A Lodi dentist facing charges of groping patients at his Cherokee Lane office pleaded not guilty Tuesday, while a judge set his bail at $500,000.
That's half of what a judge set last weekend when the dentist, 32-year-old Ahmed Bakr, was arrested by a bail agent after investigators learned he was reportedly planning on fleeing to his native Egypt.
San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge David Warner appeared to believe Bakr a flight risk by setting bail much higher that what is normal for misdemeanor charges. Deputy District Attorney Brian K. Short had asked that bail remain at $1 million because Bakr is not a U.S. citizen and the investigation is ongoing.
Also at Tuesday's brief court appearance, a Deputy Attorney General Geoff Allen representing the state's Dental Board asked the judge to impose a restriction on Bakr's license.
Bakr is accused of touching patients who had been administered a drug that produces a localized numbness. He is charged with six misdemeanor counts of sexual battery.
His defense attorney, Gregory R. Davenport, argued that his client poses no flight risk and was a professional in the Lodi community who could be released on his own recognizance.
"He wants to stay here. He wants to face these allegations he said are meritless," Davenport said.
He said the fact Bakr faces misdemeanor charges "speaks volumes" as to what his client is accused of doing.
Short said Bakr faces misdemeanor charges because there appears to have been no "skin-to-skin" touching in the reported incidents.
Bakr was arrested Oct. 1, but released after posting bail that day.
Following news of his arrest, other people contacted Lodi Police claiming they had also been touched inappropriately by Bakr.
Detective Reba Ridino, who is investigating the case, said she has confirmed five alleged victims and described Bakr's suspected actions as "unwanted touching."
Warner said the court will review the license restriction during a pretrial hearing set for Oct. 26 and scheduled the trial for Nov. 17.
Contact reporter Andrew Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org.