Trial set for dentist facing child endangerment charges

Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Gary Riddle

A trial date has not yet been set for a Scott City dentist charged with two felony counts of child endangerment.

A grand jury in Scott County indicted Dr. Gary L. Riddle on Nov. 16 with two felony charges of endangering the welfare of a child. An arrest warrant was served on Riddle Nov. 21 as part of a roundup by the Scott County Sheriff's Office. Riddle was released on bond the same day, Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter said.

The charges against Scott City's only dentist stem from an incident on May 19 when Riddle allegedly encouraged two children under 17 years of age to jump off the roof of his residence and into a swimming pool. Scott County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Boyd said it's his understanding that the two minors were attending a party at the Riddle residence. The juveniles are identified only by their initials in the felony indictment.

The Scott City Police Department investigated the incident. Chief Don Cobb said he expected the grand jury to reach an indictment in this case and that alcohol was not involved in the incident.

Seven witnesses from Scott City testified before the grand jury on behalf of the state, one of them a Scott City police officer.

Riddle declined to comment, as did his attorney, Frank C. Bertrand III.

Boyd said his office was originally seeking misdemeanor charges against Riddle, but decided to seek felony charges instead with the use of a grand jury that was already in session in the county. Boyd said he thought the felony charge was more appropriate given the nature of the alleged crime.

The Missouri Dental Board put Riddle's license on suspension in June based on reasons unrelated to this case. Riddle's license was suspended when he tested positive for Valium while his license was on probation for ethical violations, including a conviction of spousal abuse and suspicion of use of a controlled substance. Riddle plead guilty to third-degree domestic assault in March 2003.

Riddle appealed and the suspension was halted pending the outcome of the appeal, which is still pending, state dental board investigator Brian Barnett said.

Barnett said he couldn't speak directly about Riddle's case, but that discipline can only be taken against a dentist charged with a crime after a conviction, guilty plea or a plea of no contest. At that point it would be at the board's discretion to seek disciplinary action, which can be taken when crimes involve fraud, dishonesty, an act of violence or of "moral turpitude."

Each count of child endangerment is subject to a sentence of up to seven years in prison, up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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