Lawyer: Children's dentist closes practice

Abuse allegations lodged against Dr. Schneider; police called to office 28 times

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After weeks of allegations and protests, it appears a Jacksonville pediatric dentist has permanently closed the doors to his practice.

News4Jax first reported last month about dozens of complaints against Dr. Howard S. Schneider.

Numerous people have accused him of intentionally hurting children and causing permanent damage, both physically and mentally.

Gust Sarris, an attorney representing some of the accusers who filed a civil lawsuit against Schneider, confirmed that Schneider has announced that he's out of business.

Parents and patients said the shutdown was a long time coming. Protesters said the dentist was at his University Boulevard practice Thursday morning with some staff members, and then he just left.

They said he announced that they had forced him to close his doors for good. The protesters celebrated Thursday afternoon, drawing honks and cheers from passing drivers.

"We finally got confirmation that it is true," protester Samantha Anderson said. "We have been out here just spreading the word and celebrating."

For the past three weeks, former patients and their parents have picketed in front of Schneider's practice. They wanted to bring attention to the mistreatment that they said children have endured for years.

"I was tied down with one of those straitjacket things, and I was forced on a papoose board," Kim Kaplitz said. "He forced my mouth open, told me to shut up, slapped me a couple (of) times, and he also told my parents that he wanted to break my jaw."

No one was at Schneider's Southside office when News4jax visited on Thursday. The parking lot was empty and no one answered the door at his Riverside home.

News4Jax learned there were 28 police calls to the office in the last 17 days for a number of reasons, ranging from disputes to a report of a burglary and protesters blocking the road.

Police were called to the office on Thursday after demonstrators said the dentist tried to run them over with his car and veered away at the last minute. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is investigating.

A different group made the same claim last week. But according to this police report, an officer wrote, "I thoroughly searched the area for any physical evidence that would have supported the allegation ... these efforts produced negative results."

During one encounter, Schneider was physically attacked by an angry mother and suffered scratches, redness and minor swelling. Police are still looking for the woman who attacked him.

In another incident, someone threatened online to shoot Schneider. The threat said Schneider "had 48 hours to vacate his office and leave the medical field or they were coming for him."

The person also posted a diagram on how to build a Molotov cocktail.

The case gained national attention. One of the accusers was on CNN Headline News' "Nancy Grace" on Wednesday night.

Demonstrators said they are relieved that Schneider has closed shop.

"We are excited today. We finally did it," Anderson said. "We can at least say there are no more victims. At this point, he's not seeing any more kids. The fight continues, but as of now, no more victims."

Schneider is still licensed to practice, but the protesters are asking the Florida Department of Health to revoke his license.

There's also an active investigation by the Attorney General's Office into possible Medicaid fraud by Schneider.

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