Judge acquits dentist of indecent assault
Published 21/12/2010 | 05:00
A DENTIST yesterday successfully appealed against a conviction for indecently assaulting a young woman after opening four buttons on her blouse, exposing her bra.
Cork Circuit Appeals Court acquitted Dr John Tait (58) after a judge said that, having heard evidence from a worker at the dental practice, he had a sufficient doubt to reverse the original conviction.
Dr Tait of Glen House, Upper Rochestown, Cork, was convicted in the District Court last year of sexually assaulting the young woman on June 16, 2008, at his Cork dental practice.
The dentist had repeatedly insisted he was merely trying to check the buttons on the woman's tunic to ensure they did not fall off -- and was shocked to discover she was not wearing a T-shirt underneath at the time.
Dr Tait -- a father of four and a dentist for more than 30 years -- was fined €1,000 in the District Court.
However, he successfully challenged the conviction to the Cork Circuit Appeals Court.
Judge Sean O Donnabhain heard that a worker at the dental practice saw nothing to match the events complained of.
The appellant's counsel, Don McCarthy, argued that while his client's actions may have been thoughtless, or possibly even reckless, that was not sufficient for the court to hold that he had any prurient intent.
"That intent was never there. It was (only) utter thoughtlessness in acting as he did," he added.
Judge O Donnabhain heard direct evidence from an employee at the dental practice that was on duty on June 16, 2008.
The witness told the court that they saw nothing to match the events complained of that day by the young woman.
"It appears to me, particularly in view of (the witness's) evidence, that the accused has raised sufficient doubt for me as a juror to give him the benefit of that doubt," Judge O Donnabhain said.
"Accordingly, I acquit him," he said.
The woman who levelled the complaint left the court deeply distressed after the acquittal.