- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 29, 2016

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan prosecutor said Tuesday he will resign from office after being charged with hiring prostitutes hundreds of times and paying for sex with a woman who wanted help in a child custody dispute.

Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III submitted a letter of resignation, effective July 2. He is taking a paid medical leave of absence until then and said he will not run for re-election this year. He did not give details in the letter about his medical issues after receiving permission from a judge last week to leave the state for “medical/psychological” treatment.

The 63-year-old Dunnings - who has been the elected Democratic prosecutor in Michigan’s capital area for nearly 20 years - was charged March 14 with using the services of prostitutes, enticing a woman to become a prostitute and willful neglect of duty. Also charged was his brother Steven, a Lansing attorney.

Both have pleaded not guilty. Messages seeking comment were left Tuesday for Stuart Dunnings’ lawyers, Michael Hocking and Vincent Toussaint, and Steven Dunnings’ attorney Lawrence Shulman.

The case developed from tips during a federal human-trafficking investigation.

Stuart Dunnings, who makes $132,075 a year and qualifies to receive a pension in retirement, is accused of meeting prostitutes through websites and allegedly told some of the women he was the county prosecutor. He paid one woman for sex as many as three or four times a week over five years, while another prostitute had sex with him more than 200 times, according to the state attorney general.

An affidavit said one woman emailed Dunnings, telling him she had been the victim of domestic violence and asking for help in a custody fight. He invited her to lunch, said he was aware she was struggling financially and proposed paying her for a sexual relationship.

The woman, identified as W-6, told investigators she ultimately felt she had no choice but to accept.

According to a bond-modification order signed last Wednesday by Jackson County District Judge Michael Klaeren, Dunnings recently received unspecified treatment in East Lansing. His provider, however, recommended “intensive” treatment at a residential facility in Tennessee.

Dunnings was scheduled to arrive Monday for a 35-day inpatient program. Details such as his diagnosis and the name of the treatment facility were not disclosed in the court document because the state, his lawyers and Dunnings agreed that making the information public would threaten his privacy and the success of his treatment.

A message seeking comment on whether Dunnings’ taxpayer-funded health insurance will cover his inpatient treatment was left for Ingham County Human Resources Director Travis Parsons.

If convicted, Dunnings could lose his pension for a felony “arising out of his … service as a public employee,” according to state law. The benefit also could be targeted to pay for prison costs.

Since the charges were brought, chief assistance prosecuting attorney Lisa McCormick has been responsible for day-to day operations of office. The county’s circuit judges will appoint someone to fill the vacancy for the balance of the term, which ends on Dec. 31.

The next elected prosecutor will be chosen in August primary and November general elections.

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Follow David Eggert at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00 . His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/author/david-eggert

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