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STATE URGES BOARD TO PROTECT KIDS BY YANKING DENTIST’S LICENSE

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A state prosecutor pleaded with the dental licensing board Friday to revoke the license of an Ogden dentist convicted earlier this year of sexually abusing three young girls.

He said Dr. Gregg Terry Nielsen could not be trusted and was a public safety risk as a practicing dentist."Protect the public, protect us from Dr. Nielsen," assistant attorney general Robert Steed said.

Nielsen pleaded guilty in March to five felony counts of child sexual abuse. He admitted to fondling three female children, two of whom were neighbors and friends of his own children. One of the incidents of abuse involved a patient and took place in his clinic. But Nielsen contends it happened after hours and not while he was treating her.

A petition was filed in April by the state Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing seeking revocation of Nielsen's licenses to practice dentistry and prescribe medication based on the conviction. Friday's five-hour hearing before the state Dentists and Dental Hygienists Board was held to hear arguments for and against yanking Nielsen's professional licenses.

"I would plead for your compassion and understanding," Nielsen said. "Give me the opportunity to make the division and community proud of giving me another chance."

Otherwise, the 48-year-old dentist said he would be forced to file bankruptcy if he couldn't practice. "I have no other training in any other area," he said.

But Steed said that's tough. "The consequences of his actions are his responsibility, not yours," Steed told the panel of practicing dentists and hygienists.

"Don't take the responsibility to carve out an exception . . . if there ever was a case for revocation, this is it," he said, reminding the board that it revoked the license of another convicted child sex abuser several years ago.

Nielsen, who served in a Mormon church bishopric when one incident of abuse occurred, said he is undergoing therapy and learning why he committed the crimes. He said he is not a pedophile but someone suffering from low self-esteem, which was the underlying cause of his behavior.

He said the most recent incidents of abuse, which occurred in December, were personal "cries for help to clear this up." He was arrested a month later.

Nielsen, who is married with eight children, is serving a one-year sentence in the Weber County Jail for his crimes. He must also pay for his own counseling and that of his victims. Through daytime release from jail, Nielsen has been able to maintain his private practice with the restriction of not treating females under 18 years of age.

His attorney asked the board to consider allowing his client to practice under continued restrictions and board oversight.

"Until this proceeding no one has suggested he shouldn't practice," said Nielsen's attorney, John T. Nielsen, who is not related to his client. "Revocation is in no one's interest. It's not what his patients want."

Nielsen attempted to close the hearing to public and press to save his client from enduring the humiliation of having details of his admitted crimes publicly aired again. But the board rejected the request, noting that its has never closed a hearing and didn't want to change that policy.

The board is expected to hand down its ruling on what action, if any, to take against Nielsen within a month.