The Dolce Disaster
Michael Dolce—Cohen Milstein law partner, and poster boy for Marci Hamilton and her Child USA campaign—charged with possession of child pornography
For years, attorney and sex abuse activist Michael Dolce fooled everyone, while leading two very different, contradictory lives. There was a huge, sinister difference between Michael in the light, and Michael in the very, very dark.
Widely reported accounts reveal that in the daytime, Dolce, 53, would put on his lawyer persona like a superhero’s cape—the respected, self-styled crusader for justice, the defender of the innocent, the implacable foe of evil—and do legal battle with sex abusers, reaping multiple multimillion-dollar verdicts for clients and numerous substantial settlements.
He became a law partner in the Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll, specializing in cases involving sexual abuse.
Dolce was on the same mission as Marci Hamilton, founder and CEO of Child USA, [whose] campaign to rewrite statute of limitations laws in various states has come under increasing fire...for generating a plethora of suits against deep-pocket institutions while neglecting the vast majority of child sex abuse victims.
He is nationally known as a leading face of the drive for statute of limitations reform in child sexual abuse cases to open doors for previously statute-barred claims. Not surprising to many, that drive is two-faced as well.
Dolce was on the same mission as Marci Hamilton, founder and CEO of Child USA, who has campaigned to rewrite statute of limitations laws in various states. Hamilton and her campaign have come under increasing fire by legislators, victims and their advocates as duplicitous for generating a plethora of suits against deep-pocket institutions while neglecting the vast majority of child sex abuse victims, whose abuse is not connected to a moneyed institution. The campaign has netted an enormous cash bonanza for attorneys, who are the primary financial supporters of Child USA.
Hamilton’s organization has used the now-disgraced attorney on its Twitter account to promote her cause.
Dolce founded the political committee Protect Our Kids First Inc. that lobbied in Florida to eliminate the statute of limitations on sex abuse cases for victims under 16.
Dolce was also a prominent face in Hamilton’s campaign to pass statute of limitations reform legislation in New York. In the May 3, 2016, issue of the New York Daily News, Dolce’s photo is featured prominently alongside a photo of Hamilton.
And now, Dolce is busted for possession of child pornography.
Authorities allege that Dolce played everyone for saps and suckers. At night, the screen of his computer would glow with those revolting images he found irresistible, and the dark Michael, the twisted, perverted Michael, filled with unholy and illegal desires, would privately emerge.
By all accounts, the great pretender bamboozled legislators who welcomed his testimonies, fooled his clients including sexual abuse victims, conned documentary makers who treated him like a star, scammed anti-abuse activists who showered him with awards, and misled the media, which praised him as a champion of the abused. He also evidently duped his church, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in West Palm Beach, where he had become a governing board member. He even hoodwinked his way into a seat on the board of directors of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence. And for years, Dolce was a Sunday school teacher.
The very attorney who actively was suing those who committed sexual abuse of children apparently was, himself, an enabler and endorser of abusers—an avid collector of child pornography.
How’s that for irony?
Then, on the night of March 15, 2023, as Michael lay on his bed, allegedly downloading images on his laptop computer, his entire world came crashing down.
Suddenly, the door to his home was shattered. Burly, uniformed FBI agents barged in, telling him they had a warrant to search his home.
It was Dolce’s personal nightmare. The jig was up. His game was instantly finished. He was under arrest and his illegal, depraved activities were about to be revealed to all.
The FBI agents didn’t have to search very hard—Dolce was actively downloading child pornography when the agents burst in. He had been caught red-handed.
But here’s the real twist to Dolce’s two-faced life: he built his entire, profitable career upon being a child abuse victim who turned into a child abuse crusader and fought for the rights of abused children—victims exactly like the ones he was displaying and whose abuse he was enjoying on his computer.
In perhaps one of the most blatant displays of hypocrisy in legal history, the ravenous fox was the one guarding the innocent henhouse. The very attorney who actively was suing those who committed sexual abuse of children apparently was, himself, an enabler and endorser of abusers—an avid collector of child pornography.
How’s that for irony?
According to the official accounts of when federal agents went to Dolce’s home, they hammered on his door, but he did not answer. He didn’t even get out of bed.
“Entry into the residence occurred as a result of a forceful breach on the door when DOLCE did not respond to commands by law enforcement to come to the door,” authorities wrote. “Tactical surveillance and entry teams revealed that DOLCE was alone in the residence, awake on a bed at the time FBI personnel first knocked and announced at his door. Located directly adjacent to DOLCE on the bed was a Samsung laptop.” Authorities said he was “actively downloading child pornography using peer-2-peer software.”
FBI digital experts have discovered, so far, 1,997 images and five videos of child pornography on Dolce’s computer.
A sub-folder on the computer had a file entitled “Sweet-Pedo Stars” showing nude child erotica and a prepubescent minor female victim. Authorities estimated that the innocent victims were from 5 to 11 years old.
It was a collection which would revolt and sicken anyone who did not share Dolce’s twisted perversion.
Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll dumped [Dolce] as a partner just two days after the FBI raided his apartment....
In an effort to distance themselves from their star sexual abuse litigator, Cohen Milstein went to extraordinary lengths to scrub Dolce’s name from their website. But the stain on the firm’s name is not likely to wash away so easily.
Dolce claims that he fell off his bicycle when he was seven, in Maryland, and sought help from a neighbor, but the neighbor and his son sexually abused him and threatened him at gunpoint to stay silent. They abused him twice more, he claimed. It was this incident, he says, which turned him into a bitter opponent of those who would abuse children.
He even testified before the Florida Senate Criminal Justice Committee and was featured in the 2013 film, Pursuit of Truth: Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Seeking Justice.
His LinkedIn page says, “Mr. Dolce’s practice is dedicated to representing survivors of sexual crimes, including child and adult victims, and adult survivors of child sexual abuse.”
Since joining Cohen Milstein in 2015, he had litigated 15 civil cases, with the majority dealing with sexual abuse. He headed the law firm’s Sexual Abuse, Sex Trafficking and Domestic Abuse team.
The law firm used its website to promote Dolce’s media appearances and awards he received, such as being included in the 2020 South Florida edition of Best Lawyers.
No longer—that’s all over now. Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll dumped him as a partner just two days after the FBI raided his apartment, and released a statement: “The firm is stunned and saddened by these appalling allegations. Michael Dolce was terminated and is no longer affiliated with the firm. We are focused on attending to the needs of our clients and staff, and continuing to cooperate fully with the investigation.” In an effort to distance themselves from their star sexual abuse litigator, Cohen Milstein went to extraordinary lengths to scrub Dolce’s name from their website. But the stain on the firm’s name is not likely to wash away so easily.
It is not known whether his underage sex tendencies remained mere internet fantasies or were acted out in real life.
Dolce remains in jail at this writing, charged with possession of child pornography, and a trial upcoming. If convicted of all charges, he faces a possible prison sentence of up to 20 years.
Watch for Part II of this Investigative Series: VICTIMS LEFT BEHIND