Accused of groping his female patients, a Lodi dentist now faces 13 counts of sexual battery, one of which is a felony.
Ahmed Bakr pleaded not guilty Wednesday to seven new charges of sexual battery, which were filed after more alleged victims came forward, San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Brian Short said in Lodi court.
Also Wednesday, a Lodi judge refused to lower Bakr's bail of $500,000, even after Bakr's attorney said his client would be willing to surrender his passport, wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet and even submit to home detention. Standard bail on a felony sexual battery charge is $25,000, defense attorney Gregory Davenport said.
Judge David P. Warner declined to change the bail, saying it could be addressed again after a preliminary hearing scheduled for Nov. 9.
Bail was set at $500,000 at Bakr's initial arraignment Oct. 18. That was just a few days after a bail bondsman arrested Bakr after learning that the dentist was reportedly planning to leave the country.
The person who initially posted $31,666 bail contacted the bond agent, saying Bakr was leaving Oct. 16 for Egypt on a 7 a.m. flight from San Francisco, Short said. When the bond agent arrived at Bakr's house to arrest him a day before the flight, he saw a large amount of cash along with packed suitcases, Short said.
Davenport denied that assertion after court, saying, "He wasn't leaving the country, he didn't have a plane ticket."
He said Bakr's brother is a physician who lives in Lodi, that Bakr owns property in the area and that he has lived in the United States for about a decade. Bakr wants to remain in Lodi to fight the charges against him, Davenport said.
Bakr was initially arrested Oct. 1 and accused of inappropriately touching a female patient at Western Dental, 320 S. Cherokee Lane. He posted bail that day.
Short said Wednesday that a total of nine victims, all claiming to have been touched inappropriately between April and October, have since come forward. He said he wouldn't be surprised if even more people complain of Bakr's alleged inappropriate behavior.
The felony charge relates to unlawfully touching a restrained person, in this case a patient who was "restrained and unable to resist based on the dental procedure," Short said, declining to comment on the details of the dental work.
Some of the alleged victims have contacted lawyers, and civil attorney Michael Babitzke said outside court that he and attorney Jeff Silvia are representing several of them.
Babitzke placed an ad that ran on Page 2 in Wednesday's News-Sentinel, reading "Urgent" and "You may be a a victim of misconduct!!!" with his name and telephone number, looking for people who may have been treated by Bakr.
Davenport gave Warner a copy of the ad, saying that he believed financial motives could be behind the case.
Davenport, who focuses on criminal work, said Bakr does not have a civil attorney yet and that he has not been served with a lawsuit. Earlier this month, Lodi attorney Kristi Fluetsch served both Bakr and Western Dental with a 90-day notice of intent to sue on behalf of a female patient.
Western Dental would not comment, except to say through a spokeswoman that Bakr is no longer employed with the company.
Bakr, who received his dental license in 2002, agreed Wednesday not to practice on any female patients until the criminal case is resolved.
However, once the case is resolved, the state could still file administrative action regarding Bakr's license, Deputy Attorney General Geoff Allen said in court Wednesday.
Contact reporter Layla Bohm at email@example.com.