WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - During a Friday afternoon court appearance, a judge lowered the bond for a Wilmington oral surgeon who is accused of sexually abusing at least four of his patients while they were under anesthesia.
Michael Lee Hasson, 55, was arrested Thursday night and charged with second-degree forcible sexual offense and three counts of sexual battery.
Hasson, 55, was initially booked into the New Hanover County Jail under a $1.25 million bond.
According to the WPD, the sexual offenses took place as far back as 2017. The four female patients range between 17 and 21 years of age.
Hasson, who was represented by defense attorney Woody White, made his initial court appearance on the charges Friday afternoon. White immediately requested that Hasson’s bond be lowered.
“Mr. Hasson graduated from Hoggard High School, he’s 55 years old, he’s run a business here for 22 years, he has a deep, deep root system in the community, and it goes without saying that he is presumed innocent of each and everything in these documents. We ask you adjust bond to accurately reflect what it is he is charged with," White said to Judge Sandra Ray.
Assistant District Attorney Connie Jordan argued for Hasson’s bond to remain the same, saying the state routinely asks for million dollar bonds for suspects accused of trafficking in the community.
“The state believes, and the Wilmington Police Department believes, we have an individual who was placing women under anesthesia and then assaulting them sexually. There are substantial penalties associated with the crimes that the defendant is charged,” said Jordan.
White later added that the bond amount for the class C misdemeanors — the sexual battery charges — was excessive due to a lack of evidence presented by prosecutors, so far.
Jordan added that two sexual assault kits are pending with one of them indicating a DNA profile of another person.
“This is a scenario where we have someone who has been exposed, through his position, to a very large number of women in our community, over a period of years, which we believe is happening. He is effectively incapacitating them and sexually assaulting them,” Jordan added.
Jordan said the police department has had an influx of people calling in about the case and expects additional charges to be filed soon. 25 year old Courtney Hewitt told WECT she plans to alert police of her interaction with Hassan. Hewitt told WECT she had her wisdom teeth taken out two years ago at his office.
“He came in started an IV and iI was sedated before I even knew," Hewitt said by phone. “I went to ask him what he was doing and I was already out, it happened so fast, and they had a hard time waking me up.”
Hewitt says she recalls a nurse being in the room during the procedure, but said she felt uncomfortable around Hassan.
“His demeanor was odd to me, he was too friendly he kept putting his hand on my shoulder when he was talking to me he would leave it there for awhile," Hewitt said.
Hewitt said after hearing the news of these charges she is alarmed and left wondering if she too could be a victim.
“It’s concerning because I’ll never know, I’m just left to wonder if he did something to me, I have so many questions" explained Hewitt. "We may never know there could be so many other victims, we were vulnerable and sedated so we don’t have any recollection.”
Judge Ray ultimately decided to consolidate the three misdemeanor sexual battery charges to $100,000 and keep the $500,000 bond for the second-degree forcible sexual offense, making Hasson’s total bond $600,000.
If Hasson makes bond, he is ordered to not have contact with the victims and is allowed to continue practicing surgical medicine, however, he is not allowed to be alone with patients.
Hasson is a surgeon at Wilmington Oral Surgery. The state board of dental examiners website states that his license is in good standing.
A Wilmington oral surgeon WECT talked to Friday weighed in when asked if it is possible Hasson could be alone with patients.
“The state board says that the facility meaning the office, should be staffed with at least two BLS (Basic Life Saving) certified auxiliaries, this can be an assistant or hygienist, one of which is dedicated to general patient monitoring and recording of general anesthesia or sedation data throughout the sedation procedure,” said Dr. Brady Semmel, an oral surgeon for Semmel Oral and Facial Surgery.
The North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners confirms that. Their sedation rules on their website state, while anesthesia is being administered to a patient, a person trained in Basic Life Saving must be present for patient monitoring of vitals throughout the procedure.
Wilmington police say the investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with information on Hasson is asked to contact Wilmington police at 910-343-3609 or use Text-A-Tip.