Ex-dentist wants lewd charge tossed out
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | January 05,2013
An embattled Rutland dentist faced with two dozen criminal charges was in court this week asking a Rutland judge to dismiss one of them.
Dr. Peter Gray, who for years operated a practice on Allen Street, pleaded innocent in 2010 to 23 felony counts of making fraudulent claims of service to the Medicaid program. Those charges have yet to go to trial.
But it was a single count of felony lewd and lascivious conduct that Gray and his attorney James Dingley asked to have thrown out at a hearing in Rutland criminal court Thursday.
Gray, who closed his practice last year and surrendered his license following a decision by the Vermont Board of Dental Examiners, pleaded innocent last year to molesting one of his patients who was recovering from anesthesia following a procedure in 2006.
The case is set to go to trial, but Dingley argued that it had no business going that far based on what he said was the scant evidence against Gray.
“She can’t say who did it,” Dingley said. “There’s speculation that it’s the defendant, but she can’t say with her own five senses that it was the defendant Peter Gray.”
The woman who told police that she was touched inappropriately by Gray had come to his practice in July 2006 for a tooth extraction.
She was administered anaesthesia and, after the procedure, was moved to a recovery room.
The woman told police it was at some point while she recovered that she realized she was being kissed and rubbed in a sexual manner by a man. She also recalled someone entering the room and saying Gray’s name.
But Dingley said such evidence was hearsay — especially in light of the fact that police haven’t been able to find the person who walked in and said the dentist’s name.
Dingley also called to the stand Faith Dick, a surgical assistant who worked for Gray and who testified that the dentist could not have carried out the alleged offense.
“He was not alone with her,” Faith testified. “I can say that with 100-percent certainty.”
Dick, whose job it was to monitor recovering patients, said she sat in a room 15 feet away from the recovery area. After she and Gray helped the woman to the couch, the dentist didn’t return until it was time to help the woman leave, Dick said.
“He would have had to pass by my room on the way to the recovery room,” she said. “He never did.”
But Ultan Doyle, an assistant Vermont attorney general, said prosecutors had sufficient evidence to prove their case, which he argued should be decided by a jury, not a judge.
“We have very strong circumstantial evidence by virtue of the defendant being the only male present when she went under sedation and the only male present when she became lucid again,” Doyle said, noting that no other men worked or were present in Gray’s clinic that day.
Judge Theresa DiMauro didn’t issue a ruling from the bench, but she suggested the case should go to trial.
“That’s for a jury to decide between two disparate views,” DiMauro said during arguments concerning the woman’s statements and Dick’s testimony.