VAN NUYS — The trial of a Reseda dentist charged with sexually assaulting two women in his office opened Thursday with defense attorneys attacking the credibility of the doctor's accusers.
James E. Blatt, an attorney representing Dr. Kamal Matian, called one of the alleged victims "a perjurer and a liar" as well as a convicted felon.
Blatt claimed that the 37-year-old woman told at least one other person that she was assaulted by a Canoga Park dentist--but never followed up--and she did not level accusations against Matian until 11 months after the alleged incident.
He also said the woman was a convicted robber and therefore not a credible witness.
Matian, 46, is charged with rape with a foreign object--in this case a finger--two counts of sexual battery and two counts of false imprisonment. If he is convicted on all charges, he would face nearly 20 years in state prison.
The prosecution in the case, being tried in Van Nuys Superior Court, rests on the testimony of the two women, as well as several witnesses who saw the second alleged victim run out of Matian's office in a hysterical state.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Renee F. Urman maintained that Matian groped both women, and used his finger to rape one.
According to prosecutors, the 37-year-old went to Matian in February, 1992, complaining of a toothache. Once seated in an examination chair, she told prosecutors that Matian held her down and put his hand down her shirt. She said she was able to push him off and run away.
The other accuser, who alleged that Matian attacked her Sept. 11, 1992, testified Thursday that she had worked for the doctor for about four months as an office assistant when he approached her in a lunchroom in the office complex where Matian's offices are located.
The woman, a 19-year-old college student, gave tearful testimony about reading a women's magazine when Matian entered the room and smoked a cigarette. After first massaging her shoulder, he then placed his left hand under her shirt and rubbed one of her breasts, she testified.
The woman said that Matian then placed one hand under her stretch pants and fondled her. The woman said she was too scared to move, resist or complain to Matian.
Later, the woman ran screaming from the offices after Matian followed her, insisting that nothing had happened and that he "loved her like a sister," according to the testimony.
Earlier in the day, a Los Angeles police officer described finding the woman running down Sherman Way in a hysterical condition.
"As I approached, she was shaking, mumbling, her eyes were watering," and she was so upset she couldn't talk for nearly 10 minutes, said Officer James Kemerling.
In his opening statement, defense attorney Blatt said the office assistant was reading an article about sexual fantasies in the workplace when Matian entered the room.
Blatt said the woman has given four different versions of the story, with each one getting more brutal, since the time she told Kemerling that Matian merely "grabbed me."
Blatt claimed that the woman ran from the office after an argument over money. In addition to wanting a raise, Blatt said the woman wanted the doctor to pay for part of her upcoming wedding because Matian had been given the honorary title of godfather at the event.
Blatt said his client will explain that the doctor in fact went after the woman in the belief that she was holding the keys to his office.
The California Board of Dental Examiners has initiated administrative action against Matian, but the review of his license to practice medicine has been put on hold pending the results of his criminal trial.