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Dental abuse allegations spark town hall

Attorney says it's an epidemic of dental abuse

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An attorney held a town hall meeting Wednesday night about what he's calling an epidemic of dental abuse after allegations came to light about a dentist who was accused of harming children at his dental practice.

Aside from abuse allegations, pediatric dentist Dr. Howard S. Schneider is also facing a state Medicaid fraud investigation.

The town hall meeting wasn't just a panel where experts were helping parents and alleged victims, but saw attendees sharing their stories.

Patient after patient came forward all sharing one common story, stating that they were abused by Schneider.

Attorney John Phillips said he received more than 60 calls the first day allegations hit the news. He said that his law firm is now taking cases that occurred within the last two years and as of Wednesday afternoon he is representing 30 clients all making the same claim.

"Everything from physical abuse, to emotional abuse, to threats like, "If you tell your mommy we're going to do X, or if you don't stop screaming you'll never see your mommy again," according to a couple of our clients," Phillips said.

Though many people at the town hall weren't Phillips' clients, several, like 23-year-old Deangelo Spatcher shared what they recalled as their experience with Schneider.

"I remember going to the back and him telling me that he lied about putting me to sleep before he took my teeth out. He strapped me down and started telling me to shut up while I was screaming. And he was just yanking teeth out," Spatcher said.

"I'm committed to hiring who I need to hire, and doing what I have to do to take out a dentist. And obviously by bringing national experts in to town, I've called out the cavalry to help me," Phillips said.

That cavalry, and their resources and advice come from national experts and supporters like Debbie Hagan, whose grandchild suffered dental abuse in a different state by a different dentist.

"The first place to go is their dental board but they don't ever get any results. The next place is filing a complaint with the state attorney general but there's very little that happens there as well," Hagan said.

News4Jax looked into Schneider's background and found that his license is clear and he has no reported actions against his license. He's also repeatedly maintained he's innocent and has not abused patients.