The alleged victim said Field was her professor at SMC starting in September 2015 and she started going to him for counseling in late September 2015. The counseling took place at the Family Center in Dowagiac and the alleged sexual relations at Field’s home next door.
“I was very depressed and I had a friend who was very suicidal,” the woman said when asked why she went to Field. “We were talking, and he looked at me and said ‘I think you’ve been fighting your attraction to me.’ He came over and sat next to me and put his hand on my leg and kissed me. I froze.”
She said the two eventually had a sexual relationship, which took place at least three times from March through June 2016 at Field’s home. She said it was her first sexual experience.
“I didn’t want this to happen but I didn’t say no,” she said. “I felt I couldn’t say no. He knew a lot about my family and me and knew I was from a very religious family. He said my family would kill me if they knew.”
She said she was further concerned no one would believe her if she reported him and that her grades would suffer because he was still her teacher.
“He said he was helping a SMC rape victim who he said SMC wouldn’t listen to,” she said. “I felt like the college wouldn’t listen to me either since he was well-liked at SMC and people considered him a genius. I felt like it was my fault, that I brought it on myself. … It’s still affecting me emotionally.”
The woman said she believed Field to be a licensed counselor, and he had diagnosed her as having secondary post traumatic stress disorder due to her best friend’s depression. She stopped going to Field in June 2016 and reported his actions to the college and law enforcement late last summer.
Others testifying Wednesday were a woman who went to him for marriage counseling and had sessions paid by insurance, a Blue Cross Blue Shield representative who investigated the insurance claims made and found that Field was not licensed, and two detectives who took part in the investigation last fall.
Not testifying was a second alleged victim mentioned in court last week. Chief Assistant Prosecutor Tiffiny Vohwinkle would not comment on the status of the second victim after Wednesday’s hearing.