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Four Women Sue Santa Fe Dental Clinic

Associated Press
      SANTA FE — Former employees of a Santa Fe dental clinic have sued the clinic, two dentists, a former dental assistant and their boss, alleging sexual harassment and discrimination.
    The 66-page lawsuit was filed Monday against Small Smiles Dental Clinic, operated by Colorado-based FORBA.
    An attorney for the company denied the allegations and described the four women who sued as disgruntled former employees.
    ''We have conducted a thorough investigation of all of those exact allegations, as set forth in the letter from their attorney, and (found them to be) absolutely unsubstantiated,'' said Joe Bower, who spoke on behalf of Drs. Patrick McQuitty and Melvin Takaki at the Santa Fe office; dental assistant Josh Neil, who now works at Small Smiles in Albuquerque; and Dr. Daniel DeRose, who works in the company's Colorado office.
    The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, alleges the women were fired in retaliation and have suffered financially.
    Bower said, however, two were fired for violating attendance policies and the other two resigned.
    The lawsuit filed by Debra Lopez, Kathy Romero, Monika Sandoval and Shantel Ulibarri describes an unprofessional, hostile workplace. It accuses two of the dentists of sexual assault on two of the women and accuses one dentist of battery upon some patients.
    The clinic specializes in treating children from low-income families.
    The lawsuit alleged one dentist used physical force to stop patients from crying, and one dentist had sex on the job with workers who consented and maligned those who refused his advances. It also alleges dentists touched workers in a sexual manner, groped themselves and made lewd sexual comments.
    In addition, the lawsuit alleges instruments were not properly sterilized between patients and that unqualified workers were allowed to write prescriptions and operate the X-ray machine.
    ''Absolutely, 100 percent untrue,'' Bower said.

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