Michael Mearan, former Portsmouth attorney accused in sex trafficking case, dies at 75

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Michael Mearan, a former Portsmouth city councilman and lawyer who was facing multiple felonies related to sex trafficking, died Friday afternoon following health complications, his attorney confirmed.

Mearan's attorney, Michael Siewert of Siewert & Gjostein Co. LPA in Columbus, told The Enquirer he was taken to the hospital on Wednesday. The exact cause of death is currently unknown. Siewert said he died surrounded by family.

'It's not that we weren't trying': Why it took decades to arrest Michael Mearan

Mearan was a central figure in a 2019 Enquirer investigative report into sex trafficking in Portsmouth, a city just over 100 miles east of Cincinnati along the Ohio River. He was arrested and charged in October 2020 and was awaiting trial in Scioto County at the time of his death.

Former Portsmouth attorney, Michael Mearan, 75, in the hallways of the Scioto County Courthouse, in Portsmouth, Ohio. He died on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021 following health complications.
Former Portsmouth attorney, Michael Mearan, 75, in the hallways of the Scioto County Courthouse, in Portsmouth, Ohio. He died on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021 following health complications.

Ohio Attorney General David Yost on Michael Mearan: 'At least he died publicly charged for his crimes'

"At least he died publicly charged for his crimes, and his victims knew the dignity of being heard and believed," Ohio Attorney General David Yost said in a tweet Friday night. "They have survived him."

Michael Mearan faced multiple felonies related to sex trafficking

Mearan faced 18 charges spanning human trafficking, racketeering and compelling and promoting prostitution. He was accused of arranging sex-for-hire appointments for his female clients and pocketing the money they earned on those "dates," using tactics of manipulation and verbal abuse.

He was placed on house arrest in March, after violating the conditions of his bond by taking on new clients. The Ohio Supreme Court then suspended his law license. Mearan was admitted to the bar in 1971.

A look back: Judge modifies Michael Mearan's house arrest after health 'visibly declined,' attorney says

In May, Judge Patricia Cosgrove changed the conditions of Mearan's house arrest after court documents stated his health had "visibly declined." He suffered from diabetes and congestive heart disease.

Mearan had consistently maintained his innocence. Siewert said Mearan's family is thankful for those who supported him in the face of "false allegations."

Sex trafficking: Trapped and trafficked, Portsmouth's dark secret

Court records show a jury trial was scheduled to begin in Mearan's case on Jan. 18.

The Enquirer will update this story as more information becomes available.

Michael Mearan, 74, prominent Portsmouth, Ohio attorney, is escorted from the Scioto County Common Pleas courthouse following his arraignment on 18 charges of sex trafficking, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020.
Michael Mearan, 74, prominent Portsmouth, Ohio attorney, is escorted from the Scioto County Common Pleas courthouse following his arraignment on 18 charges of sex trafficking, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Michael Mearan, former Portsmouth, Ohio attorney dead at 75

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