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Dentist resigns from post

By Robert Faturechi

May 14, 2008 11:28 p.m.

The UCLA orthodontics resident who brought attention to admissions impropriety within the program last year has resigned, calling the months after the scandal broke “a living terror.”

In his resignation letter, Kent Ochiai blamed the program’s chair for making his residency unbearable after the Daily Bruin published an article last November exposing preferential admissions within the orthodontics program for donors and their relatives.

Ochiai’s refusal as an applicant to donate a large sum in order to secure his own admission prompted The Bruin’s investigation.

“You have caused me to be unable to sleep, unable to work, and unable to enjoy any aspect of the employment, the work and the study I so looked forward to,” Ochiai wrote in his resignation letter addressed to orthodontics chair Eric Ting.

Ochiai, who resigned in March, recently met with university officials. According to sources within the UCLA School of Dentistry, he is considering taking legal action against the university.

In the letter, Ochiai alleges that Ting unfairly took away his clinic patients, limited his access to study materials, halted his progress in the three-year program and discredited him among his colleagues.

Ochiai, through his lawyer, declined to comment for this article.

Ting and the university also declined to comment, citing privacy laws.

Ochiai’s resignation comes just months after The Bruin detailed a system of preferential treatment in which applicants related to donors giving six-figure gifts were automatically advanced over other students despite their lower test scores and grades.

Ochiai’s involvement began in 2006, when he was an applicant to the highly selective orthodontics program at UCLA.

He was asked for a $60,000 donation by a member of the admissions board, who told him the money would help secure his acceptance into the program.

Ochiai relayed the incident to a faculty member within the School of Dentistry, which eventually prompted a Bruin investigation into admissions impropriety in the orthodontics program.

Hundreds of pages of e-mails and internal documents obtained by The Bruin, along with dozens of interviews, showed that the program and the officials at its helm had developed a system of preferential treatment in violation of university standards.

Reports of admissions impropriety within the program were picked up by a number of major media outlets, bruising the School of Dentistry’s reputation.

In his resignation letter, Ochiai paints Ting as a program chair set on “retribution.”

“You blamed me for the Daily Bruin’s investigation and the resultant loss of credibility to the program. Since that date, you have made my employment here a living terror,” Ochiai wrote.

“When I tried to work with others, you publicly and repeatedly humiliated me. You made it impossible for me to work with the other residents.”

According to state law, Ochiai is unlikely to technically be classified as a whistle-blower, which may have allowed him added leverage in any legal action he might take against the university.

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Robert Faturechi
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