The sign outside the entrance to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The sign outside the entrance to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. (Gary Warner/Stars and Stripes)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Washington ­— An Army doctor was arraigned Friday in what investigators say is the largest military sexual abuse case on record but deferred on entering a plea until a later date.

Maj. Michael Stockin, 38, faces charges that he molested 41 soldiers and veterans during medical appointments at Madigan Army Medical Center, the Army’s second largest hospital.

“There are 47 specifications for abusive sexual contact and five for indecent viewing for a total of 41 victims, in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” said Michelle McCaskill, communications director for the Army Office of Special Trial Counsel, which is handling the prosecution. McCaskill said allegations by one alleged victim had been withdrawn and dismissed after a review of evidence.

If convicted of all charges, Stockin could face a maximum penalty of more than 300 years in jail — effectively a life sentence.

Flanked by a team of military and civilian defense lawyers at the courthouse at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Stockin answered “yes, your honor” to a series of questions by the military judge, Col. Joseph Babin. Babin is the senior judge in the Army’s 6th Circuit, which includes JBLM.

Dr. Michael Stockin stands in front of a Defense Health Agency display board during a 2019 event.

Dr. Michael Stockin stands in front of a Defense Health Agency display board during a 2019 event. (MDedge)

Stockin waived his right to an Article 32 hearing — the military equivalent of a preliminary hearing — and his right to hear the charges read in court. 

Stockin also said through his lawyers that he would defer a plea on the charges until a later date.

His civilian lawyer, Robert Capovilla of Woodstock, Ga., wrote earlier in the week that Stockin would eventually plead not guilty during the months of pre-trial motions prior to the scheduled start of his trial Oct. 7.

“We intend to fight against every single allegation until the jury renders their verdict,” Capovilla wrote in an email.

Stockin had the right to have the case decided by a panel of eight officers or have a verdict rendered by a judge. Stockin chose the jury, which will be made up of officers who are senior in rank to him. A pool of 199 officers will be randomly created from those serving with I Corps, the main command at the joint Army-Air Force base near Tacoma. 

Selection of the panel will begin at the next hearing, scheduled for April 17. At least six officers must serve throughout the court-martial and cast ¾ of their votes to convict in order for Stockin to be found guilty. 

Stockin, an anesthesiologist and pain management specialist, was assigned to Madigan Army Medical Center at Lewis-McChord in June 2019.

(Gary Warner/Stars and Stripes)

The Army says Stockin was barred from seeing patients in February 2022 and placed on administrative duties while the case was under investigation. Stockin was formally charged on Aug. 28 last year with 23 violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I Corps, the Army command at JBLM, brought the initial charges.

The number of charges grew over the next five months as Army investigators forwarded additional allegations to prosecutors.

Under a revised Department of Defense policy, the prosecution of Stockin shifted in January from I Corps to the new Army Office of Special Trial Counsel.

The Army OSTC announced in late January that Stockin was charged with sexually abusing 42 soldiers and veterans he saw as patients at JBLM between 2019 and 2022. Some of the alleged victims were abused more than once.

The number of allegations against Stockin is likely unprecedented, McCaskill said last month.

“While we cannot state with certainty that this case involves the largest number of sexual assault/sexual abuse victims the Army has prosecuted, however, an accurate characterization is that this case is one of the largest in regard to the number of victims for a case of this type,” she said.

The Army OSTC said in January that the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) was reviewing Stockin’s activities at his earlier postings in Hawaii, Maryland, and Iraq. No additional charges have been announced.

Attorneys representing some of the alleged victims have filed civil lawsuits against Stockin and the Army, alleging he fondled their genitals during medical appointments for issues unrelated to the area of the body Stockin touched.

author picture
Gary Warner covers the Pacific Northwest for Stars and Stripes. He’s reported from East Germany, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Britain, France and across the U.S. He has a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.

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