Dentist charged in assault may treat patients

No suspension, but board imposes restrictions

August 04, 2002|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

An Ellicott City dentist charged with sexually assaulting a 22-year-old female patient this year may still treat patients, but he can't be alone with them in an examination room, administer nitrous oxide or prescribe drugs, the state dental board has ruled.

The Maryland State Board of Dental Examiners stopped short of suspending Dr. Evan C. DePadua's license in its order, saying instead that the restrictions - issued "indefinitely" - should remove any "threat posed" by his "continued practice" while his criminal case is pending.

Still, the board said it was concerned by what it termed a "disturbing pattern of unprofessional conduct" detailed by complaints made by four female patients, including the 22-year-old.

Those complaints alleged inappropriate touching and comments about their bodies and lingerie, as well as a claim that DePadua left a sedated patient alone in an examination room, according to the order.

The order, signed July 3, notes that DePadua, 37, agreed to the restrictions.

"He was willing to do the restrictions rather than have a full hearing" before his trial Aug. 21, said attorney T. Joseph Touhey, who represents DePadua.

DePadua, who practices in the 10300 block of Baltimore National Pike, was seeing patients Friday, according to a woman who answered the phone at his office.

DePadua, who has been licensed in Maryland since 1997, was arrested on charges of fourth-degree sex offense and misdemeanor assault in January after a patient alleged that he sedated her with nitrous oxide, unzipped her pants and rubbed her thighs during an orthodontic visit "in a manner that made her feel uncomfortable," according to charging documents.

The 22-year-old woman said DePadua told her he was testing for a jaw disorder at the time.

Investigators arrested him after he gave them a "confession confirming [the woman's] allegations," according to the charging document.

The order from the state dental board provides additional information from the woman's case - including allegations that DePadua often told her to unbutton her pants during visits and once asked her to take off her blouse.

Yesterday, Touhey called the criminal allegations "bizarre."

"Certainly, his perception of what occurred and her perception are two different spheres," he said.

After DePadua's arrest, three other patients came forward with allegations against the dentist, according to the dental board order. None of the allegations resulted in criminal charges:

A 14-year old girl told authorities that during her first visit to DePadua in June 2001, he pushed her legs apart, told her that "opening her legs would make her throat open further" and talked about her menstrual cycle.

A girl who started seeing DePadua for orthodontics in September 2000, when she was 11, alleged that she was once left alone for several minutes while sedated.

A 43-year-old woman claimed that DePadua commented on her colorful bra, began touching her and was "moving toward her chest" when she asked him, "How far are you going to go?"

Touhey minimized the complaints yesterday, saying that they, too, were about "perception" and noted that the patients did not complain at the time they said the incidents occurred.

"It's my belief that all these complaints arose after the fact of the publicity for this case," he said.

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