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CROWN POINT — A Lake Criminal Court judge agreed Tuesday to continue for the 19th time the case against a retired St. John police commander accused of sexual battery and ghost payrolling.

Judge Clarence Murray scheduled the next hearing for former officer Michael Fryzel for Jan. 17.

Defense attorney Thomas Vanes said attorney Thomas Mullins plans to take up Fryzel's case. Vanes filed a motion to withdraw from the case in January 2018. 

Fryzel was charged May 5, 2016, with three counts of sexual battery, five counts of official misconduct, two counts of theft and three counts of battery.

He is accused of sexually battering two St. John Police Department employees while he was a commander and a third woman who worked as a janitorial contractor. He also is accused of receiving pay for hours he didn't work.

Indiana State Police uncovered the alleged theft while they were investigating the sexual battery allegations against Fryzel, records show.

Investigators compared the department's payroll with police dispatch logs from the Lake County sheriff's department and determined Fryzel was paid $5,356.97 from 2011 to 2015 for hours he didn't work, according to a probable cause affidavit. 

Fryzel, a former St. John Town Council member, resigned from the department in March 2015, days before an attorney for two of the women filed civil lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Hammond accusing him of sexual harassment.

The town paid $150,000 to settle one woman's lawsuit. Settlement details in a second lawsuit remain sealed.

The third woman later filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in federal court, which remains pending. The parties were unable to reach a settlement during mediation Tuesday, records show.

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Public Safety Reporter

Sarah covers crime, federal courts and breaking news for The Times. She joined the paper in 2004 after graduating from Purdue University Calumet.