Merced dentist accused in sex case

Merced arrest follows report made by patient

vpatton@mercedsunstar.comOctober 31, 2012 

— A Merced dentist was arrested on Tuesday by police, accused of sexually assaulting a patient under sedation.

Sang Hyuk Park, 43, was taken into custody around 10 a.m. after the patient contacted Merced police, reporting an incident of assault by Park alleged to have happened while receiving dental work. The victim reported being in and out of consciousness, and awakening with his or her pants down and Park exposing himself, according to Lt. Tom Trindad.

Police haven't released the gender or age of the alleged victim.

The person reported the incident on Oct. 23, and police arrested Park after serving a search warrant Tuesday at his office at 3040 Park Ave., Suite H. While serving the warrant, police seized a photograph from Park's office that "helped out" with their investigation, Trindad said, although he wouldn't elaborate further about the evidence.

Park was booked at the Merced County Jail on suspicion of felony sexual battery involving a restrained person and misdemeanor sexual battery. He was released after posting bail, police said.

No one was at Park's office on Wednesday. A sign posted on the front door said the office is closed until Thursday. Efforts to reach Park for comment were unsuccessful on Wednesday.

According to records from the state's Department of Consumer Affairs, the state had considered revoking Park's license in May 2009 after a variety of alleged violations surfaced against him, including unprofessional conduct such as subjecting patients to unneeded procedures, including extracting teeth when it wasn't necessary.

Rather than revoke Park's license, the state placed Park on probation for a period of three years. According to state documents, Park had garnered the nickname "Speedy Gonzales" when working for Hatch Dental between January and April 2001, because he could perform more dental procedures on more patients in a shorter amount of time than his fellow dentists.

According to state documents, Park was accused of insurance fraud, and "charting, documenting, billing and submitting claims for and/accepting payment for dental work that was in excess of what could reasonably be accomplished by a competent dentist" during his time at Hatch Dental.

Police are asking anyone who believes they may have been a victim -- or has information about the case -- to call Detective Raquel Rios at (209) 388-7766. People can text a tip to TIP411 (847411) using "comvip" as the first word in the message. Tips are kept confidential, and those providing tips can remain anonymous.

City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsunstar.com.