Dentist accused of sexual assault hires attorney

vpatton@mercedsunstar.comNovember 1, 2012 

A Merced dentist accused of sexually assaulting one of his patients has retained Sacramento-based attorney Thomas Johnson to represent him.

The dentist, 43-year-old Sang Hyuk Park, is accused of assaulting a sedated patient at his 3040 Park Ave., Suite H, office. Park's office was open for business on Thursday, although all questions from the media were referred to Johnson.

An arraignment date hasn't been set, and Park remains free on bail. Chief Deputy District Attorney Rob Carroll said his office hasn't received the police reports or filed charges.

Johnson said his client maintains his innocence, saying he questions whether Merced police conducted a thorough investigation in the case.

Park's attorney called the decision by the Police Department to arrest Park "rash." He said the department should have let the district attorney's office decide whether there was enough evidence to arrest Park.

"Two or three days of an investigation is not usually thorough," Johnson said.

Lt. Tom Trindad, spokesman for the Merced Police Department, said there was ample evidence to make an arrest in the case. "We take these cases very seriously," Trindad said. "The attorney has a right to his opinion, but we wouldn't have taken the action if there wasn't probable cause."

Following up on calls

Trindad said the investigation remains open, and detectives are following up on phone calls they've received about the case.

The incident was reported Oct. 23, and police arrested Park after serving a search warrant Tuesday at his office. He was booked at the Merced County Jail on suspicion of felony sexual battery involving a restrained person, and misdemeanor sexual battery.

Police are asking anyone who believes he or she may have been a victim or has information about the case to call Detective Raquel Rios at (209) 388-7766. 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.