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Army doctor to face court martial following allegations of sexual abuse

Army prosecutors are moving forward with a court martial in the case of a military doctor accused of sexual misconduct related to 42 alleged victims, according to charging documents obtained by CBS News. 

The charges against the physician, Maj. Michael Stockin, include 48 counts of abusive sexual contact and five counts of indecent viewing under the military code of justice, according to documents reviewed by CBS News. The records also indicate that a majority, if not all of the 42 alleged victims are male. The documents include allegations that he attempted to cover up sexual abuse of patients by falsely representing that it had a "medical purpose." 

The case, which appears to be focused on alleged misconduct that prosecutors say occurred under the guise of treatment, represents what some experts see as a historic moment in the military's ongoing fight against sexual assault within its ranks. 

Through his attorneys Stockin has maintained his innocence.    

"While there are still many questions to be answered in this case, I believe there are three undisputed facts," Stockin's defense attorney, Robert Capovilla, said in a statement. "First, the Army referred charges against Major Stockin last week. Second, the parties are in the process of finalizing an arraignment date. And third, the Defense Team is very much looking forward to fighting this case on behalf of a military officer whom we believe is falsely accused."

Stockin, an anesthesiologist at Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in Washington state, has been suspended from patient care since the Army began investigating the alleged conduct. He has not been detained. An arraignment in the case is currently scheduled for Feb. 23, according to the Army's Office of Special Trial Counsel, when a trial date will be determined.

In a statement, Michelle McCaskill of the Army Office of Special Trial Counsel said, "The charges are merely allegations and Maj. Stockin is presumed innocent unless proven guilty."

Stockin has served in the Army since 2013 and has been stationed at Madigan since July 2019, according to the Army. His previous assignments include Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. All of the charges included thus far relate to his time at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. However, the investigation will remain open through trial, according to McCaskill. 

Five of Stockin's former patients whose accusations are included in the charges spoke with CBS News on the condition they not be identified due to the ongoing nature of the case. They each described a similar pattern: During appointments at the center's pain management clinic where Stockin was a specialist, when left alone with patients, he would instruct them to undress, and proceed to examine their lower body and touch them inappropriately, they alleged. 

Despite recent policy changes and efforts to curb the prevalence of sexual assault, the most recent Pentagon report shows that the number of incidents has continued to grow. In a confidential survey, 16,620 male servicemembers said they had experienced unwanted sexual contact in 2021; however during that year just 1,818 male servicemembers reported such assaults to the military. The number of reports by male victims increased by 138 reports in 2022, according to the Pentagon. In total, there were 8,942 reports of sexual assault in 2022 involving service members. 

The increase in reporting is a welcome sign for advocates who believe it is key to closing that gap and ultimately curbing abuse. However, some survivors say they believe the stigma surrounding reporting sexual assault or harassment remains prevalent among men in the military.

Seven of Stockin's former patients who allege he abused them while in his care have filed civil complaints against the Army and the Defense Department for allegedly failing to protect them from abuse. The complaints are brought under the Federal Torts Claims Act, which allows individuals to bring claims against federal agencies for wrongs committed by personnel of that agency for monetary damages. 

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