(Editor’s note: As general policy, WECT does not identify victims who claim they were sexually assaulted. Ms. Bentley gave permission to be identified for this story in order to encourage others to speak up.)
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Crystal Bentley walked into Wilmington Oral Surgery on Feb. 12, 2016, to see Dr. Michael Hasson for a medical procedure, an event she said leaves her traumatized to this day.
“I am epileptic and I grit my teeth, so I was there to have four teeth removed,” Bentley recalled.
She made her way back into a patient room and met with Hasson and one of his female nurses prior to surgery.
“He introduced himself and the nurse was in there with him before I fell asleep,” Bentley said.
Hasson, who was arrested on Jan. 31 by the Wilmington Police Department, is accused of sexually abusing several of his patients while they were under anesthesia between 2009-18.
Bentley said after she woke up from surgery, she was still in a daze due to the anesthesia but was alarmed as she was looking around.
“When I woke up, my shirt was missing, along with my bra, and my pants were unbuttoned,” Bentley said.
Bentley said she confronted Hasson while lying in the dental chair, trying to fully wake up.
“He told me that something had gotten on my shirt and I was like, ‘Well, OK,’” Bentley said.
According to Bentley, a nurse gave her a surgical smock to wear home since her shirt was missing. When she arrived home and started her recovery, Bentley said she discovered something as equally disturbing as what she woke up to in the surgery room.
“I noticed I had a big rip in my underwear, and I don’t wear drawers with holes,” she said. “I knew that and everything else that had happened was just not normal.”
A few days later, Bentley returned to Hasson’s office to get a wire removed. Feeling uncomfortable from what she says unfolded days before, she decided to confront Hasson.
“I started questioning him,” Bentley said. “I asked him where my shirt and bra were because I still didn’t have it. He refused to answer anything and told a nurse to handle it.”
Alarmed, Bentley went to the Wilmington Police Department on Feb. 15, 2016, to file a report, claiming she was sexually assaulted by Hasson. She said she was given a business card with a report number and told to return in 72 hours to pick it up.
Bentley returned, but there was no police report waiting.
WECT checked in with Wilmington police, who stated they had no record of her report. However, Bentley returned to the police department on Wednesday and met with a detective. The WPD confirmed it is investigating Bentley’s claims and a report was filed this week.
There are 23 alleged victims who investigators say were sexually abused while under anesthesia at Hasson’s office. The youngest alleged victim is believed to be 12 years old at the time of offense. The oldest is 69.
In total, Hasson faces 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.
Those who have come forward are from New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender and Onslow counties.
Bentley said after she filed her initial report in 2016, she decided to wait and take a backseat, feeling that no one would believe her claims against Hasson.
“I am a middle-class person. Who is going to believe me over a big old doctor?” she asked. “He has money, I don’t.”
Bentley posted on Facebook in late March after seeing WECT’s reporting on Hasson and felt it was her time to come forward to not only tell her story but to circle back with police.
“When I saw him on the news, I grinned. I was like, ‘You finally got busted,’ but at the same time, I was heartbroken,” Bentley said. “None of these women deserve this.”
She continues to have one glaring question about her alleged ordeal in Hasson’s office in 2016.
“There was a nurse in there when I fell asleep and there was a nurse in there when I woke up, but where was she during my procedure?” Bentley asked.
Bentley said she has a tough time trusting doctors or medical professionals after what she claimed happened to her.
“How do I trust anyone? When you are under anesthesia, you don’t know what’s happening,” she said. “I hope he gets jail time. I’d like to see justice, and I have a feeling more women are out there and they will come forward.”
Hasson remains in the New Hanover County Detention Center under a $500,000 bond.
The North Carolina Dental Board of Examiners was set to hold a hearing on Saturday regarding the summary suspension of Hasson’s license, but this week, Hasson waived his right to that hearing.
His next court date is April 25.
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