LAWRENCEVILLE - A man investigators say posed as a hypnotist and psychotherapist to prey on people seeking counseling is in Gwinnett police custody for allegedly raping two females - one who is 13 years old - during so-called therapy sessions at his former Lawrenceville home.
Carmine Edmund Baffa, a 52-year-old Gainesville man, is also suspected of sexually assaulting other clients - some of whom were referred to Baffa by reputable therapists in the metro area - even though they might not have known it at the time, Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Illana Spellman said at a press conference Wednesday.
Authorities allege Baffa held several "life-improvement" seminars in the metro area in which he cultivated a substantial client base of adults and children seeking individual "coaching sessions."
He was arrested April 9 and charged with rape, sexual assault, child molestation, aggravated child molestation and aggravated sexual battery. He is being held in the Gwinnett County Jail without bond.
Police say Baffa, described by authorities as charismatic and persuasive, lured and raped the 13-year-old girl at his former Lawrenceville residence - located in the 600 block of Stationview Run - during therapy sessions between August 2006 and July 2007. He allegedly raped a 19-year-old girl at the same location on New Year's Day in 2007 after she saw him for therapy sessions the previous fall. More charges involving the females could be forthcoming, Gwinnett police spokesman Officer David Schiralli said.
Investigators believe Baffa had similar encounters with other individuals in Cobb and Forsyth counties, though they could not provide further details. These people, who police are requesting to come forward, may not know they were victimized, Spellman said. It is unknown if Baffa's alleged victims were under hypnosis during the sessions. The alleged sexual acts with his clients, though, were used as a therapeutic tool, police said.
"This investigation is still in its infancy," Schiralli said in a phone interview Wednesday. "With something this large, we're still sorting through the details."
Baffa hosted as many as six seminars at various hotels in Gwinnett and Cobb, according to police. The sessions were initially called "Mindsight" but were later changed to "Precious Video Productions." He lured his alleged victims, police say, by offering individual coaching sessions for adults and children. It is also believed several area therapists referred these people to Baffa for counseling.
Cobb County police spokesman Cassie Reece said she was aware of Baffa's arrest and said her department has no open investigations involving the man. Authorities in Forsyth County could not be reached for comment.
Police are requesting anyone with information to contact investigators at 770-513-5356.