NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The medical license of a government contractor was revoked Friday after Army medical students testified about a series of bizarre, invasive and sexually tinged battlefield-trauma procedures he subjected them to.
The Virginia Board of Medicine acted after a daylong hearing involving accusations against Dr. John H. Hagmann, according to news media reports.
His license had been temporarily suspended in March, with the board citing a substantial danger to the public health or safety.
Army medical students testified that Hagmann subjected them to risky experiments and sexual exploitation. He also was accused of using hallucinogenic drugs and alcohol as part of his battlefield-medicine training courses.
The Washington Post reported that board members repeatedly expressed shock at the testimony, while praising students for their courage to challenge the military and medical-school hierarchy.
"I'm sort of speechless," said Kevin O'Connor, the Virginia medical board chairman.
Assistant Attorney General Frank Pedrotty said, "The evidence is so overwhelming and so bizarre as to almost shock the conscience of a prosecutor who's been doing this for 26 years before this board."
The allegations against Hagmann were first reported by Reuters.
Hagmann did not appear at Friday's hearing. His attorney, Ramon Rodriguez, said he had notified the board his client wouldn't be present.
"Despite having advanced knowledge of this fact and other concerns to reschedule the hearing, the Board of Medicine has decided to proceed in Dr. Hagmann's absence," Rodriguez wrote in an email to The Associated Press ahead of the meeting.
In a "statement of particulars" outlining the board's case, Hagmann photographed and manipulated a drunk student's genitals; told students to quickly consume alcohol and then injected them with a hallucinogen to test its effects on their cognitive skills; and encouraged students to practice inserting catheters into each other without proper training or need.
Hagmann told Reuters via email that he didn't violate any rules, nobody was harmed and that Virginia authorities have misapplied rules that pertain to patients, not trainees.
"There were no 'patients' and no 'physician-patient relationships' involved — only students undergoing training," Hagmann said. "In 25 years no one has ever been harmed. What military training — or even most sports — can report that?"
Hagmann had separately come under scrutiny from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The Norfolk-based group had been looking into how his business, Deployment Medicine International, used more than 14,000 pigs during its trauma training and has asked the Defense Department to stop doing business with Hagmann.
DMI says it has trained physicians, combat medics, soldiers, law enforcement and bodyguards for more than 15 years. A company brochure posted online claims DMI is the single largest trainer of U.S. military forces in operational medicine. Hagmann is a retired Army doctor.
DMI is based in Gig Harbor, Washington, but Hagmann conducts training in several locations, including a 32-acre farm near Partlow, Virginia, about 40 miles north of Richmond. There, state investigators said he conducted a "cognition lab." That consisted of telling participants in 2013 to complete a cognitive test before and after drinking eight ounces of bourbon in less than 30 minutes, and encouraging them to chase the liquor with beer.
State investigators also say Hagmann told students in 2012 at Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland, to drink large amounts of liquor and beer. He then injected them with ketamine, a hallucinogen, so he could assess the effects of the substances on their cognition.
The report also says Hagmann conducted "shock labs" at the university, which consisted of withdrawing blood from medical students, monitoring them for severe blood and fluid loss that can make the heart unable to pump enough blood to the body and can cause organs to stop working, and then auto-transfusing their blood back to them.
In 2013, the report says, students were encouraged to practice inserting catheters into one another after watching a video on the procedure at Hagmann's 20-acre facility in Pink Hill, North Carolina. When students became reluctant to participate, Hagmann volunteered to be the first subject and made demeaning remarks to men who didn't volunteer, according to the report.
That July, several students reported being told to drink at least 8 ounces of rum in 10 minutes as part of a "cognition lab" and then being injected with ketamine to experience its effects. Two students who received ketamine were given a local anesthetic typically used for procedures such as circumcisions.
That same year, Hagmann and a student were drinking beer when he asked the student questions about his uncircumcised penis, masturbation and sex. He also asked to photograph the student's penis, and the student said he was drunk and didn't feel he could refuse, the report said. Hagmann purportedly wanted to use the photos as a "training tool."
Brock Vergakis can be reached at http://twitter.com/BrockVergakis.