NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - A Wilmington oral surgeon accused of sexually abusing nearly two dozen of his patients while they were sedated has been ordered to pay $4 million in a civil lawsuit filed last year by one of his accusers.
At least 30 criminal charges, including three counts of felony indecent liberties with a child, 17 counts of misdemeanor sexual battery, one count of felony statutory rape and nine counts of felony second-degree forcible sex offense, remain pending against Michael Lee Hasson, 56, operator of Wilmington Oral Surgery.
Hasson’s office was practically shuttered following his arrest in January 2019, the result of the State Board of Dental Examiners suspending his license pending an investigation and a judge’s order that he not be allowed to see patients.
The civil case was initiated in June 2019, when one of Hasson’s alleged victims sued him and his professional corporation, Michael L. Hasson, DDS, PA, in New Hanover County Superior Court. The plaintiff, under the name “Jane Doe,” alleged assault and battery, gross negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
According to the complaint, on Jan. 11, 2019, “Doe” went to Wilmington Oral Surgery to have her wisdom teeth pulled. An IV line was inserted into her arm once Hasson entered the room to perform the procedure. Note: “Doe’s" actual identity was withheld from court documents to protect her identity.
“In the time between the insertion of the IV and when the sedation was in full effect, Hasson grabbed Doe’s hand and in his own, and with the nurse in the room paying no attention to Doe, thereupon proceeded to rub Doe’s hand against his groin area, saying to Doe ‘you’re going to feel real good in a second,’” the complaint states.
“Doe,” according to the complaint, briefly regained consciousness and realized Hasson was fondling her breasts underneath her bra, though she was too sedated to react.
“Doe” reported the incident to law enforcement, ultimately leading to Hasson’s arrest on charges he assaulted “Doe” and several other patients. In total, Hasson faces charges involving 23 alleged victims ranging in age from 12 to 69 years old.
“As a direct and proximate result of the actions of Wilmington Oral Surgery and Hasson, Doe has experienced severe and, upon information and belief, permanent emotional distress and damage, including a relapse in her postpartum depression… recurring thoughts and nightmares, prolonged anxiety resulting in feels of detachment from Doe’s husband and her two children, ages four and one, and periods of time when Doe becomes overwhelmed by emotions and feels likes she can’t breathe,” the complaint states.
In January, a judge awarded “Doe” a $4 million default judgement - $1 million in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages, with interest on both – after neither Hasson nor a representative responded to the lawsuit with the required 30 days.
An online court calendar lists Hasson’s next court date as March 9. Hasson remains under house arrest.