Legal Aspects of Sexual Assault During Wisdom Teeth Removal

As has been discussed on this site before, sexual assault can and does happen during wisdom teeth removal. Its a grim reality that happens more frequently than one would think. See for example the posts Teenager Sexually Assaulted by Dental Assistant during Wisdom Teeth Removal, Dentist Who Groped Patients Sentenced to Jail, and Recent Cases of Dentist Assistant Sexual Assault During Wisdom Teeth Removal along with where cases of sexual assault occurring during wisdom teeth surgery are described.

When such cases occur, this can cause the victims to want to bring civil cases against the dentist or oral surgeon. There are also criminal charges that can filed by the federal or state government. Thus it is important to understand the differences between civil and criminal law. When a civil dispute occurs between the private rights of individuals, civil litigation or a civil lawsuit can result. Anyone who is injured can sue civilly and the injured party is known as the plaintiff. The goal of civil litigation is for the plaintiff to be compensated, usually with money, for any injuries. The alleged wrongdoer who is being sued is known as the defendant (this term is used in both civil and criminal cases). With civil litigation there is also a harm requirement where there must be evidence of harm and a need to compensate the plaintiff. With criminal prosecution, the government purses the case and there is an attorney who represents the government. A criminal case occurs when the defendant violates any federal or state laws. The goal of a criminal case is to punish the defendant.

There are different lawyers that are needed for plaintiffs and defendants. In a civil case both the plaintiff and defendant must hire and pay for their own attorney. However, in a criminal case a defendant is entitled to a free attorney in the U.S. if they can’t afford one known as a public defender. In the case of sexual assault cases after wisdom teeth removal, dentists, oral surgeons, and their staffs need a reputable law firm to defend themselves such as Mike G Law. These cases are not always cut and dry. In some cases there is videographic or photographic evidence of the assault occurring which can be nearly impossible to defend against. However, in other cases it is possible sexual dreams or hallucinations while under anesthestics were experienced by the patients. It can be difficult to distinguish between dreams and actual molestation legally.

dentist office female patient - Legal Aspects of Sexual Assault During Wisdom Teeth Removal
This image is from Pixabay and has a Pixabay license.

In a recent example of both the criminal and civil law aspects of sexual assault for wisdom teeth removal as discussed by WECT News (WECT, “Judge orders dentist accused of sexually abusing patients pay $4M to accuser in civil case,” February 21, 2020), an oral surgeon in North Carolina had both a civil case and criminal charges brought against him. He had at least 30 criminal charges filed which included one count of felony statutory rape, 17 counts of misdemeanor sexual battery, three counts of felony indecent liberties with a child, and nine counts of felony second-degree forcible sex offense. He also had a civil case filed against him by one of the alleged victims who alleged gross negligence, assault and battery, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. According to this case, while the woman had her wisdom teeth extracted in January 2019, before the sedation she was given went fully into affect, he took her hand and used it to rub again his own groin area. He also fondled her breasts which occurred somehow with a nurse in the room. Twenty two other alleged victims were assaulted by the oral surgeon at his office during their procedures. A judge awarded the woman who brought the civil case $4 million including $3 million in punitive damages and $1 million in compensatory damages.

While the example case as above doesn’t occur every day, it is still important that both patients and doctors alike understand some of the legal aspects of the law when it comes to sexual assault that may occur during wisdom teeth surgery.

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