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Utah County surgeon arrested for holding girlfriend hostage

By Sam Penrod | Posted - Nov. 7, 2011 at 7:02 p.m.


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OREM — Orem police arrested a Utah County surgeon for domestic violence and kidnapping when a 911 call led the officers to his home.

Dr. Joseph Berg, a cosmetic and plastic surgeon and owner of the Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Institute and Day Spa in Orem, is being held on charges of kidnapping and domestic violence.

Police say Berg's girlfriend managed to call 911 around 1:15 Sunday morning and left the line open so dispatchers could hear what was going on. They listened for nearly 20 minutes before officers broke down the door and tackled Berg, then found his girlfriend tied to a dresser in the closet.

This appears to be the first time police have got involved, but there are indications the relationship has been violent for quite some time.

"My friend just tried to help him; she loved him," a friend of Berg's girlfriend told KSL News. "He was really good to her at first, and he slowly started getting worse and abusing her."

The friend did not want to be identified but said she is very worried.

"He dragged her into the closet, he started taping her hands," the friend said, describing the Sunday morning incident. "He pulled out a drawer and taped her to the drawer and kept on hitting her. He was trying to gag her and tie her mouth shut when police came in and tackled him."

"He thought it was somebody else at the door, is his reason behind why he didn't answer it; but he was surprised to see us there," said Orem Police Sgt. Craig Martinez.

Berg's 48-year-old girlfriend was treated for minor injuries by paramedics, but police say the medical tape is an indication she was being held against her will.

"She wasn't going anywhere. It was wrapped around both her hands and wrists together, and then those were wrapped around a dresser drawer," Martinez said.

The woman's friend just hopes she will get out of the relationship before it's too late.

"He's held her at gunpoint before, he's threatened her life," the friend said. "She's starting over now. She doesn't have any money, she doesn't have a job; she's been taking care of him."

Police would not release the 911 call, telling KSL it will be used as evidence in the kidnapping case.

Berg has posted bail and is out of jail. Our calls to his answering service have not been returned.

Formal charges are expected to be filed next week.

Email: spenrod@ksl.com

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Sam Penrod

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