The acquittal of a dentist on sexual assault charges illustrates the importance of the precautions that dentists should take in examining patients of the opposite sex, according to his attorney.
On November 14, a judge acquitted Norman Demos, D.M.D., of charges that he sexually assaulted a patient in his McKeesport, PA, general practice.
The attorney for Dr. Demos, argued that his accuser had a history of making false statements to police. "She is a stoned drug addict with a long history of retail theft," attorney John L. Elash said.
McKeesport police and Allegheny County prosecutors did not return calls asking for comment.
The woman accused Dr. Demos of groping her breasts and genitals when she came to his office for an x-ray. "The charges were of a ridiculous nature," Elash said.
He pointed out that Dr. Demos' wife, who works in the office, was "8 feet away" during the time of the alleged assault, and a dental assistant was present as well. He advised all dentists to keep operatory doors open while examining patients and ensure that someone else is in the room.
Why would a patient falsely accuse a dentist of molestation? Elash speculated that she might have wanted attention, might have hoped she would be prescribed drugs for her trauma, or might have hoped to win money in a lawsuit. He recommended that dentists pay close attention to medications that might affect their patients' judgment.
Elash also speculated that Dr. Demos' accuser was inspired by the case of Pittsburgh oral and maxillofacial surgeon Robert Boyda Jr., who faces charges of sexually molesting 20 women while they were under sedation.
In addition, two California dentists have recently been arrested on charges of sexually assaulting patients.
Dr. Boyda is scheduled to go to trial the last week in April 2009, according to his attorney, William Difenderfer. "We're very adamant about his innocence," Difenderfer said.
Difenderfer declined to comment on why so many women had accused his client of molesting them, but a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter speculated that he might argue that sedation drugs such as propofol (Diprivan) caused them to have sexual hallucinations.