Court affidavit: former Worthington dentist groped inmates’ breasts
Editor's note: The following article was originally published on July 28, 2018. An article with the headline "Former Worthington dentist's license reinstated, charges dismissed" was published on Oct. 24, 2018.
Editor's note: The following article was originally published on July 28, 2018. An article with the headline "Former Worthington dentist’s license reinstated, charges dismissed" was published on Oct. 24, 2018.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - A Worthington dentist charged with inappropriately touching female inmates in the Minnehaha County Jail during dental exams has been released from his employment.
An employee of AppleWhite Dental in Worthington confirmed Thursday that Andrew Heinisch, 37, is no longer practicing at the Second Avenue dental office.
An investigation was initiated June 9 after a female inmate reported being sexually touched during her dental exam at the Minnehaha County Jail by the jail’s subcontracted dentist. The subsequent investigation by the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Department produced similar sexual misconduct allegations from five current and former female inmates, which reportedly occurred between March 24 and June 9.
Detailed in a court affidavit, Heinisch allegedly went as far as exposing and fondling the breasts of multiple inmates and seductively suggesting to meet up with them upon their release from jail.
The women consistently reported that unwanted contact began as neck and shoulder massages. Many of the alleged victims reported feeling uncomfortable, but didn’t know how to react.
One alleged victim said the unwanted massage escalated to the point of Heinisch’s hand down her shirt. She told law enforcement she was then afraid he was going to stick his hands down her pants.
Another female reported that Heinisch inquired about the tattoo on her neckline and, before she had the chance to respond, moved her shirt aside to examine it for himself. At that point, he suggested he show her the tattoos he claimed to have all over his body once she was released from jail.
Other victim accounts provide details of sexual touching, innuendo and of Heinisch pulling them back into the dental chair when they attempted to sit up and leave.
One inmate said she did not report the incident to jail personnel earlier because she believed authorities would see her status as an inmate as discreditable, and she was afraid the report would be viewed as disrespecting a jail guard and be punished. She said she didn’t attempt to stop Heinisch’s advancements because she was afraid he might cause mouth pain with his dental tools if offended.
Another inmate stated that while she didn’t report the alleged incident earlier to authorities, she had emailed her public advocate about what she experienced while in Heinisch’s dental chair.
Documentation shows the inmate sent an initial email to her public advocate on April 26 regarding what she categorized as a traumatic experience concerning her “physical and emotional well being.”
Immediately following the report of initial allegations, Heinisch - who provided subcontracted dental services through Armor Correctional Health Care since 2014 - was informed by law enforcement of what he was accused. In an interview, Heinisch denied touching an inmate lower than one inch below the hairline.
According to the Minnehaha County Chief Deputy Michelle Boyd, for the purpose of patient confidentiality and privacy, the jail’s sole dental room - as well as numerous designated general medical exam rooms - are not equipped with surveillance footage. However, the general holding/waiting area outside those exam rooms does have surveillance cameras, as well as jail personnel and other contracted medical professionals circulating between exam rooms.
“This would be an area in close proximity to the dental room, but not inside the room,” Boyd said. “There is a door on the dental room, but it is open at all times while a patient is being seen.”
An arrest warrant was issued July 18 on eight charges related to sexual contact and attempted sexual contact between a jail employee and adult detainee.
Heinisch turned himself in and posted a $10,000 bail on July 19. He appeared in court Monday and entered “not guilty” pleas on the eight charges.
His next scheduled court appearance is 9 a.m. Sept. 6 for a preliminary hearing.