Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Trial date set for Wilmington oral surgeon charged with 30 counts of sexually assaulting patients

Michael Hasson’s attorney Tripp Watson appears on behalf of his client in front of Judge Kent Harrell on Tuesday to set a trial date. (Port City Daily/Amy Passaretti Willis)

WILMINGTON — A Wilmington oral surgeon indicted on multiple counts of sexual assault was supposed to be arraigned Tuesday but did not appear in court. His attorney filed a waiver of arraignment and a trial date was set for Oct. 30.

Michael Lee Hasson, 59, former oral surgeon and general anesthesiologist at Wilmington Oral Surgery on Floral Parkway, was arrested Jan. 30, 2019. The initial charges were for sexually abusing four patients; about a week later, Hasson faced 13 charges. By April 2019 the investigation uncovered more than 20 victims.

READ MORE: Update on Wilmington-area dental surgeon’s assault charges, house arrest, court date

Hasson is being charged with 10 counts of second-degree forcible sex offense, 16 incidents of sexual battery, three counts of indecent liberties with a child, and a statutory sex offense for a child under the age of 15.

Incidents allegedly took place between 2009 and 2018 while patients were “physically helpless or mentally incapacitated,” under anesthesia. Hasson is being accused of sexual contact with his patients, ranging in age from 12 to 70 at the time of the incidents.

On June 24, 2022, Port City Daily reached out about a trial date for Hasson and assistant to the district attorney Sam Dooies said it had been postponed.

“We had one, but then he got a new attorney,” Dooies wrote. “Since the new attorney just got on the case, he’s not ready to select a trial date yet.”

Assistant public defender Ebern T., Tripp, Watson III was appointed as Hasson’s attorney, replacing Buddy Allard.

Hasson filed an affidavit of indigency to demonstrate the need for court-appointed counsel. According to court documents, his monthly income was listed as $1,400 and he last filed for income taxes in 2020, where he owed less than $300,000. His total assets were $1,500 and liabilities equaled $13.5 million.

In New Hanover County Superior Court Tuesday, Watson appeared on behalf of Hasson and filed a waiver of arraignment, meaning the defendant gives up the right to a hearing where he is informed of all charges and enters a plea. Watson said additional discovery was forthcoming and he needed time to file motions.

“I don’t know how much time because of the complexity,” he told Judge Kent Harrell.

Watson indicated he was filing for additional medical records, seizures that occurred during Hasson’s arrest and indicated a need to consult an expert before preparing discovery.

“I don’t know where those [documents] might be or what they might reveal,” Watson said.

The attorney was given at least 90 days to retain the information. New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office prosecutor Connie Jordan agreed to the terms.

Hasson’s dental license and general anesthesia permit were suspended in 2019 by the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners to “protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public,” according to court documents.

According to court documents from June 2019, Hasson was permitted to “obtain employment” as a lab assistant for Dr. Skinner but prohibited from any interaction with patients. An employee with Dr. Skinner’s office said no one by the name “Michael Hasson” works there.

Hasson was released from New Hanover County Detention Center in April 2019 and has been under court-ordered house arrest. His bond was lowered from $1.1 million to $500,000 since he surrendered his passport and agreed to no contact with alleged victims.

The court allowed in June 2019 for him to travel to Colorado due to an unexpected death.

The next month Hasson was arrested by the Wrightsville Beach Police Department for assault on a female following a domestic disturbance call.

The victim did not wish to prosecute, so the DA’s office dismissed the charges in August 2019.

According to WECT, a media partner of Port City Daily, the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners is also investigating Hasson for possible insurance fraud. Records from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services show Hasson received $5 million in Medicaid reimbursements between 2014 and 2019.

Hasson’s billing indicates he was frequently charging Medicaid to keep patients under sedation for extended periods of time. NCDHHS spokesperson Kelly Haight said by North Carolina rule 10A NCAC 22F, the department is prohibiting from releasing information on investigations.

“Federal law requires the NC Department of Health and Human Services to investigate credible allegations of fraud, waste, and abuse,” Haight wrote to PCD. “[Division of Health Benefits] follows up on and investigates all inquiries; however, the agency cannot publicly report on the investigation status because of the aforementioned confidentiality restrictions.”

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