An Army doctor assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington has been charged with abusive sexual contact, indecent viewing and other related offenses following an investigation.
The Army preferred the court-martial charges on Tuesday against Maj. Michael Stockin, an anesthesiologist at JBLM’s Madigan Army Medical Center, said Army Lt. Col. Jennifer J. Bocanegra, a spokeswoman for I Corps.
Ryan Guilds, an attorney who represents several people who say they were abused by the doctor, told Task & Purpose that there may be more than 20 victims.
Guilds said he has been concerned about a lack of communication from the Army throughout its investigation. Despite promises from Army officials, he has not received regular updates about how the investigation has progressed.
“We have no idea how deep the alleged abuse goes,” Guilds said on Wednesday. “Or how long the Army has known. Our soldiers and their families protect us and we have a solemn duty to protect them. The charges filed yesterday are an important first step. But they are just that, a first step.”
The Washington Post first reported on Aug. 26 that Stockin was under investigation for a sexual assault case involving at least 23 alleged victims.
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Bocanegra was unable to confirm the total number of alleged victims that Army investigators have identified so far. She did not specify whether the alleged abuse may have occurred at Joint Base Lewis-McChord or elsewhere.
“The charges will now be reviewed for legal sufficiency by an independent officer at a pretrial preliminary hearing pursuant to federal law,” Bocanegra told Task & Purpose. “Charges are merely accusations, and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”
She also said that Stockin’s charge sheet is not currently available to be released.
Stockin has served as an anesthesiologist in the Army since 2013 and he deployed to Iraq from October 2020 to February 2021, Bocanegra said. Before arriving at Madigan Army Medical Center Joint Base Lewis-McChord, he previously served at Tripler Army Medical Center Honolulu, Hawaii, from June 2013 to July 2014; Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, from July 2014 to July 2019.
Robert Capovilla, Stockin’s attorney, stressed on Wednesday that his client deserves to be given a fair trial.
“Charges alone – as you know – are not evidence; and the defense has been given very little opportunity up to this point to review CID’s [Army Criminal Investigation Division’s] investigation,” Capovilla told Task & Purpose. “Moreover, we were told by at least one potential witness this week that this witness was allegedly given instructions not to speak with the defense.”
Capovilla declined to elaborate further on how Stockin’s defense team learned that the witness had been told not to cooperate with them.
“We certainly hope this is not the case, and we expect the Army to ensure that Maj. Stockin’s constitutional right to a fair defense is honored at all stages of the process,” Capovilla said.
Capovilla said that Stockin’s defense team looks forward to getting full access to all the evidence in the case and it hopes to conduct its own investigation into the allegations against Stockin free from unlawful command influence – any actions by commanders that could be interpreted by subordinates about whether to find service members accused of crimes innocent or guilty.
He also said that he is concerned that information about the case was provided to the media before Stockin’s defense team was notified that he would be charged for the allegations of sexual assault.
Army officials and a Washington Post spokeswoman declined to respond to Capovilla’s comments about information on the Stockin case being released to the media.
“I simply ask that everybody respect the fact that Maj. Stockin as a citizen of the United States of America has a right to a fair defense,” Capovilla said. He has a right to a fair trial, and the Army should be just as concerned with that – and in fact, more concerned with that – than nearly other concern that could have justified a premature release of information to the media before the defense was even told charges were being preferred.”
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