Military News

Gig Harbor-based doctor who trains military medics accused of cruelty, sexual harassment

A retired Army doctor from Gig Harbor is under scrutiny for allegedly providing alcohol to military personnel and instructing them to experiment on each other while preparing for deployments at medical training events in several states and the United Kingdom.

A Georgia congressman has asked the Pentagon to investigate complaints about John Henry Hagmann, whose medical license was suspended in March by Virginia’s Board of Medicine. The board took the action after reviewing complaints about Hagmann’s practices stemming from incidents in 2012 and 2013, which included accusations of sexual harassment.

Students have complained that Hagmann instructed them to perform invasive procedures on one another, insert catheters into one another, organized “shock labs” that involved withdrawing large amounts of blood from medical students and had his students inject an anesthetic drug called ketamine to observe its effects on each other, according to the Virginia Board of Medicine.

On several occasions, those experiments reportedly took place while students were under the influence of alcohol. In one instance, they reportedly were instructed to drink eight ounces of rum within 30 minutes before being injected with ketamine.

In two incidents, Hagmann reportedly inspected students’ genitals in such a way that they felt uncomfortable.

The Virginia board wrote that Hagmann is a “substantial danger to the public health.”

Hagmann is the president of Deployment Medicine International, a Gig-Harbor-based company that has received more than $9.8 million in contracts to train military medics since 2008, according to federal records.

The events cited in the Virginia complaint reportedly took place in Virginia, North Carolina and the United Kingdom. Hagmann’s company holds training events from time to time in the Puget Sound region, but they did not come under the Virginia board’s scrutiny.

Hagmann has not led any recent training events at Madigan Army Medical Center, a hospital spokesman said. His company holds training events for Special Operations units several times a year in Gig Harbor, according to federal contracts and the company’s website.

Hagmann did not respond to phone message or an emailed request for comment from The News Tribune. An employee who answered the company’s phone Tuesday said Hagmann was traveling.

Reuters first reported on the suspension of Hagmann’s Virginia medical license. He told Reuters his courses complied with military training protocol and with Virginia’s guidelines.

“The mechanisms and protocols utilized in the training all comply with standard practices for training medical students and are, in fact, utilized in medical schools in Virginia,” he told Reuters.

Hagmann told Reuters the “claims of sexual misconduct cause me the most anguish. Absolutely no ‘sexual gratification’ was involved and there is no evidence of such.”

The Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, which oversees training of military health professionals, has referred complaints about Hagmann to the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, a spokesman said. The investigative agency would not confirm whether it had opened a case on Hagmann.

Hagmann first received a license to practice medicine in Washington state in 1989. His license here is in good standing.

He served in the Army from 1980 to 2000, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. Hagmann began his career in Army medicine at Fort Lewis, serving there in a residency and in an Army support battalion from 1981 to 1985, according to Army Human Resources Command.

Hagmann and his company have been targets of animal rights activists for several years because his classes sometimes incorporate live animals, a practice that is allowed in military medical training.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals this week released an undercover video it created showing pigs being shot during Deployment Medicine International training events. PETA claims that Hagmann’s company has destroyed some 14,000 pigs.

PETA on Monday sent a letter to Jon Wiesman, secretary of Washington state’s Department of Health, asking him to open a local investigation into Hagmann and to block upcoming training events. The state Department of Health has not opened an investigation into Hagmann, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Georgia Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, last week wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter requesting an investigation into the military’s work with Hagmann. Johnson has written legislation to curtail the military’s use of live animals during medical training.

“I know you are as horrified as I am by what has been revealed here,” Johnson wrote to Carter.

Carter has received the letter but not responded to it, a spokesman for Johnson said.