Ocala, Florida — Michael Tarver, the former owner of Polliwog Dental LLC, now Churchill Dentistry LLC, is back in the spotlight following new allegations of patient abuse.
On April 28, 2014, Kembra Henderson took her 3-year-old daughter to Churchill Dentistry to see Dr. Michael Tarver, known to children as Dr. Mike.
After her daughter’s procedure, Henderson contacted the Ocala Police Department with some concerns.
Henderson told Officer Walker that when her daughter exited the procedure area, she noticed her daughter’s hair was “messy.” Henderson stated that she asked her daughter why her hair was messy, and the child replied, “Dr. Mike put his knees on my head.”
Henderson also stated that her daughter was told she was a “bad girl” after “throwing up” during a procedure.
When Officer Walker made contact with Tarver, he showed the officer the positioning in which procedures are done, and why his knees were next to the patient’s head. Tarver told the officer that the positioning of his knees keeps small children from moving their head while he inserts sharp objects into their mouth.
According to reports, Tarver told police although the girl was given a sedative, she was still able to move and was not following directions. Tarver said he told the patient she was a “bad girl” because she was not listening, not because she “threw up.”
A case number was created for this incident.
During the second week of October, Ocala Police Department was again contacted by a mother concerned about the treatment of her daughter by Tarver.
According to reports, Samantha Catozzi, stated her 6-year-old daughter told her “Dr. Mike” scared her. The girl told her mother that Tarver said if she wouldn’t be quiet, he would give her shots.
The 6-year-old then stated she began crying for her mother, causing Tarver to cover her mouth with his hand.
Catozzi also told police that she specifically told the dental office she did not want her daughter having any shots. Catozzi told police that even though she signed papers, they were not explained to her.
According to reports, after Catozzi filed the complaint, Tarver called her, wanting to know why she did it. He said he didn’t understand her reasoning.
Catozzi told police that Tarver’s tone made her fear for her family’s safety.
Ocala Post has been told many times that Tarver has threatened patients as well as employees. Many of the threats were sent via Facebook.
Police gave Catozzi a Florida Department of Health packet and instructed her to file a complaint.
Catozzi told police she would not be returning to Churchill Dentistry and would seek a restraining order against Tarver.
According to police, Tarver denies the accusations.
Today, Ocala Post spoke with Catozzi.
Catozzi said, “At this time, I can only say that I would not recommend anyone take their child to Churchill Dentistry.”
Ocala Post first broke the story about Polliwog Dental on August 30, 2014, when Tarver scolded parents and their children via social media for being Medicaid recipients.
Starting in 2012, Tarver had multiple complaints filed against him at the Ocala Police Department. Each time Tarver was investigated by detectives, he was cleared.
June 26, 2013, OPD received a complaint about a child that received a 1-1/2 inch laceration in the middle of his forehead. Tarver claimed the child tripped over his own feet, causing him to fall and hit his head. Tarver did not call EMS. When questioned by OPD, Tarver said, “I am Emergency Medicine Certified, therefore I did not feel the need to contact EMS.” OPD notified DCF upon this investigation due to OPD being called out multiple times in such a short period of time. The injury did require stitches.
In one incident, a parent said that Tarver placed his hand over the nose and mouth of her child until the child lost consciousness.
Tarver has repeatedly blamed the children, citing the children that come to his office are poorly behaved and cry when they are being treated. Witnesses have confirmed that Tarver also repeatedly yelled at children, telling them to “shut up and stop crying,” even hitting one child in the head after telling him to “shut up.”
According to police reports, a four-year-old child was given a dose of Versed, which caused the child to stop breathing. Tarver performed CPR to revive the child but failed to notify the parents. Tarver’s notes, which were seized by the DEA, described the incident as a “brief apnea episode.”
On June 28, 2013, OPD turned over information to Department of Health investigator Mike Knezevich after another complaint of a child receiving injuries while at Polliwog surfaced.
On September 4, 2013, Tarver’s license was suspended.
Earlier this year, Ocala Post contacted the State Attorney’s Office and asked:
Has the State Attorney’s Office read over the charges from the DOH or just the allegations filed with OPD?
State Attorney Bill Gladson replied, “This office was asked by detectives to review three separate incidents concerning potential child abuse. Some of these allegations had already been reported to the Department of Children and Families months prior to being referred to the Ocala Police Department.
“Each case was reviewed to determine whether, if true, the allegation would constitute the crime of child abuse. To prove the crime of child abuse beyond a reasonable doubt, the State would have to prove that a defendant knowingly or willfully, and intentionally, inflicted physical injury, or committed an act that could reasonably result in physical injury, to a child. At the time, physical injury was defined as ‘death, permanent or temporary disfigurement or impairment of any body part.’ During their investigation, the detectives with the Ocala Police Department conducted numerous interviews of staff members, reviewed surveillance video, photographs, medical records, physical evidence as well as interviewed the complainants in the cases.
Based on the evidence available, it was decided that no single allegation, if proven as alleged, would constitute the crime of child abuse such that any conviction could be sustained on appeal. This office did not review, and was not asked to review, any matter being investigated by the Department of Health or the Board of Dentistry.”
Ocala Post has received dozens of e-mails from parents about Dr. Michael Tarver and Churchill Dentistry.
Most of the parents asked the same question.
“Will it take a child dying before Dr. Mike’s license is permanently revoked?”
Many fathers of Tarver’s victims have expressed extreme hatred toward Tarver to Ocala Post.
In the newest allegations, parents stated that they either were new to the area or were simply unaware of Tarver’s history.
Tarver’s license was reinstated in November 2013.