Women say they were duped

McNearney to face 11 felonies in District Court

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COEUR d'ALENE - It's hard to know the real Michael J. McNearney Jr., and what, if anything, he says is true.

He bragged about being a U.S. Marine.

He claimed to know the sheriff and a local judge.

He broke sad news that he had been diagnosed with cancer.

He said he was homeless and sleeping on a beach in Coeur d'Alene and needed a couch on which to crash.

At times he flaunted bank statements showing he had thousands of dollars - he just never seemed to have any money with him.

And he appeared to know everybody at bars and casinos and suggested he had connections everywhere it was important.

Prosecutors allege the 25-year-old used lies of all kinds to establish trust with women in Kootenai County. He used lies to gain sympathy and admiration from them. Sweet like an orphaned puppy one minute, then aggressive and strong as a mixed martial arts fighter in a cage the next.

McNearney, who has been a resident of both Spokane and Coeur d'Alene the past few years, spent Thursday and Friday in a Kootenai County courtroom for a lengthy probable cause hearing.

Prosecutors sought to have more than a dozen felony charges against him sent to 1st District Court for a future trial.

"Mr. McNearney created a position of power and authority," Kootenai County deputy prosecutor Eileen McGovern told Magistrate James Stow. "And then he took advantage of them," hustling thousands of dollars from the women.

In some cases, McGovern said, McNearney raped the women, often on multiple occasions.

"He said he was a Marine," a 30-year-old alleged victim recalled from the witness stand. She said she was raped by McNearney in August 2013. "Marines usually have honor."

Women testified that he would tell them to just shut up, that they wanted it and loved it, during the alleged rapes.

Women testified he would punctuate offenses with a comment like, "It's not rape if you yell surprise," or "It's not rape if I say surprise first."

Leading to the hearing, prosecutors charged him with several counts of rape, and added charges of felony grand theft of financial transaction cards and felony grand theft by deception.

Defense attorney Chris Schwartz argued that McNearney getting money from the alleged victims and not paying it back, even if he said he would, shouldn't be considered theft by deception.

Schwartz said the women only felt ripped off after their relationships or friendships with McNearney ended.

"All these people thought they were doing something for a loved one," Schwartz told Stow.

At the conclusion of Friday's hearing, Stow decided that McNearney would be moved to District Court to face seven counts of felony rape. A trial date will be set later.

Stow also believed the prosecution had brought forward enough evidence during the hearing to show probable cause on two counts of felony grand theft of financial transaction cards and two counts of felony grand theft by deception.

Testimony from alleged victims in court showed a pattern of McNearney meeting women on an online dating website called "PlentyOfFish" under the name "magicmike." He met another at a bar.

Soon he was convincing them to give him hundreds and often thousands of dollars.

"He said, 'Don't worry about it, I'll pay you back,'" a 34-year-old alleged victim testified Friday. She recalled noticing several unauthorized charges on her credit card and confronted McNearney.

She admitted spending hundreds of dollars on him at the Buckle clothing store after he claimed he needed some new duds to wear to his grandparents' anniversary party. He racked up hundreds of dollars in debts to her, after they met while she was a waitress at a Coeur d'Alene bar and grill.

Other women spent money on him for clothes at Buckle. Some paid gambling debts for him.

He blew hundreds of dollars of the waitress' money gambling - not long after first meeting her.

"He said he was really good at blackjack," she testified. He claimed he could count cards, and would win big.

She also gave him money so he could pay child support he said he owed.

When the debts really mounted, and he was further confronted, he claimed he sold a truck he owned and would pay her back. That never happened.

When the waitress' bank called and asked about a long list of new charges on a credit card, she didn't tell the bank they were unauthorized. She just said she would handle the situation.

"I thought he was my friend, and I didn't want anyone to get in trouble," she told the court.

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