Merced dentist asks for license to be reinstated

Amid sex-abuse case, he seeks to work under supervision

yamaro@mercedsunstar.comDecember 18, 2012 

MS dentist Park

MARCI STENBERG/mstenberg@mercedsunstar.com Sang Hyuk Park dentist at Park Family Dentistry at 3040 Park has been charged with sexual assault.

MARCI STENBERG

— A Merced dentist accused of sexually abusing four female patients had a hearing in Sacramento on Tuesday to ask for a modification on his temporarily suspended license so he could practice under certain restrictions.

A state officials said no decision was made regarding the request.

The court of the state's Office of Administrative Hearings in Sacramento will issue a ruling Dec. 26, said Russ Heimerich, spokesman for the state Department of Consumer Affairs.

Heimerich said he believed the modification Dr. Sang Hyuk Park asked for was to allow him to treat male patients with a chaperon. Earlier this month, an administrative law judge temporarily suspended Park's license.

The state attorney general's office brought a case against Park on behalf of the state's dental board because of the criminal case pending against him in Merced County Superior Court.

Four women told Merced police they were sexually abused, some while sedated, when they were patients at his dental office. Park, who's facing six counts of sexual abuse, remains free on bail.

"We still believe that he needs to be out of practice," Heimerich said. "We still believe that the interim suspension should remain in effect."

The Dental Board of California plans to file an accusation seeking to permanently prevent Park from practicing. Officials plan to file the accusation soon, Heimerich said.

"We are just glad that his license is still suspended and that he's not in a position to harm anybody," he said.

Defense lawyers Robert Zimmerman and Andrew Larsen are representing Park before the dental board. Larsen affirmed that the administrative court will rule Dec. 26 whether to modify or keep in place the suspension that previously was issued.

Larsen said he wouldn't comment on the arguments or comments that took place during Tuesday's hearing. "But again, we deny the allegations that are being made," he added.

After the ruling later this month, both parties will have time to investigate the allegations. The parties then will come together to discuss their findings, Larsen said.

At that point, there will be a full hearing on the merits of the case. The hearing will include witnesses and documents, he said. That's when the administrative court will issue a full decision.

Park's office must remain closed during his suspension, except for administrative purposes, according to court documents.

As part of the judge's decision, Park was required to notify patients immediately of his temporary license suspension earlier this month to allow them to make other arrangements for dental treatment.

Park was arrested in late October after a woman contacted Merced police, saying she'd been abused while receiving dental work. The woman told police she had been in and out of consciousness but awoke to find that some of her clothing had been removed and to see Park exposing himself.

Three additional women subsequently came forward to report similar allegations, prosecutors said.

The women claim they were inappropriately touched. Others claimed Park took inappropriate pictures of them while in his care.

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or yamaro@mercedsunstar.com.