Findlay businessman Michael E. Lewis gets emotional while apologizing to his assault victim Thursday in Hancock County Common Pleas Court. Lewis was sentenced to four years in prison for a 2018 assault of the Findlay woman. (Photo by Randy Roberts)

By KATHRYNE RUBRIGHT

Staff Writer

A Findlay businessman was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for a 2018 assault of a Findlay woman.

Michael E. Lewis, 39, was originally indicted by a grand jury on three first-degree felony charges for aggravated burglary, kidnapping and rape, as well as a first-degree misdemeanor charge for assault, as a result of his actions on Feb. 6, 2018.

Lewis pleaded guilty on Feb. 28 in Hancock County Common Pleas Court to the aggravated burglary and assault charges, and to abduction, a third-degree felony amended from kidnapping. The rape charge was dismissed.

Court records list a South Carolina address for Lewis, who previously lived in rural Findlay. He is a co-owner of Partitions Plus, a Findlay business.

Lewis was sentenced Thursday by Judge Jonathan Starn to four years in prison for aggravated burglary. The assault charge was merged with the burglary charge.

Lewis also was sentenced to two years for abduction, to be served concurrently with the term for burglary.

During the assault, Lewis “would force his hands over my nose and my mouth, or place pillows over my face to suffocate me, over and over again,” the victim said in court Thursday, adding that she felt like Lewis was trying to kill her. He also strangled her, she said.

Since Lewis was originally charged with a sex crime, The Courier is not identifying the victim by name.

“Because of what happened, I live scared today,” the woman said, citing several home security upgrades she has made since the assault.

The woman said she does not “feel like he has taken any responsibility for what he did” and asked Judge Starn for a sentence “significant enough that he realizes the horrific impact” he had.

Starn said he was also concerned about how much responsibility Lewis is taking for what happened.

There are “significant differences” between the “official version” of what happened and Lewis’s narrative, both included in a pre-sentence investigation.

Parts of Lewis’ statement “border on being absolutely irreconcilable” with what Lewis admitted to by pleading guilty, Starn said.

The differences were so great that Starn said he considered “whether or not I needed to have a discussion on the record as to whether or not what you were considering doing was withdrawing your guilty plea.”

Lewis’s attorney, Lorin Zaner, said his client’s actions “clearly were wrong” and were “absolutely not justified,” but that Lewis had also done “incredibly amazing things” in the community.

Zaner argued that Lewis, who has no prior record, should receive no prison time, or at least no more than four years.

Lewis told the victim Thursday, “there is no way that I could begin to put into words how truly sorry I am” and said he regrets his behavior.

Addressing Judge Starn, Lewis said he was experiencing “depression unlike anything I had ever experienced before” at the time of the assault. He said he received mental health treatment at a South Carolina facility after the assault.

Lewis also gave a detailed review of his business career, as well as his involvement in the community, church and children’s activities.

Rubright: 419-427-8417

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Twitter: @kerubright

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