Dentist Accused Of Fondling Teens Cleared Of Charges
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UPDATE: Dr. Panos was found not guilty of the charges involving both teenagers in this case–the first in June and the second in August, 2012. As a result, the Department Of Professional Regulation has lifted the order requiring a chaperone during patient visits.
CHICAGO (CBS) — An 81-year-old Northwest Side dentist was being held on $300,000 bond Wednesday night, charged with fondling a teenage girl in his office while he was free on bond for charges in a similar case.
As CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports, Dr. Ernest Panos, a dentist with an orthodontic specialty who’s been practicing for almost half a century, was charged Wednesday with one felony count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a child.
Defense attorney Brunell Donald-Kyei accused prosecutors of “railroading, persecution, abuse of power. … It’s about using the color of law to perpetuate an injustice.”
Panos is accused of fondling a 15-year-old girl, a patient, at his office in August 2010 and on Nov. 28 of this year.
He had already been free on bond after being charged last year with fondling a 13-year-old girl at his office in August 2010.
In that case, prosecutors said Panos met the girl alone in an examination room while her mother waited for her in her car. He allegedly told the victim she was gorgeous, blew kisses at her, then fondled her over her clothing and left the room.
Panos was arrested about a week after allegedly fondling the first girl, charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse. But the charges were dropped, then re-filed in November 2010.
Donald-Kyei claimed the charges were re-filed because Panos refused to pay $3,000 in cash to a relative of the teenager. She disputed claims from the prosecution that the man was trying to get a refund from Panos’ office.
“This is a man who had never been to the office, not one time, and this is a man who was a bouncer. My client is an 81-year-old man and a young man he’s never seen before comes into his office and he’s demanding a refund? We say extortion, you came for money,” Donald Kyei said.
She also claimed the first girl who accused Panos of fondling her made an appointment to see Panos again immediately after the alleged fondling.
After the charges in the first case were refilled last year, Panos was freed on bond pending his trial and allowed to practice, with the condition that a nurse chaperone be at his side at all times.
Then about two weeks ago, a 15-year-old girl claimed that Panos fondled her in the office and he was arrested again.
“According to the alleged victim, the nurse chaperone left her in the room with Dr. Panos and that’s when he allegedly touched her. I spoke with the nurse chaperone and she never left that client,” Donald-Kyei said.
Nick Maris, an employee at Panos’ office said “I think he’s a good guy” and not the kind of person who would fondle a teenage girl.
Donald-Kyei said, “The truth will always come out. It’s just like pregnancy, it’s going to show.”
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office did not return calls for an interview about the case.