Lansing Dentist Accused Of Sexual Abuse

By: Meaghan Norman
By: Meaghan Norman

For many children and even some adults, going to the dentist is not a trip they like to take. But for one young patient, police say his visits were a nightmare.

"This child was put in an unreasonable situation," said Detective Elizabeth Reust. "His parents took him to the dentist and he got abused there so it's particularly bothersome."

Detective Reust and Detective Vicky Nevins of the Lansing Police Department have been investigating this case for the past six weeks or so. 64-year-old Dr. Wendell Alan Racette was arraigned on Monday morning on eight counts of criminal sexual conduct. A 20 year old man came forward just last month saying Dr. Racette molested him starting when he was just five years old.

"He had been sexually abused by his dentist from the time he was in kindergarten and through the fifth grade from 1995-2000," said Det. Reust.

The alleged abuse lasted five years until the state took Racette's dental license. Then-attorney general Jennifer Granholm charged him with medicaid fraud and ironically, child abuse --- but for poor dental work on children, not for any sexual crimes. And those charges were dropped. This new case, police say, happened Racette's dental practice on East Saginaw in Lansing, behind closed doors while parents were kept out.

"The allegation is that the abuse took place while the child was at the dentist receiving dental care in the dental office," said Det. Reust.

The victim allegedly suffered five years of abuse, but took more than ten years to report it.

"He had struggled with making a decision about reporting, not reporting --- it just felt like it was the time to do so, he felt like he was strong enough," said Reust.

Police believe there could be more victims out there who would come to this dental practice as a child and be preyed upon.

If you have any information on this case or if you are a victim, contact Detectives Reust or Nevins at (517) 483-6860 or (517) 483-6855.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Rhonda Location: Michigan on Aug 2, 2012 at 01:08 PM
    My daughter sent an email to the Pros. Atty. office about this man. They contacted both of us and asked us to testify for the Prosecution. We agreed - today, August 2, 2012, we were notified that the presiding Judge refused to allow our testimony! I posted this because this man "intentionally" inflicted pain without proper novacain and yelled at my daughter because she was holding up his clients! He attempted to "talk" to my daughter in his office without me - I refused, and when I entered his office my daughter was ALREADY in there - a separate entrance into his office without going through the waiting area - where her mother sat waiting? I post this because this man needs to be put in that special place in prison for hurting children and we were denied our right to aid in this prosecution and speak in a court of law.
  • by mommabear Location: Mt. Pleasant on Feb 16, 2011 at 09:57 AM
    First of all, THANK YOU to the victim who came forward. This man could have continued practicing and offending for many more years with countless other victims. I took my child to Dr. Racette one time (my child's first dental appointment ever) and walked out with absolutely no intention of ever letting him touch my child again. For someone who promoted himself as a pediatric dentist, he did not make any attempt to treat me or my child in even the most basic respectful manner, let alone one that would encourage a child to not fear going to the dentist. It sounds like my experience was not unusual for his patients.
  • by Guest on Feb 4, 2011 at 06:20 PM
    I was a patient in the 70's/80's. I used to cry before going because I was so scared. Too little to know to tell my parents. Wasn't until I grew up did I find that fillings weren't supposed to hurt. He would give me a shot and it wouldn't work and he would tell me there's no way it hurt. One time he made me sit in the corner of that private room while he worked on another kid. During that time he kept saying how this kid didn't cry. My memory is a bit foggy on the exact details but I find it interesting to hear other people who have similar memories.
  • by mother of children on Jan 26, 2011 at 12:05 PM
    My children went to this man for a very short time they cried evrytime they left his office and never thought it right that the parents were never allowed to go in the back or even see it. He was doing work on my kids that was in my opinion not necessary at 2 and 3 years old so needless to say they only went to see him 2 or 3 times.
  • by Former Patient on Jan 26, 2011 at 06:15 AM
    I too was a former patient in the early 90s. I finally was able to leave when I was old enough to express to my parents everything that went on. He would strap children to boards so they would stay still. He gave me so much numbing gas that I fell asleep half the time. The final straw was when he shoved his assistant against a wall, while working on my teeth and I ran out crying. My parents were skeptical too because he never did anything he said he would. I can still picture that horrible room with its Disney mural. Thinking back he should never been allowed to shut the door and keep children confined. I had to be treated for several improper fillings and Dental fluorosis after we left. I was relieved when his license was taken away the first time and it should never have been reinstated. My sympathies to all his patients.
  • by Shaun Location: Waterford, Mi on Jan 26, 2011 at 04:53 AM
    This kind of nonsense has to stop. 15 years later? So anyone can accuse any person at any time in their lives? Talk about living in fear. Don't tell me you have nothing to worry about if nothing ever happened, because all it takes is a nasty teen-ager to become angry and spew out an awful allegation. It could happen to anyone. This case will have zero evidence, zero DNA, and zero sensibility. A jury will simply decide if the "Accuser" told the truth or not. I'm sure the prosecution will add charges to enhance the chances for a conviction. I'm so sick of this stuff-does anyone, ANYONE, know what they were doing on say Dec 4, 1996? No, of course not. The state makes a bundle off of that cursed SO list, and they want to add as many as they can. www.amotionforinnocence.blogspot.com
    • reply
      by Nichole on Aug 29, 2012 at 05:32 PM in reply to Shaun
      Im Sorry Shaun, But unless you have an experience like this, I doubt you are able to speak on the topic. This man caused traumatic experiences for a lot of children. Speaking as a former patient, trust me... you remember!
  • by doodlebug Location: Lansing on Jan 25, 2011 at 06:11 AM
    I was unfortunate to have Racette as my dentist as a child. He forced me to wear braces for 9 years and when I finally was old enough and questioned him he became irate with me. My parents who thought they were doing the best for me had to put a 2nd mortgage on their house to pay for them. Also, it wasn't till I went to another dentist that I knew you were supposed to get Novocain when a filling was being done. He in my opinion is a horrible man!!!
    • reply
      by DIANNA on Dec 3, 2011 at 03:06 PM in reply to doodlebug
      Iremember taking my children to this dentist. And it all makes sense now. My children feared him. He never let us go in. After the second time my children ran out of the office so feared. We decided to stop going. when my daughter showed me this now 36yrs old. she asked mom was this my dentist. I read in horror about this man. And to think my children were a part of this in 2 visits. she even said he hit her. My oldest daughter remembers this dentist only and not the one i took her aft this one. What does that tell you. May he rot in HELL!!
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