The medical license of a Torrance podiatrist accused of three counts of sexual battery against female patients was suspended Wednesday in Torrance Superior Court.
The action came as Arnold Serkin, 67, pleaded not guilty to three charges of sexual battery by fraud that could send him to prison for six years.
Judge Thomas R. Sokolov set Serkin's next court appearance for Feb. 4, when a preliminary hearing date will be scheduled.
The Department of Consumer Affairs Board of Podiatric Medicine had requested the court order on Serkin's license until the criminal case against him is resolved, spokesman Russ Heimeric said.
"We're always going to try to suspend the license of somebody when we believe there is the potential of great consumer harm and we obviously believe that in this case," he said.
Deputy Attorney General Wendy Widlus, who sought the court order, described Serkin's alleged "sexually deviant behavior" against three victims as potentially the "tip of the iceberg."
"You have a pervasive series of behaviors that have gone on for 27 years," she argued. "He used his podiatric medical license as an instrument of his crimes."
A team of lawyers representing Serkin called the order "premature." Not until a preliminary hearing will it be known whether the evidence against him warrants a trial, defense attorneys say.
"Just because we have patients who have come forward and made these allegations doesn't mean they are true," said San Diego attorney David Watson, who noted he also is representing Serkin in a civil trial related to the charges.
A former patient and his own now-adult daughter are separately suing Serkin, alleging he molested them.
His lawyers also told the judge that Torrance Memorial Medical Center has required Serkin to have a female chaperone in the examination room during patient consultations since the criminal case was filed against him. They suggested that was sufficient to allay public safety concerns.
Widlus called that "nonsensical." At least one of the criminal charges stemmed from a patient consultation that allegedly occurred when a medical assistant was in an examination room with Serkin, she said.
Judge Sokolov said he needed to balance the defendant's "freedom" to practice his profession with public safety. In the end, he ordered Serkin's license revoked out of concern for the latter.
Widlus said one patient alleged Serkin pulled down her shorts without permission, exposing her genitals, while she was on the examination table.
"I'm going to take care of you, just as I would my daughter," Widlus quoted Serkin as saying to the unidentified patient.
A second victim has alleged Serkin behaved inappropriately on all three occasions she saw him in 2003.
She contended Serkin rubbed the top of her thigh, asked if she wanted to be his wife and asked if he could look at her breasts. The patient said Serkin did so after taking her top off.
A third victim, who came forward after the Daily Breeze published an article on the criminal investigation involving Serkin, said he told her to strip to her waist and stared at her breasts.
"How many other women are there?" Widlus asked.
Serkin occasionally buried his head in his hands and occasionally shook his head, apparently disagreeing with some of Widlus' statements.
Serkin practices at the West Torrance Foot and Ankle Group on Lomita Boulevard, which still had his picture and biography online Wednesday.
The biography notes Serkin is affiliated with both Torrance Memorial Medical Center and Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Torrance.
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