Washington Post Breaks News of Army Doctor Sexually Assaulting More than Twenty Active-Duty Servicemembers; POD Call for End to Feres Doctrine
POD urges Congress to codify support for active duty servicemembers to sue the military in civilian court in cases of sexual assault and harassment; encourages additional survivors to seek support
Washington, DC – On Saturday, the Washington Post broke the news that Major Michael D. Stockin, an Army doctor, is being charged with sexually assaulting more than twenty servicemembers who were his patients. These latest allegations highlight the urgent need for more structural reforms to the military justice system, particularly the need for creating alternative means of seeking redress for survivors.
Last month, President Biden signed an executive order implementing the most transformative military justice reform in our nation’s history. However, much more must be done to ensure accountability, as servicemembers who are injured in the course of their service cannot sue the federal government due to the Feres Doctrine. Last year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Col Kathryn Spletstoser’s civil suit against former Air Force General John Hyten, opening the door to further reform of the Feres Doctrine as it pertains to those who have experienced military sexual assault. Protect Our Defenders (POD) filed an amicus brief in support of Col Spletstoser.
If you are a survivor in the case involving Major Michael D. Stockin and are seeking pro bono legal support, please find more information about POD’s Legal Services Program here.
Protect Our Defenders Senior Vice President, Josh Connolly, former Chief of Staff for Rep. Jackie Speier (former Chairwoman of the Military Personnel Subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee), released the following statement:
“These allegations bear striking similarities to those committed by Larry Nassar. Both were committed in closed systems where individuals in positions of power are rarely questioned or held accountable for their crimes.
“If these allegations are true, the military should bear responsibility for allowing this pattern of criminal predatory behavior to persist as assaults on dozens of servicemembers could have been avoided. We call on the Army to put their full resources behind helping other potential victims in this case come forward, as many are male and are less likely to report.
“Although the Ninth Circuit has opened the door to suing the military, Congress must act to codify this basic right into law to ensure that servicemembers can seek justice from a system that let them down so egregiously.”