Army Doctor Charged with Sexually Abusing Dozens of Victims Appears in Court, Plans to Plead Not Guilty

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February 27, 2024
Cars enter Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

An Army physician who faces dozens of charges of sexual abuse — including allegations of touching patients and invading their privacy — appeared in court for the first time Friday, with his lawyer later saying that the officer plans to plead not guilty.

Maj. Michael Stockin, 38, was arraigned at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, on 47 counts of abusive sexual contact and five of indecent viewing, involving 41 victims. The physician, a pain management specialist, faces charges of molestation dating to 2019, according to redacted charge sheets released by the Army.

Stockin deferred entering a plea at the arraignment. His attorney, Robert Capovilla of Woodstock, Georgia, told Military.com on Monday that Stockin will plead not guilty to all charges.

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“At this point, the defense can say with supreme confidence that we intend to fight against every single allegation until the jury renders their verdict,” Capovilla said in an email to Military.com.

He added that, while “the media will continue to condemn Maj. Stockin and render judgment” before the officer can plead his case, people should “keep an open mind and remember he is presumed innocent.”

They should understand “this fight is just begun,” Capovilla said.

Stockin allegedly inappropriately fondled male victims under the auspices of medical exams for sexual gratification from roughly 2019 through March 2022 while serving at Madigan Army Medical Center at the installation. He allegedly also “knowingly and wrongfully viewed the private areas” of victims without their consent.

The officer previously waived his right to an Article 32 hearing, a court appearance that is the military equivalent of a preliminary hearing. His next hearing is scheduled for April 17 and is expected to launch the process for selecting a jury of eight.

A trial date has been set for Oct. 7.

In an email to Military.com on Monday, Michelle McCaskill, director of communications for the Army Office of Special Trial Counsel, said that the office “thoroughly evaluated the evidence and carefully considered the facts” before referring charges against Stockin.

“We are confident that the facts and evidence support a conviction and that will be demonstrated when the case goes to trial on Oct. 7,” McCaskill wrote.

The Army Office of Special Trial Counsel was recently created to handle some of the service’s most egregious criminal cases. The team of independent prosecutors is tasked with assault, sexual assault, kidnapping, domestic violence, stalking, child pornography and harassment criminal cases. In one of its first cases, a soldier based in Okinawa, Japan, was convicted this month of the rape and sexual assault of two victims, and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Stockin was first charged on Aug. 28 on 23 violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The number of charges and victims grew as the Army expanded its investigation. The service said it had removed Stockin from clinical duties with patients in February 2022, although one of the specifications he faces, according to the charge sheets, allegedly occurred in March 2022.

At least five of Stockin’s patients filed complaints in November under the Federal Tort Claims Act against the Army and the Department of Defense, the first step in eventually filing a lawsuit against the government over the incidents.

The case, first reported in August by The Washington Post, could represent the largest case ever of sexual assault by a single service member.

The maximum punishment if Stockin is convicted of all counts would be reduction in rank, forfeiture of all pay and benefits, and more than 330 years in prison.

Prior to Stockin’s arraignment, Protect Our Defenders, a nonprofit organization focused on military sexual assault and harassment in the ranks, said Army leadership has neglected to provide proper care for Stockin’s alleged victims, writing members of Congress to urge them to hold a hearing on the issue.

The Stockin hearing is a “pivotal moment in the pursuit of justice for survivors,” underscoring a need to ensure that recent reforms, such as creating special trial counsels in each military service to oversee violent crimes in the military, are effectively implemented, the group said.

“The Stockin case should be a ‘code red’ for the Pentagon. Survivors, our elected officials and advocates worked for years on reforms to ensure that victims are afforded these basic resources, yet the military has not carried out the spirit nor letter of the laws. It is the responsibility of Congress to ensure accountability,” Protect Our Defenders Senior Vice President Josh Connolly wrote Thursday in a press release.

Friday’s arraignment occurred in the courtroom of Col. Larry Babin, an officer who has been on the bench as an Army judge since 2020 and previously worked for 22 years as an Army judge advocate.

McCaskill said that, during the arraignment, Babin discussed the rights held by the accused, such as his right to counsel, right to trial, right to panel trial or trial by military judge.

Related: Army’s New Special Prosecutors Hit Ground Running with Case Netting 20-Year Sentence for Rape, Assault

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