December 4, 2012

State suspends Merced dentist accused of sexual abuse

An administrative law judge on Monday temporarily suspended a Merced dentist from practicing, based on an ongoing criminal investigation where the dentist is accused of sexually abusing four women.

Dr. Sang Hyuk Park's suspension became effective immediately after a hearing at the Administrative Office of the Courts Monday afternoon in Sacramento, according to Russ Heimerich, spokesman for the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Heimerich said the state attorney general's office brought a case against Park on behalf of the state's dental board, due to his criminal matter pending in Merced County Superior Court.

Whenever a licensee is arrested, Heimerich said the dental board is typically notified, and proceedings at the state level can take place. Heimerich said the Merced County District Attorney's office, dental board and Merced police have all been collaborating in the case. "We are all working together to make sure that this individual doesn't harm anybody," Heimerich said.

Another state hearing is scheduled to take place on Dec. 18 in Sacramento, where Park's attorney will have an opportunity to present evidence, to appeal the interim order.

Park, a Stockton resident who has an office in Merced, is charged with five counts of sexual battery and one count of sexual penetration. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His attorney Thomas Johnson has maintained his client is innocent.

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

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

According to a police report, some of the women in the case claimed Park took inappropriate photos while they were under the influence of sedation medication.

Park remains free on bail.

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

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