updated 10/16/2007 2:43:28 PM ET 2007-10-16T18:43:28

A dentist accused of fondling the breasts of 27 female patients is trying to keep his dental license by arguing that chest massages are an appropriate procedure in certain cases. Mark Anderson's lawyer says dental journals discuss the need to massage the pectoral muscles to treat a common jaw problem.

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Police say Anderson said during recorded phone calls that he routinely massaged patients' chests to treat temporo-mandibular joint disorder, or TMJ, which causes neck and head pain.

Attorney Robert Zaro told administrative law judge Jonathan Lew at a hearing Thursday that he should let Anderson keep his dental license while disciplinary appeals proceed. Anderson would be supervised by two assistants and would no longer do the chest rubs, Zaro said.

Zaro said Anderson, 48, of Woodland, needs to keep seeing patients so he can feed his seven children and pay for his defense.

The judge made no immediate decision.

Lew suspended Anderson's dental license last month. He was charged with two misdemeanor counts of battery and sexual battery. Yolo County prosecutors are investigating complaints from more than two dozen women who say they also were groped in the examining chair in the last five years.

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Phillips gave Lew three new complaints, including one from a 31-year-old woman who said Anderson fondled her at least six times over two years.

She took to wearing tight shirts with high necklines, "and Anderson would still get in under her shirt and bra," according to a police report.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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