A lawsuit filed by two former dental clinic employees accuses a Wichita dentist of viewing pornographic videos in front of child patients while they were sedated.
The lawsuit, which alleges sexual harassment and racial discrimination, also says the dentist gave inadequate sedation to Hispanic and African-American children.
An attorney for the dental clinic said the allegation involving minority children is false and that other allegations will be contested.
The lawsuit has been filed by two former dental assistants, Ruby Anderson, who is African-American, and Kasmira Smith, who is white. Their accusations, filed in federal court on July 18, focus mainly on allegations against dentist David Brown. Brown could not be reached for comment.
Once, the two dental assistants saw Brown lower the front of his “scrub pants,” “revealing himself” to an employee in the receptionist area, the petition says.
The lawsuit does not say how much money the women are seeking.
Besides Brown, the lawsuit names as defendants Children’s Dentistry of Wichita and Matthew Healy and Stephen Moore and says they are dentists and owners or partners in the practice.
Among the allegations are that Anderson, one of the two plaintiffs, “heard Dr. Moore tell Dr. Brown that he was jeopardizing the practice” with inappropriate sexual behavior and that the defendants knew of workplace discrimination and failed to address it. Both plaintiffs asked Brown to change his behavior, but he did not, the lawsuit says. Brown still works in the practice, said attorney Ross Hollander.
Hollander, who represents the practice and two of the three dentists – Moore and Healy – said the clinic has always had a procedure by which employee complaints could be presented and could be reported to someone other than the dentist directly involved. “Never did either Smith or Anderson use that policy” or make verbal complaints, Hollander said Friday in an interview responding to the lawsuit.
Also, Hollander said, “They make this allegation regarding the treatment of minority children, and it is absolutely untrue.”
According to the plaintiffs’ claims filed in court, they witnessed Brown “perform procedures on Hispanic and African-American children with what appeared to be inadequate anesthesia. … At times he would extract a child’s tooth without adequate anesthesia” and sometimes “not begin the procedure until the anesthesia’s effect had already begun to wear off. Several assistants complained about these practices.”
The document also says Brown “would ridicule black and Hispanic patients more frequently than white patients.”
Hollander said Moore has had the practice for at least 30 years and that Brown joined it in 2005 or 2006 and Healy in 2009. All three are pediatric specialists. The practice operates a larger facility on North Collective Lane near East 21st and K-96 and a smaller facility near Central and Rock Road, Hollander said. He described it as a “very busy practice” where “parents have access to what treatment is being given to their kids.”
“We’re going to vigorously defend these claims,” Hollander said. “When the full story comes out, it’s going to be substantially different than what is being alleged.” He said he is preparing a response to be filed in court.
The lawsuit claims that while young patients were present and partly sedated, Brown made offensive comments about sex and women’s bodies.
The two women left their jobs with the clinic in October 2011. Throughout Anderson’s employment, which began in November 2008, “Brown engaged in sexually offensive and racially harassing behavior towards patients and towards Ms. Anderson,” the lawsuit says.
Gaye Tibbets, the attorney representing Smith, said, “My client is good at her job, and she would have stayed with her job if she didn’t have to live with that behavior.”