Thursday 21 September 2017

Dentist guilty of sex assault on patient

John Tait outside Cork
Circuit Criminal Court
John Tait outside Cork Circuit Criminal Court
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A DENTIST has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman during an examination when he asked her to remove her bra before lifting her vest to expose her breasts.

Dr John Tait (60) was convicted by a Cork Circuit Criminal Court jury yesterday after three hours and 20 minutes of deliberation at the end of a four-day trial.

The jury found the father of three guilty on the sole charge that he sexually assaulted the young woman on December 20, 2006, at his practice at St Patrick's Terrace, Douglas.

He is expected to be sentenced next month.

The case was a retrial of a hearing last November when a jury could not reach a decision.

There were emotional scenes in the courtroom as the jury returned its 11-1 majority verdict -- with members of both families breaking down.

The verdict came just 10 minutes after Judge Raymond Fullam said he would accept a majority, rather than unanimous, jury decision.

The young woman had claimed she was sexually assaulted by Dr Tait while they were alone in the Douglas surgery at the time.

She said Dr Tait first asked her to remove her bra, explaining that she had a low sternum and he couldn't examine her properly. He then fully unzipped her tunic before lifting up her vest and exposing her breasts.

The complainant, who cannot be identified, said she was "shocked and mortified".

"I was totally exposed. He was looking at my chest. I turned away because I was shocked and mortified. I was really shocked and embarrassed," she added.

She said the dentist then mumbled something before telling her she could put her clothing back on. The incident lasted less than a minute.

The dentist vehemently denied that the incident ever occurred.

Dr Tait rejected any suggestion that he had ever asked the woman to remove her bra or that he lifted up her vest.

Mortified

He explained that he only undertook an examination of the woman's jaw and neck because she complained of pain and he specialised in diagnosing a condition called Temporal Mandibular Jaw Dysfunction (TMJ/TMD).

This is a condition whereby the socket linking the jaw to the skull can be out of place -- causing pain.

Dr Tait said the young woman had told him she suffered from headaches. He added that neck pain and 85pc of headaches were linked to muscle tensions, which can be caused by conditions such as TMJ.

The dentist also claimed that the sexual assault claim left him "incredulous".

"I reject any impropriety. It is not true and it did not happen. I didn't ask her to do it and I don't know why she said it," he told the court.

He immediately realised the seriousness of the complaint when informed of it in 2009.

"First of all, I was devastated, for myself and my wife and kids. I realised the seriousness of it. It has been a hard, hard time.

"It has just been devastating to live with it. It has been very hard on our family unit. I am just incredulous (over) the whole thing," he added.

Judge Fullam agreed to a defence submission and adjourned sentencing.

The case was listed for mention on May 11 but sentencing is expected to take place in June.

Dr Tait was remanded on continuing bail conditions.

Irish Independent

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