An attorney for South Ogden dentist and convicted child sex abuser Gregg "Skipp" Nielsen accused the state Friday of vilifying his client and pressuring a licensing board to revoke his license.
"The state is attempting to convince you that this man is a monster, a knuckle-dragging beast," attorney John T. Nielsen told members of the Dental and Dental Hygienists Licensing Board. "But you've heard nothing new. There's no reason that you need to change your decision."Following a hearing last August, the same board placed Nielsen's license to practice on a five-year probation and restricted him from practicing on women younger than 18 years old.
But at a rare review hearing requested by the Utah attorney general, the board was asked to reconsider its decision and revoke Nielsen's license.
"This board should not be saying to him or the public that he is fit to hold a license," said Deputy Solicitor General Annina Mitchell, who represented the attorney general. "If Dr. Nielsen is not a person whose license should be revoked, who is? What would they have to do to have their license revoked?"
After the nearly five-hour hearing, board members took the matter under advisement.
It may take up to two weeks for a decision. The board's recommendation will be given to Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing Director Dave Robinson, who can then modify, approve or reject it.
Nielsen was convicted of three counts of second-degree felony sexual abuse of a child and two counts of attempted sexual abuse of a child, a third-degree felony.
The charges carry a maximum sentence of one to 15 years, but 2nd District Judge Stanton Taylor sentenced him to a one-year jail term, granting Nielsen work-release and later allowing him to finish the sentence at an Ogden half-way house.
At his sentencing, prosecutor Gary Heward said the charges resulted from more than 100 incidents of illicit contact that stopped short of sexual intercourse.
Nielsen will complete his sentence April 21.
Nielsen's attorney, who is not related to his client, urged the board not to succumb to pressure from state prosecutors.
"You're being told that you didn't understand the facts, that you incorrectly analyzed the law," Nielsen said. "It's a direct attack on your ability to analyze the facts and make an unbiased decision."
Assistant Attorney General Robert Steed, representing the division, said the board should consider how its decision will affect the public as well the profession.
"This result will have a longstanding impact on the ability to . . . deny a license to an applicant who has participated in sexual misconduct," Steed said.
"This is an egregious case. The violent acts that have occurred . . . unquestionably reflect upon his character and fitness to practice as a dentist."
Before arguments got under way Friday, administrative law Judge Steven Eklund recused board mem-bers Dr. Floyd Tanner, a Murray dentist, and William Dunn, the board's lay representative.
Mitchell asked that Dunn be removed after he admitted he had not read all of the prosecution's evidentiary documents before making his decision at the original hearing.
The judge questioned whether Tanner, who voiced his opinion about the case to other board members, should remain.
"I believe there is enough of a doubt or a cloud of his ability (to be impartial) that he should also be recused," Eklund said.
One of Nielsen's victims, Jodi Burton, has filed a civil suit against the dentist and his wife, Barbara, alleging she witnessed one or more acts of sexual abuse by her husband over a two-year period and did nothing to stop it.
Burton was 12 at the time of the abuse and lived next door to the Nielsens. The dentist hired her to work in his office.